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

Meeting Exercise

I am beginning to see the word discern a bit more these days. In books, magazine articles and blog entries the word is all over the place. However, I am not sure that we fully understand the word. The word is defined in one place as:

perceive or recognize (something)

The solution or path already exists. When we discern, we are not inventing or creating; we are seeking God’s direction. A second definition acknowledges the hardship of discerning.

distinguish (someone or something) with difficulty by sight or with the other senses

A key component of discernment is abandoning our agenda or ideas. We must be willing to let go of our plans in favor of God’s intentions. We have to be willing to trust God. Most would agree with this language. If you walked into most church leadership meetings and began talking about this essential aspect of leading, most would agree on an unquestioning reliance on God. Yet when it comes down to it, many churches are not living into this practice. I would propose a group reading/reflection on Psalm 25.

In Psalm 25, David proclaims his unfailing trust in God. Perhaps this would be way to begin your next leadership team meeting. David declares,

(Psalm 25:1 NIV) In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.

He continues to express his confidence in God’s provision.

(Psalm 25:2-3 NIV) I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.

The next two verses are a fitting confession for church leaders seeking God’s direction.

(Psalm 25:4-5 NIV) Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

May I suggest a mediation on these verses as a group begins to discern God’s direction. Questions: Are we truly willing to place our plans to the side and allow God to reveal his direction for us? Are we prepared to be led by God? Do we sincerely trust his hand of guidance?

The next two verses help us remember God’s faithfulness in our lives.

(Psalm 25:6-7 NIV) Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.

Questions: How has God shown us mercy and love? In what ways has God has led us and provided for us in the past? As David remembers, he is assured of God’s goodness. How has God goodness been evident in our church? This could be followed with a confession of God’s goodness.

(Psalm 25:8-10 NIV) Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.

May we be churches who honestly discern God’s direction as we lead. Perhaps this psalm could be a good exercise for leadership groups before meetings.