What if we learned new ways to host conversations that mattered?
This past July, I co-hosted a learning event sponsored by the Transformation Fund at Kingston’s Providence Spirituality Centre. Twenty participants enjoyed three days of conversations that mattered.
The church is a place where our stories get heard. The church is a place where we feel listened to, known, and appreciated for the gifts we offer to the wider good. This is the heart of church.
But instead of sharing these storied gifts in the wider community we too often find ourselves spending more and more energy working just to keep the doors open. If we keep asking the same people for solutions – won’t we just keep coming up with the same ideas?
- If we have a simple challenge – we can learn “best practices” to solve it.
- If we have a complicated challenge – we can choose from a number of “good practices”.
- But – if we have a complex challenge – a problem of shifting socio-economic & cultural challenges – then we need to try out emergent practices and find new partners (maybe strangers) who care about the same things we do – to collaborate and experiment in our own unique contexts.
“Change comes at the speed of relationship” is one of the slogans of the Art of Hosting movement. Just as in the Biblical witness – it is often the stranger who points the way forward. Taking the extra time that these conversation “containers” demand means deepening existing relationships (even within congregations?) and broadening relationships among our natural partners in god’s work.
In the complex domain there are no direct correlations between this “fix” and that “outcome”. We need an approach that draws upon our best hopes and our own most profound motivations to come up with experiments that might work. Then, we follow the energy. We follow where the spirit leads. We chase the Spirit.
Clergy and lay leaders from rural congregations and inner city churches gathered in Kingston for 3 days to explore how Hosting Sacred Conversations might inspire new experiments in ministry.
One participant said “God is already doing this in my community. God’s spirit is bringing partners together to tackle the issues that erode community. Issues like child-poverty, senior’s isolation, criminal recidivism, drug abuse – all the social ills that result when people fall through the ever growing cracks of our communities.” So what’s the church’s role in all this? Beyond sending cheques and volunteers? Beyond our prayers and hopes?
Hills and Shores Presbytery (Bay of Quinte Conference) is hosting a one day event for its members using the Hosting Sacred Conversation methods on September 17th, 2016 in Warkworth. If you’d like more info about how you might bring this approach to your congregation or Presbytery please use the contact form on this web site.
(with thanks to Allan Smith-Reeve for contributing to this article)