I love church meetings. I believe I am among a rare few. As a member in good standing in a Baptist church, we take our annual meeting very seriously. We ensure participation by beginning with food. There isn’t much that can compare to a full spread in the basement of a Baptist church on Sunday afternoon. It is good to feed people before we talk about hard things.
Our normally relaxed congregation goes through the very formal process of issuing a warrant (posted on the door for two weeks prior) and ensuring we have a parliamentarian to handle any challenges to Robert’s Rules. We review the prior year’s activities, all the babies and the funerals. We approve the record of baptism and church events. The annual report lists off the highlights of the previous year with a narrative including the Elders, the flower committee, and the nursery. We review last years spending and approve the next.
Threaded throughout this process are the values and faith of this group of people. This is a moment when we lay out a vision for the future and define our priorities. There is a bit of theater in the production, but it reminds me that this matters. The way we live together, the work we chose to fund, and the priorities of focus matter.
This process matters as well. The leadership may recommend, but the whole church membership must agree. We don’t always. There is room for questions to be asked, concerns to be raised. One member’s concern can be appreciated by all. There are questions and good discussion. There is real wrestling, between us, and sometimes in us. But I’ve never seen it go bad. As much as I have feared chaos in the days and weeks moving toward a hard conversation… I’ve never seen it happen. My experience of church meetings continues to be one of good will, honest dialogue, and respectful conversations.
As we walked out of the sanctuary and headed toward the football game last Sunday, we stopped to exchange pleasantries and moments of connection with folks with whom we had recently disagreed. It is one of the joys of this life. The ability to disagree and love still. We will continue to wrestle with hard questions. Our personalities and perspectives span the spectrum. While we share a faith and a sanctuary, our opinions are as diverse as our experiences. I still believe we are better together. Working it out week by week, annual meeting by annual meeting. Growing together in our faith.
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV