Sunday, January 25, 2009

Congregational Annual Meetings on Sunday

This was number 28, give or take a couple special ones. What I'm talking about is the Annual Meeting of a congregation. For Covenant Churches, that have congregational polity, it is a time of high energy, conflict, boredom or joy. Today's annual meeting was one of the latter; a spilling over from the worship of the morning into the deliberations of the afternoon with a chili-cook-off by the student ministries in between. Those who know me, realize that I am about to admit being wrong (I hate that!). I have argued, basically unsuccessfully for years about NOT having an annual meeting or business meeting on Sundays. Sabbath rest and days devoted to worship and non-work are too few. When we take a Sunday and then re-gather for the nitty gritty of budget deliberations and personnel issues, ministry evaluations and whatever the congregation wants to talk about, it can be ugly. Since I've been through 28 of these, there have been a number of train-wrecks over the years, where harsh things were said and relationships wounded. It's been a time that staff could fear because everything we make is exposed to "public" scrutiny. Often the staff has been invited out of the room for the compensation portion, then invited back in when it was over.
But over the years in both Minneapolis and Santa Barbara, our meetings have been smooth and sweet. Today's was exceptional in this brutal economic climate (we spent under budget and still came in with a deficit that had to be met). What made it sweet was the preparation driven by the church chairman. For months the staff worked intimately with the budget committee to bring a visionary and realistic budget to the congregation. We worked and prayed over these numbers and columns many, many times. So when the incoming Treasurer presented the budget, he did so with such transparency and accuracy, there was hardly a ripple, but deep comments of appreciation and approval. The chairman linked what happened in worship with what we were doing here in the meeting with song and story and gratitude from him to the congregation.
I'm not sure that would have all happened had I won my argument for a Tuesday night meeting. Few people would have showed up (vs the semi-filled sanctuary this afternoon) and we would not have been coming out of worship, refreshed from a meal and happy with our many conversations with friends. So, this will be a battle I'm not fighting any more because it worked so well today. What's that about old dogs?


At 10:35 AM , Blogger drgtjustwondering said...

You ain't no old dog. Thanks for flexing and I'm glad you thought it worked - I thought so, too. Travel well today.


At 11:51 AM , Blogger Lukester said...

The question over Sabbath still needs to be addressed. What would it mean if your congregation did just violate Sabbath? What does it mean to violate Sabbath? Is this a black and white issue? What was the discussion within the staff and congregation over this? Can it be justified simply because it is easier, more favorably received, etc?

What does this mean for meetings congregations hold in general? Those meetings not held after corporate worship, are we doing something wrong by not having intentional worship as part of the meeting? Is this a problem of not understanding what worship is?

At 11:14 PM , Blogger mike said...

When we do the work of the Lord are we at work or at worship? Do the worship team, ushers, pastor violate Sabbath when leading worship? Blessed fellowship, loved ones working together with family related only by the blood of Christ. Pretty sweet! A true joy to be on staff at a place worshipers gather with one another around food and business like extended family sharing a common Love! ~peace


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