The Virtue of Dialogue

virtueOFdialogueYesterday, I purchased a short e-book entitled, The Virtue of Dialogue, written by Christopher Smith and published by Patheos Press. It’s only about 37 pages (note: shorter e-books are becoming a helpful publishing tool).

Smith heads up the blog known as Slow Church, which I recently came across on the Patheos community site. I’ve really come to appreciate the focus of his blog:

Slow Church can help us unmask and repent of our industrialized approaches to church. It can also spur our imaginations with a rich vision of the holistic, interconnected, and abundant life together to which God has called us in Christ Jesus.

And not too long ago, Chris Smith published this little e-book, The Virtue of Dialogue. I think this little book provides some helpful thoughts of what can help stir a local church towards being a faithful community together. The book description shares these brief thoughts:

Englewood Christian Church was once a thriving mega-church, but like the neighborhood surrounding it on Indianapolis’ east side, the church spiraled downward for decades in the face of widespread economic decline.

Today, Englewood–both church and community–are thriving again. Not that ECC has restored its mega-church status, but this church of 200 is having an impact that far outweighs its numbers and that upends the received wisdom about how churches work best. This story of recovery is about moving away from status symbols of success and finding a new path to strengthening and deepening community ties and creating contexts for human flourishing.

Can a modest church sustain a city? Can it foment social change simply by encouraging people to talk and listen to one another? C. Christopher Smith says that it can, and in this brief but extraordinary ebook, he shares his church’s story of discovering the surprising and powerful virtue of conversation.

The simple practice of dialogue, of conversation, at their Sunday evening service led the church towards Christlikeness – both with the church community itself and in reaching the local neighbourhood.

Moving past mere monologue sermons and the busyness of planned programmes. Moving into conversation with one another – listening, even when there were difference of opinions.

This is beautiful. This is healthy. This, I believe, is at the heart of Christ.

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