“The Virtue of Dialogue: Conversation as a Hopeful Practice of Church Communities” by C. Christopher Smith
This is an e-book about how a church brought renewal to a dying abandoned urban neighborhood through conversation. That is talking across denominational, racial and economic divides in order to get to know one another. The author shares how his church (Englewood Christian Church) in Indianapolis, Indiana through a Sunday evening time of conversation began a number of businesses and community projects that has renewed and brought hope to their community.
He believes that that the starting point for any revival in a church or a community will be its ability to converse. Regarding their situation he says, “Conversation has not been a magical solution to bring us to one-mindedness or to solve all our conflicts…but we do agree on more things and have a much deeper sense of trust that God is guiding us and will continue to work in our midst.” He also believes that through conversations commitments to and love for one another is deepened.
In the final section of the book he shows through scripture (eg. 1 Corinthians 12-14) the practice of conversation and dialogue in the New Testament church. Then gives 3 reasons why conversations are hard to come by in our modern day churches:
1. Our reliance on hierarchical and authoritarian forms of leadership, in which we expect the leaders to make decisions for us.
2. Our democratic way of doing things, thus voting on issues. Which sometimes can shut out the minority voice
3. The size of our churches, in which it is hard to have any say within a large congregation.
He says by their church learning to talk to one another they have become equipped to talk with both their neighbors and other churches.
Overhaul I think the author has touched upon a needy area within the church. This booklet needs to be added to and expanded (the author does give a impressive list of recommended books for those who want to pursue the subject) to include how do we have meaningful conversation across our social type of networks.