I’ve been reading a lot of small group curriculum lately, so I’ve been thinking about what ought to happen when people come together for conversation that’s more than casual. If you’re in a small group, leading a small group, or write materials for small groups, let me know what you think ([email protected]):

In a conversation, the talk is natural and free flowing. In a group discussion, the talk is scripted and controlled. YES! It’s not only OK to have some objectives, goals, main points, etc. in a conversation, it’s absolutely necessary! However, conversations feel guided, discussion feel directed. Conversations are messy, discussions are measurable.
Conversations are interactive, and are all about the process. Discussions are transactional and all about the product.

I SEE a discussion being like tour through a drab office building, whereas a conversation is like roaming around a park. WHAT DO YOU SEE?

Conversations engage and inspire friendships, discussions exchange information among the participants.

Conversations build trust, discussions layout boundaries.

In conversations, silence is thoughtful. In discussions, the silence is awkward.

Conversations explore opportunities. Discussions outline responsibilities.

Conversations are about ideas, discussions are about words. The sense of what’s said is more important than how it’s said. There’s no hair splitting over precise definitions in a conversation.

Conversations create community without conformity. Discussions form connections without potency.

In a conversation, a difference in opinion is an opportunity to reach new insights. In a discussion, differences lead to distance and the drawing of lines.

Conversations create intimacy and trust. Discussions … do what exactly?