Engaging non-ringers

Supplementary material: ART 2024 Brainstorming Session


Workshop Top 3s

Engaging with Non-Ringers

Raising General Awareness

Session 1

  • Having a compelling story

  • Engaging with local community

  • Multi-media

Session 2 

  • a multi-pronged media approach

  • spectacle Event (ringing during village fair, etc)

  • visibility (mini-ring, handbells, video links, etc)


Session 1

  • Empathy (understand motivation and learning styles of new ringers) 

  • Infectious Enthusiasm 

  • Asking for help from the ringing community as well as the wider community

Session 2 

  • open days, flower festivals, etc.  attracting people to come in, look at the tower and talk to the ringers about ringing.

  • advertising in terms of a banner outside the church

  • word of mouth (letting people know in your networks)

Recruitment of young ringers

Session 1

(this was not a group discussion but successful ideas were listed (see photo)

Session 2 

  • Getting to know their parents

  • encouraging their friends to come along to get a critical mass of youngsters

  • making it fun


Session 1

  • Wider community involvement (example was given where it was assumed it would take several months to raise 100k.  By involving the whole village (scouts, WI, school, etc) they raised it in 6 weeks

  • Informing and involving the PCC

  • Fund-raising among neighbours

Session 2 

  • One was having unique ideas (think out of the box)

  • Focusing on non ringers as well as ringers

  • encouraging local community involvement (hitting as many pockets as possible)

Countering Complaints

Session 1

  • Pre-emptive strike by letting people know in advance about what is happening (especially new neighbours).  By also generating lots of likes on Facebook is shows that it is valued by the community and it is harder for someone to complain

  • Invite person to view the bells and meet the ringers 

  • Be aware of how much ringing is taking place (i.e. don’t ring on too many consecutive days)

Session 2 

  • keeping in with the clergy

  • be public - The more people are aware of what you're doing, when you're doing it, how long it's going to go on for, the less likely there are to be complaints in the first place

  • Don’t be unsociable – noise control, use simulator, not too much ringing close together, avoid ringing late in the evening


Session 1

  • Keep plugging away BUT

  • Not a hard sell

  • Ensure participation

Session 2 

No group discussion around this topic

Taking this information back and exploring ways to use it - 2 workshop ideas

Workshop idea 1 : What? So What? Now What?

What is made possible? You can help groups reflect on a shared experience in a way that builds understanding and spurs coordinated action while avoiding unproductive conflict. It is possible for every voice to be heard while simultaneously sifting for insights and shaping new direction. Progressing in stages makes this practical—from collecting facts about What Happened to making sense of these facts with So What and finally to what actions logically follow with Now What. The shared progression eliminates most of the misunderstandings that otherwise fuel disagreements about what to do. Voila!

How to share information with your group/s

  • After a shared experience, ask, “WHAT? What happened? What did you notice, what facts or observations stood out?” Then, after all the salient observations have been collected, ask, “SO WHAT? Why is that important? What patterns or conclusions are emerging? What hypotheses can you make?” Then, after the sense making is over, ask, “NOW WHAT? What actions make sense?”

Part ONE

Communicate what happened (verbal + images of posties)

WHAT happened? WHAT did you notice, WHAT facts or observations stood out?”

Part TWO

SO WHAT? People work 1 min alone on “Why is that important? What patterns or conclusions are emerging? What hypotheses can I/we make?” then 2–7 min. in small group. 3–8 min. total.

  • Salient patterns, hypotheses, and conclusions from small groups are shared with the whole group and collected. 2–5 min.


NOW WHAT? Participants work 1 min. alone on “Now what? What actions make sense?” then 2–7 min. in small group. 3–8 min. total.

  • Actions are shared with the whole group, discussed, and collected. Additional insights are invited. 2–10 min.

WHY? Purposes

  • Build shared understanding of how people develop different perspectives, ideas, and rationales for actions and decisions
  • Make sure that learning is generated from shared experiences: no feedback = no learning
  • Avoid repeating the same mistakes or dysfunctions over and over
  • Avoid arguments about actions based on lack of clarity about facts or their interpretation
  • Eliminate the tendency to jump prematurely to action, leaving people behind
  • Get all the data and observations out on the table first thing for everyone to start on the same page
  • Honor the history and the novelty of what is unfolding
  • Build trust and reduce fear by learning together at each step of a shared experience
  • Make sense of complex challenges in a way that unleashes action
  • Experience how questions are more powerful than answers because they invite active exploration

Tips and Traps

  • Check with small groups to clarify appropriate answers to each question (some groups get confused about what fits in each category) and share examples of answers with the whole group if needed
  • Note that the expression of emotions can be observed as a "What" (e.g., "many people were smiling and laughing" rather than suggesting people were "happy")
  • When sharing with the whole group, collect one important answer at a time. Don't try to collect answers from each group or invite a long repetitive list from a single group. Seek out unique anwsers that are full of meaning.
  • Intervene quickly and clearly when someone jumps up the Ladder of Inference
  • Don't jump over the So What? stage too quickly. It can be challenging for people to link observations directly to patterns. It is the most difficult of the three Whats. Use the Ladder of Inference as a reminder of the logical steps "up the ladder" from observations to action.
  • Appreciate candid feedback and recognize it
  • Build in time for the debrief—don’t trivialize it, don’t rush it

Workshop idea 2: Must do and don't do

Must do and Dont do

1. Structuring Invitation

  • In the context of a challenging activity, a new initiative, or a strategic bottleneck, invite the participants to first generate the entire list of all the do’s and don’ts that they should pay attention to in order to achieve a successful outcome. This is the list of maximum specifications (Max Specs).
  • After the list of Max Specs has been developed, ask the participants to reduce it to the absolute minimum needed to achieve their purpose. Invite them to sift through the list one item at a time and eliminate every rule that gets a positive answer to the question, “If we broke or ignored this rule, could we still achieve our purpose?”

WHY? Purposes

  • Evaluate and decide what is absolutely essential for success
  • Open space for new possibilities
  • Reduce frontline frustration and free people from micromanagement
  • Focus or redirect resources and energies where it matters
  • Simplify strategy

Running the session

  • Generate the list of all must-do and must-not-do activities (Max Specs), at first alone for one minute then consolidate and expand in the small group for five minutes. Make list as complete as possible in a short time. 6 min.
  • Each small group tests each spec on its Max Spec list against the purpose statement. If the spec can be violated and the purpose still achieved, the spec is dropped from the list. 15 min.
  • Do a second round if needed. 15 min.
  • Compare across small groups and consolidate to the shortest list. 15 min.

Tips and Traps

  • Focus attention on a tangible challenge, not a platitude
  • Start with a complete list of dos
  • Include as many players/stakeholders as possible
  • Be ruthless in dropping dos: don’t allow max specs to creep in
  • Do extra rounds as needed
  • Make the Min Specs official! Live by them (no “yes but”)
  • Give more weight to direct experience rather than conceptual knowledge
  • Keep the Min Specs alive by adapting them based on experiences and simple observations
  • If groups are having difficulty, you may need to circle back to clarify purpose and make sure that it is down to what is truly important.

Liberating Structures is a website that shows several workshop types to help you and your tower work through ideas and actions.

Five podcast episodes about engaging with non-ringers

In the episodes listed below, the interviewees have engaged with non-ringers whether for recruitment purposes, for fund raising or to raise awareness amongst the general public.

You can also find the full list of podcast episodes where interviewees have 
promoted bell ringing
raised funds
- discussed inclusion topics
- told bell ringing stories or histories that might be shared with non-ringers
- carried out recruitment
- told the stories of novice or young ringers