Discernment - Why?
I am sure that all of you have heard of a little something that Wesley does called “discernment.” Well that is why I am writing this! I want to better inform the people of Wesley about what our process is all about. Discernment actually looks like Emily, Chris, Kevin, Rachel, Jonathan, myself, and Bret’s dog sitting in Bret’s basement having a spirit-filled conversation. We go over the values, goals, and improvements that Wesley needs for the upcoming school year to better relationships with Christ and each other. This is very serious business. Everything we do is in the love of Christ, and we try to discern using this idea; not “choose” or “pick.” We have a very long and detailed process that each of us must follow, and I am going to explain this process to the best of my ability.
We begin every meeting with prayer and a devotion. We do this because we need to remind ourselves that we cannot rely on our judgement alone to discern anything and everything; we need God’s grace and wisdom to guide us. Both the prayer and devotional are essential to the process so that we are focused on the path God wants us to follow. We must center our minds around what we are doing for God’s kingdom. We follow up the devotional and prayer with reading out points on our “Covenant of Presence” that speak to us during the moment. For the sake of transparency, here are the points of our covenant:
Have a sense of humility
Be fully present and invested
Be honest with ourselves and each other
Come with an open mind
Leave expectations at the door
Do everything in love
Seek God’s wisdom not our own
Have confidence in the process
Be accountable to each other
Be transparent with Wesley
It’s crucial that each of us sticks to every point on this covenant if the process is to work properly. After this, the discussions begin.
We talked about what worked and what didn’t work this past year in Wesley, what Wesley values as a Christ-led community, and then within each area of ministry – outreach, worship, discipleship, fellowship, and missions – we discussed what went wrong and how we can fix that and what went right and how we can improve them. The most important discussion is about if a certain aspect fits within the values we set. The most difficult part of the discussions is coming to a consensus; everyone on discernment must agree on everything.
The part of discernment that I believe gets everyone a little on edge is the lifting up of names for leadership positions. The negative connotation is that it is a hand-picked group of people handpicking people to hand-pick other people in the future. This is not at all true. Those of us that are on discernment are on there because:
1. We showed interest in being on the team.
2. We showed gifts needed to be on the team.
We lift-up names of people based off of the discernment sheets. Yeah, those papers that we have been telling everyone to fill out for weeks are really REALLY important to our process. They are not just important, but critical. We cannot discern people for leadership and teams if we do not have their opinion on that sheet of paper. Emily will explain the lifting up of names process in a later blog, because I cannot explain it as well as someone who has previously been on discernment.
Personally, discernment is extremely important to myself as a freshman. I feel that it is an honor for a younger member of Wesley to be a part of the team. I have the opportunity to voice my opinions about a community that I hold very close to my heart. I want to see Wesley grow spiritually, relationally, and for us to have a bigger presence on campus. Discernment has also been fun; it’s still a serious process, but we still laugh (if you are me, laugh at everything) and have a great time eating cheeseballs and making jokes. My final word is that discernment is a long, tiring, but fun and rewarding process that I have the pleasure of being a part of. After being a part of the team, I am hopeful to see what Wesley will grow into in the future. Please do not hesitate to talk to anyone on discernment team if you have any questions or want to give us your opinion; we do not bite!
- Amanda Wagner