16 episodes

Ben and Heather Cotten delve into the complexities of living life together as followers of Jesus. It's a hard task, but it is infinitely rewarding, and vital to our calling to grow in faithfulness to Jesus and His calling.

The Art of Community The Art of Community

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 5.0 • 4 Ratings

Ben and Heather Cotten delve into the complexities of living life together as followers of Jesus. It's a hard task, but it is infinitely rewarding, and vital to our calling to grow in faithfulness to Jesus and His calling.

    The Bible in Community

    The Bible in Community

    Most people struggle to get any momentum going in their study of the Bible.  They struggle to do it regularly and fail to engage with it meaningfully when they do.  It's so common, that we tend to assume it about everyone unless proven otherwise.

    Why is this?

    At least one of the major contributing factors is that we tend to digest the scriptures in isolation from the rest of the community of faith.  But the word of God was written by people in community, to communities of people, and is meant to be received in the context of a community.  We do not study for ourselves alone, but we also study so that we can be a conduit of spiritual life to others.

    This is what we are exploring in this installment of the AOC podcast.

    Link to printable sheets to help you discuss the Bible with others. (Thanks to David Helm for providing this fantastic resource!)



    Music by Elisa Cox

    • 31 min
    Redeeming Trauma

    Redeeming Trauma

    We have talked about how to help people through hardship and trauma, but we have not addressed what to do if you are the one experiencing the hardship.  This is what we are after in this episode.

    We want to help you begin to look ahead with eyes of hope and faith for what is to come, without ignoring what has happened behind.


    Music by Elisa Cox

    • 28 min
    How to Help Friends Through Hard Times (And How NOT to)

    How to Help Friends Through Hard Times (And How NOT to)

    We often find ourselves in situations where a friend is going through a hard time, or reveals some trauma in their past that is troubling them in the present.  Knowing what to do, and what to say, in these moments can be difficult.

    We want to help you with that in today's episode.

    Here is our list:

    What Not To Do

    What to Do Instead

    Make it about you
    Make it about them and what God is doing

    Tell them “God won’t give you more than you can handle” or some other trite, meaningless, and untrue platitude.(“God needed another angel” or even “Everything is going to be ok”

    If you don’t have a real thing to say, don’t say anything other than “I’m so sorry this happened to you.”

    Lie to make them feel better

    Always tell the truth, no matter what.  This includes children, teenagers, etc.

    Give advice.  Advice is RARELY what people need, unless they are asking for it.  And even then, it will always be limited in its effectiveness.  People usually have a heart problem, not an info. problem.

    They need Jesus, and Jesus most often shows up for people through other people.  If you must speak, say what Jesus would say.

    If they ask for advice then give it prayerfully and with grace.

    Avoid saying things like, “What you should do is…”

    Talk more than you listen.

    Ask questions.  Lots of them.  Be an active listener by repeating back to them what they are saying, but in your own words.  If your summary isn’t accurate, apologize and ask more questions.

    See yourself in the position of rescuer or problem solver

    You are a friend.  Take up your position on the ash heap next to theme instead of the instructor over them.

    Assume they will ask for help if they need it.

    Try to put yourself in their shoes and think about what practical things would make their situation harder.  Then volunteer to do specific things for them. Ex. Grocery Shop for them, make meals, watch kids, help with finances, run errands, pay for counseling, etc.

    Run Away/Get scared away from the hard (this also includes after some time has passed)

    Show up consistently.  Even when you don’t know what to do or what to say.  Ask how their day is, ask how you can pray for them, ask what they are learning about God or what God is teaching them during this season

    Affirm with the person you are speaking with that you are there to listen no matter what. Ask them to hang out or go out. THere may be times the texts or calls or invitations are ignored but don’t abandon ship. Keep knocking. Consistency in friendship shows them you value them.


    Make your help/presence conditional on their response

    Sometimes coming around to a good view point takes a lot of time and sometimes it doesn’t happen.  Show up anyway.  Pray and ask God for wisdom on how to share those things.


    Be someone people can trust. 

    Don’t relate to them based on their trauma or failure

    Help untangle the trauma from their identity. Remind them of who they are in Christ

    Make them or the person who brought the trauma the enemy

    Remember the enemy is the Devil. Help them war against the devil and direct their hearts towards forgiveness of the person.

    Be theologically unprepared

    Learn what the Bible teaches about suffering: God is in control, God is good, God loves you.

    Send helpful scriptures and encouragements that come to mind. 

    It is not always helpful to say “Just pray” but rather help with specific scriptures or things to pray 


    Give testimonies of God’s faithfulness in your life and the lives of those around you. 


    Music by Elisa Cox

    • 41 min
    Quick Update on the Podcast Schedule

    Quick Update on the Podcast Schedule

    Just a quick update on the schedule and some exciting things coming up for the show.

    • 2 min
    Mending Broken Relationships

    Mending Broken Relationships

    If you're going to invest in meaningful relationships, you're going to experience hurt, offense, and brokenness eventually.  Either you are going to hurt them, or they will hurt you.  The only way to avoid it, is not to have any friends!

    Scripture gives us a clear way forward, which is fantastic news, IF we are willing to refrain from sabotaging the process before it even gets started.

    Today's episode is about just that: how to mend a broken relationship, avoid destructive divisiveness, and move forward.  We discuss the need for forgiveness, repentance, and clarification.

    If you would like to reach out, you can find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100072368179465

    Or email at bcotten@livinghopetriad.com

    Music by Elisa Cox

    • 33 min
    Surviving My Church Hurt

    Surviving My Church Hurt

    We're back after a short hiatus for vacation and summer craziness!  Sorry to keep you waiting...

    This episode gets a little personal as we explore some of our own painful experiences with getting hurt by the Church.  It's hard, and complicated, when the community that is such a source of comfort and life becomes the scene of the crime.

    How do we respond?

    There are no easy answers.  Heather and I both felt more than ever that we are opening a can of worms that cannot be fully fleshed out (or answered) in a podcast.  But we still believe it's important for these stories to be told, and general compass heading to be offered as a way through and out.

    If you'd like to reach out to us, find either of us on Facebook.  Or you can email us at bcotten@livinghopetriad.com

    • 46 min

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