How might we create communities where each member can contribute equitably in service of mission and vision? Circles are an ancient tried-and-true practice.
Discernment Circle Steps
- Create a shared understanding of the situation (context and/or challenge).
- Share in rounds until a common understanding, picture or narrative is reached
- End with a round to make sure each person in the circle "consents" to work from that shared understanding
- Collect ideas for how to address the situation.
- In rounds, have each person propose ideas
- Continuing in rounds, affirm ideas that are "good enough for now & safe enough to try"
- Organize proposals and ideas
- End with a round to make sure each person in the circle "consents" to the final list of ideas.
- Have a smaller group of "shapers" or "tuners" to turn the final list of ideas into a proposal.
- The shapers bring the proposal back to the circle for consideration.
- In rounds, the circle evaluates the proposal for completeness, i.e. does it include all of the proposed elements from the earlier circle.
- Establish that the proposal is complete using a consent round. If it is not complete, the shapers will need to rework the proposal and bring it back.
- If the proposal is complete, go around the circle for clarifying questions about the proposal until all clarifying questions are answered.
- At this point use rounds to share reactions to the proposal and/or to raise objections with open-heartedness and in service of the mission of the circle and congregation.
- End with a round to make sure each person in the circle "consents" to the proposal.
- Carry out the proposal (Take action!).
- Using rounds, evaluate the actions and impacts of the proposal as carried out.
- Did we gain any insights about the situation?
- What went well and should be kept?
- What didn't go well and should be changed?
- Proposed tweaks to original proposal (or to start over with a new proposal process)
- End with a round to make sure each person in the circle "consents" to the revised proposal (or other agreed-upon action).
Are You Interested in Going Deeper?
Learn how to use discernment circle practices for complex decisions in your committees and teams.
Take our Discernment Circle Training ($15)
(Note: You will redirected to a separate website, UU Institute, which is managed by the UUA.)