Scot McKnight suggests a New Year’s Resolution: Let’s have better conversations. He abridged a series of posts he put together a few years ago, before he moved to Patheos for his blog.
Inspired by the book The Age of Conversation, McKnight proposed observing these marks of a good conversation:
- First, a good conversation (and therefore a good conversationalist) requires a safe environment. By this I mean space — somewhere to feel comfortable; and I mean at least two people with listening skills; and I mean the ability to disagree if necessary but not denounce, condemn or berate.
- Second, a good conversation requires a good topic or a good question. This one is clear: what is a good topic for some is not for others.
- Third, a good conversation operates on the basis of frequently-unexpressed but nearly always assumed, shared assumptions. I find this to be a regular hang-up on the blog. Many of us operate with a set of assumptions — and it would be fun to bring to expression what these really are — but we don’t talk about them.
- Fourth, a good conversation requires the spirit of exploration and experimentation. . . . The major problem here is when someone gets too dogmatic. If in conversing we want to explore something together, we can’t have someone say “here’s the answer, buffo, and there’s no other possibilities.” The shared assumption is that we don’t get too dogmatic and that we explore and think together.
- Fifth, a good conversation desires wisdom. . . . No, a good conversation with a good topic or question leads to mutual exploration so each of us can learn and grow in wisdom. As a Christian, we want the conversation to lead us into the wisdom of the way of Jesus.
- Sixth, a good conversation stays within the parameter of the topic. One of the routine challenges of conversation is wandering. . . . This element of conversation requires either a conversation partner who keeps us in line or, better yet, we make a mutual commitment to stay in line.
How About A Conference with Just Such an Aim?
My friends at HatcheryLA are hosting their second Enfolding Conference. Here is a brief description of the conversations they aim to have,
Over the course of the conference we will address five different and difficult God questions. Each time the question will be examined from multiple perspectives and then unpacked and put into real life situations in your theo-cohort. Our goal is to put together some amazing keynote presentations and provide and train some high quality cohort facilitators so each person has the chance to talk, question, doubt and construct their way through the topics.
The motivation is an awareness of the impact of the move from an era described as Christendom. Here is how they put it,
“God” is a word that provokes a response. For some it is an emotional response, one we run from or towards. For others the word “God” finds its meaning amidst a community of people we live life with or a text we interpret again and again. Perhaps God, the divine, Ultimate Reality or whatever other word you can muster before the depths of existence is a mystery we can never solve or perhaps a product of our social evolutionary history or perhaps God can be known and has been revealed in Jesus.
“God” is a contested word, a concept with more baggage and blessings attached to it than one person can unpack — yet, in a world with many reasons to drop God all together we continue to wrestle with the divine. We cannot let it go. Perhaps, God can’t let us go either.
Free Live Video Conference Calls
How about a Pre-Event Live Video Conference Calls? Take part in eight live video conference calls. If you have not clicked over to check it out, here is what you get, for free!
Ready To Sign-Up?
If you are looking for a conference to attend this year consider Enfolding 2016. You may count on a safe place to explore answers to five big questions, participate in constructive conversations, and hear from a diverse group of world class theologians. Click here to sign up. Use the Discount Code: TODDLITTLETON.
Here is a video invitation,