When we wrote our book we wanted to support you in bringing about change. Therefore it is our sincere hope that you will use our book to bring about change. We all know that “Shift Happens!” However we also know that it does not happen by accident. It takes intentional action.
So, here are some practical ideas to make the transition in your ministry context. It is time to move from the traditional method of making decisions based on Robert’s Rules of Order. Now is the time to change to a more faith-based process for making decisions. You can get the book at Cokesbury or Amazon.
Organise Reading Groups
Get the book into the hands of key members by organizing groups to read and discuss the book. Then name a convenor for each group and have groups meet in homes for prayer and discussion. Read and discuss a chapter a week – this will take only 8 weeks to complete the study. A basic outline for discussion can include: What seems important to you in this chapter? How could we use this material in our church? What might need to change around here? What questions do you have about this chapter?
Use the Guide as Sunday School Curriculum
Offer the book to Adult Sunday School Classes, or home groups for discussion. Study a chapter a week. Ask teachers to provide a short (say, 10 minute) synopsis of the chapter. Use the Reflection Questions at the end of each chapter to guide discussion.
Name the book as a ‘must-read’ for your Congregation and order books for purchase by individuals. Provide a one page outline with reflection questions to help people move through the book.
Assign a chapter to various leaders and ask them to present the highlights of their section at your Church Council or Judicatory Meeting. This Report should be no more than 20 minutes long. End each report with the question: “How can we do this here?” or “Why is this important to us?”
Read the book and design a series of sermons on the highlights. Use a Biblical text from each chapter to cover key thoughts and practical application. Be prepared to advocate for change.
Pastor’s Bible Study Class
Consider offering a series of classes on the Scripture and topics covered in each chapter. Also be sure to include some of the activities listed at the back of the book to get students involved.
Use the material at a Leadership Retreat. Focus on the material you would like to use to bring change in your Church Board or Council meetings. For example; plan a 4-hour session on a Saturday to cover the decision making process in the book and discuss implementing it. Be sure to make this occasion a positive team building exercise with fun, music and a meal. Then at the end of the session by name an Implementation Team to plan next steps.
Lead a Workshop on our Consensus-Based Decision-Making Process
Read the book and provide a brief outline for leaders in your Judicatory or Church Council. Design a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation on the content on the process. Start with a “Values Clarification” Activity. Place words on a sheet that list possible values of your group. A sample of words may include: family, love, peace, honesty, organization, loyalty, growth, discernment, discipleship, Bible-based, community, respect, openness, patience, etc. Invite people to underline 5 words on the handout that they believe are important to them about the group. When this step is finished, invite participants to star 2 words that are really vital to them. Have them cross off one of the two words with stars and circle the remaining word. Ask people what was the hardest word to give up. Then, ask for the word they feel is most important. Lead a discussion on how their method of making decisions respects their values as a faith community.
Mentor and Guide another Person
Think of a person in your ministry context that holds relational power to get things done. This person could be your Church Council Chair or someone else. Invite them to read the book. Plan a meeting with them to discuss what they have found helpful to use in your setting. Then discuss what it would take to apply the process in your context.
Introduce Leaders to Elements of this Process
People may be used to a basic parliamentary process of making amendments, suggesting substitutions and voting on ideas. They may not be aware that there is another, community-based way of making decisions. Introduce elements that are vital in consensus based discernment but that can be used in any system. For example, being sure to allow time to ask questions for clarification, find ways to help the less vocal people to contribute, set up methods for helping people to really listen to each other, encourage people to slow down and not rush to a decision, etc.
Use the book at a “Clergy Day Apart”
A powerful way to get Pastors interacting with a new process is in a collegial learning setting. Be sure to take the time to provide a basic overview of the book. Consider inviting 2 or 3 people to make a presentation on a specific topic or chapter. Encourage open and honest sharing of the positive responses and reservations about change. Allow time for participants to complete some of the activities at the back of the book and reflect on how they can use the process in their setting.
Once you have read the book and see it’s value – don’t stop there. Choose one of the ideas mentioned above to introduce the book’s content to your organisation. If you can, please order copies of the “The Church Guide For Making Decisions Together” from Cokesbury or Amazon. The small commission we receive helps us to maintain this site. Finally, post your experience on how you are using this book with us on this web site. We look forward to hearing from you.