A few weeks back, Matt Bradner and Julia Bradner talked to the CO staff team about family and marriage. In addition to personal benefits the individuals gained from attending the training, the staff was able to use the talk to foster healthy team dynamics among themselves.

I asked Paul Poteat, the regional director for CO Minneapolis, why having a healthy team is important. “Jesus said that ‘people will know that you are my disciples by your love.’ That being the case, it is really important how we, as Christians, display our love for one another. Because of this we put a heavy emphasis on the health and unity of our team.

We have roughly 28 staff with COM. Therefore, we try to leverage various training opportunities for the entire team to participate in and experience together. We typically have three distinct times of training each year: over the summer at our Summer Training Project, in August before school starts up, and in December at the close of the semester.

This year, however, we added an additional time in February to focus on marriage and family. We have 10 couples on the team and 6 families. While single and ministering to college students, it can be a little less hectic figuring out time in your schedule to meet with people; it’s easier to sleep in or stay out late. Once you add the pressures of your marriage and even more so, your children, this gets difficult. That’s why it’s important to give some special emphasis at points to marital and familial health.

Also, for students coming out of various family backgrounds, the example they see in our staff couples and families is massively redemptive. If that’s true, then let’s make the redemptive picture as powerful and effective as possible.”

Devin Smith, on staff with CO at the University of St. Thomas, attended the Bradner’s training and brought back some really helpful notes.

One of his biggest takeaways was the concept of nourishing and cherishing. Nourishing refers to the aspects and attitudes toward a relationship that are growing, challenging, developing, and directional. A helpful analogy is milk that strengthens the relationship. Cherishing is the affectionate, passionate, relaxed, celebratory aspects of a relationship. This is represented by a glass of wine to symbolize delighting in the other person.

The Bradners, using this concept, set a vision for a healthy marriage. It should be a love culture that consistently nourishes and constantly cherishes. It should consistently grow where it isn't developed and constantly love and delight where it is. This can be easily translated to any type of relationship.

Throughout their talk, the Bradner’s used personal examples and scripture to help pass along their vision for family and marriage to the CO staff. Their desire was that everyone would display the enjoyment of life through igniting the heart towards knowing God, preserving the privilege of family, experiencing the joyous necessity of friendship, and extending oneself for the good of others.

And from what I heard from the CO staff, it sounds like it was a success.