The Four Fold Practice of Hosting

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What would it mean for your Church to host your community? To receive them with open arms and welcome them into our spaces and conversations and fellowship? What would it mean to allow our communities to be places of hosting?

The Art of Hosting teaches us that there are Four Principles for Participatory Leadership/ Community Co-Creation (in what has become known at the “Four Fold Practice” of hosting)

THE FOUR STAGES OF HOSTING

STEP ONE: Hosting Yourself – Understand yourself! You can’t do community work unless you understand your own strengths, weaknesses, and biases.  Community work is about minimising power imbalance and until we understand what power we inherently possess or do not possess we will risk damaging ourselves or others. Hosting oneself is to take care of oneself and amplify those practices that allows one to be and do with more sincerity. It is a mindfulness practise that can be applied to an individual community worker or to a collective on community workers (for example a Church group).  What does it mean to be me/us; what are my/our inherent beliefs about community (about my/ourselves; about belonging; about leadership and participation)?

STEP TWO: Host Others.  Get others in the room.  Be present to them taking courage to call for what matters. Practice hosting with purpose and skills. Ask the questions together: What do we care about? What life-giving question are we called to engage in this moment? What would it mean for us to be together? Set up the environment of hosting “this is what it is going to feel like for us to be together”. Personally I like the Circle Practice technique best for this step. I used this recently in establishing a Steering Group for our new Edwardstown Community and despite some initial skeptics the responses afterwards were things like: “that was the best meeting I have ever been in”.

STEP THREE: Being Hosted– Allow yourself to be hosted.  Enter the learning space/a space of healthy curiosity with your community (whether that community be your Church, your community of practise, your work space or…).  Allow yourself to be taken care of and enable others to practice their hosting; your role now is in affirming them. Once again in performing this step we are minimising natural-order power imbalances whether they be the result of gender, age, experience, education or community cohesiveness (this last one I think the Church largely ignores as one of the ways it naturally holds power over the community it is trying to work with).  I can not emphasis enough the need to practise humility and learning.

STEP FOUR: Host Emergence.  Become a community that creates together.  Let the “community” that has come out of the previous steps be the host.  Co-create – practice, risk and create together.  Learn from that collective wisdom comes out of participatory practices and methodologies. Practise working in partnership. What are we learning and attending to? We are most committed to that which we co-create!  If you want your community to be committed to the way forward they have to be participants in its creation.

WHY I BELIEVE IN THIS PROCESS:
I believe that it is so important that we allow the guest (our community) to become the host because in so doing we break down power imbalance and allow for the group to truly determine the way forward (as opposed to the “wisest”, most powerful, loudest or most experienced in the group guiding the practice).  The most important member of any community is the person who guards the “little ones”, the nervous ones, the quiet ones; that safeguards the process and that monitors the energy of the group.  Cultivate this skill even at the expense of all others!

I believe we see numerous examples of Jesus allowing himself to be hosted in the scriptures such as with Zacchaeus (Luke 19) and it was Jesus who taught us:
“The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” – Luke 22:24-27

What would it mean for you to host your community?

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