As a council, we believe God is inviting our church to enter into a season of discernment. The decisions of Synod 2022 related to human sexuality have prompted us to ask what these decisions mean for us and for our ministry moving forward.
During our church service on Oct. 2nd, we watched a video about “Next Steps Discernment.” In the video, Pastor Sean Baker reframes our denomination’s post-Synod anxiety and asks if it might actually be “an opportunity for making better disciples. Afterall, aren’t most of the instructions we have about Christian discipleship in the New Testament written in the form of letters to first century congregations experiencing conflict and tension?”
Using the process that Pastor Sean describes in the video, we want to invite our whole church to discern together. Yes, council is responsible for leading our church, but we also highly value the prayers, wisdom and insights of our entire congregation.
The first step
We want to invite you to join us in practicing spiritual disciplines that have long been used by Christians to orient their hearts and ears to the voice of God. These disciplines are:
As members of council, we are committed to these four spiritual disciplines. You may pick one or practice all during this season of discernment.
The second step
We are inviting you to sign up for a one-time small group (5-8 people) listening circle that will take place early in the new year. In this ninety-minute circle meeting, you will pray, listen, and share with each other in response to the following questions. You may reflect on these questions before the meeting, but we encourage you not to take comprehensive notes with you. Instead, speak to one another as God leads.
What did you think when you heard about synod’s decisions?
What have you thought about since?
What’s been the hardest thing for you?
What do you need to move forward in this next season?
What do you think our church needs to move forward in this next season?
Briefly, what do you wish to share with the council to help their discernment in this season?
Is there anything else that came up in our circle today that you’d like to communicate to the council?
The first three questions will be asked and answered confidentially, so that you can share your thoughts freely with just the small group. But for the last four questions, the facilitator will take notes of your responses so that we have a record of what was shared. As a council, we will meet to reflect on these notes and to add our own discernment on how to engage the congregation a little more deeply in the challenges and opportunities before us.
We expect that these listening circles are only the first stage of a longer discernment and that you will have future opportunities to listen, share, and pray as we go deeper into the implications of Synod’s decisions for our church. In this process we as council commit to communicate what we’re doing and why we’re doing it as clearly, completely and promptly as possible.
How to sign-up
If you would like to take part in a listening circle, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or write your name on the list in the fellowship hall of our church.
We thank you in advance for your prayers, patience, and participation in this process. May God continue to build, bless, and lead God’s church!