Several denominations in the United States are wrestling with division, even to the degree that members are considering breaking away to become part of a different denomination. The identified trigger for schism is usually a particular issue over which there is significant disagreement. However, the process by which such issues are addressed can be a significant factor toward fragmentation. How can Christians live together faithfully in the midst of disagreement? Is there a better way to make decisions than the win/lose method of majority vote?
A growing number of regional, national, and international church bodies are taking seriously a new process for how to engage one another when significant differences exist. The process is called communal spiritual discernment, and it is a process that has been around for quite some time but is proving useful in our time. The first session of this study explores the church's call to witness to its oneness in Christ and discusses how parliamentary procedure can exacerbate win/lose dynamics. The second session describes the process of communal discernment to help participants imagine an alternative to these win/lose modes of decision making. The Leader's Guide focuses more on the attitudes needed for discernment to be effective.