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


My doctoral thesis is underway. The Ministry Support Group is formed and is working on various tasks. My reading list is narrowing while the first chapter is swelling. I have not talked specifically about this project on this blog; my hope is to begin writing about my progress on this blog.

My thesis is addressing a perceived paralysis in decision-making in our church. This paralysis may be a result of extreme conflict a few years ago. Here is the problem as stated in the first chapter.

First Baptist Church Muncie’s decision-making processes are highly conflictual. The church finds this conflict so painful that it is reluctant to engage in decision-making about matters likely to produce conflict. As a result, the church is paralyzed in its planning.

The first question to consider the reality of this paralysis. Is the church really paralyzed? I guess I don’t have much of a thesis if this is not true. Either way, I have to test it out. I worked with my volunteer team, called a Ministry Support Group, to develop a survey for the leaders. By the way, I am using a combined leadership team of the diaconate and the church council for this project. We have presented the survey to the leaders and are awaiting the results. At first the survey was fairly broad, but we have narrowed the questions focusing on particular decisions made by leadership. Some of the decisions are light, others are heavy. Hopefully, the surveys will aid our assessment of the paralysis.

Once the level has been measured, we will begin the work of developing a discernment process (I will talk more about this process in another post). We will use this process on a particular decision and then reassess the level of paralysis. My hope is to see the paralysis decrease as the confidence of the leaders increases. We will see how it goes.

So what if a church is paralyzed in its planning? How might this affect its ability to be the church? Can a church still be what God has called it to be if it lives in constant fear of the next conflict?