I am fresh off of one Continuing Education event and about to head into another. One of the places where you take your chances when going away to these events is who else is at the event. Most of us have been to a learning event (or seminary class) where there is one person who appears to be solely there just to prove to the instructors that they already know it all.
This past week I was blessed with an event where there was no one like that. We were all there at varying stages of our forays into being Head of Staff and gave each other room to learn from one another and the instructors.
One of the things we talked about was the dichotomy of pastor as poet when our denomination is very much based on a hierarchical/business paradigm. But at this event I met someone who is doing it so well, I am not convinced he knew it.
One of the things his church has going for it is a Discernment Team. This is a small group formed for the sole purpose of praying and discerning for the congregation. According to the Poet Pastor, "When not specifically working on a project for someone the Discernment Team is at liberty to study and pray about whatever suits its fancy..." At other times the Session has specifically given them a project or question for them to discern.
They report back to the Session after 3,6,12 months (depending on the topic) but are not in charge of implementing anything. They simply move on to their next discernment.
The make-up of the group is obviously critical as there are particular spiritual gifts at play here. Also it cannot be a person he describes as a 'stakeholder' (someone deeply committed to one particular ministry path).
I really like this idea and appreciated the thought about getting one in place BEFORE a crisis/major decision/issue is going on.
More than the idea though, I was so glad to hear that this was going on in at least one pcusa church. Our class was full with folks who aren't trying to be published, who don't want to be the next uber-church pastor, and who don't think they know it all. I felt like we were on the same page of simply wanting to be who it is God is calling us to be and get out of the way and get the things done that need to happen so that others can hear God's call on their lives as well.
And that is pretty cool...