Have you ever experienced a process that shifted your world? What would it look like for members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to hear storytellers and engage our narratives? And what kind of church might we have if we imagined a narrative of a shared future?
The Church Narrative Project aims to facilitate the collectively developed preferred narrative of the shared future of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Through StoryHour gatherings followed by an ongoing series of engagements in the Transforming Community Conferencing process, the whole church will participate in a shared process of transformation in person and online not just learn about transformation. Through a facilitated process of interaction and dialogue led by Rev. Dr. David Anderson Hooker, the Church Narrative Project will engage participants in difficult and faithful work towards that aim.
The preferred narrative of our shared future is about who God is calling us to be in light of who we have been, who we are, and how we imagine we might meet God in the future given those two realities. It’s about imagining a future by being honest about the stories that make us who we are as a church, and deciding together which stories to carry forward and which may not serve our shared future. The preferred narrative of the future will encompass the tenets of being anti-racist and pro-reconciling, and yet goes far beyond antiracism to state a positive and affirmative vision of the church as a result.
One of the guiding scriptures Dr. Hooker engages in the process is Luke 17:21 (NRSV) “nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”
The process will answer a question of faithfulness: “When we as a church are manifesting the full power of our witness, who/what will we then be?”
We’re telling stories of epiphanies, large and small.
Theme – Eureka! Stories of seeing the light
“I’ve got it!”
“I finally understand!”
Almost all of us have had some moment of revelation. When we can see ourselves, or some relationship, or the world with greater clarity. Storytellers in each region will tell true 7 minute stories of a time when the scales fell from their eyes — or they told someone else the truth (“we need to call that doctor now”). An exchange that changed their sense of yourself from then on (“You do belong here; this is where God wants you”). A connection with someone unexpected that changed your path. (Any Damascus Road moments?)
Frequently Asked Questions
Transforming Community Conferencing (TCC) is a practical approach to dialogue developed by Rev. Dr. David Anderson Hooker to cultivate the power of narrative, storytelling, listening, and community action to shape a preferred narrative of a shared future. Participants in the Church Narrative Project will experience Transforming Community Conferencing following StoryHour on day one and on day two of the two-day gatherings in their region.
Read more about Rev. Dr. David Anderson Hooker.
The Church Narrative Project has been referred to as “musical chairs in reverse.” What that means is the Church Narrative Project will initially start with regionally based gatherings with the hope of engaging more and more people, expanding the experience until there is a chair for everyone. The process will continue to expand over time, so that the whole church, every Disciple, from every region, every identity, and every congregation who is interested in participating in this shared project across the life of the church will be included.
We are not inviting you to another boring church meeting. The Church Narrative Project is a two-day experience—a Friday night StoryHour, styled similarly to popular story slams such as The Moth, followed by the beginning of the TCC, and engagement on Saturday facilitated by Rev. Dr. David Anderson Hooker.
We will initially begin in three regions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): the Central Rocky Mountain Region of the Christian Church (November 18-19, 2022), Illinois/Wisconsin Region of the Christian Church, and the Tri-regional partnership which includes the Greater Kansas City Region of the Christian Church, the Christian Church in Nebraska, and the Christian Church in Kansas.
Following these initial events, more events will be hosted until everyone across the life of the church has the opportunity to participate.
The Covenant Project is an initiative of the Governance Committee at the direction of the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to change how we gather and how we make decisions as church so that more people are included in shaping the priorities of the church. Included in these changes will be more frequent gatherings in which the church receives education, engages in dialogue and practices discernment. The Church Narrative Project aims to teach members of the church how to engage in dialogue and practice listening that can generate thoughtful and spiritual mature discernment. The Covenant Project and the Church Narrative Project are collaborative projects that share a vision for who we can be as a church in covenant, while equipping the church with the skills it needs to faithfully live into that future.
The Church Narrative Project is being co-led by the Office of General Minister and President and sponsoring host regions and general units. As the work expands, teams of TCC leaders will be identified and equipped in the process so that more events can be hosted across the life of the church. Alongside the guidance of Rev. Dr. Anderson Hooker, this process aims to cultivate and prepare the church to lead itself through a process that can produce conversation that shapes our shared future.
You may read an article about the role of narrative titled “The Role of Narrative in Managing Conflict and Supporting Peace” from the Institute for Integrated Transitions. (link to uploaded PDF).
You can also watch this 30 minute Imagine With Me video conversation hosted by General Minister and President, Rev. Terri Owens, featuring Rev. Dr. David Anderson Hooker.
This project is about expanding theological imagination and our capacity for transformation and action together as a whole church. Watch a short excerpt about the theology that informs Dr. Hookers work and leadership.
You may also read a copy of The Little Book of Transformative Community Conferencing: A Hopeful, Practical Approach to Dialogue by David Anderson Hooker