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Annual Gathering 2016
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Chris & Jennifer Coursey

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Chris and Jen Coursey lead and design the THRIVE training program that uses Life Model Works exercises to train leaders with relational joy, healing, maturity and joyful change in the nineteen skills and Immanuel Lifestyle training.

Chris is an ordained minister, pastoral counselor, published author and international speaker while Jen is a teacher, THRIVE facilitator, author and synchronized dance instructor. Chris and Jen run THRIVE training under the experienced leadership team known as Shepherd's House.

THRIVE Training
P.O. Box 2376
East Peoria, IL. 61611
Telephone: (309) 367-4020

Chris' Testimony:
I’ll never forget my alcohol counselor swearing at me out loud as she watched me walk into her office after I received my second DUI within a year. She hoped to never see me again after my first round of counseling. Now I faced jail time and hefty fines. I had stopped trying and was dying.

My mother had faithfully driven us kids to church every Sunday. At five years old I told her, “Mommy, when I get older I want to be a pastor.” My dreams took other forms too; I wanted to be a movie star, baseball, basketball or a racquetball player.

Even though I had talent, intelligence and many things came easily for me; I would blow one chance after another. I quit time after time. In grade school I found school, learning and testing easy. My teachers and principal recommended me to take an entrance examination at an elite school. I took the test but I purposefully flunked so I could stay in my grade school with my friends.

My fears slowing took over my life but I thought I was having fun. Ask me if I was afraid and I would have laughed, unless you asked about public speaking. I was terrified!
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Jen's Testimony:
You may think that I can teach THRIVE brain skills because I have had them all my life but the truth is just the opposite. Until I began learning joy and relationship skills in 2002 my life revolved around finding a safe place to live or, maybe, to hide. My family had fallen apart and I was looking for a place where I would not feel out of control. I desperately wanted to trust someone, even God, but I could not shake the feeling that even God would not turn out to be who I expected. Fear and confusion started fairly early in my life and by age eleven I had been hospitalized for suicidal depression. It wasn’t like most people could look at me and know there was a problem. Sometimes I could do very well in school, at others I fell apart.

I wasn't able to be consistent. I would learn things and not be able to apply them, like learning I needed to rest when overwhelmed but not be able to apply it when needed. I could not follow a daily routine. Fears often kept me up late so there was no knowing when I would get up or if I would have energy to do anything the next day. Emotions and fears overwhelmed me to the point I quit my school internship with no notice and moved out of state. It was this point where my life crossed paths with Chris. 
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Equip your family, church, community or ministry!

Reach Your Potential w/ JOY Retreats
Host or attend a profound weekend of teaching and hands-on exercises to help you reach your God-given potential. Maturity does not grow on trees nor can it be gained by studying theology or hearing a good sermon. Maturity is human responsibility that requires individuals and communities to work together. Bring a maturity weekend to your church. Bring lasting change to your community.

Because maturity is measured in stages, a Reach Your Potential w/ Joy retreat allows community members to discover their earned maturity and identify the next step in their development. The retreat is not designed to replace the community with a seminar nor is it designed to advance people into their next stage of maturity in the seminar itself.
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Joy Rekindled Marriage Retreats
Experience the most popular addition to the THRIVE training package! Enjoy a weekend with your spouse to strengthen your marriage, build joy and change fear to love. Practice creative exercises designed to improve how you communicate and help you and your spouse recover when things go wrong. This is not your average marriage retreat! Discover the neurochemistry of bonding and learn solutions to better equip your life and marriage.

THRIVE Marriage Retreats combine theory with hands-on joyful practice so you walk away with skills, healing and hope - not just more information. Learn more how Rekindled Marriage Retreats bring refreshing joy to marriages!

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THRIVE Training
Attend THRIVE with your spouse, friend or prayer partner!

THRIVE training is unlike anything out there. The combination of brain science with Immanuel awareness creates lasting changes for your life, marriage, family and church. Be prepared to practice hands-on exercises in a relational environment when you come to THRIVE.

Register for THRIVE or, if your church has enough interest, consider hosting a THRIVE in your city! Find real solutions to your problems.

THRIVE for me.
THRIVE for my family.
THRIVE for my leaders.

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Contact Chris if you want Life Model applications to your family, community, church and ministry. Learn how recent discoveries in brain science, the presence of Jesus and Biblical wisdom create joyful character change. Learn why will power is not enough for lasting change!

Read how THRIVE training changes lives.
Read what people say about the Life Model.
Watch how Chris and Jen apply THRIVE training with their children.
Contact Chris if you are interested in hosting a retreat or would like to attend a THRIVE training event.

THRIVE training focuses on character development so you:

  • Build relational joy.
  • Learn return to joy skills.
  • Develop a solid group identity.
  • Foster growth and transformation.
  • Perceive the active presence of God in your life.
  • Identify and address the five types of pain the brain knows.
  • Change fear to love so communities stay healthy and operate at their God-given potential.
  • Nurture relationship skills so leaders and congregants suffer well when under pressure. Much MORE!


Chris consults churches, ministries, families, couples, leaders and communities on relational solutions that include multigenerational community, Immanuel healing and strategic brain-based skill training. As we understand what families need to grow and mature, we can correctly diagnose where problems arise and avoid pitfalls. We have no shortage of moral failures, addictions and immaturity that run rampant in our families and communities. Leaders cannot affford to invest in programs and resources that are weak or ineffective. Churches need more than fancy packaging to foster joyful character change in their communities. Chris offers joy-based ministry and training so counselors and leaders effectively address type A (Painful absences) and B traumas (Bad things that happen). Read how lives are being changed through THRIVE training. Discover how to be a joy starter and raise a community of protectors instead of predators or possums.

Current Activity

Along with his wife Jennifer, Chris develops the THRIVE training program and leads weekend retreats. Priorities include creating and testing joy-based resources, prayer ministry, discipleship and equipping leaders with THRIVE training skills. Chris spends much of his time enjoying sons Matthew and Andrew as well as writing and developing materials, studying, fostering relationships, jogging and serving his church community. Chris enjoys equipping God's people so they live according to their faith and values. Chris enjoys studying and teaching on the Hebraic roots of the Christian faith.

Chris and Jen travel and train leaders in America and abroad. THRIVE training has expanded so people all over the world can participate in THRIVE from the East to West Coast into Canada with interest springing up around the globe. Chris and Jen equip individuals, couples and groups to build joy and recover when things go wrong. Because character involves more than good intentions, Chris and Jen offer unique, experiential-based training that focuses on helping people learn the nineteen relational brain skills. This training, based on recent discoveries in neuroscience, the active Presence of Jesus and Biblical reality, equips people to develop the necessary skills to positively impact their families and communities. THRIVE focuses on training leaders, not just giving them more information. From Illinois, Chris and Jen run THRIVE under Shepherd's House, Inc., a Pastoral Care and Training Center located in Pasadena, California. Both are Assistant Directors for Shepherd's House ministry.

Chris and Jen are active members of New Life Christian Church in Morton, Illinois.

Training and Education

From Illinois Central College in East Peoria, Illinois, Chris transferred to Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois to major in Sociology with a minor in Psychology. Chris graduated in May of 1998 with a B.A. degree then started work as a counselor under Jo Getzinger and Cheryl Knight. Chris completed his Master’s Degree in Theological Studies from a Messianic Jewish Yeshiva called MBI, or Messianic Bible Institute, out of Virginia. Chris spent over seven years living in a redemptive community setting with the focus on helping severe trauma survivors recover and reach their potential. Chris’s training includes ministering to adults and children with addictions, PTSD, D.I.D., SRA, maturity-related issues and a variety of personality disorders and problems that result from A and B Traumas. Chris works with couples who are stuck in their marriage and want more. Chris is an ordained minister and member of the international Evangelical Church Alliance.

Chris sums up his ministry and mission as, “to help people be full of life and experience Jesus Christ as a reality”. Dr. Jim Wilder mentors and has trained Chris as Chris lectures nationally and internationally on material he authors concerning the effects of trauma and trauma recovery. Chris is known for his relational and community approach to trauma recovery and growth. Chris now operates THRIVE from East Peoria, IL. with his wife Jennifer. Chris trains counselors and leaders how to use the 19 skills in ministry, he offers personal ministry and specializes in maturity and trauma recovery issues. Chris consults churches and groups on how to effectively reach their potential, perceive the active presence of God, avoid pitfalls, stay resourceful and rebuild after a crisis.



Chris is a published author with six books in print including the new Joy Starts Here book coauthored with Ed Khouri, Shelia Sutton and Dr. Jim Wilder. Chris coauthored Share Immanuel, The Healing Lifestyle written with Dr. Jim Wilder that is translated into multiple languages. Chris and his wife Jen released the new 30 Days of JOY for busy married couples book that is designed to start joy for couples. The Courseys completed three skill training workbooks that are now published, Year One: Mastering Joy and Rest, Year Two: Mastering Returning to Joy and Year Three: Mastering Applied Strategy. Each skill guide is a 52-week brain training, character-building workbook designed to practice skills and experience the Immanuel lifestyle. These skill guides are the beginning steps of a THRIVE training package for communities and churches. Each guide equips THRIVE attendees to continue their skill training practice before, during and after THRIVE. Chris and Carol Brown are now working on a new Joy Starts Here book for pastors. See the new pastor joy starter blog here.

Chris developed the new THRIVE-at-Home online courses as an introduction to THRIVE and prerequisites for each track of THRIVE. The Courseys released a training video called Steps to Joy on synchronized dancing, a fun method to train nonverbal skills that increases joy and even burns calories! Chris and Jen intend to expand THRIVE training with additional training videos and resources.

Chris offers articles on topics pertaining to maturity, healing, healthy marriages, the role and significance of redemptive Christian community, addiction and trauma recovery, primary attachments and bonding as well as other topics related to Scripture and the Christian experience. One article in particular on Bonds and Attachments, was published in Promise, an international magazine in January of 2004.

Chris has been a guest speaker at YWAM schools in Kona, Vancouver, South Korea and New Jersey as well as an interview guest on several Christian radio shows in the US talking about the role of gentle protector skills for couples, leaders and pastors. Chris develops, organizes and trains leaders and groups at THRIVE. Chris travels to speak at various Christian conferences and seminars each year. THRIVE has grown exponentially in the US and is now offered in Canada with interest around the globe. Watch Chris and Jen apply THRIVE training with their children. Read life-changing stories.

Speaking Engagements

Chris and Jen speak and train nationally and internationally on the importance of joy, godly character and nineteen brain-based relational skills for families and communities to successfully reach their potential. See upcoming events.