Dialogue and The Hub
We’ve just had a fantastic week with our good friends and Church leaders Dan and Alex Drew (below left, next to Rachel Bowyer), and members of The Hub in Hitchin. We first had the pleasure of meeting the Drews on the first stop of their around the world trip in 2009, a journey to explore different expressions of church prior to planting The Hub six years ago. Rachel and I love sharing at The Hub when we visit the UK, for one thing, their core value ‘debate’ isn’t far off one of ours – that of ‘dialogue’.
I have recently started reading the book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, recommended by another friend as we toured the UK in November. Although Rachel read it first – twice – I have finally got hold of it. At one point Freire (1972:62) talks about dialogue in terms of “united reflection and action” addressed to a world in need of transformation and humanizing. This resonated so much with me, since it is what we long for as we encourage cross-cultural dialogue amongst Durban’s Christian leaders. It is why we call ourselves Soul (united reflection) Action (action). I find I am less and less interested in imposing my ideas on others, but loving one-on-one meetings with leaders more and more.
Dialogue…requires an intense faith in people, faith in their power to make and remake, to create and re-create, faith in their vocation to be fully human (which is not the privilege of the elite, but the birth right of all) (p. 63)
After visiting some of the organisations Soul Action works with, we reflected with The Hub on how Jesus demonstrates what it means to be fully humanized; growing in wisdom, stature, and in favour with God and people (Lk 2:40,52), and how He then commissions us to make disciples (Mt 26:19), with a command to make space for love with holos (all our) hearts, minds, souls for God, self and others (Mt 22:36; 26:20).
How / if we choose to enter into dialogue is key for Freire. If as a ‘leader’ I see myself as a guardian of truth or protector of knowledge, better, self-sufficient, set apart, or as a member of the elite or in-group, how can I dialogue? If I’m closed to, displaced, offended, threatened or weakened, by anothers contribution, how can there be dialogue (p. 63)?
Amongst the Hub’s voiced highlights was what also thrilled me most – our gathering of 40 leaders and Friday’s smaller gathering of individuals. I was thrilled because whilst we may have established the structure for dialogue, the leaders themselves provided 95% of the content, feedback, input, insight and teaching. Dan mentioned afterwards what a privilege it was to be apart of such a vibrant functioning community – he was absolutely right!
“I get it – I’ve read about it in your newsletter, I’ve heard you speak about it, but to be part of it….well now I just get it!” DD
Freire notes that whilst we ought to have faith in all people (p. 64), we shouldn’t under estimate our role as facilitators of change, since, although as followers of God in the ways of Jesus, everyone has the potential to grow holistically – to a greater extent than Jesus according to John 14:12 – ours and other people’s ability to create, re-create and transform situations, is often impaired by assumptions, contexts, oppression, etc. Rather than see this as a problem, as we reflected our week together, each member of the Hub, Rachel and myself identified challenges and opportunities for potential next steps.