Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit


The recent episode of This American Life is entitled Crybabies. If you are familiar with this show, you know the hour long broadcast (usually 3-4 chapters) centers on one topic. This week’s show highlights the complainers among us. The show producers insist that people who “make lots of noise” ultimately “win” (gaining the attention and action) in our world.

[Listen to Episode](http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/415/crybabies “Crybabies This American Life”)

The show highlights Wall Street bankers, athletes, and disabled Americans. Each expends energy complaining, pointing out faults. The show marvels at how we (as a culture) reward those who approach problems in a negative manner.

May we consider how this dynamic works in the church. Much energy is spent rewarding those who grumble. We race to sooth negativity. We don’t want people upset.

How does giving energy to bellyaching affect the discerning process? Sure, we need to acknowledge discontent. Haughty leaders who fail to heed constructive criticism find themselves in isolated caverns of their own agenda. Yet, churches who give excessive energy appeasing those who are most vocal must be careful. We would do well to recognize the human tendency to respond to squeaky wheels. We must seek God’s agenda. Too often, churches are driven by the agenda of the complaining few.

In the dessert, God’s patience ran out on a group of complainers.

So the men Moses had sent to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble against him by spreading a bad report about it — 37) these men responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the LORD. (Numbers 14:36–37 NIV)

James warns us to avoid complaining.

Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged (James 5:9 NIV)

Constructive dialog is essential to churches discerning. Yet, we must avoid drifting into problem solving dynamics driven by the negativity of a few.