Last summer a small group of staff were trained in Restorative Practices by Anne Martin and the late Bruce Schenk from the Shalem Mental Health Network.
This fall, more of our staff will participate in a 3-hour interactive training to be listening circle facilitators. We'll see what's possible with the simple but powerful listening circle process by exploring how it is being used by Christian Reformed congregations to address challenging topics like human sexuality (eg Challenging Conversations and Next Steps Discernment). We'll also begin to imagine other settings where listening circles could increase our capacity to be defined and yet connected in conflicted or anxious spaces.
Over 600 ministry leaders in the CRC have already been trained as listening circle facilitators for Challenging Conversations or Next Steps Discernment. Listening circles are one component of restorative practices, a framework for cultivating communities committed to holding grace and truth in all situations, especially through conflicted, anxious, and challenging conversations.
Our hope for staff, pastors, lay leaders and all our congregations is that listening circles become a natural vehicle for communication, a space that invites reflective and empathetic listening. In a time when we are watching the world become increasingly polarized in thoughts and opinions, how beautiful that the church can come together in ways that show respect and love for each other even amid our differences.