Listening Campaign Report
This year, St. Paul’s has launched a “Community Engagement Project.” This project officially launched on March 16th, when 5 members of St. Paul’s were trained and launched together the first-ever “Listening Campaign.”
Over the next several weeks, these members met, listened and shared with as many members of St. Paul’s as they could in one-to-one meetings. In these meetings, they shared stories, learned what members of the congregation value and discovered some of the pressures they face. This “internal” listening campaign was the first phase of the “Community Engagement Project” and laid the foundation for the work that still lies ahead.
On Pentecost Sunday, the Listening Campaign reported back some of the themes and issues that were rising out of their conversations. Overwhelmingly, the most common theme mentioned was the “value of family.” This came out in a number of ways, but became the focal point for discussing how to move forward together as a church community. As the team tried to outline a few “next steps” to suggest to the congregation, they discovered a few surprises:
- various roles within families, and each of these roles may face different pressures and have different concerns.
- Even though “family” is a value, it can also be a source of pressure
- church programming, rather than supporting and nurturing families, can become an additional pressure for families
In the end, what we learned is that we need to do more listening. So, for our next steps as a congregation, we will be hosting a few “Table Talks” over the summer. These casual gatherings will be ways for similar people to gather together in a guided conversation, share a little about their own family, talk about the pressures they face, and identify a few ways that the church can support and nurture the faith of our families.
As a starting point, we have identified three “groups” to gather around tables. These groups were identified by thinking through what groups would have a “critical mass” of folk who would be able to talk together. The first two are fairly common and self-explanatory. However, you don’t have a to be a parent or grandparent to have a family (maybe you’re the crazy uncle!). Everyone is part of family – whether they are single, have no children, divorced, etc. – and so, we’ve created a third group to help make sure everyone gets a place at a table.
The groups are:
- Parents w/ young families
- Other parts of the family
Our hope is that through these conversations, we will build relationships with each other, gain a sense of clarity about who we are (as family members and as a faith community), identify some of the common struggles we have, and plan out a few next steps to suggest to the congregation.
But in order for all this to happen, we need everyone to participate! So we are asking everyone to sign up for a group (only one!) by June 24th. You can sign up on the boards outside the sanctuary at church or online. It takes at least two people to move forward, but we’re hoping for a lot more!
Then, once everyone has had a chance to sign up for one of the three groups mentioned above, we’ll break out into small groups around the kitchen table and have a chat sometime in July or August.
If you have questions about the Table Talks or Community Engagement Project, please contact Pastor Joshua.