Discernment Process

The Community Engagement Ministry is launching a strategic discernment process to further understand how God is calling us to live out our congregational identity within the community. To fully engage this work we will be partnering with The Spark Mill. Read more about the Community Engagement Steering Committee HERE and their Reflection of Christian Discernment and Community Engagement.

The Spark Mill uses a three-phase process: GATHER, SOAK, RADIATE. During Gather we spend time collecting information internally and externally – this is the point where we will gather valuable feedback and input from parishioners and members of the community. Soak is the moment we dive in with your team to make sense of what we learned and apply it to your future. Building on the first two steps, Radiate takes us through plan drafting, finalization, and the support for the creation of a detailed implementation plan.

We invite you to join us in praying our Congregational Discernment Prayer through each of these phases:

O God, you sent your Son into our world to be a living, breathing example of justice, love, and mercy. As we seek to be more fully your hands, feet, and heart in this community and world, we ask that you walk with us. By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, open our hearts and minds to hear the many voices through which you are speaking; increase our trust and respect for each other; and give us patience and wisdom as you shape us into the church you are calling us to be. We pray these things in the name of the one who came not to be served, but to serve, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Follow along below as we go through each phase of this process together.


The initial phase of this process invites us into deep listening to God, to one another (congregational), and to the wider community. It is the most participatory.

Focus Groups – July 6, 7 & 8 @ 7:00 p.m. on Zoom. E-mail Lynn Williams to join a group.

Congregational Listening Survey – You will receive this by e-mail from The Spark Mill.

Environmental Scan – This is a review of other partner organizations and congregations in the community doing similar work in Richmond in order to identify gaps, overlap, leading practices, and opportunities.


During this phase, The Spark Mill will share findings and summary themes from all the data collected in the Gather phase with the St. Pauls Community Engagement Steering (CES) committee. The Spark Mill will work with the CES committee to determine the best way(s) to communicate the summary findings with the congregation. Likewise, they will co-create ways to open up creative space to get input from the congregation based on the findings.

Summary Report
Congregational Engagement


In this final phase, the Community Engagement Steering committee will partner with The Spark Mill to draft a three-year plan for the Community Engagement ministry based on all the input gathered up to this point. Once a plan is adopted, The Spark Mill will work with the team to build out actionable next steps and a timeline for implementing the plan.

Three-Year Strategic Plan
Implementation Plan


The Community Engagement steering committee is following some guiding principles to inform our work:

  • Be a living witness to Christ’s justice and love, especially to the most vulnerable among us.
  • Create partnership-based ministries with our local and global neighbors.
  • Create ministries that capture the energy, interests and passions of this congregation.
  • Create ministries that invite broad participation from the congregation and the community.

    About THE SPARK MILL | thesparkmill.com

The Spark Mill was formed with the belief that change shouldn’t be boring. We can’t promise it won’t hurt a bit, but we are experts at helping companies and organizations of all sizes make leaps, manage transitions, and plot transformative futures. Consulting is core to our work and our values and we commit to a carefully curated process that we customize and build with you. We pledge to pepper it with creativity and a bit of magic.

(Gather, Soak, Radiate images provide by Spark Mill.)