Sample Powerful Questions for Congregational Discernment
As your congregation moves into times of discernment, such as doing vision, mission, or covenant work, powerful questions are ways to surface deep understandings and creative ideas. They can help members explore their spirituality and their sense of belonging in both the world and the congregation. Powerful questions can be used in theological reflection, as lead-ins to activities and processes, as stand-alone questions for discussion groups, or as topics for small group ministry sessions.
(They originally come from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s “Fulfilling the Promise” program.)
- What has deeply moved you in your life? What was it in you that responded? Why were you moved? What does this imply for what this congregation might do, or for what you might offer others in the congregation?
- Why are you here?
- Whom or what do you serve?
- Are you faithful?
- If Unitarian Universalism were somehow not available, what would be missing in your life? What does that imply for what our Unitarian Universalist congregation might do better? Or for what Unitarian Universalist congregations, in association with one another, might do better?
- What are the deepest yearnings of your heart? What does that imply for what this congregation might do better? Or for what Unitarian Universalist congregations in association might do better?
- What is the core endeavor of our Unitarian Universalist congregation? What is the fundamental purpose or reason for being of our congregation?
- Many religious traditions developed beliefs related to some cosmic story, such as the Jewish fall of the Temple or the Christian story of salvation. Is there a story at the core of our Unitarian Universalist faith? Do we have a fundamental story? Or is there another, more appropriate core? What about some categories from universal aesthetic experiences, such as rhythm, dance, and harmonies? What are we neglecting, or what have we scarcely named, that might be profoundly important at a fundamental level?
- Given our congregation’s core endeavor, what is the model we use for carrying out that core endeavor? Is there a better model that might be more appropriate?
- If being together in a congregation implies some kinds of promises to one another, what are the subject areas of those promises? What promises are required in order to be a Unitarian Universalist congregation? What promises could be areas of choice for the congregation?
- What work do we do in our congregation that involves relationships among people? How relational is our congregation, really? Do we want it to be more relational? Less relational?
- In the light of our needs and aspirations as a congregation, how might this congregation or individuals in it benefit by association with other Unitarian Universalist congregations? What can we offer to others?