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Listening for a Change

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 18 August 2013

We had an unusual PCC meeting last month.

The PCC is going through a process of working out what St Martin-in-the-Fields is, and what it hopes to become.  Part of this comes with the task of writing a new Mission Action Plan for the next five years.  We have a PCC awayday planned for 7 September.  But we realised we couldn’t talk about where we were going unless we shared with one another where we were coming from.

And so we did something committees and councils don’t usually do.  We got into groups of four, found a quiet space, and got out a stopwatch.  Each person was given 8 minutes and invited to speak uninterrupted for the whole of that time.

The first thing we each discovered is that 8 minutes is a long time.  None of us generally trust that what we are saying is interesting enough to keep anyone’s attention for that long – let alone three other people at a meeting of a busy organisation.  What we usually do is look for signals – say ‘D’you know what I mean?’ or make a joke to regain permission to keep talking.  But this time the stopwatch looked after that.

We all had half a dozen prompts – e.g. ‘I wonder if you’ve ever considered leaving St Martin’s and what it was that kept you’ – in case we dried up.  But people didn’t dry up.  People found they had a lot to say.  In the end the 8 minutes seemed so short.  What we’d discovered was how to love not only through our own eyes, but through one another’s.

Afterwards I thought, maybe this is what we do in heaven: listen more deeply, cherish more tenderly, love more wisely.

Revd Dr Sam Wells