The Practice of Group Discernment
Beyond the Ordinary: Spirituality for Church Leaders, Ben C Johnson & Andrew Dreitcer
By: Linnea Nilsen Capshaw
“This process (group discernment) assumes that all involved share the characteristics vital for discernment that we mentioned earlier: a desire to discern, self-knowledge, humility, courage, a commitment to put God first, and the willingness to follow God’s guidance. In addition, group discernment rests on the conviction that God’s wisdom comes most fully through a group and depends on members’ willingness to trust the wisdom of the group.
Group discernment cannot work if we come to decision-making groups with our own agendas, ready to lobby for our own ideas and advocate for our own values. If we bring this fixed attitude, we will simply argue on behalf of our own agendas and try to persuade others to join our side. Group discernment looks not for a majority vote but for clarity about what God desires us to be and do.

Self-centered attitudes destroy group discernment. Members of the group must come with only one agenda: to listen for God through the collective wisdom of the group. Instead of believing that he or she has the complete answer, each member comes to the group trusting that he or she brings some tiny piece of wisdom that will be valuable in the process. Only by putting all the group’s pieces of wisdom together will true wisdom emerge, a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Each member looks for the direction of the Spirit and waits for a sense of heartfelt unanimity.”