Summer is a great time to mix things up a little bit. Not only are we sitting around the table during a more informal and intimate type of worship (while eating some really good food), but toward the end of the hour, we have also begun discussing what the sermon brought up for you. Such sharing increases our knowledge of not only the text but of one another. We have different reactions to a given Bible story or sermon because we connect them with our own unique experience and understanding of the world. As we continue this practice of discussion in the coming weeks, let’s listen deeply to one another without judgment. Here are some great discussion guidelines from the University of Michigan’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching:
- Respect others’ rights to hold opinions and beliefs that differ from your own. When you disagree, challenge or criticize the idea, not the person.
- Listen carefully to what others are saying even when you disagree with what is being said. Comments that you make (asking for clarification, sharing critiques, expanding on a point, etc.) should reflect that you have paid attention to the speaker’s comments.
- Be courteous. Don’t interrupt or engage in private conversations while others are speaking. Use attentive, courteous body language.
- Support your statements. Use evidence and provide a rationale for your points.
- Share responsibility for including all voices in the discussion. If you have much to say, try to hold back a bit; if you are hesitant to speak, look for opportunities to contribute to the discussion.
- Recognize that we are all still learning. Be willing to change your perspective, and make space for others to do the same.
These sample guidelines are helpful for all places where we engage in discussion—not just in church. If you want more information, go to http://www.crlt.umich.edu/examples-discussion-guidelines where I found the above bulleted points. I look forward to lots of stimulating discussion!
Grace and Peace,