Committing to being with family with and for other people is a big step, and it should not be taken lightly. Brothers will discern their call for a minumim of four years to gain confidence about God’s call on their life. Our process is divided into three stages punctuated by increasingly stepping into the Commitments of the Nashville Family of Brothers.
Those interested in joining the Family will first explore what we’re about. Exploration can include joining the brothers for prayer and meals, living in the monastery temporarily, and serving with us in the community. Six months before taking next steps, an individual interested in the Family will begin meeting with a discernment director to explore if making a one-year commitment is the right step for him.
An individual begins the formal discernment process by making a one-year commitment to the Nashville Family of Brothers. During the stage of discernment that follows, individuals will live into the commitments and rhythms of the Family, including living in the monastery. Individuals will continue meeting with their discernment director to develop their capacity to discern, deepen their theological appreciation of marriage and vocational singleness, and study the Family’s Community Covenant.
If an individual discerns that he is called to join the Nashville Family of Brothers during his stage of discernment, he will enter into the stage of confirmation by making a three-year commitment. During this stage, individuals will seek to confirm that God is indeed calling them to make a final commitment. Over these three years, the individual will participate in the full rhythms of the Family and prepare to make a final commitment
Once the individual has confirmed with confidence that God has called him to join the Nashville Family of Brothers, the individual makes a final commitment to the Family as described in Our Commitments.
During Our Process, prospective brothers will gather the following tools to discern their call:
Before we start discerning any specific questions, we need to develop ”spiritual muscles” for general discernment. Prospective brothers will hear how to bring a question before God, consider Scripture, consider practical aspects of their question, seek advice from spiritual mentors, arrive at a potential conclusion, hold that conclusion before God, seek confirmation through small steps, and move forward with confidence.
Discernment directors will ensure that prospective brothers have a healthy theology of both marriage and vocational singleness. Plus, we will help individuals remove any emotional barriers to open-handedly offering this decision to God. Perhaps the individual has been affected by the idol of romance or divorce in the family.
We should let the mission we feel called to help inform our vocation. Does the person feel called to a special mission, a difficult ministry, or a life of contemplation or study? Or does the individual feel particularly called to raise children for God as their primary kingdom work?
1 Corinthians 7:32-35 communicates that the practical purpose of vocational singleness is to use that freedom from a spouse and raising children to fully commit oneself to the work of the Church. And in particular, to work parents couldn’t do. So if we feel called to a special mission, a difficult ministry, a life of contemplation or study, or monastic life, perhaps that means that we are called to vocational singleness.
We can observe our present and past circumstances to see if they might suggest we are called to vocational singleness or marriage. Have a string of experiences suggested that God might prefer the person to commit to singleness for the sake of the kingdom? Or the contrary?
The individual should seek support from his church in the discernment process. Pastors, parents, mentors, and friends can provide an outside perspective in the discernment process.