Lay School of Theology: Dialogue in the Purple Zone

How can we talk with people who differ from us politically, theologically, or culturally? Are there ways we can engage issues of public concern in our congregations so that we can listen, respect, and learn from each other?

Based on her book, Preaching in the Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide, Rev. Dr. Leah Schade will introduce participants to deliberative dialogue in the “The Purple Zone” to find common ground within the red/blue divide in in our congregations. Deliberative dialogue is a form of civil discourse that brings people together from diverse experiences and viewpoints to share their concerns about a topic, discern their shared values, and suggest steps for moving forward. Deliberative dialogue is an opportunity to listen deeply and share openly and respectfully.  In this way, we can build community, even when there are strongly held opinions from many perspectives.

All participants will learn:

  • Reflective listening
  • How to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of different approaches to issues that are important to our communities
  • How you can help your church move beyond divisiveness to a gospel-centered engagement based on shared values.

Those who wish to learn the skills of moderating will have the opportunity to practice facilitation in Sessions 2 and 3.  Moderators will practice:

  • Strategies and tactics for effectively moderating a deliberative dialogue in your congregation.
  • Tips for facilitating a balanced, open-minded discussion in your church that frames the conversation within biblical and theological perspectives.

These skills are useful and applicable for facilitating discussions in council/board meetings, small groups, Adult Forums and Bible studies, youth groups, and community forums.

We recommend that laity invite their pastor to attend the three sessions with them so that they can assist and support each other in planning and moderating deliberative dialogue in their church.

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