How Can I Serve My Church Family for Congregational Meetings?
Have you ever thought about this question? Most of the time, when we hear about a church “business” meeting we get a lump in our throat, or we feel this pit in our stomach tighten. But, it really doesn’t have to be this way. We are people who are trusting in the Great Shepherd, right? So, theoretically, what identifies us and unites us is Jesus and His glorious Gospel! This simply means the most important thing is the glory of our Savior, not the glory of my own thoughts, ideas, or likes or dislikes. So, how can we serve each other for Congregational Meetings?
In our context we usually announce one of three meetings for the greater congregation:
Congregational Meeting - This is a meeting for the entire congregation (members and prospective members). Usually there are at least two a year. One is in March to vote on leadership (elders and deacons) for the coming year. The other is in April to vote on the budget for the coming year. There can be more meetings for votes on other things as they are deemed necessary.
Family Meeting - This is a meeting typically where no vote will be called for but we will discuss issues pertaining to the church as a family. It can include all kinds of necessary chats about procedures, ideas, initiatives put forth by leadership, and any followship issues that need to be discussed and thought through. These are helpful and necessary meetings and really should be attended by any and all members or perspective members.
Members Meeting - This is a meeting for members only. These meetings are designed for members to be alerted to specific needs and opportunities within the membership. These are also very important meetings where all members should attend. Membership has many privileges and it also has some very important responsibilities. Historically, members always looked on “voting” as a way being a good member, but there are far more things that mere voting for a member. This is what makes these meetings so helpful and necessary.
So, how can you serve your church family in anticipation for these meetings?
Start with just planning on being there! Yes, your role is vital. Just be there and care for others. Your presence sends a message that the church is your priority. It tells others they should think it is important too! Be there!
Be a learner. If there is a handout (like for a budget or information for discussion) get the handout, read it and if you have questions, ask. Ask the questions in advance, especially if there is a need for a vote. Don’t wait to get your question answered at the time of the vote. If your point is important and you think the leadership missed something, care about the leadership and the followship by asking the question early so if something needs to change, it can be attended to properly and efficiently. If it is something that you just can’t figure out, become a learner and learn all you can about why the leadership is making the recommendation!
Be helpful if you disagree. It may be you just disagree with the recommendation. If you do, care to articulate your disagreement in a way that is helpful. You have the right to vote “no” but it is very helpful if you can discuss why you sense you need to vote no so leadership can consider your point. We recognize sometimes it is just a matter of opinion and it is not a “hill we need to die on!” In the past, members felt like voting is “control” or “having a say on things.” The difficulty with thinking in this manner seems to accent the wrong syllable. We vote on things for accountability and participation. Often in a vote there may be a couple or even several votes of “no” on a particular issue and yet no one asked questions or even explained why they voted “no.” If there is reason enough to vote “no” it would be helpful to all if there was an explanation along with the vote so leadership would be attuned to the reasons. It may be something very important leadership needs to be aware of and while it may not change the recommendation, it is still unifying to know why the recommendation was rejected. Be helpful if you disagree!
Be encouraging to all! Leadership is trying to lead! Followship is trying to follow. Be encouraging to both. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in politics! It can never be about “who is right” but it must always be about “what is right!” Gossip can destroy unity and simply doesn't serve God or His people. Serving people was what Jesus did in His life and in His death. What an enormous encouragement it was for all of us to be served by the Savior.
The church belongs to our Savior. Take good care of it! Serve well in it! Learn to love every part of it. Participate in the family of the very people Christ gave His life for!