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The Colossian Forum offers free resources to help you transform polarizing cultural conflicts into opportunities for spiritual growth and witness.

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Plenary & Workshop Descriptions

Plenary Sessions

Plenary #1 | Gather

Robert Chao Romero   
To be God’s people means taking up the rhythm of “Gathering” and “Going.” The church is called out of the world to gather itself as God’s people, “a holy nation, a kingdom of priests…”  However, our default patterns of gathering can hinder our ability to gather around the vision of Isaiah and Revelation. This session will wrestle with some of the key challenges impacting the way Christians gather today.

Plenary # 2 | Practice

Ruth Haley Barton   
Practice refers to the habits we engage to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” As we live in the gap between the vision of “all things made new” and the reality of “the good that I would, I do not,” Christian practices allow us to intentionally embrace and welcome the Holy Spirit’s transformation.  This talk will point to the potential energy of Christian practices and the hope offered in them for our time.

Plenary # 3 | Witness

Katho Bungishabaku   
This session will explore the radical power of learning to see and act in the world from the perspective of the Lamb who was Slain. The session will also bear witness to the “inbreaking of the kingdom” around the world, especially as seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It will also expose the challenges that impair our vision of Christ indwelling the church and shining light for the world.

Opening and Closing Sessions

Michael Gulker

Workshop Descriptions by Presenter

Rob Barrett | The Colossian Way: Talking about Politics
Even when we find ourselves deeply divided over politics, The Colossian Way proclaims our hope for unity in Christ. This hope for unity flies in the face of what we find in the political news, social media, and many face-to-face interactions. There’s a reason conventional wisdom says talking about politics will only drive us further apart. Moreover, some of us have to admit that, when we talk about politics, we’re tempted away from deep, loving truthfulness about the facts, the arguments, our political opponents, and ourselves. In this workshop, we will reflect on our current situation of political division, preview a new Colossian Way series on Political Talk, and seek God’s wisdom for using our political talk redemptively.

Chris DeVos | Basic Components of the Colossian Way Framework
The Colossian Forum’s mission is to help Christians transform conflicts into opportunities for spiritual formation and witness. Central to that work of transformation is a ten-session, small group process called The Colossian Way. The aim of The Colossian Way is to increase the capacity of participants to engage messy problems with the character of Christ. This workshop will explore the conceptual framework and practical components of The Colossian Way as a Christian practice. Participants will learn the design of the curriculum, experience some exercises included in the group process and come away with ideas about implementing The Colossian Way in a local church or school setting.

Joe Liechty | Living Faith in Polarized and Uncertain Times: Lessons from Northern Ireland
For most of the time from the onset of The Troubles in 1968 until the Belfast Agreement of 1998, the people of Northern Ireland lived with violence, sectarian division, and hopelessness. Every positive initiative seemed to fail. In this complex and dispiriting context, various Christian groups kept hope alive and worked for reconciliation–religious, social, and political–in creative ways. In this workshop, we will work together to explore how North Americans might apply lessons from Northern Ireland to our own polarized and uncertain times.

Jenell Paris | Gender as a Source of Delight and Division: A New Colossian Way Series
Why do Christians understand and live out biblical truths about being “created male and female” in such different ways? Should Christians preserve traditional manhood and womanhood or be more flexible about gender roles and identities? Which adaptations to social change are appropriate? In this session, participants will experience a preview of a new Colossian Way series devoted to gender. Our goal is to pursue Christian unity and spiritual growth in the midst of foundational differences about how God wants us to live as men and as women.  

Trisha Taylor | Beyond Good Intentions: The Practices of Calm Presence
When it comes to the challenging work of engaging difficult issues within Christian unity, good intentions are not enough. We need robust practices that help us to keep our balance emotionally while we work things out. In this workshop, we will explore—and actually practice—the skills of being a calm presence, expressing our own point of view and staying connected with those who see things differently.  

Stacey Wieland | Reimagining Disagreement through Dialogic Questioning
One premise of The Colossian Way is that engaging—rather than avoiding—conflict provides a productive context for practicing forbearance, patience, kindness, and love. But surfacing conflict can be risky and challenging. Based on a close study of one TCW group, this workshop discusses the communication patterns through which the group avoided conflicts. The workshop reports the findings of the study, which found that a central challenge facing TCW participants is imagining communication in the face of conflict outside of debate. The workshop will offer dialogic communication as an alternative communication practice for productively engaging conflict and will discuss dialogic questioning as one practice that can help Christians productively engage divisive issues in the church.  

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