CCiC "Core Conversation Groups"
Why do we need conversation groups anyway?
Surely, we are all used to talking with others and having conversations as part of daily life?
Why do we need something different just to talk about big issues or conversations about our faith?
Sure, talking together is part of daily life, but in our experience, listening to people as we have been going around churches and Christian communities, talking together in groups is not always as simple as it sounds. There are all sorts of reasons why many people attend groups but find it hard to participate in a genuine way. Some of the reasons we have heard include;
“I am worried that I might not know enough to join in”.
“What if I get things wrong?”
“In the past I have been talked over and don’t feel confident to participate”
“I can’t admit to not understanding what it is all about”
“I find it difficult saying I have doubts about what I am expected to believe”
And there are of course many more reasons. For some people, difficult experiences in their lives, past hurts or feeling excluded by reason of gender or age or sexual orientation or opinion can make them feel wary of participating in groups.
If we want to be able to talk to others about our faith and the issues that matter to us, then we need to be able to talk comfortably to each other first!
Why are CCiC conversation groups different?
What we do at CCiC is different each time because every setting is different and we need to respond to local issue and people. But what we do is to invite a group of people to travel together for a few weeks as part of a conversation group specifically designed to be a place of gentle exploration where everyone is welcome and each voice is as valid as the next, however different their experience or knowledge. We are also clear at the start that we will manage the dynamics of groups that can leave people feeling left out. The core characteristics of the experience is that the groups will be;
SAFE: It is vital that when people come to join in a CCiC conversation group that they feel safe enough to contribute what they want to without fear of being talked over or belittled. We have a set of conversation rules that we talk through to moderate how we are when we talk with each other. Of course that takes a bit of getting used to, but once the group has settled into a way of being together it makes a big difference.
FACILITATED: What that means is that there is a leader in each group who has been trained with the skills to be able to be a gentle facilitator of the group, to hold on to the rules of conversation that we agreed to. The facilitator takes responsibility for the the tone and culture of the conversation and shapes the process that we follow.
FOCUSED: The intention is that the experience of the conversation is more important than arriving at any particular goal, but we always have a starting focus for us to relect on. We will provide focus material on a theme using words and pictures and ideas to help each group center together and then see where the conversation takes us. We often use resources produced by Mark Davis of Shoreline Consultancy as a means of providing such a focus. For more information on these resources produced by Shoreline Consultancy please have a look at the RESOURCES page of this website.
INCLUSIVE: Critical to our approach is that everybody in a group is on an equal standing and has a right to be heard and to contribute. We talk, not from what we know in our heads, but from what we feel and what we have experienced. In that way, a nervous teenage has as much to contribute as a Professor of theology! We realise that everybody knows somethnig that we don't know and we encourage a sense of curiosity as the ground of what we are doing.