Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Discerning... (miniature hiatus - Missional Coming)

The next segment in the Missional Discussion is coming soon. I've been wrestling with how best to look at the dichotomy of the outside versus inside existence of the church. Not so much the "in-but-not-of" that many discuss, but more of a discussion of the internal relationality of the church not at the expense of the external mission. It's also being informed by a book I'm slowly reading - Van Gelder's the ministry of the missional church, which I'd taken a mini break from as well.

Part of the lack of finishing off this thought process has also been a lack of fueling the fire, which simply cannot be a way to exist in ministry, let alone live. I expect to return to the series by the end of the week. In the meantime, something that's recently come up is recognizing the leading of God in the Holy Spirit and how we recognize what to do with a given word or concept.

Two cases in point: I've had 3-4 conversations regarding Adult Sunday School - something we don't have as a program, at Liberty. We don't have a simple place to direct new/young believers to or to encourage people with to grow/deepen their faith. It's on the "agenda" but wasn't #1 - until 3-4 conversations prompted it toward the front of my mind, followed by a committee meeting Monday night, where it bubbled to the top, without my leading. In fact, it was on the agenda as a topic for another meeting - way down at the bottom.

The second is more personal. I was offered the use of a home for vacation/rest as someone was prompted by God in worship, combined with multiple personal events & a couple people sharing their own issues with rest/sabbath. This issue, unlike the other, looks to have a time sensitivity that does not allow me to act immediately. I don't think I could take a vacation in the next 3 months aside from what we're already doing. And when I look at my schedule in 3-4 months, I can't imagine that's a good idea either. So, I took this thought process down to a much smaller level - maybe there's something I can do right now, or in a day or two - take a mini spiritual retreat.

Personally, I believe God is continually at work through the Holy Spirit, leading & guiding us into things and places where we can be effective in being who we are, in being healthy people, in taking part in God's mission in the world. The key it seems to me, is discerning how we pick up on what we see & hear, how we're prompted, what that leads to. There are always so very many moving pieces in discerning the direction of God's leading. I'm always curious to hear what people use as their rubric for determining how to finally act...


Anonymous said...

I preached on this topic last Sunday. I expressed that an important part of the discernment process was considering whether the "idea" would bear good fruit. Does it reflect the heart of Christ, will it further Christ's ministry, will it build up the body of Christ rather than tear it down, etc. I also mentioned that when presented with a good "idea" that runs counter to what you prefer, it is likely Spirit lead.

Discernment is challenging because it can be hard to tell whether we are subconsiously leading and furthering our own agenda. Talking to others about it and praying together for guidance helps.

Don said...

Nancy - great thought. I like the community discernment part, absolutely.