2. Decision-Making Structures
MICAH (Minnesota Institute of Contemplation and Healing)
By: Daniel Wolpert
The decision making process at MICAH is guided by the practice of Christian Discernment. Although similar to consensus decision making, it is different in that it’s a process that seeks to find God’s will in the midst of the community, and then follow God’s creative desires as they unfold in a particular place and time. This practice guides everything done in the community. MICAH approaches decision making by practicing the disciplines of silence, sacred reading, the Examen, and creative prayer practices. Through these practices the community listens to God and each other. This allows MICAH to seek life-giving decisions – those that appear to be guided by the Holy Spirit. The process is evaluated by looking at the fruits of decisions to see if indeed the fruits of the Spirit are present as the community proceeds. One excellent example of this approach was a recent conference MICAH planned on Science and Theology. The community felt called to host this conference and the planning was a year long process. Throughout that year they continued to sense God’s presence in their work. Even though the community experienced some challenges as the event approached, they continued to feel that the event would be life-giving. When the conference finally occurred, it was better than anything they might have hoped for. There were so many fruits it would be challenging to list them all. As MICAH recognizes this, it helps encourage then in their use of discernment as a community model for decision making.
Hybrid – Unity Decision-making with Elders
Church of the Sojourners
By: Tim Otto
Church of the Sojourners recognizes leaders, who the community believes to possess leadership gifts. At the same time, the community tries to make decisions by consensus, which helps tremendously with ownership of decisions. The fact is that someone always leads; it just isn’t always clear who the leader is. If a group sits around talking for an hour about whether or not to buy a new carpet, someone decided that the agenda was the carpet–and that is the leader (although a covert, unacknowledged leader). Church of the Sojourners has an oversight team that thinks hard about what kinds of issues need to be talked about as a community. That team brings those issues to a discernment meeting, where consensus decisions within the community can be made.
Below is a list of potential key topics/ideas we hope to comprehensively cover via stories from practitioners here on Community Cookbook.
- Flat – Consensus
- Flat – Unity
- Hierarchical – Leadership/Elder Team
- Hierarchical – One Leader
- Hybrid – Unity Decision-making with Elders