Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I did my first webinar last night and probably my last.

I enjoyed the preparation for it. The subject was "Having Difficult Conversations" and someone suggested I lead it because our moving into intentional diversity as a church has led us through some difficult conversations.

What was ironic to me as I worked on the project was that I realized how much I really dislike having "difficult conversations." My history has been avoidance if possible.

But I also recognize that I have grown over the years and have learned that these conversations can often be illuminating and life giving.

I started the webinar by sharing two writings: Ephesians 4: 1-16 as Paul writes about leading "a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

I also ahared the wonderful prayer/poem by Teihard de Jardin about trusting the "slow work of God":
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown,
something new.

And that led me into talking about and describing what spiritual maturity looks like and how important it is for all of us to continue to grow spiritually and that will help us to actually engage difficult conversations.
As a pastor (but really everyone!) I need to be aware of how I block difficult conversations because I do. Sometimes by ignoring problems and other times by placating people instead of confront and other times by controlling the discussion.

My other points were about recognizing our own anxiety, becoming self differentiated and humility. We are able to enter into conversations if we don't think we have all the answers.

I am not going to put the entire webinar in this blog but I will say that by the time I was done I really was able to understand that living in the present moment - without judgment - is the most helpful part of our being able to hear each other and find ways of connecting on what we agree about and understanding the areas of disagreement. All of which is very difficult because of our tendency to want to protect ourselves.

The entire webinar was recorded and it will be online on the website of our regional church

Now the other thing I learned is that a webinar is a very challenging way to share information for me (Margot) because it is in a vacuum. I prepared the powerpoint and the talk and sat in my office and gave it. I could not see anyone's faces and everyone else's computers were on "mute." When I was finished we asked for questions and there were none.

And so, there was a closing prayer and I signed off and that was that. Usually when I do sermons and retreats and Bible studies I am looking at people's faces and getting energy from their response and presence. This was so different and very uncomfortable for me.

And it brought home to me why it is that I am so resistent to "meetings" that are on a computer. I know they are efficient and mean that people do not need to travel to be "together" but I like bodies in the room! I get energy from others.

And so, probably, no more webinars for Margot - but I am always available for retreats and seminars. In person.


WayneG said...

I've done webinars and I've done Skype-inars (I made that term up, actually) whereby you can see all the participants via a split computer screen... neither are as good as face-to-face but with Skype you can see when someone is puzzled or has a question.... and in one case it saved me 2 hours on the road! One webinar I did for Race to the Top had lots of participants and they would stream their questions down the side of the page as the speaker was going through the materials... she would then be able to respond when she felt it appropriate... By the time this is all figured out for churches you'll be ruminating full-time!

Audrey Connor said...

I like Uncle Wayne's thoughts. I hate online stuff myself - it is too weird. but it is efficient and the reality is that it is cheap and a good way to connect people far apart. thanks for taking one for the team mom - sounds like it was interesting.