How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church

How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church

by C. Christopher Smith


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


Academy of Parish Clergy 2020 Top Ten Book for Parish Ministry

In today's highly charged social and political environment, we often don't know how to talk well with others—especially with people whose backgrounds differ from our own. C. Christopher Smith, coauthor of the critically acclaimed and influential Slow Church, addresses why conversation has become such a challenge in the 21st century and argues that it is perhaps the most-needed spiritual practice of our individualistic age.

Smith likens practicing conversation to the working of the human body. Bodies are wondrous symphonies of diverse, intricate parts striving for our health, and our health suffers when these parts fail to converse effectively. Likewise, we must learn to converse effectively with those who differ from us in the body of Christ so we can embody Christ together in the world. In community, we learn what it means to belong to others and to a story that is bigger than ourselves.

Smith shows how church communities can be training hubs where we learn to talk with and listen to one another with kindness and compassion. The book explores how churches can initiate and sustain conversation, offers advice for working through seasons of conflict, suggests spiritual practices and dispositions that can foster conversation, and features stories from several congregations that are learning to practice conversation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781587434112
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/16/2019
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

C. Christopher Smith (MA, Indiana University) is a writer, community developer, and founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is coauthor of the award-winning book Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus and the author of Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help Our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, USA Today, the Indianapolis Star, HuffPost, Christianity Today, the Christian Century, Relevant, and Sojourners. Smith lives on the urban Near Eastside of Indianapolis, Indiana, where he is a longtime member of Englewood Christian Church, a congregation that has been learning to talk together for over two decades.

Table of Contents


Introduction: We Are Conversational Bodies
1. Orienting Ourselves for the Journey: Theological Roots of Conversation
Part 1: Setting Out on the Journey
2. Learning the Dynamics of Conversation
3. What Will We Talk About?
4. The Healing Potential of Conversational Methods
Part 2: A Spirituality for the Journey
5. Conversation as a Prayerful Way of Being
6. Abiding in the Messiness of Life
7. Preparing Our Whole Selves for Conversation
Part 3: Sustaining the Journey
8. Cultivating a Sense of Mission and Identity
9. Sustaining Conversation through Conflict
10. Enmeshing Ourselves in the Dance of Community
Conclusion: Conversational Bodies Bearing Witness
Appendix A: Sample Conversational Ground Rules
Appendix B: Additional Resources on Conversational Methods
Appendix C: Finding Common Ground in Conversations on Sexuality

Customer Reviews