World Cafe


Part One: Bringing Our Community Together By Asking The Hard Questions

We welcomed 2012 with open arms! As a community, we knew there was a lot of grieving that we needed to get through in 2011 and during our November Presbytery meeting we were able to take some steps towards healing. We were able to address moving forward through the grief into a healthy community: one that supports one another; comes together geographically and throughout the Presbytery; and one that is not scared to be honest about our faith.

At this meeting, our Presbyterian community participated in a World Café Conversation. The World Cafe Experience “is a powerful social technology for engaging people in conversations that matter, offering an effective antidote to the fast-paced fragmentation and lack of connection in today’s world.”

Basically it is a way to create a safe conversation with a facilitator that can help a community ask questions that affect them and aspects of our community that need to be addressed in a direct manner.  Our World Café facilitator, Donald Proffit, asked us three questions during our World Café Conversation and at the end of the three rounds, there was an important harvest (all the main ideas that surfaced during this process):

The Questions:

  1. 1. What does it mean for me and my church to be a member of this presbytery and why do (should) I care?
  2. 2. What have you heard so far that had real meaning for you? What surprised you? What’s emerging that is new for you?
  3. 3. How do we, as a Presbytery, engage our congregations to do local mission and increase membership, to raise awareness about issues Presbyterians are working on in each of our communities?

The 4 Main Harvest Categories:

1. The Presbytery’s Role,

2. Communication,

3. Relationship Building,

4. Finding Faith

Below you will find the comments from each round and the details of the Harvest categories:

Round One: What does it mean for me and my church to be a member of this presbytery and why do (should) I care?

  • Common goal
  1. Meeting people inclusive
  2. Know what is going on
  3. See churches of all sizes
  4. New ideas of any activities
  5. Spiritual Growth and Development
  • Governing Body
  1. Don’t belong—you miss a lot
  2. Learning more about the community
  3. Think outside the box
  4. Get to know more people
  5. Try not to be so Top Down
  • Building Community
  1. Bring them to a meeting
  2. For people to care
  3. Talking to the churches
  • Every church is different, but we have common ground

Round Two: What have you heard so far that had real meaning for you? What surprised you? What’s emerging that is new for you?

  • Tables are split on views!
  1. The best Presbytery they have been a part of
  2. Disappointed about the connection to the churches
  • Individual churches doesn’t feel the direct connection with the Presbytery
  1. Able to offer opportunities
  2. Trips, trainings, workshops
  3. Group Rates for vendors
  4. Supporting one another
  • Need more people involved
  1. Anyone can come
  2. Membership benefit to be a part of the Presbytery
  3. People in the Pews not knowing the Presbytery

Round Three: How do we, as a Presbytery, engage our congregations to do local mission and increase membership, to raise awareness about issues Presbyterians are working on in each of our communities?

  • Doing Café at meetings
  • Doing Café at churches
  • Local missions
  1. Importance of relationships impression, Presbytery is coming in when there’s a problem
  2. Personal relationships
  • Do more to talk and understand each other
  • Leads to more help with local mission
  • Increasing Membership:
  1. New people come, get them to coffee hour to talk to them
  2. Community outreach
  • For example, a church has a self-help series for the public
  • Community dinners each month
  • Carol sing
  • Bible studies
  1. In untraditional places: community center, bar
  • People who call for a financial need
  1. Talking to them about all needs
  • Food closets
  • Adopting families for the holidays
  • Increasing Communication
  1. Email newsletter about what people are doing
  • Already exists
  1. Presbytery to have templates on how to do things
  • A resource page
  • Online forums


*Can lead to next questions for next café!


  • Have meetings more often?
    • Presbytery meetings every other month
    • Have smaller geographical group meet between presbytery meetings
    • Meeting focused on Mission Cooperation
    • Be Open! Adaptable to the change world society around us. Learn how to connect with the generations who are NOT a part of the church!
    • Use World Café approach at ALL Presbytery meetings
      • Need balance of small groups and whole group interactions
      • Would like Presbytery/EP to find and implement templates to get to final steps of issues.
      • The role of the Presbytery in our churches needs expanding.
      • Knowing the role of the Presbytery!
        • Not just the people you see or hear from when something goes wrong.
        • Imagine that Presbytery
          • Legalistic oversight
          • How do we express Presbytery’s nurturing role?
          • Exec does a great job discussing issues, how can Presbytery take next steps to help congregations begin to grapple with those issues.
          • Mission statement includes “Building relationships” have been looking mostly at “Congregational Transformation” more focus should be on relationships.
          • How do we get shared vision in the Presbytery?
            • With churches feeling ownership!
            • Hold Café every year or geographically inciting everyone from every church to try to get input and ownership from more people
            • Having Presbytery meetings when folks who work can come!
            • Try to run World Café or other small meetings for Regional groups within the Presbytery for better connectivity or development of joint mission projects.
            • Presbytery offers:
              • Mission opportunities
                • Mexico, West VA, Disaster Relief
          • Group opportunities
            • NYC, DC
          • Educational opportunities
            • Workshops
            • Experts


  • Improve Communication
  • Everything can relate back to communication
  • Communication is key
    • Email newsletter
    • Remove password protection for website except personal contact information in directory


  • Importance of relationship building
    • With Presbytery
    • With each other
    • With our community
    • Not just knowing the things or situations, it’s knowing the people!
    • Meeting with sessions/pastors to describe the Presbytery
    • Having small presentations in church services
    • Pastors being able to communicate the role and benefits of the Presbytery


  • We need to tell God’s story
    • Our faith stories need to be shared for they help all of us grow in our faith
    • Finding that connection
    • If we give ourselves to the process, and take whatever amount of time we need, everyone benefits
    • Share stories of our presbytery and our churches in our communities (outside of the church circles) and with each other and be more forthright in this!
    • Happy to have nonmembers because they believe in the mission of the church
    • Attendance/participation needs to become more, important than the membership
    • Churches know what mission is, but is unsure on how to implement it
    • Keep people informed about mission opportunities through communication and education
    • Be alert to how God’s working in/through local congregations
    • Be aware of various way God is working in local churches
      • Hector/Lodi has been doing a week long mission trip for the youth. It has grown to include those outside of the Presbyterian church
      • Ponder the implications for wider church life
      • Churches need an exit strategy
        • Help people feel safe and die gracefully
        • People in churches need to hear what is happening in other churches/with each other
        • Having a defined identity and ministry and putting plans in place to bring people (a van) to participate
        • Members inviting their friends and neighbors to come to meetings (and to church if they don’t)
        • Sharing the good and the bad that others have and giving them support.
        • Create safe context for conversations
        • The Great Emergence, The New Rose, combining the best of all to make God’s melody. Harmonious.
        • Foster shared ministry between churches in close proximity
          • Bible study, mission, outreach, fundraisers
          • Focus on being, not doing!
            • Learning from and encountering one another as children of God. Risking to be relational.

This blog is just the first in a whole year-long series! Over the next year, our hope is to use this method or exercise in each of our churches and our presbytery meetings! For example, in these meetings we may be choosing two to three of these findings to really dive into a deeper conversation and to gain more knowledge and thoughts on how to more effectively address these comments as a Presbytery.

Please use the comment boxes below to add to this blog from your experience or email at with examples, opinions, questions, or comments you wish not to be public in this forum.

Check them out!!

Also, books are on sale at our office for $20.00!

Read these stories about a Presbyterian World Café-like experience in San Francisco, CA:

Describes the process they used:

Describes what came from it: