Colossian Blog

Displaying all posts tagged "Resources".
From Complication and Frustration to A Third Place
August 2, 2017 | Jennifer Vander Molen
From Complication and Frustration to A Third Place
Often people think that what we do at The Colossian Forum centers around conflict resolution and agreeing to disagree. Those simple phrases don't quite capture how reframing the conversation around love of God and love of neighbor can truly transform messy situations into deep spiritual growth and witness. That's why this eight-minute video from Parker Palmer is so illuminating. This Quaker elder and educator shares about finding a third space in the middle of polarizing sides clashing. He acknowledges that when conversation around difficult issues involves us throwing conclusions at one another, it's not a conversation worth having because it won't go anywhere worth going. The centrality of right relationship with our fellow brothers and sisters is vital to holding complexity all the way to new possibilities. Here at TCF, we're the first to admit that us humans are complicated and the topics we delve into are complicated. But we believe there's a way forward. We've seen it happen. This video helps articulate the deeper third space this process and framing inhabits. We hope it will help identify, clarify, and move you forward. Thanks to our partners at Long Beach Christian Fellowship, who shared this video with us and plan to use it to explain The Colossian Way to their church.
Unsure How to Lead Through Conflict? Start Here!
June 14, 2017 | Jennifer Vander Molen
Unsure How to Lead Through Conflict? Start Here!
Difficult questions face us on all sides. We often avoid them, argue about them, and divide over them. Is there a way beyond apathy or argument, division or tolerance to discipleship and faithfulness? Yes. That may seem like an audacious answer, but the gospel IS audacious. So we believe there is a way through difficult questions to discipleship and faithfulness. The Colossian Way small group experience is designed to help Christians of all ages who disagree to engage difficult questions in ways that build up love of God and love of neighbor. By gathering Christians who disagree, confessing that all things hold together in Christ (Colossians 1:17), bringing our difficulties before God in prayer, listening to varied experts on the topics being discussed, attending to Scripture and the resources of the faith, and learning to listen across difference, we can trust the Holy Spirit to transform us into the image of Christ. Want to learn more? If so, consider watching and discussing the three videos below with your leadership team or small group. The first video introduces the concept of wicked problems, the second explains why Christian virtues and practices matter, and the third presents conflict as opportunity. Thanks to Dr. Jenell Paris, a fellow with The Colossian Forum, who helped us craft these discussion questions. Looking for a printable version of this video discussion guide? We've got you covered. Video 1: Wicked Problems Discussion questions: Have you or your church faced something that could be called a “tame problem”? How was that problem solved? Have you or your church faced something that could be called a “wicked problem”? How is it different than a tame problem? What are some wicked problems facing the church today? How does your church generally respond to wicked problems? What are some characteristics of a culture war? If the church addressed divisive issues in a different way, what would that way look like? How do you respond to the claim, “God has given us everything we need to make progress on these important conversations”? Does that seem realistic? What has God given us that might prove sufficient in the midst of difficult conversations? Video 2: Christian Virtues Discussion questions: In what ways is it counterintuitive to turn our attention in the middle of conflict from information to formation? Have you ever gathered information to fight for your point against an opponent? In what ways is that satisfying? In what ways is it not satisfying? What does worship mean in your life? Discuss the claim made in the video: “Worship forms us, helping us see conflict through the lens of love for God and neighbor.” Have you ever seen people engage in conflict differently because they worship together? If you haven’t seen this, can you imagine what it might be like? Is it true that church is “the perfect venue” for difficult conversations and conflict? Many people experience the opposite--church being the most painful and difficult place for the real stuff of life. Could your church be the perfect venue for hosting difficult conversations about divisive issues? Could your church be a place where worship forms people such that they engage conflict not as a war, but as an opportunity to live out love for God and neighbor? Talk about how these ideals could be put into practice at your church. In what ways is information good? In what ways does it fall short? Tell a story about a memorable experience in Sunday School from when you were young. What lessons or practices from Sunday School are as true and relevant today as they were then? What Sunday School insights could help your church engage in conflict and conversation over divisive issues? Tell a story about a memorable experience in Sunday School from when you were young. What lessons or practices from Sunday School are as true and relevant today as they were then? What Sunday School insights could help your church engage in conflict and conversation over divisive issues? Tell about a time in your life when conflict proved to be a catalyst for growth. How could this be true for your church today? Video 3: Conflict as Opportunity Discussion questions: The pine cone matures for two years and then waits for fire to complete its growth. How do worship and church life mature us in ways that make us ready to face the fire of conflict? “If you want to get strong, you don’t avoid pain. You lean into it until the weight gets easier and easier to lift.” Share stories of times when pain was an important part of growth. Weightlifting makes muscles strong. To be strong in virtue, we must work those muscles. In your church, what are times and places where people work the muscles of love and patience? Name some wicked problems that impact your church. Try out the pine cone metaphor as a way of viewing these challenges: imagining that the fires of conflict could transform your church. What would that be like? Share a story about a time when you saw people in church “practicing what they preach, in the middle of the fire.” What did people say and do? What were the results? This discussion is also available as a PDF. Help yourself to this free resource!
A New Book: Evolution and the Fall
February 1, 2017 | Christopher R. Brewer
A New Book: Evolution and the Fall
Rooted in communities of practice, we here at The Colossian Forum seek to equip leaders to transform messy cultural conflicts into opportunities for spiritual growth and witness. That said, a variety of resources are needed to equip or train these leaders so that they might be enabled to transform messy cultural conflicts into opportunities for spiritual growth and witness. We recognize that behavioral change takes time, often requiring numerous “touches” before a shift is observed. Moving from the common engagement strategy of competition to one of communion requires imagination––a new image, or series of images––what some have called a “traditioned innovation.” TCF sees publishing as one means to build and support a network of leaders practicing The Colossian Way, bringing value in the following ways: To capture (miracle) stories and learnings so they can be disseminated more widely. To provide mental images or pictures of the move from chaos and competition to conversation and communion. To invite leaders into a deeper contemplation of texts important to TCF’s formation and current ministry. To provide deeper, complementary training tools for The Colossian Way. To support the gathering of small groups willing to face into the fear and confusion that stems from cultural conflict, a concrete attempt to re-imagine faithful practice. Evolution and the Fall We have been working on a number of publishing projects over the course of the past year, and one of these has just been released: Evolution and the Fall, edited by William T. Cavanaugh and James K.A. Smith, and published by Eerdmans. Evolution and the Fall represents the culmination of three years of intense work with some of the church’s brightest theologians, biblical scholars, philosophers, historians, and scientists. The interdisciplinary group wrestled with a wide array of theological tensions resulting from evolutionary science and the doctrine of the Fall. As Christian scholars who take seriously the pressures of both science and faith, their shared goal is the shaping of an intellectual imagination that is “carried” in the practices of Christian worship. Practically, this means that their intellectual work is pursued as an act of service to God and to the church, with prayer and worship framing their questions and influencing the range of possible answers. The concerns of fellow believers are engaged and responded to with the “love pursuing truth” that ought to distinguish us as followers of Christ. Evolution and the Fall is available from the publisher at a 30% discount using the code 1071 at checkout (through May 31, 2017). If you prefer ordering by mail, you can send in this form for the discount.
Setting Off on The Colossian Way
December 14, 2016 | Jennifer Vander Molen
Setting Off on The Colossian Way
Difficult questions face us on all sides. We often avoid them, argue about them, and divide over them. Is there a way beyond apathy or argument, division or tolerance to discipleship and faithfulness? Yes. That may seem like an audacious answer, but the gospel IS audacious. So we believe there is a way through difficult questions to discipleship and faithfulness. The Colossian Way small group experience is designed to help Christians of all ages who disagree to engage difficult questions in ways that build up love of God and love of neighbor. By gathering Christians who disagree, confessing that all things hold together in Christ (Colossians 1:17), bringing our difficulties before God in prayer, listening to varied experts on the topics being discussed, attending to Scripture and the resources of the faith, and learning to listen across difference, we can trust the Holy Spirit to transform us into the image of Christ. Want to learn more? If so, consider watching and discussing the three videos below with your leadership team or small group. The first video introduces the concept of wicked problems, the second explains why Christian virtues and practices matter, and the third presents conflict as opportunity. Thanks to Dr. Jenell Paris, a fellow with The Colossian Forum, who helped us craft these discussion questions. Looking for a printable version of this video discussion guide? We've got you covered. Video 1: Wicked Problems Discussion questions: Have you or your church faced something that could be called a “tame problem”? How was that problem solved? Have you or your church faced something that could be called a “wicked problem”? How is it different than a tame problem? What are some wicked problems facing the church today? How does your church generally respond to wicked problems? What are some characteristics of a culture war? If the church addressed divisive issues in a different way, what would that way look like? How do you respond to the claim, “God has given us everything we need to make progress on these important conversations”? Does that seem realistic? What has God given us that might prove sufficient in the midst of difficult conversations? Video 2: Christian Virtues Discussion questions: In what ways is it counterintuitive to turn our attention in the middle of conflict from information to formation? Have you ever gathered information to fight for your point against an opponent? In what ways is that satisfying? In what ways is it not satisfying? What does worship mean in your life? Discuss the claim made in the video: “Worship forms us, helping us see conflict through the lens of love for God and neighbor.” Have you ever seen people engage in conflict differently because they worship together? If you haven’t seen this, can you imagine what it might be like? Is it true that church is “the perfect venue” for difficult conversations and conflict? Many people experience the opposite--church being the most painful and difficult place for the real stuff of life. Could your church be the perfect venue for hosting difficult conversations about divisive issues? Could your church be a place where worship forms people such that they engage conflict not as a war, but as an opportunity to live out love for God and neighbor? Talk about how these ideals could be put into practice at your church. In what ways is information good? In what ways does it fall short? Tell a story about a memorable experience in Sunday School from when you were young. What lessons or practices from Sunday School are as true and relevant today as they were then? What Sunday School insights could help your church engage in conflict and conversation over divisive issues? Tell a story about a memorable experience in Sunday School from when you were young. What lessons or practices from Sunday School are as true and relevant today as they were then? What Sunday School insights could help your church engage in conflict and conversation over divisive issues? Tell about a time in your life when conflict proved to be a catalyst for growth. How could this be true for your church today? Video 3: Conflict as Opportunity Discussion questions: The pine cone matures for two years and then waits for fire to complete its growth. How do worship and church life mature us in ways that make us ready to face the fire of conflict? “If you want to get strong, you don’t avoid pain. You lean into it until the weight gets easier and easier to lift.” Share stories of times when pain was an important part of growth. Weightlifting makes muscles strong. To be strong in virtue, we must work those muscles. In your church, what are times and places where people work the muscles of love and patience? Name some wicked problems that impact your church. Try out the pine cone metaphor as a way of viewing these challenges: imagining that the fires of conflict could transform your church. What would that be like? Share a story about a time when you saw people in church “practicing what they preach, in the middle of the fire.” What did people say and do? What were the results? This discussion is also available as a PDF. Help yourself to this free resource!
Navigating The Hard Family Conversations After An Election
November 16, 2016 | Jennifer Vander Molen
Navigating The Hard Family Conversations After An Election
Our contentious and polarizing presidential election is over, and emotions range from angry and hurt to thankful and gratified. You might be wondering how to be in community with people in your church, your circle of friends, and your family who voted differently than you. We encourage you to find a measure of hope in the ancient Christian virtues, and to join us in making prayer our first response. You've likely found yourself in the middle of some tough conversations during the past week. With the holidays coming up, the potential for messy situations magnifies. Dr. Chuck DeGroat of Western Theological Seminary wrote this practical how-to about navigating fraught family situations this holiday season. It's full of practical wisdom and reflection challenges that line up with The Colossian Forum's vision of Christian communities that behave like Christ in the middle of tough cultural conflict. Thanks for sharing this with us, Chuck. Navigating The Hard Family Conversations After An Election by Chuck DeGroat “How in the world do I do Thanksgiving this year?” my friend asks, with tears in her eyes. Can you relate? No matter the election result a week ago, family conversations were sure to be tense. After the many really wise blogs on The Twelve this week, I’ve been asked by friends and students to offer something practical. I’m not much for how-to’s, but I’ll do my best to provide some navigational tools for you. Forgive me, in advance, if this post is a bit longer than usual. Honoring and Hating Mother and Father There are many fascinating apparent contradictions in Scripture. How about this one? In Exodus 20, we’re called to honor our mother and father. Yet in Matthew 12, Jesus asks, “Who is my mother/brothers?” In Luke 14 he makes hating our family a prerequisite for discipleship. To honor our parents is to see them as God’s image-bearers uniquely bonded to us as kin. We do not easily dismiss a relationship with a family member (I’m never, ever coming to Thanksgiving with you again!) like we may a work acquaintance. However, while honor implies respect as a kin and image-bearer, it does not require agreement. Moreover, it absolutely does not mean submitting to abuse of any kind. Perhaps this is why Jesus makes his case so forcefully. In Christ, a new family/community is being formed (Galatians 3, Ephesians 2). Those invited to the table in this new Kingdom/family don’t have the time for intramural family disputes. They are the poor in Spirit, the weak, the lonely, the marginalized. They are the refugee family in your community, the Muslim family in your cloistered white neighborhood, the blue collar rust belt family feeling left behind. Read the rest of Chuck's post on The Twelve.
Teaching faith and science? This new website changes everything.
September 14, 2016 | Jennifer Vander Molen
Teaching faith and science? This new website changes everything.
From TCF’s earliest days, our staff has worked closely with high school teachers to help students engage with difficult questions in the arena of faith and science. Young people so often feel the pinch of our culture’s inability to handle conflict well—but we’re convinced that the church can show them a better way. In order to help educators address these unique concerns, TCF has collaborated with the Kuyers Institute on the three-year FAST (Faith And Science Teaching) Project to create and launch teachFASTly.com. Designed by teachers for teachers, teachFASTly.com promotes an integrated, intentional, and creative approach to teaching and learning at the intersection of faith and science. The site offers hundreds of free, ready-to-use activities organized by subject area. It also features a robust resource section containing practical teaching strategies and conceptual resources. Teaching FASTly means teaching in a way that allows both faith and science to remain in play, each with its own integrity, neither canceling out the other. The website was designed to support teachers in their efforts to engage students as whole persons, honoring their range of beliefs, commitments, feelings, and relationships. TeachFASTly.com focuses on both information and formation as students engage big questions. The FAST Project is a collaborative endeavor that draws on the expertise of high school teachers, scholars, writers, and web developers. It is made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.