Course Syllabus
Course Script
Final Exam

2.4. Living Healthy Relationships

God is a God of relationship. When we read the bible, it is not primarily about knowledge, it is about getting to know God better and entering into a deeper relationship with him. From the beginning, God has been interested in relationships with humans. Adam and Eve have been in direct communion with God in paradise before the fall. The Fall brought destruction to man’s relationship with God and to man’s relationships with one another. Even today, all mankind suffers from it. Even if it is about people who follow Jesus together and are on the way with him, it does not automatically mean that relationships succeed.

Since we are created for relationships, it is important that we have good, constructive and healthy relationships with people in addition to a deep and trusting relationship with God. Especially as a leader this is a big challenge, since it is a problem for many people to situationally see a person as a leader and then again as a friend. We talk about having different hats on. I, as the main leader of Relevant Vineyard, very often have the hat of the main leader on in church. However, if I play electric guitar in the worship band, I have the electric guitarist’s hat on, and not the main leader’s hat. However, if things happen in the band that are against the values of our church or the principles of God, then I may put the main leader’s hat back on for a moment.

Each of us needs relationships with people who we know are 100% for us. Especially in the context of church you also have to deal a lot with broken people or people who are simply spiritually immature. When you spend a lot of time with people like that, it’s important to have a good balance of spending time with people where the relationships are invigorating and life-giving. Gordon McDonald has done a very nice description of what a group of people can be like in the context of church in the context of small groups:

  • Generative Communities: Relationships are invigorating, growth happens naturally, the vision is clear, and the energy balance is positive.
  • Habitual communities: The program runs routinely (on “autopilot”), one does not expect anything new and does not grow any more – loosely based on the motto, “Blessed are those who expect nothing, for they will not be disappointed!”
  • Toxic communities: Relationships cost power, conflicts either boil up or are suppressed, one suffers from the atmosphere.

As a leader, it is so important to have generative relationships. Relationships with people who love us and are honest with us. Who is walking with you? Who speaks into your life? Who stretches your thinking? Who listens to you? Who dreams with you? With whom can you share visions? With whom can you rejoice together? With whom can you share your tears? With whom can you play, play sports, and have fun together? With whom can you chase after God together? Most of the time, one person can’t cover all of that, but the specific question is, “Do you have those relationships, and if so, do you make enough time for them?”

Actually, it should be the case that Christian communities are basically generative. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily the case. But for me personally, it is definitely the goal that our communities are “generative communities”.