It was a pleasure to see so many of you back at FUUSN last Sunday. Thanks in no small part to the Dinners for Seven on Saturday, it felt like there was a renewed gusto for the community buzzing through the sanctuary on Sunday morning.
During Sunday’s sermon, I told a story about a conversation I facilitated with folks in Cody, Wyoming about arming school personnel. Several of you asked for the questions we used for the conversation. These are the core questions we used and modified for conversations to engage differences on all the things people usually try not to talk about. I’m sharing them here (below), and also want to underscore that preparing for the conversation is as important as the conversation itself.
Whether you’re thinking about engaging in conversation about tough subjects at FUUSN, in upcoming holiday gatherings with extended family, or with your own parents or children, I encourage you to practice opening your heart to deeper connection through conversations about what matters most to you.
Here is a link to a piece I wrote for Essential Partners just after the 2016 elections to help folks prepare for holiday gatherings. It’s not always the right time or place to engage every issue, so it’s important to be deliberate and intentional when we do. Sometimes it’s just fine to keep the conversation to the merits of your host’s pies or the vagaries of the weather! In anticipation of challenging conversations, it is important to have a purpose in mind, understand what outcome you are hoping for, and to think about what tendencies in yourself you want to bring forward or hold back in order to meet your goals for the conversation. If you have the wherewithal to go there, and your conversation partners do too, you will likely find it rewarding.
Here are the questions we asked in our dialogue sessions, with folks taking turns responding to each question before moving on to the next one:
What has led you to your position on this issue? Tell a story to help others understand how you came to believe as you do.
When you think about [this issue], what is at the heart of the matter? (What is the key value or concern for you?)
Where do you find yourself pulled in different directions, or weighing competing values in relationship to this issue?
As we move through the winter months at FUUSN, we’ll be working on some times to engage in the questions and concerns within this community. I know that we will do it with an abundance of heart, and that in turning to one another we will deepen our connections and strengthen the community now and for its future.