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Stronger Families Stronger Churches

Stronger Families, Stronger Churches

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During dinner at almost any restaurant, an alarming pattern is evident. Younger couples use phones to finish up work while kids check social media. Even older couples often eat with little conversation. For many, the situation is similar at home. A quick internet search produces multiple articles about the detrimental effect of screen time on family relationships. Communication is easier than ever before, but it seems couples are less engaged on a personal level.

Robert C. Crosby, president of Emerge Counseling Services in Akron, Ohio, and his wife, Pamela, believe the Church can change that pattern. During 25 years of pastoring in New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio, they realized that strong families make strong churches which in turn bless communities.

“The Church has focused on breadth — reaching lots of people—but sometimes neglected depth — equipping people for relationships,” says Crosby. The Crosbys in 2010 founded Teaming Life in an effort to build stronger couples, families, and church teams.

The Crosbys believe many communication problems in marriage are rooted in gender differences.

“For men, the barrier is usually ego; for women it is expectations,” Crosby says. Men turn to their jobs or man caves, not realizing their wives need security and provision. Women, on the other hand, expect their home, kids, and husband to be a certain way. When expectations aren’t met, married women feel lonely, excluded by the very things that feed their husband’s ego. The gap between expectations and reality fills with stress.

In their new book, The Will of a Man & and the Way of a Woman: Balancing & Blending Better Together, the Crosbys explore differences as part of God’s design. Reflecting on tough periods in their own marriage, they show how differences can actually be complementary strengths, as a couple truly becomes one.

But with many couples, especially wives, suffering in silence or actually headed for divorce, how can the Church help?

“The Church must prioritize the authority of Scripture, using the Bible’s many examples of the strengths of both men and women.” There is a balancing effect to a man’s will and a woman’s way.”

Teaching on gender differences, while obviously valuable to couples, does not exclude singles. The concept can help women come to terms with a previous difficult relationship or prepare for marriage. Others find the information valuable in workplaces and friendships. Single parents learn the importance of mentorship for children, one way families can bless others as their own relationships improve.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline indicates that approximately one in four women experience abuse by an intimate partner at some point. Others deal with spousal substance abuse or infidelity. To help these women, church leaders should know local resources for safety and for capable Christian counseling to address vulnerability and codependency.

Pamela Crosby urges women’s leaders to set a goal that no woman walks a hard path by herself.

“We need women who are mature in their faith investing in new Christ followers,” she says. “And we absolutely must be Spirit-led, discerning when a woman needs someone to ask how she’s doing. Be aware of the woman who comes to church alone.”

Leaders can learn to ask insightful questions. With sensitivity to the appropriate environment —small group, large group, or one-on-one — the right question can encourage a woman to open up.

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