An example of discerning and doing the will of God is found in Acts 13:2. Here the leaders of the Gentile church at Antioch were meeting to worship and fast together. We do not know if there was some challenge they were facing or if this was a regular discipline for these leaders. As they were before the Lord, the Holy Spirit spoke clear instructions to commission Barnabas and Saul to go as missionaries into the Gentile world.
Whenever the goal of church leaders is to discern and do the will of God the church will move forward with courage and power. Unfortunately, the church has opted for decision-making where God’s voice is minimized. Rather we rely on a political process similar to that used by our government to find our way into the future.
In politics power and influence are used to impose our personal agenda on a group or organization. The key element in this process is debate controlled by Roberts Rules of Order. These rules are intended to ensure an orderly process of debate so that division is limited. The political system uses “checks and balances” to control the abuse of power among leaders.
In my eight years as Regional Conference Minister for IN-MI Mennonite Conference when working with congregations going through difficult times I usually found that there was confusion about the balance and use of power and authority in making decisions between the Administrative Boards (church council) and the Board of Elders. Thus a “tug and pull tension” was created that resulted in confusion, tension and increased the use of politics and campaigning in making decisions. Until this pattern was broken the polarity and division continued to increase.
This seems to be the pattern of that the larger Mennonite Church USA is caught up in today. Scripture offers us a better way. It teaches that God speaks when we are committed to obey. This means that when a group of leaders are committed to discerning and doing the will of God than we need to create time and space in which we are able to hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. This will require significant times of solitude and silence in the meeting. Romans
12:1-2 shows us the way to discern the perfect will of God.
Any attempt to hear God speak must be preceded by a willingness to do the will of God where obedience is the only option.
-Stanley J Troyer
Stanley J Troyer is a Leadership & Inner Life Coach and former Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference Regional Conference Pastor.