April 7, 2021
The housing market is crazy right now. If you are trying to buy a home, you feel the pressure of having to decide under duress, because if you don’t put in an offer in a hurry, someone else will. But, that leads to some people not really considering everything they need to about the house. If you were counseling homebuyers, you wouldn’t recommend they buy a home without thoroughly examining it. Don’t buy a house because the rooms are painted in tones you like if the foundation is cracked. You can always repaint, but fixing a foundation is another matter.
The same thing is true when considering a church. There are some more surface issues, such as building appearance, service time, win-loss record of the softball team (that was a joke), and other things that are simply conveniences, none of which are all that important. The important things need to be looked at. One of the important things is the polity of the church. Who makes the decisions? How is the congregation involved in that? Are they involved in that? This may not matter to you in the first month, but it will at some point.
I realize now how important polity is to the long-term integrity and unity of a congregation. Members' Meetings are not a bother, a formality, or a necessary evil. Oh, no! Members' Meetings are an opportunity for the church to live out part of its mission in making and keeping promises to one another, learning, engaging, and reaffirming our commitment to our mission. Sometimes we have to address challenges together. Sometimes we get to address opportunities.
Our church is led by the Elders, but it is ruled by the congregation. The Elders are elected by the congregation and they report back to the congregation. The Elders exercise the authority that the congregation has vested in them. Our constitution articulates the nature of the promises that we make to one another, and it serves us well. Therefore, the Elders, Finance Team, and Missions Team do not feel restrained by our policies, but excited by them. The leadership is not permitted to do certain things without congregational involvement and approval, and they don’t want to! We are a church family. If there is something that we ought to do, we all need to know about it, share in it, learn about it, and agree with it. Can it be a bit cumbersome to post motions, get a quorum, have a meeting, answer questions, and vote? Sure, but it is SO worth it because that way, you actually know what is going on. Of course, that assumes that you come to the Members' Meeting.
All of that to say this: In our last Members' Meeting, we reviewed the financial reports from 2020, and we have a surplus of funds. The extra funds came from your faithful giving, the PPP, and from the fact that, due to the lockdown, some of our expenses were less than what we anticipated. So, what should we do with the extra funds? Can the Elders just tell the Finance Team what to do? Can the Finance Team just make the call? No. Even if they could, they wouldn’t want to because it would miss an opportunity to involve you, inform you, and help you gain more trust and understanding. In our next Members' Meeting, we are going to be voting on a recommendation for how we should use the surplus funds from the previous year. The recommendation itself will be emailed to you later this week so that you have time to look it over. Many of the recommendations came from the congregation, from private conversations, and small group discussions, so it is really satisfying to be able to bring these back as a motion. The heart of it is this: You are a valued member of the church, and your vote matters because you matter. We want you to share in the vision and the mission of this church because God has called us to be on the greatest mission in the universe.
Grace and peace,
Sunday’s Text: 2 Peter 1:3-4