On a recent visit to the Church House in Cleveland, Richard Peace offered his workshop on Holy Conversation. The videos above offer brief insights into not only his book, but the very core of this project.
The Holy Conversation Project: Witness as conversation not confrontation
Today people are fascinated by spirituality, and they have lots of questions. Who better to talk with them than Christians? Trouble is, many of us don't know how to talk about our faith or are uneasy about religious salesmanship and canned evangelistic formulas. Evangelism has been a challenging topic for us in the UCC. Not feeling comfortable with confrontation, yet wanting to enter into faith-based conversations, we have struggled to find ways to do so. The Holy Conversation project is one response to this challenge.
For your consideration
1. Richard reclaims an authentic "evangelism" – "a good New Testament word" – for the United Church of Christ. Rather than defining it by methodology, we can explore its deeper meanings.
2. Is our culture ready to talk about God? Yes, there has never been more openness to conversations about God. Even popular culture is ready and willing; are we in the church ready, too?
3. Richard reclaims another "good New Testament" concept by offering more than one model of "conversion," not just the sudden turnaround but also the lifelong process of everyday decisions in favor of God.
4. Contemplative evangelism: how do we create space for people to encounter God?
5. The United Church of Christ brings strengths to the re-thinking of evangelism, especially our inclusive message. How is inclusivity our challenge as well as our strength?
6. The whole idea behind Holy Conversation is to provide materials for our churches to help people be part of the culture-wide conversation on spirituality. How can we talk about God?
7. Story is at the heart of the gospel, and sharing our experience of God through story transforms our lives. How does your story intersect with the stories of others?
8. Why isn't there more depth to our commitment to God? Why do we seem to blend in so well to the surrounding culture? When we bring evangelism and spiritual formation back together, we'll help people grow into more faithful disciples over a lifetime.
9. The goal of spiritual formation is to enable us to remember that we live in two worlds simultaneously: the natural, and the supernatural world. How aware are you each day of that larger reality of the world of the spirit?
10. The Protestant churches are rediscovering spirituality and investigating our roots in contemplative spirituality. Even so, we need to keep our theological eyes open to recognize both "spiritual vitamins" and "spiritual toxins." What spiritual practices are helpful to you in your life?
11. Rediscovering the power of silence and the experience of retreat: we live in a world that’s noisy and full, and we need to find quiet space to listen for the still, small voice of God. When was the last time you sat in extended, intentional silence?
12. Protestants are also rediscovering the ancient practice of spiritual direction, listening with a companion to how God is still speaking in your life. With whom do you share your spiritual journey?
13. The spiritual practice we need to master is simply noticing God. God is only "a breath away" from us at all times, and we need to learn the art of sensing God's presence and God's hand at work. When and how have you noticed God? Where do you create spaces in your life where you might be more conscious of God's presence?
Participate and Learn
• How to talk about topics such as faith, repentance, commitment, and (especially) Jesus in an easy conversational way.
• How to tell stories, big and small, in which the "aliveness" of God is evident.
• How to organize Holy Conversation groups in your church.
Dr. Richard Peace
Dr. Peace is the Robert Boyd Munger Professor of Evangelism and Spiritual Formation at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California and is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. Dr. Peace has over a hundred and fifty titles to his credit including Learning to Love trilogy of Bible studies, and most recently Holy Conversation: Talking About God in Everyday Life.
What People Are Saying
"Holy Conversation is fresh encouragement for the lost practice of 'talking about God in everyday life.' Richard Peace is an engaging academic thinker whose gift is to translate even this 'scary' topic into a language and experience that can be understood by all. Our churches are waiting for a book like this and the world is waiting for 'holy conversation'."
David Schoen, Congregational Vitality Initiative, United Church of Christ