In January and February 2022, we had teaching on the roles of leadership in a church, in particular, the role of Overseer (elder). (These talks can be found on the Connect YouTube channel under the title “Why Church?- A People Led By Servants”) At that time, Barry Hyland and I, as current Overseers told the church we were going to increase the number on the Overseers Team, and we called the church to pray and fast with that goal in mind.
In Connect CF, additional Overseers are chosen by existing Overseers, rather than by other selection methods such as voting, so Barry and I will now proceed with appointments. We consider the selection of additional Overseers to be a great responsibility, however, we trust that it can be said to and of all Overseers, what was said in Acts 20:18, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”
We believe that all major decisions should only be made after engaging in a thorough process of discernment, which is how we come to a position where we believe we “have the mind of Christ” on a specific decision or course of action. This process may not be an easy one, and may take considerable time, as we wait upon God for clarity.
Discerning God’s will combines both spiritual listening and sanctified reasoning to be able to see and understand the way forward. It involves the cognition of both heart and head; it is not all of one and none of the other. We must remember that such a process is not scientific, but rather is a relational exercise between us and God, and usually with other people in relationship. And we must admit that we don’t always get things right.
The ‘discernment process’ involves several interlocking stages, although these do not constitute a formula.
Abandonment of ourselves upon God in PRAYER.
The first stage is abandoning ourselves upon God in prayer, praying to the point of relinquishment, so that we become ‘neutral’, and our focus is totally on God’s will. We achieve this by following the pattern of prayer that Jesus taught His disciples.
Attention to the priority of Scripture
Secondly, there should be attention and adherence to the priorities and principles revealed in the Scriptures, so we ask, “Does the proposed decision and course of action positively fulfil the principles in the Bible? Does the proposed decision contradict any principles in the Bible?”
Alert to the prophetic voice of the Spirit.
The third stage requires that we must be alert to the prophetic voice of God, which, as the Bible illustrates, can be experienced in various ways. We must ask, “Have we listened for anything that God has said, or is saying, regarding the context of the decision and course of action?”
Awareness of the peace of God
The fourth stage is to be aware of the peace of God in two specific areas of the discernment process, namely, peace in the heart of those involved in praying about the decision and course of action, and peace between those who are ultimately responsible and accountable for the decision and course of action. As we move forward, we must ask “Where is the peace of God in this situation?”
Alignment with our purpose
The final stage in the process is to ensure that the decision(s) and course of action arrived at, are in alignment with what we already know to be God’s purpose for us; either individually or corporately.
Barry and I have been engaging in this discernment process leading to the appointment of additional Overseers, for a considerable time, along with Mark Ballantine, Chris Phillips, Nigel Jennings, and Keith Freeburn.
The plan is to now commission Mark Ballantine as an Overseer for this church. Meanwhile, we will continue the discernment process with Chris, Nigel and Keith, to help each one of them discern if they too, in this season and at this time, should accept the charge of being an Overseer for this church.
Please continue to pray with us on all these things.
In addition to the appointment of additional Overseers, we will also develop what we call Core Serve Team. This is a team of men and women, who serve together to enable us all to serve within Connect CF. To that end Matt Barton has recently joined Core Serve Team with primary responsibility for Facilities. This is a key role and Matt and other volunteers work very hard and should have our co-operation.
Finally, while we do think that there are some who should be identified in a local church or “church household” to guard, guide and govern as Overseers, we do not take the view that only certain people are ordained for ministry and others are not. We believe that all in Christ are appointed to serve. All those in Christ are donated in some way to the Body of Christ to enable the body to be whole, whether they are male, female, or whatever economic, educational, or religious background they may or may not have.
It should be the priority of the Overseers collectively, to order things in ways that enable all to flourish in using the gifts God has granted to us, for the service of His church.