Congregational Discussion Guide: 2020-2021, A Retrospective

For Congregational Dialogue:

[1] In this retrospective issue, we are republishing two activities for adult education on these topics.  The first is a group activity from the October 2019 issue on deliberative dialogue.

The second is a personal meditative activity from the February 2020 issue on Faith, Reason, and Climate Change.


[2] A Deliberative Dialogue on the Topic of Deliberative Dialogue

* Gather a small group (10-15 people) willing to discuss. After a brief introduction, each member should listen as Members to each other, the moderator can read aloud the first question.

What experiences have you had that have led you to trust or distrust having a conversation about social or political issues with members of your church?

*Give the group members a few minutes to think privately before answering.  Allow each member of the group to share his or her answer without interruption before going to the next question. Some groups find it helpful to have a timer set for 2 minutes for each person’s talk. After each person has shared someone can read the second question.

*Given what you have said and what you have heard what are specific rules or guidelines that you need to make you feel safe in having a conversation on social and political issues with members of your church community?

*After each member has spoken to this question, consider whether the group has found a place of agreement about making conversation safe or if there is a tension between what people need.   If there is tension, name the tension and as the final question ask the members to share their responses to the following: Why is having conversations about political and social issues with fellow members of the church worth or not worth the risk?   If there is agreement about how to make a safe space for dialogue, ask the members of the group to honor those rules and to spend a few minutes thinking about the last question before answering.  What values do you hold that inform your political ideas and/or activities that you believe come from your religious faith?  In other words, how do you see your political and social views as connected to your religion?

*After each person has shared allow time for people to comment on what they learned about themselves or each other on this topic.

[3]  Thoughts for meditation, journaling, and inquiry concerning ecology:

*What word or phrase or idea about climate change resonates with your heart? Write, reflect, and listen to where it might be calling you? What prayer emerges?

*What are you building and how are you building it? What are you listening to? How are you responding to the changes you are listening to from the earth and the way that science is able to build the picture for us?

*When you consider your consumption, what do you want to know more about?

*How might you lead your family or community in exploring the impact of your consumption on climate change or on the suffering of the planet?

*If we, as Christians, hold a shared value of loving one another and all of creation, how does that affect your investments (personally or as a congregation)?

Jennifer Hockenbery

Jennifer Hockenbery serves as Editor of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics .  She is Professor of Philosophy and Dean of Humanities at St Norbert College. She attends Grace Lutheran Church in Green Bay, WI.