Discernment Listening Guidelines Retreat

Cultivating a Culture of Deep, Prayerful Listening 


The Discernment Listening Guidelines (Appendix 1 of Grounded in God and posted on the Listening Hearts website) have proven transforming for groups that have adopted them as norms. This daylong workshop gives participants a thorough grounding in these guidelines and prepares those present to effectively pass them on to others who are not in attendance.

Intended Audience

This workshop is designed for a congregation as a whole or for a designated leadership group within a congregation that wants to implement the guidelines as group norms.

Summary of Content

The first step in this workshop is to go over each guideline, making sure that everyone grasps its intent and understands the guideline in the same way.

Next the group practices using the guidelines, quite likely in sub-groups, as they consider an issue of current practical concern to them. Finally, they work out a plan to introduce the norms to all groups within the congregation and to the congregation as a whole. The program includes hymns, presentations, questions, discussion, and actual practice in using the guidelines.

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Participant feedback

“Very well done with enough time to absorb and understand how these practical goals might be achieved.”

“We had meaningful and helpful interaction.”

“People were definitely listened to and their views considered.”

“Wonderfully able to connect with others in a meaningful way.”

“Our vulnerability to let go and not try to control the outcome allowed everyone to speak from the heart.”

“[An insight came to me that] discernment is always a process and should be approached with an open heart, never preconceived notions of an ending.”

“By reflecting of Scripture passages we came to realize we just need to plant the seed.”

“We heard each other deeply and also re-negotiated the importance of relationships in our group.”

“[Realized that we] need to integrate the Listening Hearts Guidelines into our work. Need to refocus and reframe. Remember to focus on spiritual consensus vs. intellectual/rational consensus.”

“Importance of having the signs of the spirit in the discernment process, especially energy & joy [became clear].”

“—wisdom comes in silence—sometimes letting creativity happen w/o thought can bring insight.

”The time together with small group alternating with silence for reflection were most helpful. Thank you!”

“Helped us to clarify our intentions.”

“We had a very meaningful & productive discussion which took us to new ground/understanding which none of us expected.”

“Deepening, heartfelt, food for my soul.”

Download participant feedback