I pin my hopes to quiet processes and small circles, in which vital and transforming events take place.
Rufus Jones (1863-1948)
VP3’s The Journey is a person-centered process. It sets the table for the development of people, not the mastery of the material. This does not mean that the wisdom of the content is unimportant. Rather, it means the formation of men and women into Christ-likeness involves far more than acquiring the right information.
Adults need a space and place to “move deeply into their own experience and grow” in the light of Jesus and his way in the world. As such The Journey only works well when we take extended time for dialogue, unhurried conversations in which the strangers around the table become friends.
Dialogue is a critical gift. The back-and-forth conversational work of listening and question asking, reflection, clarification, and discernment are so necessary for development and maturity. Too often as educators or developers of others, we major on the presentation or the performance—the monologue—without majoring on the hard work of cultivating dialogue.
Most 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 us 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. Margaret Wheatley shared a lesson she learned from a friend and colleague Juanita Brown.
Juanita taught me that all change, even very large and powerful change, begins when a few people start talking with one another about something they care about. Simple conversations held at kitchen tables, or seated on the ground, or leaning against doorways are powerful means to start influencing and changing our world.
Around the VP3 offices, we have borrowed a phrase somewhere along the way—“conversation creates culture.” People who have experienced the power of dialogue listen and talk differently, even see 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 community.
If our spiritual development is to move beyond a mostly heady exercise and become a place where our faith is personalized and owned, we leaders, pastors, developers, and mentors are going to have to place a high value upon practicing the art of dialogue.
May we learn to use words and silence well with each other, in Jesus’ name.
Conversation at its best is never just talk; it is the means by which we kindle imagination and gain the courage to take action together…. Through conversation we learn to integrate the force of love into our daily lives and discover what it means to seek the reign of God in our time.
CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION…Join us:
A VP3 Mentoring Workshop (Feb 3rd, 12-1:30p CT) with Pam Edwards and me. We believe that men and women need intentional spiritual friendships more than ever right now. Small circles of caring adults reaching out to each other IS the church on mission.
Spiritual Formation: What Matters Most? (Feb 17th, 12-1:30p CT) – Pam Edwards and I host a conversation with special guest Keith Anderson around the Spirit’s forming work in our lives and in our communities. Invite a friend.