This practice is more than merely a brain storming enhancement. I would like to share with you how we organise it.
About the practice: Seminarians (all or selected individuals) are divided into three groups. Two groups must have the same number of members. Each group may have one to three members. It is not advisable to have more than that. The first set will defend church’s position, the second set should be against the stand of the church (based on scientific, atheist or other perspectives) and the third set will be composed of a panel of journalists, jury and tv animators which will conduct the discussion.
Themes or Questions are from various current issues or challenges that the church is facing. It could also be any dogma or popular issues. For example, Sexual issues, Relevance of religious life, NTIC, Vows, African concerns, Community life, Inculturation etc.,
Method and guide lines: Once a theme is chosen, seminarians enrol freely in any of the groups depending obviously on their personal interest or on their mastery of a given topic. However, it can happen that the organizers assign students to any of the groups. They (each group) must have at least three preparatory meetings by topic before the open debate. Before the start, panellists should give some instructions or guide lines. Time should be set from the beginning (for example, 30 minutes). Each one is invited to be clear and precise in their arguments to persuade and convince the audience.
Goals: To be clear and systematic on the position of the church about various issues; to defend one’s arguments on the issues; to learn how to handle critical and useful discussions / debates; it helps to become aware of emotional arousals of seminarians, to learn ones self control and to deepen one’s faith and learn discernment.
Fr Jean Baptiste Makilandi, Cameroon