Joyful Christians, Joyful Churches–Transformed World

How do we get there?

Phase 1Joy Starts Here – A 9 week program


This is the beginning. It helps you understand the need for joy. Our brains work best in an environment of joy. Joy Starts Here is the beginning of where hard science and the hard truth meet in a non-threatening way. You will like the results! There is a bible study on each chapter’s topic to put it in a biblical perspective, an assessment of your joy in that area and exercises to build joy.

  • Individual study
  • Informal group study (2-3 friends)
  • Adult education classes at church


Joy building exercises will give you a taste of what is possible. They develop the right hemisphere of the brain, which does not happen when you simply read about it. It is like building muscle—you have to go to the gym and practice. You cannot build muscle by reading about it. The same is true for relational skills. By the time you finish the book you will know your next step. Purchase here.

To take a free joy assessment, go to:

Phase 2Connexus classes


Excellent material for  developing resiliency and life skills.

Restarting and Forming (2 -12 week courses) run simultaneously. Facilitator led, DVDs and exercises in class and at home. This is for a larger group than the Joy Starts Here group but is done locally. 2 -12 week courses

Restarting is for those who realize they are low on joy and high on “pseudo-joy” (something that creates the similar brain chemistry as joyful relationships. They have cravings or addictions. They want to acquire or repair relational brain skills that were either missed or somehow damaged by the bumps and scrapes of life.

Forming is for those who were fortunate and have most of the brain skills. They are more interested in seeking more intimacy with God and being formed to be more like Jesus.

Belonging (12 weeks) is a class that combines people from Restarting and Forming. Here the two groups learn how to create belonging and build a thriving relational and joyful community. It breaks down the we/them that often happens when the “weak and strong interact” and creates belonging around you.

Phase 3 – Thrive Training 

Off site, Thrive Training is a large group and can be taken at any time but there are prerequisites. This is a three-week training taken one week at a time. It is a concentrated opportunity to learn the 19 relational brain skills in the ideal environment. Then you go home and practice for a year or 6 months. Then come back for another week and go home and practice for a year to 6 months, and again for the third week.

For more information about these three tracks click here:

Information on prerequisites click here: 

Everything at Thrive is geared to growing joy. It is actually the foundation that the other two pieces are built upon. When a church uses Connexus materials it is wise to make sure that 2-3 couples attend the Thrive Training. Bonded pairs attend Thrive. Parent/child is a bonded pair, also siblings or prayer partners.


Feb. 23-27, in Austin, Texas

July 26-31, 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan


Track 1
Bonded Pair: $1,375
Bonded Pair, DVDs & online course: $1,595
Track 2
Bonded Pair: $1,300
Bonded Pair, DVDs & online course: $1,550
Individual: $750
Track 3
Bonded Pair: $1,300
Bonded Pair, DVDs & online course: $1,550
Individual: $750

*Bring a new bonded pair to Thrive and receive a $75 discount off your registration price!


Look forward to seeing you in person at Thrive!  Blessings,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive

Carol’s email –

P. S. How did you grow joy in your community? We would love to hear from you.

How Do We Learn A Better Response?

Question MarkToday’s Question: Do sexual predators have specific deformities that require correction and training? What kind of preventative steps we can take to address our deformities?

Since everyone has deformities—not just the official sexual predators, you want to break this vicious cycle with some preventative steps—some training that builds on that instinctual base wiring.

talk openly1. First, be a little more open about the whole topic. One of the things that Christians have tried to do that is not working is to act like “if I am actually holy I will never have a predatory thought or reaction” which is impossible. It just is not going to happen. You are wired for that.

EquipEmpower2. Teach the young ladies how to go about being powerful young ladies that have a good effect on others so their desire to be a source of pleasure and a source of delight is going to be met appropriately.

If you don’t answer that question of how to become a powerful person in a way that really works, they are going to find other ways. Today’s culture is full of ways to make yourself feel powerful and delightful, including riding wrecking balls!

Teaching.png3. Provide alternatives. We need to have adults who delight in protecting others and teaching others the delight of protecting young women or young men, otherwise, Christians are not going to have anything that catches on.

The kind of training needed that will help you to see weaknesses, acknowledge weaknesses, be transparent about your own weaknesses and say,

Yeah, well anybody could have a predator thought here. But, how many know what to do to protect that weakness? What do you do to protect someone when you see their vulnerability, sexual or otherwise?

One answer in the Life Model is to develop the reflex of going to Jesus and asking to see the person the way Jesus seem them. Develop the reflex to say, “Here is a weakness, I feel like exploiting it. Lord, how do I see this person as one of Your daughters, one of my sisters, one of Your people that You want to have protected…how would I even do that?”

An interesting thing about the shalom that comes when you share minds with Jesus is when you see what Jesus is doing, it doesn’t give you some strange instruction to follow. You actually feel, “Wow, that would be good!” To see someone the way Jesus sees them changes your responses and it is something you ought then to share with others.

This is the kind of training you will receive at the Thrive Training events and in the Connexus Training (formerly called Thriving, Recover Your Life.– the training format for churches.)

Footprints_thumb.pngAction Steps:

  • Learn a better response – Purchase The Life Model, Share Immanuel and Joy Starts Here
  • Begin building a desire within leadership of your church to have a church sponsored Connexus group
  • Plan to attend a Thrive Event. Calendar of events. Click on Speaking Schedule

May your joy be full!

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,

Twitter – @coursey_chris


Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                  

Resources Mentioned in This Post:

All resources can be purchased from the Life Model Works website. Click the books and Literature Tab.

Life Model

Share Immanuel

Joy Starts Here

Thrive Training


This post was developed from a talk by Dr. Jim Wilder for Pastor’s Weekly Oct. 31- 2013

Predator Impulses…How Common Are They?

Last week’s post laid a foundation for what iniquity means in the development of sexual predator impulses for men and women. This is where we are diving in today.

Jim Talks - Vol. 30Most readers would probably think the term “predator” only applies to people who are in San Quentin. Years back I remember reading an article that talked about a woman in the bus station. A man attempted to rape her but another man saved her from it. Then the writer commented, “They were the same man.”

Predatory impulses are not a rare and strange thing that happens to just a few people. Everyone is wired with sexual predator impulses; that is normal and automatic; it’s easy to do. No brains required. Anyone can feel this reaction.

Look at it this way: If you see somebody that you want to get close to and you are already of a sexual age, the least imaginative way is to think about having sexual contact with them. It is the first thing that presents itself to your mind. There is nothing creative about it. The predator impulses are wired into your brain to look for the easiest, simplest way to get something you want to consume.

Sex-TemptationSo, when you look at fruit on a tree, your little predator circuits are going to conclude that the stem is the easiest place to break and that is where you break it to get that fruit. You look for the weakness to exploit in order to get what you want. That is wired into everyone.

You look at situations; you see weakness and think, “I can exploit that weakness.” You see someone about to bend over at their desk and you think, “I could exploit that weakness to look at what they are doing.” You see someone is feeling lonely, “I could use that to get close to them.” You immediately go there. Humans are wired to look for the weakness and to see it as the way to get what they want.

The sexual predator impulses are in everyone. They look a little bit different for men than women. Cultures have shaped women to think, “For me to have power, I need to attract predators. If I can get people to look at me; if I can attract all those impulses to look at me I am going to be a very powerful woman.” That is normally how women think and what they expect. Clothing today is designed to make people think they are about to get a peek at something that normally should not be shown in public.

Men play the same game, just the other way around. “Since women have all the forbidden fruit, if I can somehow gain access to the thing that is being forbidden me or being hidden from me or almost hidden from me then that would make me powerful.” But both end up feeling that it should be pleasing to them and pleasing to the other person—that is the thing that makes us fool ourselves most easily. Men think “This will make us both happy if I let my predator responses find a way through your defenses and get what I want.”

While the predator response is wired in, the protector response is not—it is learned. It is acquired from more mature people who look at weakness and say, “Oh, I know how to protect that so it isn’t exploited.” It is very easy to see a weakness and exploit it; it is much more mature to see a weakness and while seeing it and seeing how to exploit it, you want to learn how to protect those conditions.

Why do sexual sin and its predatory attributes become so appealing for men and women? The answer to that is an odd answer. It is so appealing because we don’t have an alternative to it. If it is the only thing you know, you have no image, no sense that you want to protect somebody, and consequently, all you see is what you want.

The question comes up, “Why can’t I have what I want?” It is increasingly the case that just because the Bible says, or your pastor says, or Christians generally say you can’t have what you want, “What do I care what they have to say? That is their opinion and my opinion is that I should have what I want as long as I’m not hurting anybody and as long as it is tasty for everybody, then everybody should have what they want.” That is becoming the global mindset.

The interesting thing is that it never occurs to folks that the thing they really want is a permanent relationship. There is a blog titled, “Why should I not live with my boyfriend?” The answer is one of the more popular issues on the site. The reason to NOT live with the boyfriend is that it does not lead to permanence.

If what you are after is a permanent relationship, living with the boyfriend is a lousy plan. This is inevitably the case. If you want to have a long term relationship with someone…let’s say you want to have a long term relationship with your neighbor and his wife. However, you see your neighbor’s wife as “tasty.” As soon as your neighbor discovers this, that long term relationship with them and whatever closeness you were going to have is over.

The same is the case with the men who want to be close to their step-daughters. If the desire to be close to your step-daughter is a sexual one, that is not going to lead to a permanently good relationship. It will give you exactly the opposite result and a lot of misery. Many leaders have discovered a miserable outcome for what they thought was tasty to begin with because it never occurred to them at the time that what they really wanted was love that endures.

The more hopeless you feel about the desire for love that endures, the less you know about creating enduring relationships, the more likely you are to take what you can when you can get it. It is sort of a desperation response. No alternative. “I am the guy, or I’m the gal that is missing out on all the fun, all the power, all the appeal because I’m the only one who won’t.” That is kind of how they think about it rather than, “I am the one who is building for permanence here!”

If you are protective of other people, they will love to stay around you even if they have weaknesses. They have no reason to be afraid of you.

The same kind of thing would happen if we lived in a protective environment. This is what life should be like as we form churches and life together. We come together not because we are the odd people who don’t have predator impulses but we are the odd people who know something more than predator impulses—we know how to protect others. The mature answer is to learn a better response.

The Joy Starts Here book is trying to introduce how a lot of these iniquities, these deformities are not only getting into society, but are spreading in larger numbers. Deformities, when you are talking about sexuality, are not so much something wrong with us as it is something that is missing from us.

Christians need to reintroduce into culture some things that are badly missing. This is a wake-up call for us in this country because it doesn’t take much looking around to see that our society is quickly becoming predatory. We should be the ones who reintroduce that new way of life back into the culture around us starting with our own churches and families.

Resources — To order click here!

And that brings me to that Joy Starts Here book.

 Pastors, this is a great way to introduce this training (relational brain skills) into your church, staff and family. Joy Starts Here, the transformation zone, unpacks a lot more. I highly recommend this resource as a next step.

Jim Talks - Vol. 30


Vol. 30  of the JimTalks is a companion resource to The Joy Starts Here.





30daycover500.jpgThirty Days of Joy, exercises to build joy for busy married couples.

To learn the brain skills that buildenduring relationships, click here:


Join us again next week for more insights and resources on starting joy in your family, church and community. If you have questions or comments please drop them in the comment box below and we will respond!

May your joy be full!

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer, 

Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                  

This post was developed from a talk by Dr. Jim Wilder for Pastor’s Weekly, Oct. 31, 2013

Sin/Transgression/Iniquity—What’s the Difference?

There is a difference, and it’s important. Jim breaks it out in this recently released volume of JimTalks.

Jim Talks - Vol. 30Sin should look really terrible, but that is the problem with it. It doesn’t seem to remember that when it is making its appearance. Sin tempts us precisely because it looks so good!

In Jim’s own words, “Sin came to my attention first when I was reading when Moses was up on the mountain with God. He asked if he could see God pass by and God put him in that little cleft in the rock. And as they were talking Moses made the point that God was merciful to our transgressions, sins and iniquities. To him they were very different concepts.”

“At that point in my own Christian life I hadn’t thought there was any difference between them. They were three words that meant the same thing; but it got me curious why Moses would mention the three things separately. So I looked up all the scriptures related to those words and that is why we have more than 8 hours of talking on iniquity in volume 30! And while they all indicate something wrong with us, they are really quite different.”

Transgressions involve a command or a law. “Without the law there is no transgression.” If the law says you should go 35 and you go 37 that is a transgression. Had there been no law you could go 37 with no problem. If the law says “thou shalt stop at this corner,” there is a red stop sign. If you don’t stop that is also a transgression because the law says you should stop and you didn’t. If there was no sign, there would be no transgression. Understanding that one is the easiest.

Sin in both the Old and New Testament is an archery term. In the New Testament Greek it simply means you missed the mark. You can miss the target in any number of different ways: too high, too low, to the side, fall short of the target, shoot past the target—just all kinds of ways you can miss the target. The archery term literally means that your arrow did not reach as far as it needed to.

That is why Paul said, when he was trying to make it clear to Greek speakers, that “all have sinned and missed the mark and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 It is a very specific kind of falling short of what you were asked to do…for instance God asks you to love those that hate you and be merciful to your enemies. But, often when you find your enemies you just want to pound their noses—that is falling short of what you should be doing.

Iniquity is a more difficult concept. With transgression you clearly have a choice: you stop or you don’t stop. You follow the law or you don’t follow the law. With sin, you might give it your best shot and still not make it as far as God wants you to go. With sin you are trying but simply are not making it.

Iniquity is a word that means something is deformed; it is a deformity. There is something not right about you.

The interesting thing is that in the New Testament, the Greek does not appear to have any direct corresponding word for that, just like there is not a corresponding word for sin. They are close, but iniquity is even more difficult. Usually in the passages in the Old Testament whenever the word used is translated “iniquity,” the New Testament talks about “weaknesses.” Often that is translated into English as infirmities or weaknesses.

Leprosy is an iniquity in the skin; it is a weakness in the skin. Blindness is an iniquity in the eyes. If your friend tries to pass a kidney stone and his legs swell up and things were not running they way they should…some of those things are just deformities. There is nothing he can do about it. There is no way he can change that by willing harder or just obeying. He is dealing with some things about himself that are not the way they are supposed to be.

Physically that is okay. Christians don’t have trouble saying, “my back is out” or “my left leg is too short,” or “my eyesight is deformed or I have other kinds of deformities.” When they become deformities of character or personality or even deformities in outlook on the world—those are the ones that are much more insidious.

It is in that context that I want to suggest that our society’s outlook on sexuality is pretty deformed and culture is actively in the process of helping deform it even more.

Women in South America have the idea that they have to look a certain way or they won’t be lovable. They believe it. They can look at their bodies and find out what is wrong with them, from their point of view that makes them unlovable. But that is not the way it was supposed to be—that is an iniquity, a deformity in outlook. Their concept of who they are has been misshaped in some way. And, South America does not have the corner on that.

This lays a foundation for what iniquity means in the development of sexual predator impulses for men and women. Most readers would probably think the term “predator” only applies to people who are in San Quentin. However, predatory impulses are not a rare and strange thing that happens to just a few people. Everyone is wired with sexual predator impulses; that is normal and automatic; it’s easy to do. No brains required. Anyone can feel this reaction.

Next week we will delve more into those predator instincts that seem to be the baseline wiring of our species! Chris and I hope that making plain the differences between sin, transgression and iniquity is helpful.

If you would like to purchase either Joy Starts Here or Volume 30 of the JimTalks, click here. Vol. 30 is an excellent companion to Joy Starts Here.

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May your joy be full!

Chris & Carol,

Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer, 

Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                  

This post was developed from a talk by Dr. Jim Wilder for Pastor’s Weekly, Oct. 31, 2013