Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

Testing the Process

Today is the first day of August. So far, I am on track in terms of my thesis schedule. I thought I would give you all an update.

I am working with a team developing a process for decision-making at First Baptist Church Muncie. We have developed the process and will put it to use this month. A combined group of church council and diaconate will begin the process on August 8. The decision we are considering is staffing for the future. With our Worship Arts Director graduating from seminary in 2012, it seems appropriate to begin to ask ourselves the right questions regarding staffing. The process is a four stage process; I would like to give you a bit of insight into how it works.

The first stage is called Explore. In this stage, leaders will outline all possible options. The goal of this stage is to clearly outline all facets of the decision. We will ask: What are the options? Who does each option impact? What resources are needed for each option? What does each option communicate to congregation, to the community? What are the pros and cons of each option? What are the timing issues of each option?

The second stage is called Listen. The leaders will develop a strategy for listening at this point. The goal is to determine 1) ways to seek outside information, 2) congregational participation, 3) methods for listening to the Spirit, and 4) theological issues to be addressed. The team will then carry out the listening strategy. This is perhaps the most extensive part of the process.

The third stage is called Examine. Once the listening strategy has been completed, the leaders will reflect on what they have heard. Continuing to ask questions, they will consider which options seem most appropriate. They will contemplate not only the best option, but the motivations behind the potential decision. Once they have adequately reflected, they will come to a decision.

The fourth stage is called Communicate. In this stage, the leaders will consider how to share the story of the process. What has God revealed in the process? How might this be shared? The leaders will also outline the next steps. In the case of staffing, the leaders will need to bring a recommendation to the congregation. They will determine the most appropriate way to carry out the decision.

Once characteristic of any decision-making process is that stages are not clearly separated. For example, an option not defined in the explore stage may emerge in the listening stage. Or it may be suitable to examine while listening. Yet, the process will aid leaders in asking the right questions, advancing toward decision. I am looking forward to the work ahead. I hope to keep you updated as we navigate this process.