Our church family is currently engaged in a conversation about how men and women live, follow, and lead alongside one another within the Body of Christ and within our local congregation. Within the last year, this dialog has developed through several steps:

MARCH 2018: We featured a sermon series titled, “Male & Female”. It spoke to the value of both masculinity and femininity as gifts from God, aimed to bless humanity and creation. Two of those four lessons were titled “Following Together” and “Leading Together”, aimed to explore how Christian brothers and sisters relate within the setting of discipleship.

JUNE 2018: Church members were asked to nominate representatives of their gender and age, who they recognized as prayerful and Spirit-led. From these nominations, a list was compiled to form a Discernment Team. Earlier in time, our Shepherds had attended a workshop by Mission Alive, in which a model of a Discernment Process was presented, and they intended to walk through those steps with the Discernment Team, as part of focusing this conversation and discerning together what God’s will might for our church on this matter. Some of those nominated declined, while most agreed to participate by entering a time of preparation. An outline of the Discernment Process can be seen HERE.

NOVEMBER 2018:  Group members were expected to use the summer and fall for preparation through personal study and reflection, along with gathering resources and sharing in conversations.  Three meetings, totalling approximately 10 hours, allowed for extended sharing, breaks for prayer, and deep listening to both others and the Holy Spirit. Through these days, the congregation was also provided a list of Scriptures (not exhaustive) that they may wish to read personally as well. That list is available HERE.

DECEMBER 2018:  Group members were tasked to privately compose summaries of what they sensed God was saying to and through the group thus far. Shortly before Christmas, the group determined to utilize the Test for Agreement with an agreed-upon statement as a point of understanding where things currently stood and what the next phase of discernment would look like. Responses varied from full agreement to agreement with reservation to disagreement but trust in the group/process. This was sufficient to know we’d traveled well together thus far and could chart out our next steps of discussion and discernment together. The statement we used for our Test for Agreement can be viewed HERE.

JANUARY 2019:  The Discernment Team created an array of opportunities through which the congregation could be updated about the discussion thus far. This was also an invitation to hear questions or comments, along with an invitation to pray with members of the Discernment Team. The first of these took place through a Panel Discussion on January 20. Beginning on January 27, a five-week Sunday school class continued to create a space for sharing and response. All of these sessions are recorded, and can be viewed by clicking the links below.

FEBRUARY 2019: In the midst of the class series above, the Discernment Team met to compile feedback that was being received and for updating how remaining opportunities for visits and prayer would play out. This phase of feedback was affirmed as important step toward determining appropriate forms of implementation in the future. Next meeting was scheduled for March.

An array of times have been arranged when church members can visit or pray with members of the Discernment Team. Those are being distributed in our church email each week. If you wish to set up a personal visit, the team’s contact info is available HERE.