Introduction and Overview
Facilitation. . . .  the act of helping other people to deal with a process
      or reach an agreement or solution without getting directly involved
             in the process, discussion, etc. yourself.
                                                                         From the Cambridge University Dictionary

 Effective facilitation in religious congregations assumes a common grace – a situation in which good people, sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit and desiring to do what is good for the whole, are able to discover the path that will lead them there.  It may not result in an answer, but rather a direction, an intuition that participants believe is trustworthy enough and clear enough to call for their energy and commitment.

For Whom Is This Program Intended?

~ Members of leadership teams, many of whom have these skills, some of whom do not;

~ Leaders who would appreciate sharpening or becoming more aware of the skills and gifts         they possess.

Some sections may be more applicable to you and your needs than others.  As you explore what is here, we encourage you to expand your own perspective with the experience and insights of others. 

Why Is This Program Offered Now?

The impetus for this three session program came from two directions, both informally.

            1. One source was leaders who asked great questions: 

How do we know when we need a facilitator?  When is it better to have an objective outsider? When does it make more sense to just do it ourselves?  What’s the difference between leading a meeting and facilitating a process -- and how do we know which is needed?

             2. The other source was professional facilitators who bring a variety of insights from their work with Congregations.  Sometimes they sensed they were brought in “late” in the process, when emotions are high and the questions are urgent. Or they may be invited to be part of an already wonderfully planned assembly, wondering why an outsider was preferred over one of their leadership team members facilitating the process. Or, having been invited in, they sense that the community situation is indeed serious, perhaps even critical, but the question already posed to the group is a bit “off” and not likely to help them move deeper into the question or move forward in ways that will engender buy-in and energy.

Every facilitation situation is different. If good listening and perceiving skills are lacking, a group can feel manipulated or unheard if the question is not clear or focused, the process may feel convoluted or members may feel like they have wasted their time or experience a facilitator as “not getting us.”  Other times, a serendipitous mix of skills, timing, people and grace all come together and a group discovers common wisdom, direction and commitment. Our hope is that this experience becomes the norm.


Focuses on the Relationship Between Facilitation and the Practices of Contemplative Engagement and Communal Discernment


Focuses on Learnings From The Field


Provides a basic outline of issues and questions to tend when preparing to facilitate an experience.


Invites you to have a particular facilitation experience in mind.  Use the Template found in the previous session as a guide in your planning, or, if already completed, as a review. 


Explores areas that need particular attention when working with an intercultural group

A Postscript – Integral Ecology  

Highlights some key insights from integral ecology.


Before you move into Session One you are invited to view the following five-minute video by Pat Kozak, CSJ, introducing the topic of facilitation.  (A transcript of the video is also included for your convenience,)

Course Description for Becoming the Leaders We Hope to Be: The Foundations of Transformational Leadership

The course will consist of six units covering the following topics:

Unit One: Becoming Learners Together

Unit Two: Safety, Security and Certainty

Unit Three: Seeing Things Whole

Unit Four: Contemplation and Community -- the Ground of Transformational Leadership

Unit Five: Building a Culture of Shared Wisdom and Leadership

Unit Six: Envisioning Transformational Leadership

A fuller description of the course and the contents of each section can be found under the news forum at the beginning of Unit One.