Lisa Schirch and David Campt’s expertise and perspective as reconciliation and peacebuilding consultants shines in their Little Book of Dialogue. Schirch and Campt offer readers a foundation and process for individuals, communities, and groups to engage in a process of dialogue that ultimately leads to action. According to Schirch and Campt, dialogue is not conversation, debate, or discussion that results in winners and losers. Dialogue entails a willingness to learn from others, a desire to understand another person’s position, and a respect for others that does not require uniformity. The goal of dialogue is to “build relationships between people as they address a common concern.” Finally, dialogue is a vigorous process that leads to action. Schirch and Campt provide specific steps for organizing and designing a dialogue. Additionally, one chapter identifies the necessary skills of a facilitator and notes that these skills can be learned. Another chapter provides a “five part framework” for gauging the efficacy of a given dialogue. Congregations experiencing conflict or struggling to talk about difficult subjects may find this brief but thorough Mennonite resource perfect for their needs. It is appropriate for a variety of congregations and traditions and clergy and laity alike.
Reviewed by Janet Hoover