I meet monthly with a group of guys. We talk, we pray, we make decisions, we read a book. More accurately, we spend 30 minutes with one person leading the discussion of a chapter of a book. We’ve been reading the same book for more than 14 months. We finished it this week.
Because I was leading the discussion this week, I asked whether the book had made any difference for these guys in their own lives. I asked whether it had made any difference in our organizational life.
I mean, we spend more than a year reading and discussion this one book. If it didn’t make any difference, why did we do it?
Here are things that they said.
- All reading the same book at the same time gave a common experience. It built unity.
- The slow discussion which dug deeply into our lives let three new people catch up on the depth of lives of the people in the group. Three out of 10 of us were new this year.
- The book gave room for conversations outside the group. A couple of people had talked to other people about what they were reading.
- Reading slowly forced everyone to take time reading, important for different learning styles. A couple guys said that this is the kind of book they would skim in couple hours and move on. By working slowly, the book worked on them.
- Our format, which had everyone take a chapter (and some of us more than one) allowed everyone to teach/lead. I say allowed, I probably mean forced. However, we all were able to lead and benefited greatly from hearing each other’s voices.
- In a related point, this shared leadership showed everyone that they could. Some of us are teachers, most are not. But everyone learned that they can teach.
- The gradual nature of the book allowed the theme (sabbath) to work its way into our hearts by sheer repetition. Long-term change takes long-term exposure.
- Some change is not quickly identifiable, but we know that it is happening.
It took for ever. It may have changed forever.