Originally published in the monthly Explorer, November 2013 edition.

Practicing Our Faith, edited by Dorothy Bass, describes a dozen practices common to Christians around the world. Not every Christian engages in each of the 12 practices, but many Christians engage in at least a few of them.

One of the practices described in this book is “discernment.”

According to this book, discernment is “the intentional practice by which a community or an individual seeks, recognizes, and intentionally takes part in the activity of God in concrete situations.”

It is fair to add the word “spiritual” to describe discernment, because as Christians we seek the guidance of God in our decisions. The assumptions of spiritual discernment are first, that we do not always know what to be or do, and second, that God’s Spirit is available to help us figure out what God’s wants us to be and do.

Spiritual discernment is both individual and communal process. Churches may engage in spiritual discernment in an effort to seek a consensus about God’s will for the congregation in the future.

The Committee for Spiritual and Missional Growth will bring a recommendation to our November 20 Business Meeting that River Road Church begin a 15-18 month process of spiritual discernment.[1] The goal of this process is to involve our total congregation in achieving a consensus about God’s purposes for River Road Church from now to 2025. Who is God calling us to be and to do?

This process will involve a Leadership Community of 25 church members, an equal number of three-person teams who will engage in systematic prayer over a three-month period, several retreats designed to deepen our capacity and sharpen our skills in understanding God’s will and work, and a series of conversations out of which will emerge, I hope, the shape of our church’s ministry for the next decade.

Our staff and each of our major boards have been introduced to this process and discussed it. The November 20 Business Meeting will be your opportunity to join the discussion and, if it is the will of the congregation, to approve the process so it can begin in early 2014.

Mark November 20 on your calendar and plan to participate.


Editor’s note: Since the original publication of this article, the Committee for Spiritual & Missional Growth has decided to postpone the recommendation to begin the process of spiritual discernment. The business meeting will contain a report from the committee and suggested next steps.