Creating Conversation: why we need to persist when the conversation gets tough

Tim Dickau wants us to create, and sustain, conversation.

COVID-19, social isolation, racism, global warming, unaffordable housing, sexual ethics – there is no shortage of issues our city and province are facing right now.

Each one of these issues calls for our attention and our thoughtful, prayerful and courageous responses. What’s also true is that each one of these issues has the potential to divide and polarize in our current society.

We started these Creating Conversation editorials to stimulate the sort of dialogue that will help us find our way through these issues together, without quickly polarizing or dividing.

Indeed, our intuition is that the current climate of societal division presents an opportunity for the church to walk a markedly different road – one where we listen, persist, struggle and walk with each other.

This path is not one wherein we all come to agreement on every issue or wherein we all come up with the same responses. The desired path is one laid out by Paul in his letter to the Colossians where he writes that “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Our society needs to discover this pathway. In his book, Christ and the Common Life, Duke ethicist Luke Bretherton argues that covenantal communities offer a sliver of light and hope to society in that they demonstrate how love can sustain long-term conversations, even amidst disagreement.

Yes, these types of covenantal communities call for all of us to be willing to change to stay on the path. Yet the hope for finding our way together is real because this hope is rooted in the One God whose own compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience is on display in Christ and is offered to us by the Spirit.

God gives us resources to keep fighting hard for unity.

We hope that Creating Conversation can in a small way contribute to the dialogue and to a hard-fought-for unity. If you go and review previous editorials on the Church for Vancouver (or CityCate) websites, you will get a taste of some of the issues we engaged, such as:

  • reconciliation with First Nations;
  • communion on-line: yes or no;
  • guaranteed basic income;
  • Palestinian-Israeli conflict;
  • community meals and the church;
  • responding to asylum seekers. 

Coming up, we intend to address topics such as the shape of evangelism post-Covid, global mission in a post-colonial age, and climate change and the responsibility of the church. In all these issues, there are multiple voices and views to be heard if we are to discern well how to participate in the Spirit’s healing of creation.

How might you respond to and use these editorials in your own communities? You could post them on social media, send them to a friend and throw it around with them, or discuss them in your small group. Of course, we would love to get your comments on either of our websites as well.

Recently, we were with a group of friends whom we disagreed with regarding COVID-19 vaccines. We still don’t agree with each other, but I think we understand each other a little better. We intend to keep talking, knowing that all of us carry strong convictions and that we will keep seeking to persuade each other. In the light of the promise of God, I am trying to stay alert to how God is working for good in these conversations.

Rev. Dr. Tim Dickau serves as CML Associate for the Missional Leadership Certificate Program, as well as Director of City Gate Leadership Forum.

Prior to joining CML, Tim served for 30 years as pastor of Grandview Church in East Vancouver. Widely recognized as a highly effective missional leader, Tim’s congregational work helped established a deep connection in the neighbourhood, birthed economic development through social enterprises, built a 28 unit community housing project and nurtured a ‘thick community’ of disciples who shared life together and deepened their faith in Jesus through confession and repentance.

Tim’s new book has just been published: Forming Christian Communities in a Secular Age: Recovering Humility and Hope. See the review by Alan Roxburgh. He also wrote Plunging into the Kingdom Way

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2 comments for “Creating Conversation: why we need to persist when the conversation gets tough

  1. Thanks for this update and refresher on the hopes and purposes for ‘Creating Conversation’ reflections. Some issues or concerns feel mammoth in scope and capability. Nonetheless, on the topic of climate change and the crises therein, I suggest that persons like Janette McIntosh and/or Ruth Walmsley (two persons of many involved in a disciplined prayer and action circle), perhaps Jim Leyden too if three are not too cumbersome, to undertake such a reflection.

    In shalom,
    Barry Morris

  2. Very timely. Thank you.

    What has happened to “we’re all in this together” with pot banging and all? Has another virus, a “polarization” virus, infected our hearts and minds?

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