One of the areas that our church-wide assessment shows that we need to address is called “empathy today.” It is one of the six characteristics that thriving churches are good at, and we want to be good at it too! Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. The Growing Young Together team has been working to learn more about how to design opportunities for high students, young adults, middle-aged adults, and older adults to create genuine empathetic connections across generations. Empathy joins others in their experience. It is what the old invitation to “walk a mile in my shoes” is all about.
Nurse researcher Theresa Weisman talks about “perspective taking” as one of the important qualities of empathy. Empathy begins with listening. Perspective taking requires the listener to connect with what the other person is experiencing by being brave enough to listen and FEEL what the other person is feeling. It’s not fixing, it’s not telling a story that relates, it’s simply saying something like, “Wow, I didn’t know that’s what you were going through. That is hard.”
The Growing Young Together team is hosting several opportunities to listen to:
1) high school students 2) folks in their 20s 3) folks in their 30s 4) folks 40 and up. Each of these Empathy Talks is designed to hear the perspectives, share the hopes, and feel the fear and frustration with these generations as we grow young together.
Stay tuned for more details - we hope you come and connect!