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

Continually Discerning

Tomorrow, we begin another season of discerning at First Baptist. I have lost count on how many times we have been through a discernment process in the past few years. No doubt, using this process has been helpful. As we prepare to dive in once again, I would like to make a few observations.

On the hand, it seems that our discernment process is becoming a part of church culture. Many have experienced the unified results and have confidence that we will carefully discern God’s movement. In this process, we are once again approaching a church staff decision. A few years ago (just before hiring our associate pastor), we used this process to determine that we needed to hire a second pastor with primary responsibilities in worship and outreach. Are we still in the same place? Might God be calling us to go a different direction this time? Our associate pastor relocated in February; we have been several months without him. We have experienced church life in his absence. It is time to discern next steps. When he submitted his resignation, we had a few questions about replacing him. Yet once we explained that we were going to take time to discern God’s plan for us, everyone felt that this was the right thing to do. We are building a culture that understands the need to constantly discern the movement of the Spirit.

On the other hand, we have still not arrived. Several people have offered suggestions about what we should do. They have presented a quick and easy solution. We should just . . . (fill in the blank here). When I explained to them that we needed to take time to discern, they agreed. Yet their suggestion revealed a misunderstanding about discernment; we cannot yet come to a conclusion. We have not taken the time to listen to God. There is a fine line between offering possibilities and proposing solutions. We need ideas, but it is essential to remain open to the movement of the Spirit. Hopefully, people are not cementing their ideas. I fear this may be happening.

As we approach another season of discernment, I pray for clarity to navigate this process. I pray for openness among those who feel they already have the right answer. I honestly have no idea where we are going to end up on this one. We need God to show up and let us know.