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Trust God and keep talking

Associate Director of Congregational Vibrancy, Naomi Garcia, talks about disagreeing agreeably.

The education component at the 2018 Michigan Annual Conference was delivered in the form of nine TOM Talks (Transformational Outreach Ministry).

Associate Director for Mission and Ministry, the Rev. Paul Perez, introduced the teaching times saying:  “In highly contentious and unsettled times are we a big hot mess? … John Wesley’s answer to spiritual malaise was missional.” Wesley’s advice to those in a “discipleship funk,” is to “be vulnerable with the vulnerable.” TOM Talks demonstrated how to do that.

While eight of the talks focused on congregation’s outreach to the community and neighbors, the ninth TOM talk was more inward in focus.

Naomi Garcia, Associate Director of Congregational Vibrancy for the Michigan Conference, helped Conference members with their self-awareness and interpersonal relationships with each other.

She began, “The God we love more than we ever know does not care what you cannot do. The God who loves us knows what you can do. The question is, ‘Are you willing?’”

Naomi then described how to overcome the separation that divides us and how to move from “fitting in” to “belonging.” She spoke to the mystery and the trustworthiness of God. “It doesn’t matter if you can understand how God can have a billion favorites … that’s what we call the mystery of God … Open yourself to the promise of the trustworthy One. Your comfort zone is the problem.”

She talked about the 3-brain theory of Paul MacLean. “Prayer, meditation, and mindfulness are the best ways to calm the reptilian brain.” Naomi offered a process – Separate-Equal-Open – that enables people to disagree agreeably. “To be separate, equal and open you must try to be, with every breath, just a little more like Jesus.” She cautioned that the worst thing to do is withdraw. “What does it take to not be contentious? My hardest work is not to leave.”

Online resources will soon be on line to inform our conversations in the art of systems-thinking. In the meantime, watch the 20-minute video.



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