An exercise for sharing thoughts on spiritual questions in groups and thereby create relationships across religious differences.
A. It is important that you have prepared the dialogue groups for openness and respect. Guide and remind them that these group dialogues are confidential, sensitive and need a trusting environment.
B. Find places where the groups can sit undisturbed for 45 minutes – 1 hour
C. Organise the groups beforehand according to maturity.
Required Material: None
Describe the exercise and divide the participants into groups of 4-7 people. Remind everybody that this type of dialogue demands openness, sensitivity and respect. In this type of group sharing, there is no discussion or comparison – only sharing
Each group sits in an undisturbed and comfortable place where they can all see and hear each other. One at a time, they answer the question they have brought with them from the facilitator to the group.
The following questions are relevant for group dialogue. For each group session of 45 minutes, only 1 question should be addressed. If you have more days together or have the chance of meeting again, the same groups can meet and share responses to the next question etc.
1. What does your faith mean to you?
2. What would you like to be asked, or what would you like to ask someone else about?
3. Share good or difficult experiences in your life and faith story that have had an impact on your faith.
4. What do I find challenging in my faith?
5. What am I attracted to in another faith? Is God in the other religion?
Each person gets about 5 minutes to share their own thoughts and experiences. The others only listen and do not interrupt or discuss/disagree. When everybody has shared what they wanted to, they can thank and comment on what they heard from one or more people in the group: what inspired them, made them wonder, gave food for thought etc. Again, the comments are not meant to start a discussion or evaluation of what has been shared.
It is very important that a facilitator leads the group. If there are not enough facilitators for each group – make sure that the group understands the rules and perhaps has one of the group members act as facilitator. The facilitator ensures that everybody is seen and heard while they are sharing. This creates a trusting environment.
When all the groups are back in plenary session, you can ask how it was for the individual to share without being interrupted or challenged. How was it to share something personal about your faith to a group? The participants cannot share anything from the group that was shared by someone else – they can only share how they themselves experienced the group sharing.
Highlight the main learning points from what some of the participants have shared in plenary. Hopefully, an experience of discovering glimpses of each other’s faith and soul has opened opportunities for new relationships.