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Design of Continuing Indaba Process

Continuing Indaba is a journey and there is uncertainty on the way. It is the task of the design team to provide a roadmap for those participating. This guide will help you to design a Continuing Indaba process.


  • Who needs to be on the design team?
  • Beginnings – Announcing a new way
  • Gathering
  • Encounter – How to design processes of meeting
  • Meeting – How to design a place of meeting where all can speak.
  • Going out – How to plan to use the results of the Indaba

Who needs to be on the design team?

The role of the team is to design a process not define an outcome; the design team, therefore, needs to have a range of skills. Size is important for both productivity and reflecting the diversity of those to be involved in the process. If the team has more than nine members the work of design will be lost in discussion of content, and if it is less than four it will lack the diversity it needs to be effective. A team of six is probably the target.

1. Power

Continuing Indaba takes power very seriously.

The design team needs to know that it has the blessing of those who hold power. In the case of a diocese this is usually this is the bishop. In other contexts this might be the Vicar or the Dean of a theological college, etc. Continuing Indaba uses the term convenor for this person. It is vital that the power holder has a trusted representative on the design team. A representative must be free to make decisions in meetings without referral back. Decisions on process cannot be overruled (although they can be amended – for example, a date can be changed).

Continuing Indaba enables all voices to be heard. Design of process must include those who are marginalised in the context.  For example, if the aim is for young people to find a voice, young people must be part of the design team.

2. Money

The team needs to be clear on budget. Continuing Indaba costs money. There either needs to be a clear set budget or the presence of someone with the ability to confirm budget requests.

3. Realism

The team needs to be realistic about expectations placed on participants.  To do this the design team needs three people, lay and ordained, who are aware of the practicalities in the lives of those participating. They need to speak for themselves – they are not representatives – but they have to be aware of issues such as time availability, language and translation, etc.

The design team also needs a person who will be responsible for all practical arrangements. Such a person is vital in establishing a sense of security about the process, as the participants will be anxious if dates are not clear and rooms not booked. Establishing hospitality and enabling the smooth running of process and cannot be an afterthought.

4. Facilitation

A lead facilitator is essential for the design. The creation of safe space requires excellent facilitation and design of a process that includes the shape and duration of the encounters. Continuing Indaba is not another name for facilitated conversation; however, the journey, the worship and the conversation on the way are all vital aspects. Facilitation that ignores the journey will fail. The lead facilitator, therefore, needs to be part of the design team.

5. Evaluation and Reflection

The team needs to consider what it wants to learn from the Indaba process and how it will know that the process has met its objectives. The participants will have put a huge amount of energy and time into the journey and will need to know that such effort is worthwhile.

A Potential Team

This is an imagined example of a design team for a diocesan process in a multicultural, urban area seeking to enable conversation between people divided by ethnicity.  They might be:

  • a representative of the Bishop, who will be very well briefed on the aim and the budget for the Indaba
  • a lay person from a minority ethnic group who has professional facilitation training and skills
  • a clergy person from the dominant ethnic group who faces the issues of a busy life
  • a clergy person who has experience of crossing cultures and a sensitivity for liturgy
  • a lay person who has academic skills in evaluation – a sociologist for example
  • a person on the Diocesan staff who is employed to give time to organise and to ensure the practical arrangements are put into place.


The first task is to move people from scepticism, to buying- in, to ownership of the process.

People may be sceptical for a number of reasons: some will think nothing will change, others that Continuing Indaba is a cover for changing things in a direction they do not like. The design team, in co-operation with the convenor, may need to work hard to include all concerned in the process. Without buy-in there will be no process, and it will work best if it is owned by as many as possible.

1. Confidence

The Design team and convenor need to have confidence that Continuing Indaba is genuinely biblical, is from within the traditions of the Church and is tested in the real world. To do this the team will need to study theological resources, testimonies and evaluation from the resources section.

The design team needs to own the process for themselves and understand what they are designing.

2. Announcement

The Indaba has to be announced clearly using the normal channels of communication. This might be, for example a public letter from the convenor, websites and sermons.

3. Follow up

There may be people who are specifically resistant. It is worth giving time to hear their concerns, which may be valid and may need to be taken on board. Some will seek to end the Indaba immediately. They need to hear from the convenor that the process will go ahead and they need to be on board to have a voice and that their voice will be valued.

It may be necessary to run a resource hub to enable the Indaba to reflect the theological and cultural traditions of the context. (See for more information on resource hubs)

4. Clarity and vision

The framing question needs to be owned and clearly articulated, realistic but  with vision. The hope is for a church that becomes a better reflection of the Body of Christ, where diversity is celebrated and all are energised for mission.



Those participating in process will benefit from gathering at an initial event. They need to hear the vision from the key voices of power holders and from those with whom they can identify who have owned process, so they too can own it and begin to form relationships with those they will journey with.

A Gathering Event

The gathering event is a requirement for all who participate. These are the elements you need to consider.

1. Worship

Continuing Indaba is a pilgrimage and as such is prayer on a journey with companions, leading to a deeper encounter with God. The worship at the beginning of the gathering, during the gathering and at the sending out should be simple and cohesive.

2. Envisioning

The convenor needs to speak with authority in the way she or he is seeking to open up honest conversation, articulating his or her vision for the Indaba. The convenor will convey their commitment and the expectation of commitment from the participants.

3. Motivations

Participants gathered should explore their motivation for participation with one another.

4. Practicalities

A clear articulation of the practicalities is required, with time for the teams to discuss how they will make possible the design of encounters.

5. Baselines

Establishing baselines is important in a process where people are on the journey. These baselines will be significant in the process of evaluation. (For more see Evaluation Guide – published December 2013)


The primary focus of the encounter stage is to establish relationships. It is easy to develop stereotypical images of an opponent or a stranger, who is reduced to being the holder of a set of ideas or emotions, rather than a human being who is being shaped and formed by God.

Relationships are formed through discovering the context in which others live and worship and by sharing our own context through a journey. It will only be successful if the participants step out of their comfort zone and enter into another’s world.

In processes such as an Indaba at a governance meeting, facilitation will be needed to create the journey with participants using words and images to describe their context. Other processes will allow for actual visits and these can be formal or informal.

These are some of the elements that should be considered:

1. Worship

Place Christ at the centre and recognise that all are on a journey of faith.

2. Context

Design process that allows a host to share the place where they live and work. The process needs also to reflect the dynamics of their worship life. It is best if this is a physical journey and participants can visit one another’s homes, places of work, and attend worship in one another’s churches.

3. Scripture

Enable the participants to read the Scriptures together. There are three aims: Firstly to explore the Scriptures for yourself, and from there to hear how others use and understand Scripture. The final stage is to gain deeper clarity of your own understanding. The process of Lectio is particularly useful here. (See page 24)

4. Sharing progress

A form of reporting back to enable evaluation is important; as is sharing the stories of the encounter to encourage others observing the journey from local contexts.

Honest Conversation

The clash between Paul and Peter recorded in Galatians was honest, possibly angry, and touched on the core of the gospel. The East African Revival was energised by the challenge given by one follower of Jesus to another. The aim of Continuing Indaba is to create the safe space for honesty and genuine challenge between those who recognise one another as being in Christ.

1. Facilitation

The lead facilitator on the design team will need to work with other facilitators who will respect the journey of the participants. There must be clarity on expectations on all sides. In Continuing Indaba the expectation is not mediation or compromise, it is an honest conversation.

2. Space and time

Organisers need to consider both space and time for the conversation. A poor space that lacks air or is too big and public will kill conversation. Too long or too short a time will end conversation.

3. Worship

Placing Christ at the centre is again vital.

4. Hearing the results

The accurate recording of the words and emotions of the group are vital for the effectiveness of the Indaba. The participants need to know they will be heard, especially by those they perceive to have power.

Going out

The experience of the past five years is that Indaba will produce results in terms of energy for mission and a direction for travel. There needs to be planning as to how this will be incorporated in the life of the communities of the participants.

1. Receiving the results

The convenor needs to receive the results and to seen to have done so.

2. Common journey

The common journey sets priorities in mission and these need to be reflected within life of the church and articulated through governance structures.

3. Celebrating

The celebration of being in the Body of Christ requires expression in the worshipping life of the community.

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