The Relationally Healthy Church

Growing a Marriage &  Relationship Ministry in Your Church

Christ said that the world will know that we are His disciples by how well we love each other (John 13:34-35).  The early Christians were known by how well they loved each other and even total strangers.  Tertullian wrote that the Christians’ distinctive caring and sharing was so profound that the pagan world confessed in amazement, “See how they love one another.”

One of the keys to an effective church ministry is its ability to help people not only “know” truth, but also to live it out -to practice it in everyday relationships and situations.

What is The Relationally Healthy Church?

The Relationally Healthy Church program is a cornerstone of the CHR ChurchStrong ministry.  The content can be taught in an all-day workshop,  or in an appropriate  format identified through consultation with an individual church.  This individual consultation allows the CHR staff to help “tailor-make” a program for the individual needs of that church.

This is based on the realization that one of the most powerful ways that a church can impact it’s community is the way in which it’s members reflect who Christ is in the context of their relationships, starting with their own marriages and families.  If people can’t see the difference that Christ is making in our relationships, why should they believe that He can make in difference in theirs?  And the best place is to begin this transformation is through a strong marriage ministry.

We begin with a practical & theologically sound reframe for how a healthy, Christ-centered marriage can be a God-designed picture of WHAT it looks like for His sons and daughters to “become conformed to the image of His Son” in all of who He made us to be – in our mind, will and emotions.  Then, we share some foundational steps that even a small church can take to become a lighthouse that reflects the transformational power of our Lord in the real relationships of real people.

Where Did The Relationally Healthy Church Come From?

Dr. Oliver began developing the The Relationally Healthy Church program in the early 1990s, through courses he designed and taught as part of the Doctor of Ministry program at Denver Seminary.

It was initially designed to equip students to go back to their churches with a fresh approach to ministry that would help their churches become places where the transformational truths of Christ are both taught and caught.  Where the quality of relationships reflects the profound difference that Christ can make.  The starting point is cultivating healthy Christ-centered marriages and then moves through the entire church family . . . impacting the young, old, single, married, divorced, remarried . . . the entire church family.

What Is Included?

The content looks at the theological foundations, the compelling apologetic, the cultural/social imperative and the missional impact of Christ-centered relationships.  Specific topics include:

  • The Theological Imperative
  • What Is A Theology of Relationships?
  • Made In God’s Image—What does that mean?
  • The Fall—How did sin affect God’s image in us?
  • Soteriology—What happens when we are saved?
  • Sanctification—A Whole-Person Perspective
  • The Relational Apologetic
  • Why Does Marriage Matter?
  • Eight Steps to Building a Self-Sustaining Lay-Led Relationsip Ministry

Big Church?  Small church?  New church?  Old church?  It doesn’t matter. The Relationally Healthy Church is designed to help your church become a place where the community will see the difference that Christ is making in how your members love, listen, forgive, disagree, care and share.

The Relationally Healthy Church is about growing whole people.  It’s about giving them information that, with application, leads to transformation.  It’s the difference between breeding Tadpoles and growing Whole people.

“A tadpole is a little creature with a huge head and nothing much else besides.  Certainly there are some Christian tadpoles around.  Their heads are bulging with sound theology, but that is all there is to them.  No, we are concerned to help people to develop not only a Christian mind, but also a Christian heart, a Christian spirit, a Christian conscience and a Christian will, in fact to become whole Christian persons, thoroughly integrated under the lordship of Christ.”

Martin Lloyd-Jones

The most effective tools for the transformation of a community are healthy churches and healthy marriages and the surprising reality is that you can’t have one without the other.

However, especially in a post-modern culture, the most powerful apologetic for the truth-claims of Christ and the most powerful tools for transformation are healthy marriages where the truth-claims of the gospel are seen and not just heard, demonstrated and not just discussed, where the truth is both taught and caught.

“Healthy marriages are absolutely essential for healthy families and help provide a solid foundation for healthy, vital and vibrant churches that will have a generational impact.”

Gary J. Oliver, Ph.D.