Creative Conversations – the ultimate guide.

I recently thought I had finally cracked the top level of conversational skill – especially given that I have spent months with troops this year, moving to a new remote location every day or two and starting relationships and conversations all over. That was until I got a puppy and ventured down to my local doggy park. That is a whole new world to break into, and it is testing my conversation skills.

It appears at face value to be a context where it is all about the dogs, not humans. At a deeper level, it appears to me that dogs are great for shy people to hide behind. Neighbours seem reluctant to get to know each other beyond a simple ‘hello’. The conversation about the dogs themselves flows freely, but all else appears to be hidden behind barriers.

There are of course the unofficial leaders of the dog park, who turn up on the clock at the same time every day, monopolising the precious few bench spaces. Lesser mortals gather around the small shelter and seats in concentric layers of influence. I’m currently on the outer ring as I am new, and I only have a puppy. I don’t have a savage breed of dog either, so no kudos on that front. Some of the dogs are shredder at the end of a leash it seems.

Evangelistic contact can quite often feel the same for many Christians. We venture into a range of social circles and often don’t feel the confidence to break in and establish any meaningful relationships that can lead to opportunities to witness to the Gospel.

One of the most comprehensive resources I have seen on helping Christians negotiate the sometimes-complex world of conversations has been produced as a result of research collaboration by Urban Life, Church Mission Society, International Baptist Theological Study Centre in the UK.

‘A Guide to Creative Conversations’ began in 2018 and its publication came after the Covid-19 lockdown, hence a chapter devoted to conversations in the digital space. There are five chapters that practically consider how to help enable and what might hinder creative conversation: the physical environment, shaping stories, personhood, the people involved, and virtually a creative conversation.

Chapters:

  1. The physical environment.
  2. Shaping stories.
  3. Affirming personhood.
  4. The roles people play.
  5. Virtually a creative conversation.

Each chapter contains:

  • A short chapter to read.
  • A guide for personal reflection.
  • A brief discussion guide to be used in a group setting.
  • Practical challenges to try out in your day to day life and mission.
  • Suggestions for further reading and resources.

This an incredibly well-researched and helpful resource that you can use to great effect to sharpen up your conversational skills and also to pass on to other believers. Every single follower of Jesus can talk to other people. This resource can help you do it better. I’m confident I can crack the dog park armed with this…

Stan Fetting is the Crossover Operations Manager. He is the owner of a young border collie and a rank newbie at his local dog park.