(if you would prefer to listen to this article you can listen by pressing play below – 4 minutes)
During the discussion of the adoption merger with Elim Church we have talked a lot about discernment. This can feel like an elusive concept to many so here is a short post with some tips and principles for spiritual discernment.
Discernment: the capacity to recognize and respond to God’s leadership and guidance both personally and in community.
Ruth Haley Barton, author of Discerning God’s Will Together says this:
“Discernment is much easier said than done. Discernment requires us to move beyond our reliance on cognition and intellectual hard work to a place of deep listening and response to the Spirit of God within us and among us.”
At the core of discernment is the choice and ability to listen on many levels:
- Listen to what you sense spiritually in both prayer and action – does a word, phrase or image come to your mind?
- Listen through scripture – what seems to be highlighted for you?
- Listen to your emotions – they can be a guide. With curiosity ask God what they may mean for this process.
- Listen to your thought process – what do you notice is on your mind?
- Listen to others – is the Holy Spirit speaking through others?
As you listen on these many levels – look for what God may be highlighting for you. We often call this a “kairos moment” from the greek concept of time not only as linear, but that God actively breaks into our chronological time to get our attention.
Here are some examples of what different kairos moments may look like in an excerpt from my book Make A Move – How To Stop Wavering and Make Decisions In a Disorienting World – Kairos Examples.
Kairos moments can be experienced during prayer, discussion with others, or when you are having an experience. For instance the times of worship we have had with the Elim Community.
When we experience a kairos moment, there is simple process we encourage you to follow:
- Observe (What was happening? How did you react?)
- Reflect (Why did you react as you did? What did this mean?)
- Discuss (Who did you talk to?)
- Plan (What was your response? How did you plan to learn and grow?)
- Account (Who kept you accountable?)
- Act (What was the outcome of putting your plan into action?)
You can watch a short teaching from Pastor Michael teaching this process during a sermon last year: Kairos Circle
There are lots of questions – pros and cons – potential plans as well as areas where experimenting will need to be the approach. At the end of the day, we need to accept that there are MANY unknowns and certainty is not possible to achieve. We sometimes hope for more and more information so we can feel like we can make a perfect right answer – but that is not possible.
The most important question is this: Do we think God is leading us to move forward with this adoption merger?
Thank you for committing to discerning how God is leading our church!
Bonus Tip: Consider your personality, gifting and strengths – you may love change or dread it. You may be more deliberative or more of an activator. You may discern best when verbally processing or maybe silence is ideal for you. Who you are matters in discernment – but a decision for a whole group also means paying attention to the personalities of others and how our differences may mean we lay down some of our preferences to truly seek God’s leadership.
Share your feedback and discernment with the leadership team here!
Ruth Haley Barton on Discerning God’s Will Together