Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Pastors: Develop a Discerning Community

(Garage scene from "A Beautiful Mind")
I've attended, even led, church planning meetings where we got together and "brainstormed" about what we should do. We stormed the gates of hell with our brains. We assaulted the darkness using our collective cognitive abilities. We layered the walls with ideas on paper, looking like John Nash's garage in "A Beautiful Mind."

I don't do this any more. 

The Presence-Driven Church is not a "brainstorming committee." It is a Discerning Community.

Imagine the Apostle Paul at a brainstorming meeting. The ideas are pouring forth. But Paul doesn't participate. Someone asks, "Why not?" Paul responds, "Why, since we have the mind of Christ?" (See here.)

The human brain is the craziest, most beautiful, impressive thing in the entire universe as we know it. The human mind is, no doubt, awesome. But the mind of Christ is more impressive. God doesn't even need a brain to have a mind. (God is a non-physical being. Note: there are people walking the earth who believe that "mind" somehow "emerged" from non-mental physical matter, thus falling in love with the idea that from nothing you can get something.)

God has ideas, correct? Our task is not to come up with ideas, but to discern the mind of Christ, and his already-existing ideas. 

This means developing people who are excellent discerners of the voice of God. These will be people who spend much time with God, are not "too busy to pray," and are not church people who come out of the woodwork "to vote." 

Discerning communities eliminate the word "vote." The language becomes, "What do you hear God saying to us?"

This challenges the "let's figure this out ourselves" mentality prevalent in American churches. This is the upside-down hermeneutic, which says, instead of us exegeting the mind of God, God exegetes us.  

For how to grow into a discerning community see:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church (John Piippo)

Pursuing God Together: A Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups (Ruth Barton) 

Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life (Henri Nouwen)