Spiritual Discernment

Summary of Insights, Challenges and Experiments from Mission Summit Conversations (June 2013)

  • Insights
    • There is a difference between individual and corporate discernment even while corporate discernment depends on individual discernment
  • Challenges
    • What is “call”- when you don’t want to do it?
    • How can we encourage more of the relational to go with the operational (e.g., in church meetings?
    • How can we discern when discernment is needed and not rush too quickly to make a decision?
    • How can spiritual discernment/spiritual companionship be seen as a ministry to which individuals are called (ordained or lay)?
  • Experiments
    • How can congregations experiment with adding a time of discernment and silence into every meeting?
    • Encourage silent retreats.
    • How can How can search processes for new pastors and next steps for the church become more discernment oriented?

Summary of Insights, Challenges and Experiments from the Mission Table (November 2013)

  • Insights
    • For the Spirit to work, we have to be broken, to be in pain.  We have to get in touch with the brokenness that we carry.  Sometimes we need to deviate from the bulletin, stop the service.
    • There is a polarity between order and disorder.  We fear the disorder.  There is an element of risk.
    • In terms of discernment, we have to teach people so that they are able to know if something that they are discerning is of God.
  • Challenges
    • The Spirit is disruptive.  Do we look for discernment in the disorder of the Spirit?  Spiritual discernment can be both finding order out of the destructive and evil disorder and finding disorder out of stifling order.
  • Experiments/Projects
    • Making room for the Spirit should be a deliberative process where all are involved.
    • We have to give room for the Spirit to move.  Open ended occasion for experiencing the presence of the Spirit and then trying to understand the experience.  If the Spirit of God is the divine power, energy, and dynamism, then discerning that dimension of God can, in part, be cultivated by both by waiting in meditation and by active experimentation.


Read the full notes:

Mission Summit Conversations:

Mission Table:


Views expressed are the sole opinion of conversation participants. They do not express the views of American Baptist Churches USA, or individual American Baptist churches. Conversation notes and summaries are shared to allow American Baptists and friends to easily review and use these Mission Summit Conversations and the Mission Table learnings as they wish.