I love models that make complex things simple. Models help us represent "the real thing." Think model trains, model cars, or a simple blueprint. A simple model helps us wrap our heads and hearts around something that we have an interest in--and they're fun to play with! 

In this post, I want to provide a model of a new type of conversation. It is a conversation between two people or a small group who want to grow in faith, virtue, and their relationships. These conversations are intentional, more loving, and more transformative than most of the conversations we have in our day-to-day lives. I call these Sacred Conversations.

Sacred Conversations are human interactions designed to help participants involved become better versions of themselves. This is the definition that I provide in my forthcoming book, Sacred Conversations: How God Wants us to Communicate

Having studied and practiced sacred conversations in my personal spiritual discernment, family, friendships, and work with leaders and organizations for more than 20 years, I can attest they are the single-most important form of communication for personal and communal transformation.

For now, let's talk about the three basic parts of the sacred conversations model. 

Three Parts of the Sacred Conversations Model

The model in Figure 1 has three main parts: Inputs, Throughputs, and Outputs. I realize that this model might look too linear for some people. That's a fair criticism. In reality, conversations aren't this linear. I get that. No model is a perfect representation of the real thing.

However, I chose simplicity over complexity for one reason: To provide those who are struggling with their pain, suffering, hopes, and dreams with a scientifically valid and scripturally-rooted alternative form of communication that brings us together with the power of the Holy Spirit. 

While our hyper-connected digital culture gives us many ways to send and receive information, our social and community lives are languishing. We are losing our fundamental ability to connect and communicate with each other on a deeper, spiritual level. Therefore, communication (or lack thereof) is both the cause of and solution for the division, divisiveness, dysfunction, and loneliness in our relationships, organizations, and communities.

To improve our culture, we need to start having different conversations--Sacred Conversations. Here's what they look like and a brief introduction to the inputs, throughputs, and outputs that make them up. 

Part 1: The Inputs 

We must have a reason to enter a sacred conversation. These motivations are called "The Inputs." The inputs are thoughts, feelings, desires, longings, or callings that move us to invite another person to a conversation. The model summarizes the inputs or reasons for having sacred conversations as: pain, suffering, hopes, and dreams. The inputs also inform our intentions or our "why" for having a sacred conversation. Maybe we need a sacred conversation to improve a broken relationship. Maybe we need a sacred conversation to help us discern God's will for our vocation. There are endless reasons why you may be seeking a sacred conversation. 

Part 2: The Throughputs

Individuals and groups need a process for communicating about the inputs (pain, suffering, hopes, and dreams) that bring them together. I call this process the "throughputs." The throughputs are how we approach the conversation. They're the "moves" that we make as we go through a conversation with another human in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The throughputs are what transform pain and suffering into action and change. 

We'll dive deeper into the throughputs in another post. For now, simply notice that "love" is at the center of how we should approach sacred conversations. Sacred conversations require a self-less, other-oriented, compassionate kind of love. It's the kind of love that helps, that heals, that brings us into deeper community and relationship. And it is the kind of love that brings us closer to God. 

Part 3: The Outputs

By committing to the process outlined in the model, the people involved in sacred conversations are transformed: Better you, better us, better world. Once you learn how to invite sacred conversations into your life, you will be changed. Your partner(s) in conversation will be changed. Your relationships will change. Your relationship with the Holy Spirit will change. 

You'll become a better, brighter version of yourself. And, here's the awesome part, these outcomes are contagious (in a good way)! You'll want to have more sacred conversations because you'll see the positive changes that they're make in your life and in others' lives. 

This is why sacred conversations matter. They have a positive ripple effect on you, on us, and on our communities. I summarize these outputs in the model as a: Better you, better us, and better world. 

In my next post, I will go into the five phases (Invitation, Intention, Inquiry, Illumination, and Integration) that will teach you how to approach sacred conversations. If you want to learn more about the book, workshops, coaching or Teaching Sacred Conversations, contact me here. 

About the author 

Christopher Reed, Ph.D.

Author of "Sacred Conversations: How God Wants us to Communicate."

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