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


I was listening to a podcast this morning by Todd Henry called The Accidental Creative. He offers tips and interviews for those striving for creativity in their lives. In this week’s podcast, he talks about buffers. Henry defines buffers as whitespace between our commitments in life. He suggests thinning our meetings, our appointments and planning periods of time for reflection and quiet. I found his words especially relevant to church leaders and church teams who are discerning God’s leading for their congregation. As I listened to his suggestions, I thought of how Jesus intentionally carved out time to be alone with the Father.

As Jesus began to perform miracles, his popularity grew. While he was careful to instruct those he healed to keep it on the down low, word spread. Luke describes,

(Luke 5:15 NIV11-GK) the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.

Jesus was one busy guy. His calendar was full and he had to fight hard for buffers. However he took the time to escape the demands of life. Simply put,

(Luke 5:16 NIV11-GK) Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

The hectic pace of life in 2015 is sometimes overwhelming. While technology promises to make our lives easier, we feel the pressure of increasing constraints on our time. This dynamic bleeds into church leadership teams. We are often tempted to make quick decisions and avoid the time consuming process of discerning the Spirit of God. Henry’s instructions to carefully create buffers in our lives are pertinent to those of us who understand the importance of discerning.

We cannot adequately discern without buffers. We are unable to hear God’s promptings if our calendars are bursting at the seams. As we strive to hear the voice of God, may we add more whitespace in our calendars. May we, like Jesus, find those lonely places to pray, to reflect, to listen. As we plan for buffers, may we experience the empowering presence of God in our lives. May we learn how to live as a discerning people.