The Facilitator’s Role

The facilitator’s role

Theological reflection can be confusing to describe to people who are accustomed to a knowledge based business model of problem solving. The process discussed here also may differ from the creative thought process of the artistic minded individual. If a reflection is done poorly it can be arduous and non-productive. Therefore, the facilitator’s skill set should include knowing how to help members learn a new method of interpretation that is contrary to what is familiar and successfully steer the group back to the reflection.

“An artful facilitator uses a particular design and the basic framework for theological reflection as resources but nudges the group so that neither her design not other agenda of the group blocks the actual reflective process.” —Killen, de Beer [37]

The facilitator’s role is to guide the process to a conclusion. He or she will want to carefully design a framework that “highlights the natural movement towards insight and nudges it in a theological direction.”[38] Doing so effectively requires some foreknowledge which Killen & de Beer refer to as “the five P’s:” people, purpose, parameters, presence, and process, when designing a reflection. (See column at right for a summary)

The facilitator should do the following:
1.      Know the makeup of the group, their skill in abstract or imaginative thought processes, their knowledge of the faith, their cultural backgrounds and other demographics. (People)
2.      Be able to clearly state the reason the group is gathering for the reflection. The purpose of a Theological Reflection for an art committee is to an image which will be the subject of art created for worship. (Purpose)
3.      Know the general number of participants, how much time is allotted, the type of meeting space and the kinds of materials that can be used there. (Parameters)
4.      Exhibit genuine care and compassion for the group, and understand his or her role as being part of the group, not one set apart. (Presence)
5.      Plan a process that is appropriate to the first four points. (Process)

[37, 38] Patricia O’Connell Killen and John de Beer. The Art of Theological Reflection. (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1994) 126, 136.