I’m sharing today another picture of how to begin building joy in your life, family, school and community (which includes your church). Most people have not thought about the presence or absence of joy in their lives, nor do they have awareness of the consequences of low joy. You will probably be stretching paradigms and pressing people’s comfort zones so it is important to be wise in how you go about introducing new concepts. Never hurts to hear a thing more than once!
Know The Material
It is important that you can answer questions people may have about the components of the Connexus materials and how the classes run.
Joy Starts Here is a 9 week book study and brings a person who knows nothing about brain skills and/or joy building up to speed about joy levels and how the affect our lives. Practical exercises in each chapter begin training the right brain and building joyful community. You are encouraged to begin building joy in wherever arena you think it would be the easiest—family, school, community. This material can be used in your family, small groups, as evening classes or you can meet a friend at Starbucks to go through Joy Starts Here.
Each chapter has an assessment you can take online (if you want feedback) or in the book to help you develop a picture of your joy levels in various areas of life – http://joyq.joystartshere.com/account/welcome.php As people begin to get a picture of their joy levels, they self sort into which class to take next.
Connexus Classes for Two 12 week sessions — Restarting & Forming run concurrently or you can begin with Restarting, go to Forming and conclude with Belonging.
Forming–is for those comfortable in their comfort zone. People choose Forming to learn a more intimate relationship with Jesus and more of His compassion rubs off on them.
Restarting—is for those who need to learn how to quiet so they are not so overwhelming and not so hard or outlandish, not quite as different. Some of the hard shell loosens up a bit. Then at the end of those two concurrent but separate 12 week classes, we bring the two together for…
Belonging—is the opportunity to be together in useful, meaningful ways—not to create animosity or indifference, but to create community together. This curriculum allows the “weak” and the “strong” to be together as community. It doesn’t leave anyone out.
The Strong & The Weak Together
One of the problems in churches is that, if the primary outreach or ministry is to hurting people, soon the church itself can become toxic. If all you are doing is pulling in more and more people who are in pain, unless you have a structured way for them to connect with the mainstream of the church, you perpetuate an “us” and “them.” Belonging teaches people from very different places how to form community and learn how to be glad to be with each other.
It’s not unusual for the weak and strong to be together in the same church; what is unusual is for them to interact with tender regard for weakness and be glad to be together!
In the Belonging class small groups are formed ½ from Restarting and ½ from Forming and they do all their joy building and interaction and brain training exercises with each other. They actually learn how to create a joyful place for each other to belong. That is what is so unique about this training. We are actually teaching those two groups how to create community together that is based in joy.
The issue of the strong and the weak together in community is far bigger than most of us realize. This is clearly the most challenging aspect of the curriculum. The weak cannot stay in their comfort zone; so if you offer them any kind of solution they are quite willing to adopt it. The strong, however, are quite insistent about their comfort zone and if you present any kind of threat to it there will be resistance!
The Joy Starts Here book helps clarify this strong & weak issue for folks. If you have done Restarting and Belonging without having taken your group through Joy Start Here, it would be good to now do that. That whole issue is woven throughout the entire book and it will give them a much better idea of why the strong need the weak.
We have much better results emphasizing how to be glad to be together and learning joy as a basis for relationships rather than emphasizing “Hey you guys are different but you need each other anyway.” The more you tell them they are different and need each other, the more reluctant they are to be together. Creating joyful belonging together is a lot more fun!
The strong are the ones who tend to drop out if the Forming class is omitted because they will not see what is in it for them. So this is why we have introduced Joy Starts Here as the starting point and let people sort themselves out. The strong will be attracted to the Forming class as they see they can benefit. So if you have a small church that is full of strong people, you might want to begin with Forming.
Having taken the classes once, people may feel at a loss for someone with whom to continue to build joy. Encourage them to find a friend who has not had the training and go through the classes again with them as a support person. Then upon completion they both have a partner to continue the joy building!
Build Relationships with Influencers
The consensus of those who have experience with introducing these concepts into the church is that the best way to begin is to build relationship with influencers. This does not mean the pastor necessarily. It could be an influential leader like a Sunday School teacher, beloved deacon or other person who has access to and credibility with the pastor. At some point the pastor does need to become one of your relationships, just not necessarily the first.
If a leader becomes excited and goes to the pastor, he/she may carry more weight with the pastor and be listened to more quickly. Invite people over for dinner and plan to insert some joy building exercises into your evening so they begin to experience what you are talking about. Since this material is about building relational joy skills; relationships are the key!
Pray and Practice Patience
Sometimes we just click in a relationship. Other times it can take a year or more to build! Trust that the Lord is guiding you and He will bring it into being. Thank Him for what He is doing.
Joy Rekindled Marriage Weekend. September 19th – 20th, 2014.
Location: New Life Christian Church, 401 Edgewood Court, Morton, IL.
$250 per couple, cost includes lunch on Saturday. 12:30pm to 6:00pm Friday then 9am to 5pm Saturday.
For those traveling from out of town, a block of rooms is reserved at Quality Inn 309-266-8310.
Registration closes September 4th. Register.
Joy Starts Here in Edmonton, AB Canada. October 3rd-4th, 2014.
Speakers are Dr. Jim Wilder and Chris Coursey. Cost and registration here.
Feel free to contact us with your questions or if you have a testimony of how this training is being beneficial or would like to tell us what is working for you.
May your joy be full,
Chris & Carol
Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer, www.thrivetoday.org
Twitter – @coursey_chris
Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive www.fromgodsheart.com
Carol’s email – firstname.lastname@example.org
p.s. The update on Chris is that he is awaiting further tests. Surgery has been recommended but in the interim we are pressing Jesus for intervention!