Transforming Polarized Conversations: an essential toolkit for moving from entrenchment to engagement

May 6, 2021 - May 27, 2021
Thursdays May 6th, 13th, 20th, & 27th - 1:30pm EDT
Offered by New Leaf Network
$10 per session or free with "pandemic grace"

Christian leaders across Canada are struggling with how to navigate increasingly polarized conversations with their congregations, families and friends.

How do we as Jesus followers converse with divergent viewpoints and engage in active listening with a Christlike posture? What skills do we as leaders need to acquire to tackle tough conversations? What parts of our inner lives as leaders do we need to acknowledge and address?

Join us for a 4-week learning experience, in partnership with Conflict, Change and Leadership Specialist, Dr. Betty Preis. Dr. Pries will offer a practical and engaging learning experience, offering tools and practices for transforming polarized conversations. Join other like-minded leaders from across Canada in this brave, relational space to process together in community, this timely and important topic.


Session 1 May 6th: Riding the Curve of Change

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the church in Canada was being rocked by diverse forces of social change. During seasons of change, it is common for perspectives to polarize and for people to struggle with talking well with one another. This session will consider the change curve, its implications for the church and congregational life and what a “staircase” out of this curve may look like.

Session 2 May 13th: Transforming Polarized Thinking

Transforming polarized thinking is challenging – especially when we miss the wisdom polarized perspectives are longing to reveal. This Learning Centre conversation considers the dynamics of polarities, and the risks of either-or thinking, while proposing a strategy (and a spirituality) for transforming deeply entrenched differences, and embracing the power and possibility of both-and thinking.

Session 3 May 20th: Feeding Elephants, Talking to Riders, Shaping a Path

It is tempting to lean on logical argument (the rider) to solve our polarized differences. Our differences, however, are more often driven by factors much deeper than logic (our elephant). This Learning Centre session considers a spectrum of polarized thinking in church and congregational life using the metaphor of the elephant, rider, and path, to propose a tailored approach for engaging congregants who reside at diverse places on the polarization continuum.

Session 4 May 27th: Building Blocks of Communication

Congregational harmony depends on our ability to engage in healthy disagreement with one another. This Learning Centre session considers the building blocks of communication, how these building blocks show up at church meetings, in the parking lot, and at potluck dinners. Together, we will explore how to use the building blocks of communication to enhance understanding and disagree better with one another, strengthening congregational harmony.

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