Dear Church Family,

I am looking forward to our courageous conversation series that begins this Sunday morning at 9:30—but make sure you come early for breakfast at 9:00 am.  This year’s courageous conversation focuses on stewarding our facility for changing times.  During this year’s conversation we will have opportunity to talk about our changing cultural context, the good things happening in our church, our current financial situation, and the strengths and hurdles of having a large, older facility.  We will also have opportunity to discuss a report from our facilities renewal task force and to brainstorm ways to turn hurdles into opportunities.

To help us hit the ground running, I wanted to remind us of the way we began our conversation last year—by talking about why we should have courageous conversations generally and by establishing some ground rules for our conversation.

First, there are several reasons why we should have courageous conversations generally.  We should have them because they help us to clarify our identity as a congregation that finds its unity not in conformity of belief on every matter but rather celebrates its diversity as it gathers in unity around the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  We should have such conversations because it is an opportunity to deepen relationships by getting to know one another beyond surface conversations.  We should have such conversations because they enrich our understanding of subjects by helping us to see them from an angle we may not have considered previously.  And, we should have such conversations because our culture needs a better way modeled about how to value relationships and engage in fruitful conversation amidst disagreement.  We can genuinely hold firm beliefs while still welcoming the perspectives of others and remaining loving and kind throughout it all.

Second, those gathered at the first conversation last year helped to brainstorm covenantal guidelines we should all follow in order to have a safe, productive, and loving courageous conversation.  I am sharing these again as a reminder for all of us as we lean in for another great conversation this year.

  • Come with curiosity, eager to learn something new about our subject and to learn something new about your brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • It is ok to disagree, but in disagreement:
    • ask open ended questions to seek understanding.
    • allow everyone to express their thoughts without judgment.
    • assume good intentions—we all want what is best for our church and what honors God.
  • Share speaking space like you share food at a table and don’t interrupt one another.
  • Share here and don’t wait to share in the parking lot.
  • Listen, listen, listen . . . listen as if love mattered.
  • Avoid absolutes like always and never.
  • Respect one another for simply being here and having the courage to speak out.
  • Be kind, encourage one another, love one another.
  • Be conscious of our body language and tone which matter as much as what we say.
  • Understand that no one has all the answers, and we don’t always have to be right.
  • Don’t be afraid to express what you are thinking in any words that you can express it.  It does not have to be sophisticated or perfectly worded.
  • Be careful not to use scripture verses out of their context.

Grace and Peace,