In a time when “isolation” has been a buzzword, one Camby church put human relationships at the center of their congregation’s life. In 2020, staff and lay members at Grace Church embarked upon the RelateStrong journey. RelateStrong is a program from the Boone Center for the Family at Pepperdine University that trains Christian leaders to help manage conflict, understand personality differences, and embrace spiritual gifts. The concepts build on Restoration Therapy’s Pain and Peace cycles and focus on interpersonal growth and personal healing. At its core is an emphasis on forming real, caring connections with other people and learning to work through conflict in a healthy way.
As soon as Grace Church members started working through the program, project leader Ruthann Longcor witnessed positive changes on staff and leadership. Both church staff and lay members saw real results in the way they confronted difficult interpersonal conversations. Within just a few months, participants reported moving from “‘pain response’ to ‘peace response,’ allowing individuals to both acknowledge the hurt being experienced and choosing a peaceful, regulated response,” Longcor said. Couples even reported a change in how conflict is handled within their marriages.
While the pandemic has created some roadblocks in their plans to gather for RelateStrong trainings, nothing can slow the progress Grace Church has made toward forming healthier, stronger relationships.
“It really feels like a miracle,” Longcor said. “RelateStrong is providing the tool to follow Scripture and trust God's Word and bring a spirit of unity among us!”