I had the amazing experience of watching communicative rationality play out among a group of high school freshmen yesterday. We held our annual Confirmation preparation day for this year’s confirmands. One of the big tasks for this day is to help the students create a group creed. This has not always gone well in the past. Typically it has been a very laborious and painful process that ends up with one or two students taking the project home and writing the final draft.
This year I decided to use Peter Block’s method of community building to empower the students to co-create. Here is how it worked.
I had the privilege to present a paper at the Upper-Midwest Regional Conference of the American Academy of Religion last Saturday. The paper, titled “The Use of Digital Media in PAR and the Implications for Leadership in Suburban Congregations” can be viewed here.
The following is an excerpt from the paper regarding two images for leadership and the use of digital media.
Curation and Mediation
The cultivation and use of positive digital holding spaces for the local congregation requires intentional leadership. In the same way that the leader of the PAR process or communicative adult educational spaces must structure holding environments for constructive collaboration, so too must the leader structure the digital environment. I would suggest that this leadership requires two key elements: curation and mediation.
Block offers practical steps to create a truly collaborative space for participatory action research. He says,
The context that restores community is one of possibility, generosity, and gifts, rather than one of problem solving, fear, and retribution. A new context acknowledges that we have all the capacity, expertise, and resources that an alternative future requires. Communities are human systems given form by conversations that build relatedness. The conversations that build relatedness most often occur through associational life, where citizens show up by choice, and rarely in the context of system life, where citizens show up out of obligation. The small group is the unit of transformation and the container for the experience of belonging. Conversations that focus on stories about the past become a limitation to community; ones that are teaching parables and focus on the future restore community.
Toward a Missional Spirituality in the Suburbs