Connecting More Effectively with One Another and Our Neighbors (June 2021)

SOTV strives to be a place where genuine, caring relationships are experienced among members and with others in our community. This is part of making God’s love for all people real. On a Saturday morning in May, 32 members of SOTV gathered on Zoom for a three hour seminar led by Pastor Peter Harrits. Through the use of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), the group learned to deepen their awareness and skills for creating effective connections of genuine acceptance with others in the midst of diversity.

The IDI is widely used by corporations, colleges, and many Christian denominations as a learning resource for how to engage more effectively with people across ethnic and cultural differences. Our hope is that SOTV members might be better equipped to be caring ambassadors of God’s love to others, to help break down walls of hostility or misunderstanding, and to grow in accepting and celebrating differences among us and those in our neighborhoods.

The IDI is a self-evaluation tool which helps people understand how they process cross-cultural interactions and allows them to see where they are on a continuum of growth in their intercultural abilities. The participants included church council members, staff, members of our Tanzania Partnership team, the Racial Truth and Justice group, the Equity Task Force, and others. The seminar was just one step in awareness, with participants creating some practical goals, working toward not minimizing differences, and fostering deeper relationships of genuine caring.

Some of the practical applications which participants shared:

  • Work toward having deeper conversations with others in church; listen to others.
  • Sit in different places in worship to meet new people, learn names, talk to each other.
  • Have welcome signs at the entrances to church in English, Spanish, and Somali.
  • Share more stories of individuals, especially people of varied cultural backgrounds.
  • Plan conversations and activities that broaden awareness of the diversity in our church and neighborhood.