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


It has been almost a month since I have posted. If you have been reading along, you know that we have been carrying out our listening strategy. During this time, we prayed corporately in worship, held a 24 hour prayer vigil, conducted an all-church survey, and spent time individually reflecting on the decision of staffing at First Baptist Church Muncie. We met on Monday evening for the third stage of the process, Examine. I was not sure what was going to happen in our time together. I have to admit, I was a bit fearful that we would be sitting in a room looking around at each other; I feared that our time would consist of blank stares across the table.

The goal of this stage was to synthesize our listening; it was a time to reflect on what God was revealing to us. I could go into detail describing the ins and outs of our conversation together. However, I will spare you the details. I do, however, want to share with you the end result of our being together. The tone of this meeting was entirely different from our first meeting together. By the time we finished this meeting, there was an incredible unity in the room. How did this happen? What was different about this meeting?

One of the realities of our meeting together is the presence of the Spirit of God. Theologically, we understand that God’s Spirit is with us. Few would disagree that God works as we gather in His name; yet, we seldom expect this to happen. We rarely leave space and time for God to speak. Our tight agendas and thirst for efficiency often quench the Spirit of God. As we came into the meeting on Monday night, my nervousness was because I did not have a clear plan. At the same time, the openness of our time together actually allowed for the Spirit to work.

Another dynamic was the three-week period of listening. While I was nervous because we did not have a plan, we actually were well prepared for this meeting. We spent three weeks praying, reflecting, asking God to lead us in our decision-making. Why were we surprised when God moved among us? This dynamic reveals how broken our decision-making has been in the past. We would typically offer a token prayer, asking God to lead us; at the same time, our decision was mostly from our own ingenuity.

We still have much to learn in our listening to God. However, we are making progress. To finalize this process, we developed a plan to carry out the decision. Because this particular decision has many facets to it, there is more work to be done. Yet, the team was able to determine a direction to pursue; a decision was reached.

I will keep you updated as I progress in my writing. The next step involves the leadership team taking the initial survey again. Once these surveys are complete, I will analyze the data and form conclusions. In the meantime, I’ll continue to come to this decision-making process as a learner, realizing that God often surprises us.