Learning From Strangers – How To Use This Resource
The objective of this resource is to create space for continued reflection on cross-racial and cross-cultural (CRCC) ministry in small-group settings as a follow up to the book, “Learning from Strangers: Joys and Challenges of Cross-Racial and Cross-Cultural Ministry in the United Methodist Church”.
This resource is designed for two sessions of 90 minutes each, including group discussion with questions for the pastor and congregation leaders/members over two gatherings. The first session will focus on Chapter 1 of “Learning from Strangers,” reflecting on the theological and biblical reflection of CRCC ministry. The second session will center on sharing and listening to our stories and God’s story in the context of CRCC ministry following the reading of Chapters 2 and 3.
The suggested flow of these sessions is as follows:
- Gathering (10 mins)
- Introduction and Prayer (10 mins)
- Exploring (40 mins)
- Perceiving (20 mins)
- Responding & Closing (10 mins)
CONSIDERATIONS FOR USE:
1. ADAPT AS NECESSARY. Feel free to adapt this resource to the needs of your group; for example, do four shorter sessions instead of two 90-minute sessions; or add an introductory session, in which you may develop a group covenant and list specific areas of interest from members of your group.
2. CREATE SPACE FOR DEEP SHARING. The size of the group should be no less than six (6) and no more than twelve (12) persons for deep and intimate sharing. Find a gathering space that is as quiet and comfortable as possible for the group to convene.
3. PREPARATION BEFORE THE SESSIONS. To facilitate rich conversations, the leader and participants should read the designated chapters in advance of the group gathering. Facilitators should also read and reflect on the discussion questions beforehand, perhaps adding one or two questions that are specific to your congregation.
- To order printed copies of this resource, please email email@example.com; shipping charges will be applied.
- You can also download the book in .pdf format from the GCORR website. Here is the link.
4. PRAY IN PREPARATION. The facilitator and participants are encouraged to prepare for these small-group gatherings with prayer, inviting the Holy Spirit to be present in your midst.
5. INVITE PEOPLE TO PARTICIPATE:
- PRAY – ask God for wisdom on who and how to invite.
- OPEN INVITATION – invite and encourage everyone in the congregation to join in these sessions to share and envision together God’s gift in cross-racial and cross-cultural ministry.
- COMMUNICATE – make the information and invitation available to all using as many avenues as possible, including written invitation, email, announcements during worship, phone calls, and notices on the church website and in the worship bulletin. If more than 12 persons are interested in participating, consider creating two groups to allow all participants to enjoy intimate and open conversation.
HOW TO FACILITATE SMALL GROUP SESSIONS:
Here are a few things to be mindful of as facilitators…
- There is no right or wrong answer to someone’s reflection or interpretation of their own story.
- The aim of the follow-up sessions is to reflect and engage in conversation, not for debate or arguments.
- It is important to hear from everyone.
- Be patient. Allow participants time to pray and reflect before they answer, and respect the right of some to listen without speaking.
- Be flexible. There is no need to be rigid in following the material. Follow the leading of the Spirit while listening to people in the group.
- Trust in God. Be assured that group members are on a continuing journey toward understanding God’s work in the community.
- Use “RESPECTful Communication Guidelines”
- R – Accept responsibility for what you say and feel without blaming others.
- E – Listen with an EMPATHETIC heart.
- S – Be SENSITIVE to differences in communication styles.
- P – PONDER on what you hear and feel before you speak.
- E – EXAMINE your own assumptions and perceptions.
- C – Keep CONFIDENTIALITY.
- T – TRUST ambiguity because we are not here to debate who is right or wrong.
(Adapted from “The Bush Was Blazing But Not Consumed” by Eric Law pg. 87)