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  • Are Brent and Frank relationship experts?
    They are not relationship experts, except maybe in the realm of what not to do. They have had plenty of experience with that. It is their continuing goal to better know the scriptures and to surround themselves with individuals who have dedicated themselves to providing expert guidance in the many matters pertaining to managing pressure, building relationships, and living an effective Christian life that pleases God. 95FIVE exists to gather information, mine the experience and insight from leaders and helpers in churches and in other professional fields, and to collaborate with others to create resources that further the efforts of Christians everywhere in being and making disciples.
  • What is the doctrinal tradition of 95FIVE?
    We strive to be as faithful to the intended meaning of the biblical manuscripts that have been canonized as scripture. Our doctrine is evangelical; we believe that the Bible is the sole source of God’s word and that Jesus was fully God and fully man, and is the only avenue of salvation. Accordingly, we believe that only faith in Christ saves us from the penalty and hopelessness of sin. We understand that there are many denominations and traditions that have their own doctrinal emphasis. We take our theology seriously and have observed that authentic biblical teachings transcend denominational differences. However, it is not our aim to promote our doctrinal tradition or engage in debates. Our burden is helping discipleship take place beyond church walls and into our relationships. That is our hope to influence society.
  • Why is 95FIVE needed?
    It is not our position that the world needs 95FIVE. Rather, we believe the world is starving for truth, which we believe is offered in God’s word. 95FIVE seeks to be one of many entities who recognize the need to provide applicable guidance to believers who understand the importance of living authentic, influential faith in our dark times, the way Christ taught us in scripture. If we claim that we offer something new, you should avoid us. However, we humbly point to the source of instruction and inspiration, which is the Bible. We find our uniqueness in how we present some of the material and organize the principles into what we believe is an effective strategy for improving how believers in Christ live out their faith.
  • There doesn’t seem to be anything new in the principles that 95FIVE teaches. What makes your approach different?
    We do not teach anything that is novel. The word of God is sufficient to guide us in how we should live, worship, and serve him. Biblical principles have been taught for centuries and we hope to be faithful in how we join that effort. We also view the times in which we live as unique only in our level of technological sophistication. Other than that, human nature is the same as it has been from the beginning. The sins of today are nothing new. Humanity has a rebellious spirit that only our Creator can transform within individuals who trust in him. If anything sets our teaching apart, it is perhaps in how we view the basis for building stronger relationships. We take a more holistic view of the challenge of having an effective life. In our way of thinking, the way we relate to others is tied to the way we manage the pressures of life. Relationships and pressures are not completely separate issues, and often our relationships are the source of our pressures. 95FIVE believes character is the common factor of both, and it is what determines the effectiveness of our lives and testimony. God entrusts each of us with the life we have. He even sees ahead of time how our lives will be affected by the choices we make along the way. Whatever state we are in, he calls us to follow his counsel and learn wisdom that will get us back on track. Life consists of our relationships and it is critical that we learn to manage them in a way that pleases him. 95FIVE approaches Christian living from that view.
  • My life is going very well. Why should I be interested in the 95FIVE?
    95FIVE isn’t concerned only with rebuilding damaged or neglected relationships. We also understand the need to protect the healthy ones. In fact, the most important of your relationships are the ones that need the most investment. Keep them strong so that you can avoid unnecessary pain that eventually comes from neglect. It is a common misconception that healthy relationships are defined by being conflict-free. Such a view misses the point of what it means for a relationship to be effective. We must be strategic in how we build them and to be sensitive to what the purposes are for each one. For someone to say their relationship is healthy because it is stress or conflict-free is really to declare that the relationship is favorable to them. One person may assume the relationship is great because it isn’t causing them pain or conflict. However, it could be that the other person experiences it much differently. Maybe they feel neglected, misunderstood, or taken advantage of. We urge those who feel as if their lives are going smoothly to examine their relationships in the light of what the other people might be experiencing. It could be that our freedom of conflict and pressure (which is never permanent) might be deluding us into believing that our network of important people is in better shape than it really is. The spirit of Christ’s teaching is that we look out for the best interests of others, as well as those of ourselves. 95FIVE teaches that to help improve the lives of our people, we must begin with improving ourselves. The most important of our relationships is the one we have with God. A person may feel they have their lives and people ordered favorably to their own desired outcomes, but is he or she aligned favorably with God’s desires? That is the question everyone should begin with.
  • How does 95FIVE define influence?
    Influence is defined essentially as the ability to affect or motivate change in someone or something. Importantly, it isn’t change that is caused or forced. Influence provides some kind of compelling argument, example, or inspiration that motivates another person to change in some way. In relationships, this is an important principle. We feel that the reason there is so much dysfunction in relationships is because what many people think is influence is really some form of force or manipulation. It usually is not intentional, and often it is employed with kind intentions, but their techniques are just that. Arguing, debating, emotional reactiveness, “standing” for what you believe is right, virtue-signaling, all these are attempts to force or manipulate change in others’ beliefs and behaviors. The reason many end up in perpetual frustration is because the human heart is naturally resistant to forceful or manipulative persuasion. Therefore, the would-be influencer isn’t listened to, or their arguments fall on deaf ears. On the other hand, much of what is considered skillful influence is actually an appeal to the target’s subconscious to bring about a desired outcome of the “influencer”. That is not what we understand to be authentic influence. 95FIVE views genuine, godly influence in relationships from the standpoint of advocacy. A true influencer seeks the best possible outcome for the relationship in each situation. They are as concerned for the welfare of the other person as they are themselves. They want the best for their relationship, understanding that God’s guidance will help them achieve it. Regardless of the level of skill or maturity of the other person, the godly influencer will be an advocate and an effective example in the lives of their people. What brings about this type of influence is to approach our relationships strategically, not to bring about what we only think is best for ourselves, but what is the most beneficial to the other person as well. Relationship strategy is not a set of techniques to redirect others. It is the use of relationship skills that have the effect of true influence.
  • Why is it so important to emphasize influence at this time in our world?
    Specific to our modern culture is the growing, rampant tribalism. We see it in politics, religion, social values, sports, and nearly everything else. People have always disagreed, argued, and arranged themselves into affinity groups (tribes), but tribalism is the posture wherein one group shows hostility to other groups they don’t agree with. “We are the ones who are right” is the guiding claim of a tribalist culture. Authentic influence, as 95FIVE views it, is critical in such a society. It is demonstrated time and again that the techniques we use to attempt to influence others only serve to harden their position, just as their efforts serve to harden ours. We stop looking for consensus and we leave off the work of building bridges of dialogue and understanding. Instead, we are like invaders who storm into the other camps and attempt to drag people over to our side. Our indignant cancel culture, with its demonization techniques and hostile rhetoric, cannot move toward healing, only further destruction of our unity as patriots, or fellow Christians, or even families, who are often damaged by tribalism finding its way to our living rooms, dinner tables, and family gatherings. Christ shows us a better way, and we earnestly believe that is the only way to salvage what we have as a culture and preserve what is precious to us individually and to our faith communities.
  • Isn’t my influence my own faith story? My testimony?
    The story of your faith experience is the centerpiece of how you express your Christianity. It should be an ongoing story, developing every day as you live for Christ. Your actions and thoughts should spring from this most important feature of your life’s narrative. However, in the sphere of effective godly influence with others, your testimony can be regarded as a tool. It is your most important message, of course, but it must be backed up by using relationship skills. We cannot rely on being good or virtuous alone. Nor can we place all our expectations for desired results from just sharing our faith journey without skillfully gaining access to people’s hearts first. If our character does not match the claims of our testimony, it won’t matter how persuasively we try to argue our position. There is little chance we will be heard. Our testimony is central to our faith and it is unfortunate when we stifle its influence with our failure to learn and practice biblical relationship skills. We will be much more powerful in our efforts at influence when we are strategic and use wise skills to bless others.
  • Doesn’t my level of influence with those outside my faith depend on God’s providence?
    Yes, absolutely! Everything depends on God’s providence. In regard to influence, his providence brings opportunities for godly influence into your life. 95FIVE believes that the relationships we have are entrusted to us by God. Even the ones we may have chosen before we knew him were guided to us by his providence. It is our responsibility to represent him to those in our lives. We are given stewardship of our relationships. In an increasingly fragmenting world and culture, it is important that we recognize God’s care and concern of the critical bonds that tie us to other people and be influential to them. God brought them into our lives for a reason, even though we made choices that brought them to us.
  • Am I supposed to keep everyone in my life, regardless of how toxic they may be to me?
    It is very important that we be very sensitive to that issue. On the one hand, we shouldn’t strive for a level of relationship with someone that isn’t appropriate for one who is damaging to our emotions, reputation, or overall well being. In other words, if an individual is toxic to you, don’t strive to form a closer bond with them just for the sake of being a good witness. That is not taking care of yourself, someone who God loves just as much as anyone else. Adjusting your relationship with such a person is not the same as abandoning them or not loving them anymore. However, you can’t be an enabler. Having a toxic person in your life who does nothing but make you miserable, just to keep them close so you can express your faith to them, may actually be a negative witness to them. You show them weakness and victimhood, which may empower them to stay the way they are. Christ is not an enabler. Neither should we be. On the other hand, we shouldn’t cut ties and run from someone just because they are inconvenient, or who are struggling with some form of dysfunction. Don’t place yourself in a position where you get dragged down by their issues, but you should seek strategic ways to influence them so that they can see the light of truth in their challenges and take steps to manage them effectively. Be a helping hand, a good listener, and a great example. The People Process will show you how.
  • Don’t spiritual character traits determine my influence with others?
    Spiritual character traits are very influential, for sure. If someone is able to be effective in their influence with others because they demonstrate godly character, it is because they are also employing relationship skills. We see a difference, however, between someone seeing Christ in you (which is great) and you bringing Christlike influence to them. If they see Christ in you (godly character), that will certainly have an effect on their own understanding of God. The Lord uses that a lot by working in receptive hearts who witness your behavior. However, when he guides you to a relationship with them, whatever the level, you can be much more effective as his witness when you approach your relationship with that person strategically, which of course involves demonstrating biblical relationship skills.
  • What is the difference between a character trait and a skill?
    A character trait is a feature produced by our beliefs that influence the way we think and behave. Behaving a certain way consistently might reveal a character trait, but that behavior is not the trait, only the fruits of it. Additionally, it is possible that we behave a certain way because we are forced to or from a strong sense of obligation, but that behavior doesn’t align with our values, which are part of our beliefs. Effective character comes from a certain mindset that you will learn about in our program. Skills, on the other hand, are closely tied to character but they are different. Just like a skill in sports or craftsmanship, a relationship skill is a behavior and way of thinking that must be learned and practiced until it becomes a part of our skillset. The reason many people experience frustration in one or more of their relationships is not because they aren’t good, or are careless, but because they have not yet discovered and developed some skills that could enable them to be much more effective than they are.
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