After engaging in listening prayer, identifying core behaviors, and sorting them into categories, it’s time for your team to begin reaching consensus on what your core values are. I find the affinity exercise helpful for this purpose. It allows all people to have an equal voice regardless of introversion/extroversion.

In a smaller group of, say, 4-6 people, give each person 7 post-it notes. Allow 5-7 minutes of silence while each person writes down what he or she would consider the core values, putting one value on each post-it note.

Then, maintaining the discipline of silence, have each person go and post their notes on a whiteboard. Continuing in silence, everyone can rearrange the post-it notes to cluster similar ideas together. Anyone can move anyone else’s notes.

Next, as the facilitator, take a marker and circle each cluster. Reach each of the notes in that cluster aloud. If the group senses that they fit, leave them there. If some don’t, move them to a miscellaneous category for a while. Then give each category a name reflecting the dominant value. It could be “honesty and transparency” or “serving the least of these”… whatever seems to best reflect what is written on the post-it notes.

Because this is a Spirit-led process, with a lot of thought and discussion having gone into the exercise on the front end (see previous series of blog entries), I find that the affinity exercise usually yields a digest or synthesis that has broad support and hits all the major value areas. The full process is designed to take people out of the cognitive space where many of us usually reside and open us up to what we are hearing from the Holy Spirit. It de-equilibrizes everyone as each person tries to discern what God has for this team.

Next up is the final blog entry in this series on core values: drafting the values.

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