Wednesday, March 15, 2006

How to Talk Politics and Lead an Adult Sunday School Class At the Same Time

One of our Sunday morning adult small groups has decided to make a list of the most challenging topics they can find and then discuss one of them each week. As pastor, my job will be to provide relevent Biblical truths and, if possible, applicable statements in our PCUSA Book of Confessions and Book of Order. If our General Assembly has taken a position or made a statement on the subject I will try to provide that as well.

The group leader will be responsible for sharing this information and then leading a wide-open discussion on it for the rest of the hour each week. The subjects could result in disagreements and differing conclusions so I was considering how to prepare the group leader for moderating the conversation.

Fortuitously, Hugh Hewitt provided a link to The Dinner Book where I came across a wonderful outline for how to have a productive and civilized political conversation between polarized opposites.

It struck me that this particular approach would work well in any situation, whether political, religious, etc., where disagreement could arise.

The writer, Terry L Paulson, PhD, has this to say,
Free and open political discussions have always helped make America strong. There is a value in facing differences. Good political dialogue becomes the fire that tests the metal of your convictions and the depth of your understanding. You can't truly grasp a truth until you have explained and contested it. Constructive debates that involve strong opinions and heartfelt convictions are not then to be avoided; they are to be harnessed in a way that risks influence without demonizing our adversaries.
I couldn't agree with him more. My prayer is that this Sunday morning small group will generate some of that sort of light and respect instead of the smoke and frustration that can sometimes arise.

In any case, I am copying the article and sending it to the small group's leader to peruse as he prepares for their first hot-topic this coming Sunday.

Take a moment to read the entire article. It is short. Like me, you will wish that the members of the Congress (and Muslims and Christians and other religious leaders) would also read it and take it to heart. One can always dream . . . . !