Saturday, December 01, 2012
the potential and place of corporate discernment
Something anew was born yesterday. The timing seemed almost inspired, given this is Advent.
At Uniting College, one of the mechanisms by which candidates participate in their growth as ministry people is Formation Panels.
A person applies for selection as a Minister of the Word or Deacon. If accepted, they are placed in a formation panel. A Formation Panel consists of 3-5 experienced ministry practioners and an Academic Adviser from College. They meet three times a year. This group listen to a new candidate. Together they design a process that mixes formal study, formation and ministry skills and length of process. A candidate and the panel journey together, usually for six years, through the more intense training phase (2) and for the first (phase 3) three years in ministry. Listening, sifting, naming, checking.
Yesterday, was Formation Panel day and all over College among the 40 plus people in phase 2 and 3, all sorts of conversations were happening. Direction for next year was being clarified. Progress in the deep work that is individual growth was being monitored and discerned. Frank conversations about suitability for ministry were being had. Wisdom about how a new minister in placement might handle a difficult situation were being gleaned.
And in one life, a change of direction was being born. Something a candidate had written in preparation, was being linked with some knowledge of their life skills. A question was asked.
And a light bulb went off. The person visibly lifted. A whole new door in ministry was becoming clear.
And so the panel went back to work. A new course plan will need designing – a different mix of formal study, formation and ministry skills. Because of corporate discernment. The willingness to listen long enough and hard enough, to wait (this Advent), for the work of Spirit anew.