This Sunday at Cortland UMC we kicked off a year long discernment process. We are seeking God to find what the next faithful step is for our community at this time. Often in the church when we speak about discernment, it is not discernment we are actually seeking. A normal pattern is to have the senior leader, of a small group of leaders have a mountain top adventure to hear from God what the vision is. Upon receiving the vision the individual, or small group return to the community and begin the process of selling the vision. This is not discernment, this is sales and marketing. Discernment is a much more difficult process to start and engage, however there is no sales pitch needed.
Discernment is, according to Webster's, the process of grasping and understanding that which is obscure. The end is not known at the beginning, rather there is a journey, or a process, to discover what God is reveling. All to often whether as a church community, or as individuals we get the end picture in mind and seek after God to make it happen the way we see it. The journey of discernment is one by which we engage a process of events and activities to hear better what God is speaking. The starting point is the Scriptures. From there we add prayer, and community interaction. Before discernment has run it's course there needs to be a testing of everything. This process will take much time.
Time is why I think most people and churches do not engage true discernment. The other significant reason is because of fear. We become afraid of what God might lead us to next. Once we know what that is we then must choose God's way or our own, to whom will we be obedient?
I am excited about what God is doing. I long to see what God will show our community as we seek together. Additionally, I long to see the ways in which God is going to mess with my life as I engage the process.