The meeting’s worship and ministry committee or the meeting itself may form a spiritual care committee charged to encourage Friends who are spiritually gifted and/or called to a ministry that furthers the work of continuing transformation. The committee seeks to provide a safe and worshipful space where the Friend can be more intentional about becoming faithful to life in the Spirit. It uses three basic tools to accomplish this purpose: deep listening, prayerful discernment and faithful response.
The following queries may help the committee members and the Friend with a spiritual leading or ministry to apply these tools:
- What practices does the Friend use in order to increase the capacity to listen attentively to Spirit?
- What assumptions does the Friend make about living in faithful obedience to Spirit?
- Is there anything that is currently blocking or interfering with the Friend’s capacity to engage in the life of the Spirit?
- In what ways is the Friend growing in the life of the Spirit and how is that growth being manifested?
- How can the spiritual care committee help the Friend increase trust in divine guidance for the Friend’s leading or ministry?
- What is the Friend’s relationship with the meeting? What expectations does the Friend have of the faith community and are these expectations realistic?
- Besides the spiritual care committee, what resources of guidance and support are available for the Friend to draw upon when needed?
Through deep listening, prayerful discernment and faithful response, the spiritual care committee and the Friend whose leading or ministry is being nurtured may grow in relationship with God; the Friend may be anchored within the faith community; and the Friend may be held accountable to God, to the leading or ministry and to the community. Indeed, spiritual care committees are sometimes called anchor or spiritual accountability groups.
Sessions of the Friend with the spiritual care committee may develop according to the needs expressed or perceived, but typically include the following elements:
- The spiritual care committee and the Friend have an opportunity at the beginning and at the end of the session for worship and centering.
- A brief “check in” near the beginning of the session enables those present to become more attuned with each other.
- The Friend may wish to share experiences since the last session; topics and themes that have opened during prayer, reflection, reading and the work of ministry; and concerns about how to integrate more effectively the life of ministry with the demands of family, friends and the faith community.
- The spiritual care committee may wish to offer questions and concerns that might clarify what the Friend has shared; encourage the Friend to reflect upon queries that may assist in guiding spiritual life and growth; and consider with the Friend how the faith community might more fully support or utilize the Friend’s ministry.
- The clerk of the spiritual care committee or the Friend may summarize main points or concerns raised in the session. This can clarify both the matters that have been covered, as well as those that have not been adequately covered
In recent years, some Friends have expressed interest in the opportunities and challenges afforded by a relationship between an individual Friend and a spiritual nurturer. Many of the guidelines above that apply to a spiritual care committee could also be useful in supporting and guiding this relationship. The worship and ministry committee of the meeting would have a particular responsibility in selecting and training spiritual nurturers.