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Participants Guide to Continuing Indaba

You have been invited to participate in an Indaba based on the concepts of Continuing Indaba.

When you participate in Continuing Indaba you are entering a spiritual journey where you seek to build relationships with people of faith for a common purpose.

 

What will be asked of you?

There are different ways of participating in Continuing Indaba:

  • gathered meetings, such as conferences 
  • governance meetings such as synods, conventions, etc., specifically designed events where there is time to encounter one another’s context, worship in one another’s churches and come to a specific place of meeting for a facilitated conversation.

Whichever way you engage in Indaba all are expected to share their context, learn about the lives of their companions and cross barriers of culture, wealth inequality, language, age and core concerns. This could happen in your own parish, your own diocese or with overseas partners. You will need to trust, pray and commit.

Trust

Participation in Continuing Indaba requires trust. Firstly, it requires trust in God to lead the church. It requires trust in the convenor who has called you to participate in a common journey. They are the ones who will create the safety for you to listen and to speak. This is particularly relevant when the convenor has influence over your future, for example a bishop.

You will need to trust your companions. You will need to know they are travelling with you and learning from you as well as you learning from them. You should expect honesty and confidentiality from them and they should expect that from you.

Prayer

Continuing Indaba is a spiritual journey. Your prayers are vital for the health of the process. The priority is to pray for Christ to lead his people. Then pray for your companions on the journey. Pray for yourself and your walk with Christ.

Commitment

The journey is one that requires commitment. It will not be of value unless you have stepped out of your comfort zone. There will be times when it is hard and you will not see the point; committing to carrying on is vital for all.

Commit yourself to listening. Think of yourself as Paul in Athens taking time to listen to all that is being said and hearing Christ in the midst of all.[1] Work to understand and not to judge.

Consider the journey as a transcultural experience even as you encounter the diversity of the people in your own team. [2]

Commit yourself to speaking honestly. This will open you up to vulnerability and you may fear being judged by others. Your voice is vital on the journey and you should look to others to hear you with openness even when they disagree. You should expect facilitated conversation on the journey, to enable safe space.

 

Change and Faithfulness

Continuing Indaba participants always ask if they will be expected to change their mind. Some fear being asked to compromise on deeply held beliefs.

A walk with Jesus demands change, but it may not be change of mind on issues. Even St Paul talked of seeing only through an obscure glass and knowing only partly[3] so there needs to be an expectation of learning and growing in faith, but that is not necessarily the same as changing your mind.

You should not feel pressured by anyone on the journey to ‘change your mind’. Honest conversation demands that you remain faithful to Christ, the Scriptures, Christian tradition and to your reasoned understanding of the world.

You should not expect other participants to abandon their world view. You should aim to enable them to see the world as you see it as you seek to understand the world as they see it, but not to convert them.

Participants in Continuing Indaba report valuing one another in diversity and having their own views strengthened by being valued by people who disagree with them.

Some do report changing their minds, but as part of a closer walk with Christ and from a deeper understanding of their own faith, the Scriptures, the traditions and their wider cultural experience.

 

Facilitated Conversation

In order to create safe space, the presence of experienced facilitators is vital.

Some people are quick to speak and eager to be heard (extroverts); others are slower to speak, and need time to consider their words (introverts). Extroverts can find it difficult to listen, introverts can be very good listeners. Extroverts can be impatient for action while introverts need more time for thought.

Good facilitation enables introverts to speak and extroverts to listen. It enables the voices on the margins to come to the fore, without silencing the majority.

It should both enable those who prioritise experience in how they develop their understanding of the world to communicate their faith journey and those who value analytical thinking to find their place.

 Facilitators need to engender trust to enable the conversation to be productive because they may need to challenge conventional structures in order to enable all to be heard and all to listen.


[1] Acts 17:16-34

[2] For more on transcultural mission see the Continuing Indaba website especially: http://wp.me/p2o311-mK

[3] 1 Corinthians 13:12 

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