Discernment for Mission

discernmentOne of the things that we have spent a lot of time on in recent workshops is understanding the importance of Godly discernment.  Sometimes churches focus on consultation with stakeholders (the people involved in the church and/or those in the local community) and don’t spend time with God to understand what he is already doing in their midst.  Sometimes it seems like the church plans and then asks God for a rubber stamp on their plans.

What do I mean by discernment?  Ignatius of Loyola defined the aim of discernment as “finding God in all things in order that we might love and serve God in all”.  Discernment is an ever increasing capacity to see the works of God in the midst of the human situation so that we can align ourselves to whatever it is that God is doing.  Every Christian is called to this discernment (Rom 12:2).  It is a mark of spiritual maturity (1 Jn 4:1) and also a special spiritual gift for some (1 Cor 12:10).

Discernment calls for COURAGE to seek God’s will / wait on God and then makes decisions that are RESPONSIVE to the moves of God.

  • Ask the right questions (not the wrong ones)
  • Avoid being stuck in old paradigms
  • Don’t let it be about preserving the system at all costs
  • Don’t be afraid of consequences of decisions

All leadership team needs to be on intentional journey of transformation – from spiritual blindness to spiritual sight. Spiritual practices that help:

  • Solitude and silence (how else can you hear the Voice?)
  • Scriptures – move from knowing the stories to finding ourselves in them
  • Prayer for indifference to all else but God’s wisdom
  • Self-knowledge and self-examination

There are many different resources available, but one I have used and can recommend is: “Pursuing God’s Will Together” Ruth Haley Barton


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