It is good to take a break - an opportunity to take stock, think things through and see what could be better. For some life feels good - we have a lot to be thankful for - yet there is still more and we want to live in that 'more'. For others life feels like a continuous uphill struggle - does it really have to be like this?
The aim of the weekends is to help each of us to understand ourselves better. That is achieved through teaching sessions, sharing experiences, drama and interactive sessions which provide the opportunity for one-to-one conversation as well as group discussion. The weekends are challenging; they foster new perspectives on ourselves and our relationships and the ability to relate better to the people who matter in our lives.
There are currently four different weekends - or 'Steps'. Each 'Step' builds on the previous weekends and they should, therefore, be followed through in order. For details of each 'Step' please see below. The Understanding How to Help course builds on the principles taught in Steps One to Four and offers valuable insights into some of the underlying causes of mental and emotional health concerns and knowledge that will enable you to give valuable support to others.
As church meetings are currently suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic there are no dates currently planned for courses. However details of each course and the accompanying notes are available by clicking the pictures below.
On this weekend we discover our combination of temperaments, how our two main temperaments interact within us and the significance of that interaction. We look at how our past has helped to shape who we are today and how our identity is formed - plus many more fascinating insights. Click the picture of Southwold Pier to go to the Step One brochure.
The last Step One weekend was held at Cratfield from 7th - 9th February 2020 - click here to read a review of the weekend.
This weekend gives an opportunity to explore in depth the understanding and application of the material covered in Step One as well as sharing new insights, including how to become truly objective. We will have the opportunity to explore the power of how we feel about ourselves and how to properly value ourselves and others. Click the picture of Woodbridge to go to the Step Two brochure.
The last Step Two weekend was held in Dorchester from 21st - 23rd February 2020 - click here to read a review of the weekend.
This weekend builds on the first two but demonstrates how to use what we have learnt to make a real difference in the lives of others; it includes the opportunity for some 'hands on' experience. Click the picture of Thorpeness to go to the Step Three brochure.
Testimonial: "A really worthwhile course that follows on wonderfully from the first two. It gave an opportunity to put into practice and see working examples of the benefits of understanding not only ourselves but the processes that go on in others."
The latest Step Three weekend was held at Cratfield from 22nd - 24th November 2019 - click here to read a review of the weekend.
The Step Four course completes the quartet of 'Steps' and consolidates the concepts shared in previous courses. Click the picture of the river Waveney at Beccles to go to the brochure. The last Step Four weekend was held at Cratfield, Suffolk from 8th - 10th March 2019 - click here to read a review of the weekend.
The purpose of this course is to provide an understanding of some of the underlying causes of mental and emotional health concerns and equip you with the knowledge that will enable you to give valuable support to others. It is important to have completed at least Steps One to Three and preferably Step Four before attending this course. Click the picture of Southwold harbour to go to the brochure.
Click here to read a review of the latest Understanding How to Help weekend, which was held at Cratfield from 24th - 26th January 2020.
Who leads the weekends?
John Sparkes has been in Christian ministry for over forty years. John attended Bible College at Berwick-on-Tweed, where he met his wife Merle. They married in 1973 and moved to Suffolk to work as evangelists, initially with Counties Evangelistic Work, and founded Halesworth Community Church in 1975. During his ministry John has been involved in many aspects of church life but has always had a desire to help people to understand themselves and to equip them to build meaningful relationships.
He has counselled hundreds of people over the years and developed courses that provide help with and insights into the practical challenges that people face in everyday life. John has been active in his local community as Chair of Governors of a local school and as a magistrate. He and Merle have six children, four boys and two girls, and eight grandchildren.
The story of the courses - John has written a brief account of how the courses came into being and have developed over the years. Click here to read.
Where are the weekends held?
Some of the weekends are residential; the venue is a small family farm in the village of Cratfield, a beautiful setting in the heart of rural Suffolk. The accommodation is in four-star holiday cottages which enjoy excellent views of the Suffolk countryside.
In addition the weekends are held in various locations around the country. Previous courses have been held in Newquay, Poole, Portreath, Porthtowan, Bristol, Wimborne, Marlow, Ipswich and Earl Soham.
If you are part of a church or group that would like to explore the possibility of bringing this course to your area please get in touch via the contact page.
If you want to organise your own residential weekend and have between 12-15 people we can arrange a Step One weekend in Suffolk. It would provide an excellent opportunity to learn and grow together and would be ideal for a small group or leadership team that want to build better relationships. Write to us to request more details and/ or booking information via the contact page.
These are a few of the many testimonials from previous weekends: "The course explained the reasons why I feel like I do." "A great help in developing my understanding of myself and others." "An incredible valuable experience." "Accommodation had the WOW factor - warm, welcoming and comfortable." "The best and most practical Christian course I've ever been on ... when we understand temperaments and can see God's vision and created purpose for them it transforms the way we think about ourselves in a real and practical way."