Enriching Relationships for a Lifetime   with Dr. Gary Oliver

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Ten to 15 years from now, what will distinguish the relationships of your graduates as having attended a “Christian” liberal arts school?

Is the answer a successful career, community involvement, church attendance, or abstaining from sin? These are important, but Christ stated that the mark of a Christian is our ability to love others as He loves us. Thus, one view of a meaningfully Christian education is that students need to graduate with more than a diploma and career skills to be effective for the Kingdom - they must learn to establish and maintain healthy relationships. Whether in friendship, courtship, marriage, parenting or relationships in the workplace, a person’s relationship skills influence, affect and in many ways determine their long-term success and happiness in life. We must educate and equip both the head and the heart.

What is the Growing a Healthy Relationship Program?

The CRE Growing a Healthy Relationship program is biblically sound and is based on the unique work of relationship experts Dr. Gary J. Oliver and Dr. Greg Smalley, who have over 50 years of combined experience in ministry with couples and college students. Specifically, the CRE Growing a Healthy Relationship program is a 2-day enrichment retreat for seriously dating, engaged and married couples that is focused on transforming the “whole” student—spiritually, emotionally and relationally.

The retreat is focused on equipping students with the knowledge and skills that will increase their ability to build and sustain healthy, satisfying and lifelong marriages. Transformation, however, does more than just give couples good information over a retreat weekend; it leads them to actually apply what they learn. This is why the true power of the CRE Growing a Healthy Relationship program lies in the small group follow up sessions. Couples coming away from the sessions inspired, challenged, and motivated need to act on that “retreat high” or much of what they receive at the event will be lost. The small group follow-up sessions serve to help couples personally apply the information long after the retreat is over. This transformation strategy is not just about attending an event, it’s about helping couples be “doers” and not just “hearers” of the word (Matt. 7:24). Information without application leads to frustration. On the other hand, information with application leads to transformation.

What You Will Receive

If your application is approved, the Center for Relationship Enrichment (CRE) and the Windgate Charitable Foundation will make a significant investment in your university and includes the following:

  • A base grant of $1,500 and a potential completion bonus of $400-$750
  • All travel expenses and honoraria for the retreat speakers
  • All program materials (i.e,. pre- and post-follow up assessments, participant discussion guide, planning and marketing materials)
  • Two $50 sweepstake prizes to provide added incentives for couples to complete all aspects of the program experience

Expectations for Participant School

Upon being accepted, the event coordinator must agree to the following:

  • Complete all tasks according to the established timeline and checklist that will be provided.
  • Register a minimum of 15 couples signed up to attend the retreat. If you do not have sufficient registration two (2) weeks prior, we reserve the right to cancel the retreat.
  • Ensure that couples complete all evaluation requirements, which include pre- and post-retreat assessments and a post-follow up assessment.
  • Successfully complete the retreat with a minimum of 15 couples attending the entire retreat.
  • Facilitate at least one (1) follow up session with a minimum of 15 couples one month after the retreat.

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Program Details

Successful completion of the program consists of participation in these two essential parts:

Part 1: A 2-day enrichment retreat consisting of 4 sessions that cover key healthy relationship topics like what is true love, effective communication, becoming a great listener, the power of prayer, healthy conflict management, personal responsibility, becoming a team, and building a Christ-centered relationship. A typical schedule is Friday Night (7pm - 9pm) and Saturday (7pm - 1pm). The retreat is designed as a 2-year theme cycle:

Year 1 Communication-The Key to Your Relationship

Year 2 Conflict Management-The Power of Healthy Conflict

The retreat is facilitated by CRE trained speaker(s). Among various other strengths, there are three key characteristics that establish the qualifications and expertise of the facilitators: (1) each has a healthy marriage; (2) each possesses extensive experience in working with college students; and (3) each has been trained by Dr. Gary J. Oliver and Dr. Greg Smalley.

Part 2: The second part of the program is the small group follow-up sessions to be held one month after the weekend retreat. The focus of the small group sessions will be on discussing questions to help the couples personally apply the information after the retreat is over and completing a brief post-retreat assessment. Although we require at least one (1) follow-up session, we strongly encourage you to provide several opportunities for couples to get together and discuss how to apply the information in their relationship.


©2014 The Center for Healthy Relationships on the campus of John Brown University
2000 West University Street, Siloam Springs, AR 72761 (479) 524-7105 CHR@jbu.edu