1.WHAT IF WE HAVE CONFLICTS?
What if conflicts of opinion arise in the course, with each other or with the m,aterial in the course?
Like all conflict, it is not to be avoided, but acknowledged, and even welcomed. It can be an opportunity to go deeper. It is the edge of an open horizon that is beckoning.
Become curious about the other person’s view, not afraid of it. Here is someone worthy of respect. So are you. Add your view, don’t tear down theirs. Look at it from all perspectives. Let a creative thinking process begin, and let there be light!
2. SOMEONE WITH NO SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES?
It may be more common than we think. A survey in the UK in the seventies and nineties found that 88% of people were having what they themselves called “spiritual experiences”, though not necessarily a connection with God or gods. But most felt they couldn’t talk to anyone about them. So, while spiritual experience is quite common, talking about is not. No wonder it seems unusual for some of us. While curiosity is high, it does not follow necessarily that the geography of the inner heart is well known. Sensitivity and careful explanation is required.
This is both an intellectual and cultural a challenge. As Bp Leslie Newbiggin pointed out repeatedly, Christianity is always being asked to defend itself, explain its assumptions, bend over backwards to accommodate atheism and all other religions. No one else, and no other field of study is required to do what Christianity is required to do, except possibly politicians. As a consequence, theologians may be overly cautious, more critical than positive in their faith. As a consequence, clergy are trained to be specialists in fine points, and the members of the congregation may follow. It can therefore be harder for some to be sufficiently affirmative, guiding, simple, and to be passionate about the love of God. It need not necessarily be the case, and this IS a generalization, but it is widely true.
3. BULLET POINT HINTS
- Use people’s names. If you are not good with names, use name tags you can read.
- You, the workshop trainer, may feel awkward about not joining in to buzz groups and prayer exercises. I found that if I joined in, it was too hard to keep track of time and to be ready and focussed for the next part of the workshop.
- As you begin each section, bring to mind clearly the aims of this section, and the goal you are trying to achieve.
- Sometimes finish early.
- If doing an all day session, after lunch, when brains go to sleep, do a number of short and active sessions
- Make the morning session the longest – it is the most productive time. Have a morning tea break but then none in the afternoon.
- If doing a week-by-week or fortnightly workshop, leave plenty of time each week to begin with sharing of stories from that week and at the end for repeating one of the prayer disciplines advocated here – e.g. prayer triplets.
- Tell only one or at most two of your own stories each session. Practise to make sure it is brief but conveys its point.
- Vary the pace by adding small sessions here and there between longer sessions.
- Mix the memebership of the buzz groups after two or three sessions
- Thank people for their openness towards you, the leader. It is their openness which is making the workshop a success.
- At some point, foreshadow the nasty surprise that some people in the church will not like participants to be bringing new people along. Many have thanked me for this warning later.
- At the end, emphasise that they are at a beginning point. They still need to make more excellent mistakes.