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Continuing Indaba Leadership

The role of a Continuing Indaba Leader is challenging and rewarding. We speak of it as convening.

Recognition of Need

The Continuing Indaba (CI) leader has recognised the need to use Continuing Indaba, understanding that Continuing Indaba is a way of being the Body of Christ that places a priority on relationships, empowers all and is orientated to mission, not to the solution of issues.

Establishing Authority

The CI leader needs to create safe ground with clear and appropriate authority as Indaba will require a consistent and calm voice, bringing all together to establish the process. It requires clarity of purpose and the need to signify how an Indaba will further the key aims of the community.

Inviting people into a journey

Calling people on to an Indaba journey cannot be a command from those who hold power to those under their authority. Inviting people onto the design team and into the community of an Indaba requires a leader to display vulnerability and trust and to ask for trust as the community journeys together.

Relinquishing Power

Indaba leadership requires the relinquishing of the power to decide outcomes. The Continuing Indaba leader is required to place their trust in God and in the community. The community needs to hear that they are trusted to discover where God is calling them.

Setting the Agenda

The CI leader sets the agenda for the Indaba. The focus should be on a key concern for the community and relevant to all.

One way to do this is through the use of a framing question. Framing questions should be short, specific and focused. They should be open questions, inviting dialogue.

Examples are:

  • What is the nature of our common life?
  • How can we become a church that includes people of all generations?

Appointing and supporting a Design Group

It is vital to design the process, whether it is within the setting of a governance structure or a standalone journey. It is the responsibility of the leader or convenor to appoint the design group. They may be identified by others, but they all need to know they have the trust of the leader.

There are advantages and disadvantages for the convenor being on the design group and these need to be clearly assessed. Groups will behave differently in the convenor’s presence: leaders may be unaware of the effect they have on groups. They can, unintentionally, shut down voices as members will seek to conform to the wishes of the powerful person. It is hard to retain authority and enable power to be shared.

However, if the convenor is not present the group will fear making decisions that the convenor will not support. In addition they will need to ask questions of a practical nature to test out on the convenor. These may be as simple as a diary date that needs confirming.

It is usually best for the leader or convenor not to be on the design group, but to appoint someone to chair it who is trusted by the convenor and by the group and in clear communication with the convenor. When they require something to happen, the chair needs to know he or she can speak directly to the convenor who will listen and that the convenor will trust the design group.

The design group will need the convenor to stand with them when potential participants are questioning vital aspects of design.

Commitment

The convenor will be making significant demands of time and energy from those participating and the Indaba community needs to see the commitment of the convenor. Continuing Indaba cannot be a side event:  it has to be a focal point for the most significant issues facing the community. As such it requires commitment from the community.

Listening

The convenor must listen and be seen to listen. It is important to establish methods for receiving the voices of the participants and to be seen to have heard.

Outcomes

The convenor cannot determine what the community will say and cannot determine the outcomes in that sense. However, they need to be clear on how the outcomes will set priorities and how they will be incorporated into community life – governance process for example.

Pray

Continuing Indaba is a spiritual journey and prayer is a vital part and resource for that journey. The convenor is placing their trust in God and so prayer is vital; it is also vital that all pray. Establishing a pattern of common prayer may be significant for the community.

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