How do you get everyone in a church to agree on the direction of the ministry? Short answer: you don’t. As much as we want to think that we are heading in the direction that God wants us to go, the reality is that churches are made up of people, and people have different senses of what needs to be done.
However, as we discuss on the Discernment page, our first task is to seek discernment of what God is calling us to do – that is, to seek God’s direction and God’s desire for the ministry of the church in its current context and time. We do this discernment in community, drawing together the leadership of the church, along with others who feel called to participate in the process. Within that group, we learn and utilize processes which reveal the strengths of the church, and help to develop an understanding of God’s call.
Our goal is consensus; a place where people consent to the direction that is being discovered. This will never be unanimous, but the fact that we practice our inquiry and discernment in an open forum (during our workshops) allows everyone to be heard.
Consensus is not the same thing as unanimous agreement!
In many ways, consensus work such as this is the opposite of top-down approaches to leadership. Rather than a small group of people (or even an individual) determining the direction of the ministry, that direction emerges from the group. This is important in two ways: first, within the group, the Holy Spirit has room to speak to, and through, a group of believers; second, since that discernment becomes part of everyone’s experience, it is more likely that there will be broad support of the direction that is discerned.