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

An Open Posture

This summer, we are navigating two discernment processes as a congregation. Each one has its challenges. This past Sunday, we spent nearly 4 hours in the Examine stage of one of these processes. It was a long and difficult conversation. We worked through various issues, identifying what God was saying to us in each issue. As is often the case, some in the group were more vocal. However, I prodded the quiet participants until everyone had spoken. It was amazing to watch the group build consensus.

As the meeting came to a close, the team was unified in direction, in purpose. I asked if anyone in the group had shifted positions, opinions or viewpoints during the meeting; would they please raise their hands? Almost everyone in the group acknowledged that this was the case. The group of truly submitted to God’s will for this decision. It was not an easy endeavor. No audible voices sounded through the ceiling. God did not speak in this way. Yet God was speaking in and through us as we discussed the issues at hand. It was a process of listening, opening our hearts and minds to God’s movement.

As I think about this process, the dynamics of making decisions in this manner, I am convinced that it works. I think it is due to the posture of the participants. Each one acknowledges that God’s plan is foremost. We are simply attempting to discover His direction. In Psalm 33, the psalmist writes,

(Psalms 33:13–17 NIV) From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth — he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.

The psalmist acknowledges his inability to succeed. He understands his ingenuity as incapable of providing answers. The Kings army does not save him; the warrior does not escape by his own strength. Only can God provide the resources needed.

It really is a matter of posture. It is a matter of putting our own agenda to the side. And once this happens, God begins to move. I watched it happen on Sunday afternoon. Thank God for a people who submit to Him. Thank God for leaders who are willing to change, to shift as God leads.