The Art of Hosting

Here's the situation: A good sized church (over 300 in attendance each Sunday) with a strong infrastructure of committees, boards, councils, and short-term common-interest groups is looking for ways to improve its leadership development process.  They've asked me to bring in Art of Hosting for leadership development, and we are starting with a World Cafe focused on the calling question, "How can current church leaders transition minimally involved members into leadership?"

The questions we are currently talking about using are these:

  1. What hunger brought you here tonight?
  2. What do you value about our church community?
  3. What would help you share your best self with the church? 
  4. How would the church look if we all shared our best selves?
  5. What seems possible now?

Questions 2, 3, and 4 are currently being talked about as World Cafe questions, with 1 and 5 for check-in and check-out circles.

Question #4 does not strike me as wicked, primarily because I believe this church has done a pretty tremendous job so far of describing its vision of itself and identifying the needs in the community that strike us, collectively, as important.  I think the question needs to have a much stronger tie to our calling question to be relevant. 

The event purpose statement is:

  • To help members of the congregation connect to personal purpose, engage with community, and thrive
  • To introduce the church to Art of Hosting
  • To transform the way we work together by honoring our diverse gifts

Got any questions in the can that might just fit?


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Hello Amy, great that you posted your question here; but I would advice you to also send this question through our emaillist, as most people will not read it here (I guess). Although It is really good to have these questions - and answers! - here too!

Thanks - was curious right along those lines.  I appreciate your perspective!

Hi Amy,

I am really intriqued by your question about questions.  My work is at the intersection of church and neighborhood and I am drawn to AoH.  I am just re-visiting this site (after some time away) inspired by the thought provoking first newsletter from Living Wholeness Institute.  I don't yet have all the AoH practices or lingo but I am definitely drawn to the principles and essence.  I'd enjoy being a conversation partner because when you find the answer to your key question, "How can current church leaders transition minimally involved members into leadership?", you will be onto something big!

Thanks, Amy!  I think you are right... this is a question that is probably being asked by more than one church and more than one type of institution!

Here is some harvest from the emaillist that followed...

Many thanks to all who contributed to this discussion!  I took your suggestions to our host team for discussion, and we settled on these:
Check-in:  What hunger brought you here tonight?
World-cafe Q1: How does being in our church community nourish you?
World-cafe Q2: What else could our church become if we all shared our best selves?
World-cafe Q3: What would help you share your best self (who you are when you are at your best) with the church?
Check-out: What seems possible now?
We may offer some more metaphorical framing for World-Cafe questions 2 and 3 to draw out the theme of eating--perhaps even lavish and exotic eating as an element of sharing.  So, a hat-tip to our community for offering your thinking around this opportunity!
Hi all...
I have done several deep and intensive  Art of Hosting sessions and strategic conversation using AoH as a frame with many mainline churches and Christian spiritual leaders in the last 3 years.  There is much from the Christian spiritual tradition that can be used to frame and deeply engage with each other, and that supports the practices we teach within Art of Hosting.  I am learning that for many people their spiritual lives within these Churches are being deepened and enhance by bringing conscious hosting practice to their spiritual communities.
So if you are involved in this work, I would be happy to share thoughts with you.  There is a wider and wider call for this work in these places in this time.
Chris Corrigan
I'll offer a ditto here.
I'm involved in four different faith community settings now that grow from these AoH roots and practices. Great learning, great people, great questions with them that we are all learning about.
Greetings from Utah.
Tenneson Woolf
Greetings -
I have been away from these conversations for a while, but can add here that I just saw a report of a national visioning gathering of some UCC leaders which used a World Cafe format - it's been my experience that the AoH models are very useful in church settings - I have a gathering within my congregation in early July that will likely use a format I call Cafe Real, based on World Cafe principles. I'm thinking and talking about wicked questions in preparation for this, and like the ones noted here. Not to mention, that the spirit that emerges in these conversations wherever they happen is the spirit we hope will emerge in churches :o) -
Peggy Dunn

A great blog post by Tenneson, about working with Teresa with some congregations: Risk boldly the future.

Perfect recommendation, Ria.  Thank you!

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