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Next Steps

Next Steps helps you and your church hold grace and truth as you face challenging decisions or controversial issues. Next Steps is adaptable enough to help you with whatever stage you’re at with these issues: learning about them, discerning or deciding how to proceed, or announcing decisions and finding a way now to live together. 

Built around listening circles, spiritual disciplines, and good decision-making processes, Next Steps will help you and your church clarify core issues, generate trust, and honor God, as you engage challenging decisions or controversial issues.

Wondering if Next Steps is right for your church? We’d love to chat!

Meet with an experienced discernment and decision-making facilitator. There’s no cost, and no obligation. Just a friendly conversation to discuss whether and how Next Steps might fit your church. Select a time by following this link.

If you need a time to meet that isn’t available, contact us directly at [email protected].

An Overview of Next Steps

Grace and Truth: The Heart of Next Steps

When a church faces a challenging issue or a controversial decision, the anxiety of the moment can make it hard to hold grace and truth together. The premise of Next Steps is that you shouldn’t have to compromise. You can be prophetic without being closed-minded. And you can be pastoral without compromising on truth.


When facing big issues, it’s usually a good idea for church leaders to engage church members in more learning than they normally would. That’s because when you share the learning about an issue you tend to build trust with your people: trust you’ll need if you want to lead your people into the future. In Next Steps, listening circle learning groups provide a setting for members to lean into grace and truth as they learn and talk about challenging issues facing them and the church.


The hardest part of discernment isn’t sifting through the options or studying the relevant Bible passages. The hardest part of discernment is desiring God’s will. Desiring God’s will requires a conversion of the heart, something we can ask and pray for, but something only God can do. That’s why, in Next Steps, we encourage churches to make use of spiritual practices like fasting, prayer and study. Next Steps has other discernment tools, too, like listening circles and fair process procedure, but it all starts with the heart.


Some churches tend toward more of a discernment mindset. Some tend toward more of a decision-making mindset. The truth is, we need both discernment and decision-making. And we need both to be rooted deeply in our faith. What matters, then, is not just what we decide, but also how we decide it. Next Steps helps you ensure your decision-making process is clear, fair, and God-honoring. We help you avoid common mistakes in decision-making that otherwise lead to mistrust, frustration, and disengagement.


Exercising decision-making authority doesn’t have to be authoritarian. It’s possible to announce a decision in a pastoral and gracious way without sacrificing any decision-making authority. By sharing the council’s recommendation on an issue and inviting congregational feedback before making it the final decision, you gain a clearer picture of what you may have missed, what the concerns are for your people, and what it might take for those who disagree to stay engaged in the church.

Discernment Retreat

Next Steps has been adapted into a two-day retreat format. At this retreat, especially well-suited for regional or classis communities, participants worship, pray, and fellowship while also helping each other understand what’s at stake with the options facing their communities. Participants move past partisan posturing and ascribing bad motives in order to get to the heart of the differences and imagine how they can move forward with grace and truth, even if the community may have to change as a result.