Growing up into Christ involves far more than acquiring the right information. It requires a deep connection between truth and life, between belief and behavior. And such connection only occurs when we take extended time for dialogue or conversation with others about these things that matter most to us.
Dialogue is a critical gift on the journey. The back-and-forth conversational work of listening and question asking, reflection, clarification and discernment are so necessary for development and maturity. Too often in our churches we major on the presentation or the performance—the monologue—without majoring on the hard work of cultivating dialogue.
Many of us yearn for more than the chitchat prompted by the fill-in-the-blank small group questions. We want meaningful conversation around the biggest questions of our lives. We want to candidly ask others whether they think the dreams and hopes we carry within are of the Spirit or not. It is a small, yet powerful matter—our ability to talk and listen—to use words and silence well with each other.
A simple statement that we use around the VP3 office, a phrase we have borrowed somewhere along the way, is that “conversation creates culture.” People who have experienced the power of dialogue listen differently and talk differently. They trust the fruitfulness of the Spirit’s “behind the scenes” work when two or three people are gathered in Jesus’ name to discuss and ask questions and listen and pray about deep concerns in their lives. If our faith formation is to move beyond a mostly heady exercise and become a place where our faith is personalized and lived out, then we are going to have to place high value upon practicing the art of dialogue.
Spirit of God, help us learn to walk well with one another…