Strong Couples

Strong Couples

Four years ago, I was able to make a dream come true! 

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I had been trained as a Gallup Faith Coach in 2010, and the experience transformed me in profound ways. Originally, I used Strengths with the students I served in Campus Ministry. But the more I worked with Strengths, the more I KNEW it could be transformational for couples as well. So the dream was born to give couples the Strengths tools to build stronger relationships. And finally, four years ago, we hosted our first Strong Couples course. It has been an incredible blessing to couples and our parish!  We now host one Strong Couples course a year with monthly “Boosters” to help participants continue to build their relationships and keep the tools sharp!

Here is a brief outline of how we run our course: 

Pre-Work

All couples are asked to register and given codes to take the assessment ahead of time and bring their results with them to the first meeting.

Week 1

We provide a nice dinner and facilitate table discussions and fellowship. After dinner, I present basic Strengths information, philosophy, and activities. We allow couples time to highlight their report and trade reports with their partner so they can highlight anything else that they see in their partner. They are given homework for the next week: Strengths Spotting.

Week 2

The whole group gathers for a potluck appetizer “meal,” and to chat and re-connect. We ask couples to find a quiet spot where they can discuss last week’s homework together. Then we break up into small groups (no more than 6 couples / 12 people), answer a few questions, and talk about any insights or epiphanies couples had from the homework. Then they get the homework for the next week: Where do our Strengths compliment each other and where do they create friction.

Week 3

The process follows the previous week’s structure: eat, chat, review homework with partner, meet as a small group, answer questions and share insights. Homework for the following week: Strengths-based Partnerships – Role Review.

Week 4

The process follows the previous week’s structure: eat, chat, review homework with partner, meet as a small group, answer questions and share insights. Homework for the following week: Strengths-Based Love Letters

Week 5

We gather together for a pot-luck meal. After dinner, we meet one-on-one with our partner and read each other our love letters. Then we gather together as a large group and debrief/review our time together. What did couples love? What do we need to change? Etc… 

 

I can tell you that so much of the value of this course is in our small group time. There, we build trust and connection with other people on this path. There’s a lot of laughter, sometimes some tears, but always a deeper understanding of ourselves and our partner, and the sense that we have companions on the journey.

Kirsten Hangas, Christ the King Parish, Missoula, Montana

Kirsten’s CliftonStrengths Signature Themes: Input ~ WOO ~ Adaptability ~ Connectedness ~ Maximizer


 

CSEC Regional Groups

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Why start a Regional Meet-up?

CSEC is a great partner for faith communities and individuals working with Strengths and Engagement, however sometimes it is better to be able to discuss face-to-face with others who are working in the vineyard just like your organization, many of whom may be facing the same issues. 

We found this to be the case in the Minneapolis region and our answer was to create CSEC-MSP, a regional meet-up, and its purpose is to bring strengths champions together for quarterly discussion about all things Strengths and Engagement.

CSEC-MSP has been meeting since 2017 on a quarterly basis. At each meeting, we have welcomed anywhere from 6 to a dozen strengths champions to discuss topics, share best practices, and support each other’s strengths and engagement programs. 

We started by sending out an informational flyer to all the faith communities that we knew had offered Living Your Strengths programs and asked if they saw their community in any of the following:

  • We have heard about CliftonStrengths® (StrengthsFinder®) and its use in faith communities–we want to know if this would be a good fit for our faith community.

  • We have started a Living Your Strengths program...now how can we grow this program?

  • We had a Living Your Strengths/Strengths Quest program and it seems to have fizzled, how do we breathe some life into our program?

  • We aren’t connected or comfortable online, can we just meet to discuss?

We also shared other benefits to joining in this charter group:

  • Learn what other faith communities are doing with their Strengths program

  • Share Ideas

  • Get answers to your questions from others in the Strengths Community

  • Discuss best practices

  • Get access to resources that have been used successfully by other churches

We have covered all sorts of topics, including:

  • Engagement

  • Starting a Living Your Strengths program

  • Facilitator 101

  • Balconies and Basements

  • Strengths Domains

  • How to get Gallup certified as a facilitator

And we have shared resources, figured out new tactics, explored best practices, and received great support from one another as we built our own community – CSEC-MSP.

If you would like to start your own regional meet-up and have questions, feel free to contact CSEC Board members, Martha Buelt, mbuelt@talentstrength.net or Mary Kennedy, mkennedy@saintolaf.org.