Creating A Movement Ear Horn
God is on the move in our city. I hear reports and see evidence of this on almost a daily basis. I realize that from the vantage point of isolated individuals or even within a congregation this reality might not be clear. Much of the evidence comes in the form of small changes happening in places that are not in the spot-light, but as I connect with different people from a variety of churches across the city the signs are unmistakable. This reality raises the question–how do we as members of the body of Christ in our city get more in step with what the Spirit is doing?
The leadership of TrueCity recognizes that we need a way to hear from diverse voices how the Spirit is stirring us? We need an ear horn. One of those instruments they used before hearing aides–kind of a reverse megaphone. In our case we need a process that works like an ear horn; A process that lets us hear from a broader, more diverse group of people. A process that matches up with the reality that everyone in our churches has something to offer–voices we need to hear in order to discern well what God is saying to us as the Church.
If we have such an “Ear Horn” process it will allow us as a movement to hear more broadly from each other and then discern how God is speaking to us in the mix of our many, diverse voices. Our aim this year is for the conference to function as such an ear horn. Our goal is to create space for all who are part of this year’s conference to share stories and work with facilitators to discern what the Spirit is saying to the Church in Hamilton. We need to hear how God is on the move in our churches and our neighbourhoods and across our city.
To create this process we have shifted the way that we will do breakout sessions. Every year breakout sessions have created opportunities for people from different churches to meet and dig into common areas of passion. This has made these sessions the heart of the conference. But we have struggled to find meaningful ways to see the passion and connection that is created translate into ongoing engagement.
This year’s sessions will not be seminars “taught” by experts, but will be facilitated conversations focused on how God is on the move in a particular area. There will still be tangible “take-aways” from these sessions. In the best case scenarios we expect the take-aways to be stronger than ever, because these “take-aways” will come from the collective experience and wisdom of the whole group rather than from the one or two people who are leading the session.
Each session will have a facilitator who is both gifted at creating group interaction and has a passion and experience in the area of focus. These facilitators have identified two or three “storytellers” to get things moving in these sessions. These are people from different Hamilton churches that have experience in seeing a congregation get involved in this area. Participants will listen to these stories, and then will be invited to share their own stories relevant to the theme. The facilitators will work with each group through this process of story telling to identify the key themes and learning points that are emerging.
We are also recruiting “scribes” for each session who will work to capture the stories and the common themes and dreams that emerge so that over the months ahead the leadership of TrueCity can discern together what is emerging from these diverse voices, and prayerfully discern how and where the Spirit is calling our congregations to work together towards what is good and best for our city.
There is risk involved in making these changes. There is a certain comfort in having presenters come and tell us the best way to do things. It allows us to sit back and if we are not careful we can remain passive. We are asking participants to come ready to get involved–to do the hard work of listening deeply to others, and to take the risk of sharing stories and discerning together. We believe that this TrueCity movement of churches has matured to a place where we are ready to engage together at this level. Please join us in praying that these changes will create the space we need to hear God well together.
May we who have ears, hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church