Home Equipping Leaders Courageous Conversations Suggested Reading for Further Exploration of Courageous Conversations

Suggested Reading for Further Exploration of Courageous Conversations

Regarding How to Have Courageous Conversations

  • The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt.
    • Exploring insights from anthropology, genetics, and moral psychology, Haidt helps readers to appreciate why people from different sides understand morality differently. Highly recommend this book.
  • The Anatomy of Peace by The Arbinger Institute (used by The Way Forward Commission).
    • In narrative style, this book explores how to implement a strategy for changing ourselves while inviting change in others.
  • This book builds on the previous book Leadership and Self-Deception
  • Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High
    • New York Times Bestseller that draws on years of insight and research. Filled with practical advice for a range of situations from business to home.
  • Crucial Accountability: Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior
    • Follow up to Crucial Conversations and just as helpful.
  • The Little Book of Cool Tools for Hot Topics: Group Tools to Facilitate Meetings When Things Are Hot by Evelyn Wright and Ron Kraybill
    • Author Kraybill, who helped to with the South African political transformation away from apartheid, shares anecdotes and practical how-to for any tension-filled decision-making process. This “little” book offers a variety of ways about how to focus on the issues at stake rather than having a war of personalities; how to employ actual practices for better understanding (small-group discussions); and how to move a group toward making a decision that all can honestly support.
  • A Safe Place for Dangerous Truths: Using Dialogue to Overcome Fear and Distrust at Work by Annette Simmons
    • Simmons gives insight into the role of dialogue and tools for helping adults speak about the unspeakable truths that too often go without being said due to fear. Though written for the workplace, there’s lots to learn about dialogue from Simmons work.
  • More light Less Heat How Dialogue Can Transform Christian Conflicts into Growth by Joseph Phelps
    • Speaking directly to churches, Phelps reveals how dialogue can be productive for learning. Phelps uses polarity management to show how opposing sides of issues can learn from each other.
  • Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle
    • Turkle, who has spent decades studying psychology and technology, investigates how a flight from conversation undermines our relationships, creativity, and productivity—and why reclaiming face-to-face conversation can help us regain lost ground.
  • Three Simple Rules by Rueben Job
    • Rueben Job offers an interpretation of John Wesley's General Rules for today's readers. This simple but challenging reminder of the three commands, "do no harm, do good, stay in love with God" calls us to deeper relationship with God and how we engage in meaningful conversations.
  • Turning Toward One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future by Margaret Wheatley
    • Insightful and easy read focusing on the reality that change will only happen through conversation together. Broken into three parts: Part I explores dynamics about conversation, Part II allows for reflection, Part II gives conversation starters.
  • Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
    • From the Harvard Negotiation Project provides a step-by-step approach to having tough conversations with less stress and more success. The book explores underlying structure of every difficult conversation; starting a conversation without defensiveness, listening for the meaning of what is not said, staying balanced in the face of attacks and accusations, and moving from emotion to productive problem solving.
  • Healing the Heart of Democracy – Parker Palmer
    • Healing the Heart of Democracy names the "habits of the heart" we need to revitalize our politics and shows how they can be formed in the everyday venues of our lives. Palmer proposes practical and hopeful methods to hold the tensions of our differences in a manner that can help us restore a government "of the people, by the people, for the people."
  • Conversation – The Sacred Art: Practicing Presence in an Age of Distraction by Diane Millis
    • Millis offers us inspirational stories, insights and spiritual to increase our awareness. This resource is a catalyst for anyone who would like to enrich seemingly ordinary conversations as well as for leaders in educational, ministry and corporate settings.

Regarding Specific Topics

  • Holy Contradictions: What’s Next For the People Called United Methodists edited by Brian Milford
    • Seventeen different authors contribute their perspectives about the upcoming Special Called General Conference decision centered around the plans submitted by the Way Forward Commission. A word of warning: While some authors might voice your perspective, hopefully others will challenge some of your assumptions. Each chapter is short and to the point. I found myself wanting to hear more from some authors and a little less from others, but enough room is given for the author to make their main points even if not fully fleshed out. One point that was made clear for me, is that there are more than two sides to this conversation. Holy Contradictions is great for Sunday School classes or groups within a church to study and dialogue about the future of the United Methodists with more clarity of the diverse perspectives present at this critical time of the UMC.
  • Finding Our Way: Love and Law in the UMC Edited by Rueben Job and Neil Alexander
    • The United Methodist Church has been grappling with issues related to human sexuality for decades. Finding Our Way: Love and Law in The United Methodist Church is authored by several bishops attempting to enunciate and clarify pathways that represent faithful, responsible, and constructive ways forward through the current controversies. Each bishop articulates a prescription for moving through current conflict about homosexual practice, same-gender unions, qualifications for ordination, and maintaining the "good standing" of elders. Go to www.ministrymatters.com/FindingOurWay to read the introduction and to comment.
  • Hijacked by Michael Slaughter and Chuck Gutenson
    • Hijacked explores the political divide that has infiltrated our churches. Too often, it often seems politics trumps theology. Sadly, this leads to division, where decisions on church direction, and even the content of teaching, gets determined more based on partisan politics than on sound biblical and theological factors. The authors offer analysis and proposes a way forward.
  • Disarming Scripture: Cherry-Picking Liberals, Violence-Loving Conservatives, and Why We All Need to Learn to Read the Bible Like Jesus Did by Derek Flood
    • Flood attempts to go beyond the liberal vs. conservative divide. Though many will not agree with at least some of his conclusions, his attempt to approach Scripture

Helpful UMC Resources

  • Social Principles & Social Creed – The Social Creed is basic statement of guiding convictions about our relationship with God and others. The Social Principles expands on these convictions focusing on our relationship with the world. While the Social Principles are in the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church they are not binding but serve as helpful guides to our thinking.
  • Three General Rules – Designed originally by John Wesley for small groups known as bands and societies, these rules are helpful growth as a disciple as well as in guiding the tone of our conversations.
  1. Doing no harm.
  2. Doing good.
  3. Attending all the ordinances of God.

Other helpful links and articles

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