By: Rev. Dr. Rick Jordan
I confess that most days, I walk through a day without much thought. Not that I’m ignorant or inconsiderate. But too often I do breeze through a day’s experiences without consideration of deeper insights. Sometimes, a shock to my system helps me realize that I need to ponder what I am experiencing. That might be a sudden loss (such as the death of a friend). It might also be a wonderful experience such as a vacation in a foreign setting. As I experience something different from my day-to-day humdrum, I have the opportunity to open myself to new thoughts and challenging insights.
How do we train ourselves to think deeper? Like any other skill, it takes practice. Last month, I tried a practice exercise on my Bible study group. Rather than teach my typical Bible lesson, I offered a “travelog for dialogue.” I had just returned from a trip that included several days in Iceland. I wrote an article about attending church in Iceland for the Barnabas Partnership E-ncourager newsletter.
My article began with an “experience” paragraph – what happened? I followed that with a “reflection” paragraph – what did I think about what happened? For my class session, I added a third movement, a question to challenge the listeners to interact with my experience and reflection as they considered their own spiritual journeys. These questions invited storytelling that we all could enjoy and learn from.
For example, I told of my experience listening to a sermon preached in the Icelandic language. The question that followed my personal reflection was, “Have you ever attended a worship service in a non-English setting? What is your memory of that experience?” The church I attended was named after Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614–1674), author of the Passion Hymns. In my reflection, I confessed that I had never heard of this man or of his writings – yet he and they continue to shape the entire nation of Iceland. I then asked class members, “What writer or singer or preacher ‘feeds your soul?’”
Listening to class members share stories of worship in foreign cultures (on mission trips, while touring the Vatican, while touring the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, etc.) gave us all insights into one another’s experiences. It also encouraged us to not let experiences pass us by without reflection. Listening to class members share authors and singers who shape their soul gave us new resources to Google and download.
How can you pose questions that lead to personal reflection and story-sharing in your church leadership roles?
These thoughts are from Rev. Dr. Rick Jordan, our partner based out of Lewisville, North Carolina. He is a 20+-year member of Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC where he leads an adult Bible study, serves as a deacon, as Personnel Council chairperson, and on the Vision Navigation Team. He has also served in various roles from local churches to state and national leadership. Contact him for more information on how our partner can help you.
Photo by Samir Belhamra