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

Unforeseen Circumstances

We are on the other side of the January 22 meeting. One unforeseen detail was that I did not attend. On Saturday afternoon, I came down with a stomach virus. I was unable to preach in morning worship and attend the meeting on Sunday evening. As I lay in bed pondering what this would mean, I assured myself that God was in control; perhaps there was a reason I was afflicted. I am still not sure of the reason, but I did learn a few valuable lessons.

###Shared Team Dynamic I was relieved that we had created a strategy for every team member to share in the presentation of the story. Each leader was responsible to share a particular area of the decision. This was well-planned; each person know his/her job. When I was incapable of leading, it was not a big deal; the show went on (for lack of a better term). I am convinced that decisions are best communicated when various people participate in the story. Each leader brings a different angle, a different perspective. This strengthens the story.

###Need for a Leader At the same time, when an unhappy church member threw the team a curve ball, the mood quickly soured. It seems that my presence may have been helpful in this particular situation. The member cited the church constitution and questioned the validity of the leadership council making this decision. The leaders were not prepared for such a critique. The negative comment prompted others to criticize on other unrelated items. While my being sick was unavoidable, the leader’s presence is preferred in the communication stage. I may have been able to bring the conversation back to a positive tone (or not . . .).

####Shifting Culture At the end of the day, the church affirmed the decision to move forward with the the Leadership Council’s plan. Many expressed appreciation for the hard work of church leaders. While discerning is messy, unpredictable, I am sure that the discernment process gave the leaders the needed structure to adequately discern. They were able to present their story with confidence. First Baptist Muncie still functions on unhealthy levels; but we are making progress. We still have to learn healthy ways to ask questions and express concerns. We need to shift from expressing opinions to collectively discerning. We have to learn appropriate ways to call out inappropriate actions. As leaders, we are in the business of changing culture. It will not happen overnight. I hope that I do not miss another meeting because I am worshiping at the ceramic throne. But if I do, I am confident that the Holy Spirit will still move among the people of God.

The next step is to return to the church council with the information collected from the congregational meeting. I will keep you up to date on the implementation of this decision. The communication stage continues; it carries on until everyone stops asking questions.