“As there were in Old Testament times elders for the government of the people, so the New Testament church provided persons with particular gifts to share in discernment of God’s Spirit and governance of God’s people.”
Presbyterian Church (USA) Book of Order
Next Tuesday and Wednesday the Elders of the church will gather for two nights to discern a vision for Calvin’s future (where God is leading) and create an action plan (mission statement) to fulfill that vision. It’s important work. It’s holy work.
Discernment is a word we tend to use a lot in Protestant churches these days. Once the province of our Roman Catholic sisters and brothers, we Protestants jumped on the bandwagon over the past twenty years as the historic spiritual practices have become more commonplace to the ancestors of Luther and Calvin, ancestors who’ve historically been suspicious of such exercises.
The New Testament church provided persons with particular gifts
to share in discernment of God’s Spirit and governance of God’s people.
At its root, discernment means to judge well. A discerning person doesn’t make rash, quick decisions but slowly, intentionally looks for solutions, options, new paths balancing the feelings we have (the historic skepticism) that cause us to feel far from God and close to God (nods to Ignatius). The New Testament (Greek) words translated as “discern/ment” mean judge, separate, distinguish.
Elders in our tradition are to make decisions for God’s people balancing their personal feelings against biblical precepts… judging what they deem best for the whole congregation against what one group might want… separating their personal agendas/inclinations from the Christian tradition.
Please pray for and with the Elders at Calvin Church as they enter this season of discovery and discernment.