Bing tracking

One to Ones: Tool for Deep Conversations


Two alum smiling while hugging at the table

The Riverside Innovation Hub is a learning community made of local congregations who gather together to learn how to be and become public church in their neighborhood contexts. We convene congregations over two years together, shaped by learning and practicing the artforms of the Public Church Framework in each congregation’s unique context.

Accompaniment is the first artform of the Public Church Framework. It is the movement out into the neighborhood to hear the neighbors’ stories. In this movement, we learn to engage and listen to the neighbor for the neighbor’s sake. We’ve simplified and categorized accompaniment into four different practices that help us hear our neighbors’ stories. This blog post dives into the last layer of accompaniment, one to ones.

You can also read more about the other three layers – Understanding Demographic Data, Prayer Walk in the Neighborhood, and Engaging Listening Posts.

Tools for Deep Conversations

Written by Brenna Zeimet 

The desire to know and be known is at the core of our being as humans. Our compassion, our actions, and our hearts are driven by the relationships and stories of the people around us. When we understand others deeply and connect their experience to our own, we are compelled to love them, it is how we are wired.

Most of us navigate the world as the star of our own story, we spend our days running our errands, chasing our goals and interacting with the friends and family that complete our story’s cast of characters. Every single day we pass dozens of other humans, on the road, in our schools, in the grocery store, even on our own block. Like extras on a movie set, those people wander through the scenes that make up our days and for the most part, we are oblivious to their existence.

What if we got curious about the characters that pass us everyday? What if when we thought about the people who we share space with we saw human beings with stories and dreams and value. What if we began to investigate the depth and beauty and friendships that we are missing out on each day?

Any good story hinges on character development, we connect with the characters when we understand their essence. We want to know their backstory, their motivation, their strengths, their goals, how they think, what they love, what breaks their heart. Knowing your neighbor involves getting to know their essence, moving beyond surface conversation about the weather and sports, and having real, deep, curious conversations – conversations that result in knowing and being known.

As you get to know your neighbors, this exercise will help you have deep and meaningful conversations. I want you to approach these interactions like a writer who is exploring a character for their story. I want you to treat these interactions like a mystery that you are solving. Ask the deep questions, listen past the words that are said to discover “the why” behind it all, seek to truly understand and fully appreciate the human you are interacting with.  

You can tell a lot about a person from what they love, what makes them mad, what intrigues and motivates them, what they find funny, how they approach conflict/obstacles, how they feel about people/crowds/ talking, what breaks their heart, the wins and losses in their story. 

As you listen to the story of the person you interact with, pay close attention to the things they reveal about themselves and begin to connect the details into a picture that you can paint for us in this exercise…


Access a pdf version here to print out

Image of the handout "Write your story"