Reflections 10/5/14

Discernment is one of those words I learned in seminary—difficult to define but very powerful in its practice. It is a form of listening for what is most sacred, what is at the heart of things, what--underneath all our individual concerns, fears, and desires--connects us to what matters most and calls upon us to live out our vision, our hope, our values, and our faith.

Discernment is definitely something for us to consider as we wrestle with questions big and small regarding our resources, our time, and our commitments. These questions can be about specific things: for example, the building, staffing, programs, or outreach. But they are connected to one another in ways we might not see at first glance. The Reverend Sue Phillips, the Lead for the New England Regional UUA Field Staff, created a set of questions for discernment around programs and projects.

MISSION: to what extent does this effort align with our mission? Does it help us do what we say we are about? Does it lead us in the direction we feel called to move?

CAPACITY: To what extent do we have the capacity (time, money, space, personnel, equipment, etc.) to pull off this effort?

WILL: Given who we expect will be involved, do we have the will we need to pull this off? If no one really feels like doing it, it will not happen.

COMPETENCE: Do we have the skills/training/expertise to pull this off? Do we need to find training/support to give us the skills to make this possible? Do we have the time to do it?

IMPACT: How likely are we to make a meaningful mission by taking on this effort? How do we measure the impact? How great/broad/deep an impact is required to say yes?

It is so easy to want to do everything, or to think that we should do everything, whether as a congregation or within a committee or group. Taking time to listen to what emerges from these questions can help discern how what we want to do aligns with what we actually can do, and how reflective it is of who we are and the values we claim.

In faith,

Contact Info

First Parish Church
2 Westford St
Chelmsford MA 01824