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Whole Congregation Discernment
Whole Congregation Discernment

There are times when the congregation needs to engage in a process that will enable the congregation to reflect on its future in an organic, open and creative way—as a system. (Traditional congregational meetings do not lend themselves to such a process—they are better suited to issues that are looking for specific decisions from individual members voting their conscience.) 

In recent years, there have been many processes and methods that are based on the notion that there is collective wisdom that can be gleaned from the whole. Your regional staff and other trained consultants (perhaps even some of your members may have training) can help host these experiences. These are a few examples of what is available:

Art of Hosting: Conversations That Matter

The Art of Hosting is an approach to leadership that scales up from the personal to the systemic using personal practice, dialogue, facilitation and the co-creation of innovation to address complex challenges.

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World Cafe

Using seven design principles and a simple method, the World Café is a powerful social technology for engaging people in conversations that matter, offering an effective antidote to the fast-paced fragmentation and lack of connection in today’s world. Based on the understanding that conversation is the core process that drives personal, business, and organizational life, the World Café is more than a method, a process, or technique – it’s a way of thinking and being together sourced in a philosophy of conversational leadership.

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Searching for the Future

This is a weekend strategic planning process based on appreciative inquiry. Details can be found in the book Beyond Fundraising by Wayne Clark.

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Experience of the Holy

Unity Consulting also offers a model of discernment for mission work that they presented at General Assembly in 2009, and that can be experienced in this recording. You can download this companion booklet or visit Unity Consulting's website for more information.

About the Author

  • Rev. Renee Ruchotzke (ruh-HUT-skee) has served as a Congregational Life Consultant in the Central East Region since September of 2010. She serves congregation in Northeast Ohio and Western New York. She is part of the LeaderLab Design team providing Leadership Development resources and other trainings to congregations.

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