Skip to Main Content

Laypeople learn keys to civil conversations

Posted: June 6 2023 at 11:37 PM
Author: Victoria Rebeck and Debbie Rogers


That our society has become polarized on many issues—to the point of rage, in some cases—is obvious to anyone who reads the news or follows social media. Is civil conversation on disputed subjects possible?

The co-lay leaders of the Northern Illinois Conference think so. During lay session on June 6, they led to participants to discover how to have Christlike conversations with people they disagree with.

20230606laysession

Introducing the principles of Christlike conversations, Mark Manzi, one of the conference lay leaders, told those present that “it’s impossible to love Christ and hate others.” The painful conflict in the church has also challenged church members’ abilities to remain respectful when discussing controversial topics.

“Any response to another person needs to start with humility,” Mark said. “This was key for Jesus.

“Our job is to seek to understand. To understand, we must listen.

“We need to get better at listening,” Mark added. “We need to focus and not be distracted. We need to think, ‘Maybe I really can learn from this person.’”

He offered these practices for better listening:

· Repeat and summarize what your conversation partner said.

· Use minimal encourages, like “Oh?” “I understand.” “Then?” “And?”

· Ask questions to draw out the other person.

· Acknowledge the person’s feelings and background.

· Use “I” messages. Express and take responsibility for your own views and feelings.

· Don’t use the word “why”; it can be inflammatory.

· Don’t give advice that wasn’t asked for.

Mark said that most importantly, we need to practice these principles.

Participants divided into small groups and reflected on what they learned. They were encouraged to share what they learned with the Board of Laity, to help them with the planning in the coming year.

News & Announcements

Flowers Sympathy625x400 2a417 Copy

In Sympathy: Rev. Sang-Hyu Han

Rev. Sang-Hyu Han, a retired member of the Northern Illinois Conference, passed away on May 15, 2024.

Delegation At Beumc Merged30percent

Bishop Schwerin's Reflections on General Conference 2024

Bishop Dan Schwerin offers some reflections after listening to how news of The United Methodist General Conference is being received in Northern Illinois.

Cheryl Weaver Web Image

Cheryl Weaver Named Chief Benefits Officer for NIC and Wisconsin

Rev. Cheryl Weaver, Wisconsin Conference’s benefits officer, will also serve Northern Illinois Conference in this capacity, beginning June 1.

Openingworshipgc202umnssq

General Conference 2020 (2024) Updates

The UMC General Conference (postponed from 2020) came to order on the morning of April 23. Follow daily reports focusing on topics of interest to Northern Illinois Conference readers.

Print