Pursuing God's Will Together
Meetings can sap our energy, rupture community and thoroughly demoralize us. They can go on forever with no resolution. Or they can rush along without consensus just to "get through the agenda." What if there was another way?
Church boards and other Christian leadership teams have long relied on models adapted from the business world. Ruth Haley Barton, president of the Transforming Center, helps teams transition to a much more suitable model—the spiritual community that discerns God's will together.
In these pages you will discover personal and group practices that will lead you into a new way of experiencing community and listening to God together.
"Ruth Haley Barton is a gifted distiller of historic best practices for community discernment and direction. Exercising her counsel on the rare 'vow of stability' would by itself rescue multiple organizations from broken strategic trajectories. I highly recommend Pursuing God's Will Together for leaders, teams and organizations."
"Pursuing God's Will Together is a much-needed corrective to our headstrong individualism today. It drills down deep into rock-bed practicalities for any community seeking to discern the will of God together. I recommend it highly."
"Fabulous! I look forward to giving copies to our staff and elders. Ruth provides a practical, powerful road map so we can discern the most important question as a leadership team: What is God's will for us on a particular issue?"
"While there has been a revival of interest in spiritual disciplines for some time, there is precious little available about how to practice them in community. More specifically, there is almost nothing about helping Christian leaders discern God's presence and activities together. That is, until now. With Pursuing God's Will Together, Ruth Haley Barton—a recognized leader in spiritual formation—fills this need admirably. This is an important, unique book that will be sure to transform Christian corporate leadership from a pure business model to a more spiritually integrated approach. I highly recommend it."
"I have been grateful for Ruth Haley Barton's wisdom in the past on spiritual disciplines so crucial for the soul of a leader. I am sure her latest work will be of great benefit to those who seek the grace of discernment in their work and ministries."
"Pursuing God's Will Together is a powerfully convicting and timely book for those of us who are fully aware that we are incapable of effective leadership apart from God's wisdom and direction. How to discern God's purposes individually and as a dynamic team is the genius of this compellingly creative call to kingdom movement. Ruth Haley Barton presents us with a proven—if at times painful—practice that can ultimately take our finite efforts to where our infinite God wants them to go."
"I like this book. It is wise, thoughtful, gracious and a little bit disturbing—Ruth will surely upset some of your preconceived notions. If you are like me, you believe in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but you want to be wise and not presumptuous about knowing God's will for your group. This book is a real gift to folks like us. It provides us with much more than simply a plan of action. You can use it yourself, but it will also be quite useful to you with your fellow decision makers, so that discerning God's will together becomes an experience in spiritual growth for the whole team."
"In Pursuing God's Will Together [Ruth Haley Barton] weaves her own wisdom with others in bringing forth a beautiful tapestry of spirituality in community."
"It's impossible to overstate how needed, valuable, timely and timeless this book is. It is as wise as Methuselah and as practical as a slingshot. Ruth has rendered a massive service to church leaders everywhere, and to all the churches they lead. Herein lies the remedy for the sad but common malady we see today: otherwise godly men and women pursuing God's kingdom with worldly navigational equipment. I plan to buy a case of Pursuing God's Will Together upon its release and make it mandatory reading for all of our leaders. It can hardly come soon enough."
"This book needs a warning label: 'Content may be disruptive to your understanding of Christian life, leadership and community.' Ruth Haley Barton has provided every Christian with an invaluable resource for discerning and fulfilling the purposes of God. In a world where Christians and Christian leadership and communities have largely succumbed to secular processes for decision making, Barton brings a clear, challenging and compelling call for a radical alternative. This book is not the product of a 'theorist,' but the mature distillation of Barton's own journey into a life hid with Christ in God for the sake of others. This is a must-read for every Christian leader and leadership group, and a primer for every Christian."
"Ruth Haley Barton knows only too well that discerning God's will requires a personal commitment to transformation as well as an openness to engage in a group process. In Pursuing God's Will Together, she shows us in a systematic way how it's done. Every Christian leader will benefit from such a practical approach to such an ancient practice."
"Ruth Haley Barton has identified an important issue in spiritual leadership and in how we make decisions, revealing where our integrity as leaders lies. Do we really believe that God has something to say, by his Holy Spirit, in terms of what direction we take? Ruth does a great job of describing practices that can help teams become more adept at hearing God's voice in the practical areas of leading and serving."
Introduction: Leadership That Is Spiritual
Part One: Becoming a Community for Discernment
1. Obstacles to Discernment
2. Beginning with Spiritual Transformation
3. Leaders Who Are Discerning
4. Cultivating Spiritual Community
5. Values that Undergird Community
6. Practices for Opening to God Together
7. Practices for Listening to Each Other
8. Covenants Protect Community
Part Two: Practicing Discernment Together
9. Get Ready: Preparing for the Discernment Process
10. Get Set: From Decision Making to Discernment
11. Go! Discerning God?s Will Together
12. But Does It Work?
Appendix 1: Leader's Guide
Appendix 2: A Biblical Perspective on Spiritual Transformation