I need to ask you a question. It is, admittedly, a slightly impertinent question.
But first, a quick story.
I’m guessing this will sound familiar to many of you. As a dad, there are a number of conversations with our kids that I find myself having over and over. Which is to be expected, right? Our kids are 3 and 5; repetition is an important part of how they learn. (That’s probably true for many of us who are well beyond those ages too!)
One such exchange that I keep having with Joshua, our 5 year old, goes something like this:
Joshua: Daddy, how are we going to ______? (E.g. get to school, be home, go to the birthday party, etc.)
Me: How are going to get there? By driving.
Me: Joshua, do you mean when are we going to _______?
Joshua: Yeah! When are we ________?
Me: In about _____ minutes/days/months/etc.
Joshua: That’s too long!
This happens over and over. I do not know why, but Joshua just cannot quite differentiate how from when yet. Oddly, it never goes the other way. Josh never asks when when he means how. Perhaps all this is some great insight into human perception of spatial and temporal events and how they are interrelated?
If so, I don’t seem to be smart enough to know what that great insight is.
I do, however, know a different question that’s been vexing me of late:
For any Woodridge UMC’ers here: In the life of our church, how do we have good and deep conversations about things that matter?
For you who aren’t connect with WUMC: In the midst of the varying rhythms of life, how do you have good and deep conversations about things that matter?
Or maybe the question is better asked:
When (or where) (in the life of our church or outside it) do we have good and deep conversations about things that matter?
I’m delighted to say I was honored to participate in four such conversations this week:
- On Tuesday, members of Team Capital spent long hours asking tough questions about how to refine our building project into what will be best for the church.
- On Wednesday, our group of alert and bright Confirmands asked excellent, deep questions about the bible, about truth, about God, about Jesus, about interfaith relations…way more than we could respond to in one sitting. But as our time together for the evening drew to a close, one of our 7th graders gave voice to what we were all thinking, “this was great! This was our best session yet!”
- Later on Wednesday, a small group of our high school students pondered ways they can lead efforts to eliminate bullying from their schools. We tried to define “bullying”, examined online behavior, and prepared for Saturday’s summit with a Lockport youth group on this topic.
- Then Thursday, representatives from Small Miracles Preschool Board, Youth Council, Trustees and both Pastors met to honestly examine all the logistics and consequences and symbolism and possibilities and concerns regarding the proposed room changes. There was (and is) tension about this. But there is also much hope and excitement.
It was a thrill and a joy (and a bit exhausting) to be a part of those conversations. They fed my soul and I appreciate all who were involved. I believe we honor God with such conversations. They help us follow Jesus for they are practices of faith.
But they also makes wonder. How about you?
How (or where or when) are you engaging in deep, life-affirming conversations?
How do we invite more people in our lives to so engage?
One thought on “Can we talk?”
I don’t know how to say this in a way that doesn’t seem self-congratulatory, so I’ll just have to ask you to trust me that it isn’t meant to be…
An example of the lack of good, deep conversation on things that matter in my church: back in October when I preached about bullying and came out as an LGBTQ ally, people responded with an enthusiasm and support like I’d never seen before. Which was great and felt good. But where has all that energy gone? Since then, we’ve had exactly zero conversations (that I’m aware of) about how we as a congregation can welcome the LGBTQ community. I don’t even know where or how or when such a conversation would or could take place!
That’s kinda why I wrote this, I guess. Similar thing with my Trafficking presentation last week. It wasn’t a conversation, it was a monologue followed by 2 questions. Not the fault of those gathered, it wasn’t really set up as a conversation. But where/how/when does that next step take place?
How are others doing so? How can we join conversations already taking place?