We live in a world which is complex and divided – from global conflict to our own relationships. That’s why Archbishop Justin Welby has brought together leading thinkers and peacemakers to create Difference – a five-session course that explores how we can follow Jesus in our everyday encounters. The programme equips people to cross divides, navigate disagreement and pursue a just and flourishing world.
Lasting change happens when we allow God to shape who we are and the values we live by. That’s why Difference is about formation – discovering and building new patterns of thinking, speaking, praying and acting.
Three habits to transform everyday relationships
Archbishop Justin Welby’s vision is for the Church to be a reconciling presence in the midst of conflict. Deeply drawing on Jesus’ encounters in the Gospels and the wisdom of expert peacemakers, the course equips people with three habits with the potential to transform everyday relationships.
Listen to others’ stories and see the world through their eyes.
We read in Genesis 1 that every person is made in the image of God, with value and a unique story. When we are curious enough to seek out that story, we affirm that person’s innate value. Demonstrating a true interest in who the person is and how they have experienced the world can make it possible to begin to tread tricky territory together, because the other person knows they have been heard and honoured.
Encounter others with authenticity and confidence.
Our encounters with others are inseparable from our relationship with Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46). Being present in encounters means showing up and sticking around – making time for the other, dedicating our attention to them and encountering them as they are. The Christian faith teaches that God became human and chose to be part of a hurting world. God’s response to injustice and hurt is to step into the context in a totally new way, teaching us what it means to be present.
Finding hope and opportunity in the places where we long to see change.
The way we see the world is shaped by our imaginations. It is easy to become discouraged when conflict and division seem unending. But we believe that God makes all things new (Revelation 21). The habit of reimagining encourages us to be renewed by the Holy Spirt, stretching our understanding of what is possible. It is rarely a solo experience and often done in community. For relationships to be restored, the systems and structures which we are familiar with need to shift in new and reimagined ways.
- God’s call: God can transform relationships in a conflicted world. God’s call and equipping make that possible.
- Crossing divides: God invites us to see where difference or prejudice divide us from others and offers us opportunities to see them as he does.
- Navigating disagreement: God is with us as we face the challenge of disagreement, which can become an opportunity for stronger relationships if handled well.
- Practising forgiveness: God is with us in the mess complexity of trying to put forgiveness into practice in our relationships.
- Risking hope: Doing relationships God’s way will sometimes be risky and resisted, but the hope it brings is transformative.
Equipping you to run the course
Difference is easy, free to run, and can be used with both large and small groups. Courses have been run in many contexts including churches, communities, and prisons. The first step is to create an account to get access to the Training and Resources Hub.
Training and access to the resources is completely free and includes films, articles, taking no longer than 30 minutes to complete. You can pause and resume training at any time and you access the information and materials for every course you run via your own unique dashboard. If you have any questions, get in touch via [email protected].
In a world of fracture and division, God is making all things new and he calls us to be part of this story. Difference is mobilising people to live out their calling as peacemakers and reconcilers, for a just and a flourishing world.
Difference has been created by the Reconciliation Leaders Network (RLN), a registered charity, part of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Reconciliation Ministry.
Run the course
The sessions are designed for both large and small, new and existing church-based groups for online or in person. To access the course resources and find out everything you need to know to run the Difference course, create an account and dive right in!