Guidance – Discipline 2014-16
So what is Guidance in relation as a Discipline?
This Discipline is listed as “Guidance”, which really does not say much as a title. It could be called Corporate Guidance, since it is listed as a Corporate Discipline. We can begin by acknowledging the prime word of “Guide” as something that teaches, instructs, assists, supervises, leads or accompanies.
Couple the word “guide” with “Spiritual” and we can see that it may pertain to something to do with finding our way toward God, by being led, or taught something toward that end. There has also been teaching— good teaching— on the exceptional means of guidance: angels, visions, dreams, signs, and more. But we have heard little about how God leads through his people, the body of Christ. On that subject there is profound silence.
By stressing its communal side as a Corporate Discipline we may be able to ascertain just what this Discipline means. God does guide the individual richly and profoundly, but he also guides groups of people and can instruct the individual through the group experience.
Although Jesus was an outsider to his own people, being crucified beyond the city gates, some people embraced his rulership. And they became a gathered people. “Now the company of those who believed was of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection” (Acts 4: 32, 33). They became a fiery band of witnesses, declaring everywhere that Christ’s voice could be heard and his will obeyed.
Perhaps the most astonishing feature of that incendiary fellowship was their sense of corporate guidance. It was beautifully illustrated in the calling forth of Paul and Barnabas to tramp the length and breadth of the Roman Empire with the good news of the kingdom of God (Acts 13: 1– 3). Their call came when a number of people had been together over an extended period of time. It included the use of the Disciplines of prayer, fasting, and worship. Having become a prepared people, the call of God arose out of their corporate worship: “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13: 2).
I should stop right here and say this explains it all and leave it up to the reader to try to understand anything further.
Some examples of Corporate Guidance
Ok, let us say that we as a church have a problem that needs to be solved involving something involving the congregation. We could have a “meeting of clearness” whereas it would be called specifically to seek the mind of the Spirit for the question at hand. We could get together and announce the problem or situation and discuss it. We could take time to probe the issue, pray about it, and ask questions plus do some soul searching to find the answer. Maybe we will throw the issue away for the future as the answer. Hopefully the answer is confirmed by the prayers and interaction of the congregation as a whole.
In reality we ARE doing this already; using Corporate Guidance for answers. Let me quote a portion that our Church Council is working on to implement soon. “The congregational council will be a discerning body of spiritual leaders within the congregation. Instead of a maintenance board, the group will gather to not only discuss the business of the church, but also vision where we are going and how we are going to get there.” Notice the words “discerning”, “spiritual”, and “vision” mentioned in just that one sentence. One more sentence: “Decisions will be made through a consensus-based model of decision-making interspersed with prayerful moments.”
A recent guest at a recent a church council meeting stated, “You really have a different way of conducting your meeting affairs, it is very Spiritual” eluding to his more Roberts Rules of Order type business meetings he has at his Church, whereas ours was, as he said, more spiritually administered.
Scripture must pervade and penetrate all our thinking and acting. The one Spirit will never lead in opposition to the written Word that he inspired. There must always be the outward authority of Scripture as well as the inward authority of the Holy Spirit. In fact, Scripture itself is a form of corporate guidance. It is a way God speaks through the experience of the people of God. It is one aspect of “the communion of the saints.”
This Discipline is also complex to understand, but it really comes down to using the Spirit in getting advice, taking action, leading and instructing towards the goal of obtaining what the Spirit wants us to understand.
I would challenge those that are not sure of using the Disciplines to give them a go at it and see if something works. It does take time for something to work, so don’ be disappointed if nothing happens right away. Perhaps, you will have to “tweak” your attempts to get a reaction that you want. God is patient and maybe you should be also.
I can remember being frustrated when NOTHING OCCURRED right away. I wanted results NOW, and not later. I found that what I wanted in my time was not God’s Time.