Discerning the Path

As we travel along the way of Jesus, we need to develop our own aptitude for spiritual wayfinding. That’s what these conversations are about. As we are leaving the familiar, God is being revealed to us and through us in new ways.

Rod, Bryce, Caz, and Dani share what they’ve learned from their own journeys, using elements of earth, wind, fire, and water as metaphors for the steps along the way. Visit here to view them.


This is a brand new moment in time. That could be said of any moment, but in May of 2020 we are in the midst of a global pandemic that has quarantined us to our own living spaces, and we are unable to meet in groups for the foreseeable future. The country is facing a mental health crisis as a result of the increased isolation, unemployment, death, and trauma. Racial injustice, political drama and economic uncertainty intensify the loss. The whole world is experiencing major shifts exacerbated by climate change, food shortages, misanthropy, and perpetual war.

In the midst of all this, Circle of Hope is growing. We are not immune to the loss and uncertainty, but we are continuing to connect and share resources. Old friends have returned to fellowship and new ones are finding us. We have expanded our online presence. Being already organized as cells, convinced that discipleship is guided by the Holy Spirit person to person (and not dependent on a charismatic leader providing an entertaining experience in a particular location) has allowed us to dig deeper to access our faith and hope, and even share it more widely! We were never dependent on governmental or circumstantial conditions to legitimize us, so we have remained stable and responsive and generative in this time. Praise God!

In crisis, anxiety often causes people to overfunction as warrior or judge, but we want the artist and the explorer to help us see the possibilities for greater transformation in this moment. Let’s climb to the top of our regional “mountain” with the explorer and get the new lay of the land. The pandemic has changed the landscape. Let’s create a picture with the artist for how the Body of Christ functions and grows in this new landscape. Let’s see how God has equipped us to bring real hope here and now! That involves realizing our assets and mapping out a practical, flexible plan toward this new horizon.

There are new opportunities to envision. Maybe we imagine new ways of meeting in cells and worshiping as our region moves into different phases of quarantine. Maybe there are new ways for cells to be fed for expansion online right now. Maybe there are new church-planting mission teams and compassion teams to be formed based on the current new landscape, as old ones are put to rest or on hold. Maybe there are new good business ventures suited to the new landscape while the current ones are waiting or changing. Let’s dream big for making disciples of Jesus in this era! Decentralized meetings could give us greater reach into Center City, West Philly, the Northeast, the suburbs and beyond.

Proposed timeline:

We need the covenant members to help discern what questions we even need to ask for this mapping process because we are in uncharted territory, as a church and as the world. What follows is a long time to listen to the Holy Spirit as Jesus reveals himself in the Body.

  • May 25: (Warm up, head start) Long answer Google form (or some other equivalent) sent to all covenant members. What is the new spiritual landscape? What are the questions we need to be asking right now as the church? 
  • June 1: Pastors and Coordinators discern which questions to ask the cells.
  • June 8: We give Cell Leaders those two to three questions to take to their cells for discernment. They have two weeks to add their cells’ responses to another Google form. Coordinators shepherd this process and help their cells report by June 22. Here are the questions:

As a result of the pandemic (and when we come out of it), who are we as a church? We have been stretched in so many ways in a very short period of time. What do we hold on to and what do we change? 

God has desired creation to live in harmony and love since the beginning. We are grateful for this new burgeoning world-wide anti-racist movement in response to George Floyd’s murder. What are we going to do to keep the anti-racist movement going in deeper and wider ways? 

What else is God saying to us about what we are called to this year? What are you bringing to our common project with Jesus?

  • June 22: Leadership Team receives responses from cells. We spend the week reading and commenting. We are preparing for the meeting on June 29 because we will prioritize what rises to the top.
  • June 29: Leadership Team hosts a meeting on Zoom to refine cell discernment into goal categories. How do we move closer to specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound goals?
  • July 1 and 2 : Pastors design two retreat days to work together remotely and draft goals.
  • ⭐YOU ARE HERE⭐ July 3: Leadership Team and church receive draft map and pastors collect feedback. HERE IS THE MAP DRAFT.
  • July 13: Leadership Team and Church gets final draft from pastors.
  • July 20: Council to approve new Map & Budget.