Background: The Biblical Theology of Human Sexuality Report includes a recommendation to “encourage the churches to make use of the curriculum prepared by Pastor Church Resources (PCR), in conjunction with members of the committee, to help small groups study and discuss aspects of the committee’s report which may be controversial.”
Rather than rely on a one-line summary from a social media post, participants in Challenging Conversations listening circles actually read the material and raise questions, concerns and affirmations based on what is written and how that does or does not fit with their own study, discernment and experience.
Since November 2020, nearly 300 Christian Reformed pastors, deacons, elders and other leaders have received training to lead small groups oriented around listening deeply to the Human Sexuality Report and listening deeply to one another. These small groups or “listening groups” have provided a context for hundreds of CRC members to engage the report, talk about it’s implications and consider what their congregations should do next. More than 200 groups expect to have met by the end of 2021.
You can learn more about this Pastor Church Resources tool, the Challenging Conversations Toolkit, here.
What’s the Point of Conversation? Everyone in Our Church Agrees.
At PCR, we’ve heard from a number of churches who are reluctant to use the Challenging Conversations Toolkit because, in their words, “everyone here already agrees on this stuff.” Whether “everyone” loves the report or hates it, their perception is there’s not much left to say.
The Report is 176 Pages
It may be true that most or, perhaps, even all of your church members agree on some main points of the report. But given that the report is nearly 180 pages of sometimes dense and often nuanced biblical interpretation or pastoral application, it’s hard to imagine anyone simply “agreeing with the report” or “disagreeing with the report.”
The report is far too complex for an “either/or” response. The report’s authors themselves seem to expect that their report will provoke responses from people across the spectrum of views on human sexuality.
One of the values of the toolkit is that participants actually read and respond to the report itself. Rather than rely on a one-line summary from a social media post, participants in Challenging Conversations listening circles actually read the material and raise questions, concerns, and affirmations based on what is written and how that does or does not fit with their own study, discernment, and experience.
We have heard consistent reports from churches that actually reading the report and then listening to one another prompted surprising responses and unexpected insights.
Next Steps for Your Church