Groups were made for moments like this….
Do you ever get that pit in your stomach when a certain topic comes up in a conversation at dinner or out with your friends or coworkers? You know what I mean. It’s always one of those difficult topics that every person at that table feels and believes something completely different from the other person and they are passionate about it too. If you have ever felt this way, you are not alone! I am one of those people. If you know anything about the Enneagram, you know that the Enneagram 2 is a helper, a people pleaser. That is me in a nutshell. So when topics that are controversial arise, I’m ready to slide under the table or try to quickly switch the conversation to something more upbeat. However, I am married to a very extroverted man, who can talk to anyone about anything. As I diverge from the conversations, he’s the one saying, “let’s talk about it!” and I am kicking him under the table like “please don’t do it”. While I know difficult conversations are important and necessary to have; they still make me feel uncomfortable at times. This is a common feeling for many people out there as well.
As we join our groups, we go into it as a place to be welcomed and a place where we can form a community. We go into our meetings, hoping to have meaningful conversations and in most cases, we want to try to avoid conflict if we can. We want it to be a place where we can learn and grow from one another. Because our groups are founded in faith and trust, group members should feel comfortable in this particular setting to allow and have difficult conversations. By having these conversations, we are opening ourselves up to be vulnerable with one another and giving each other the opportunity to learn and grow together. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when having these difficult conversations in your group:
- Prepare your heart & seek God:
We do not have to do this alone. As we enter difficult conversations, it is important that we put our feelings aside and seek God first. If we start our conversations with God and seek His guidance through prayer and scripture, we prepare our hearts to be open to discuss it with others as well. Scripture is a powerful tool to use to prepare your hearts. Highlight your favorite verses that encourage and comfort you to help prepare in the future. Psalm 139:1-12 reminds us of God’s knowledge and presence. This verse is a constant reminder that in all that we do, God is there beside us, each step of the way.
- Focus on your Language:
Every member of a group, both leaders and participants, share ownership and responsibility within their group. It never falls on just one person. We are a group, a community, and with being so, we must take ownership in it. As Pastor Matt stated in his sermon, we must elevate the conversation. Be careful not to confuse elevating the conversation with escalating the conversation. We must choose our words wisely. Our words and tone matter. It is possible to have an honest and trusting discussion even when we disagree with one another. No matter the outcome, we must remember we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We must show respect and love when we speak to each other.
Difficult conversations are never easy, but can absolutely be done. Allow your groups to be a safe place for these discussions. It is okay to disagree. Be open minded and show love to one another. Don’t forget God shows us grace every single day. We too can do the same to others. When we allow this to happen, we grow in Christ together. If you need help facilitating conversations, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The Pastors and staff at PTCUMC are here for you and love you.