Drafting Groups are the most contentious part of a consensus building approach to discernment. Sending proposals to small groups where members discuss them is a strategy that can be used for complex business. These discernment groups have a facilitator who works through a well prepared process. Their views, along with recommendations for changes and new ideas, are sent to a drafting group. The role of the drafting group is to bring all the ideas together.
Devils or Angels?
The most frequent objection to this process is that drafting groups have a lot of power. Cynics say that this small group can impose its views on the meeting and manipulate the process to achieve what it wants. The members of Drafting Groups are sometimes accused of being self serving and manipulative.
Drafting (sometimes called Facilitation) Groups take the information that has been provided through a small group discussion process. After attending to all the input they re present the views that have come to them. They do this by writing a report that is presented back to the meeting in a plenary session. The report explains what was reported to them, what they did with the information and why they made the decisions that they did. Drafting Groups help the members to have their say and to influence the final outcome of the discussion. If this group did not exist then the small group time would just be a lot of hot air.
Why you can have confidence in Drafting Groups
- People are appointed who are known to be fair, trustworthy and true servant leaders
- Members are not chosen to represent interest groups but because of their skills and maturity
- Response sheets that are used in Discernment Groups are prepared by an experienced leader and are in a standard format
- Reports from the Drafting Group explain every step of its work and the reasons for any new proposals that they bring
- Members can ask questions of the report and have to receive it
- If the new proposals do not reflect the developing consensus in the meeting then there will be significant push back
- The Drafting Group makes no decisions but seeks to support the discernment of the members of the meeting
Trust is an important part of any meeting process. Appointing the right people and using tried and tested reporting formats means that members can have great trust in Drafting Groups.
Rev Norbet Stephens was Chairperson of the Drafting Group at the recent General Council meeting of the WCRC. He acknowledges that it is a challenging process, but with a skilled team it is possible to produce proposals that move forward the process of discernment. Hear Norbet in his own words.