Saturday, January 10, 2009

7.2 Bridging with Leadership

The second piece of my model involves bringing women together with church leadership or other authority figures to share personal storytelling. The focus here is on the meaning made of the community’s norms and behaviors as known through lived experience. This is not a time to deliver arguments. It is also not a statement against God’s truth. It is an opportunity to hear how the different members of the community experience, feel, and are affected by the social behavior of believers. These personal stories carry valuable information about how the community can better “walk its talk.”

At the end of the previous chapter I noted six principles that facilitate the bridging capacity of storytelling in a group. Permeating all six is a willingness to change one’s mind due the influence of hearing other stories. In this case the internal stories of both the leadership and women will be challenged. Participants on both sides will have to choose how to respond to information that doesn’t fit their expectations, for example about the kind of person that questions the church or about the significance of corporate and individual expressions of faith and so forth.

Hearing women’s stories provides church leadership with a connection to how its vision and methods are lived, felt, and understood by female members of the community. Leadership’s stories offer women a sense of the commitment, responsibility, and call that church leaders carry. Ideally, from here women’s stories would reach a larger body through sermons and theology and so becoming part of the common sense of the story. But the meaning made, to inspire those forms of dissemination and incorporation, begins at the person-to-person sharing of what life in this system means. Meaning at that level changes the lives that constitute the community, male and female.

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