It’s December, so we can expect in our churches…
The most awesome performance of Away in Manger by the cutest 2-3 year-olds.
Flexing our lungs as we sing the Gloria from Angels We Have Heard on High.
Reading from Matthew and Luke the record of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.
Sermons from our pastors connecting the babe in the manger to the savior on his cross.
Annual meetings where we address the budget of the church and the elected officers in the church.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
For our church my hope is our annual meeting contributes to our unity as we come together to discuss the future and our commitment to the ministry of Jesus in the year to come. Money is a part of that future, and the safest place to talk about money should be a local church where Jesus Christ is Lord.
Money conversations in the church can be hard. Like time, money is finite resource. Like time, we spend money only once and then it is gone. Like time, we are responsible to God for our stewardship of the money we possess. Like our use of time, our use of money is subject to opinions within the church.
Which ministry gets more money? Which ministry can be successful with less money? Which maintenance project must take place this year? Which maintenance project can be put off for another year or so? How do we address the needs of staff members within the legitimate constraints and limitations of our resources? What do we set aside for future needs and unanticipated expenses?
In the wisdom of God he has chosen to fund local churches through the generous giving of God’s people. While he could have provided for every church a money tree the church cared for and cultivated on its property, he has not. Instead, he desires the church to reflect his generosity (2 Corinthians 9) in their own giving. We look like God who gave sacrificially and cheerfully in the giving of his son when we give sacrificially and cheerfully to support the work of the local church of which we are members.
The money conversation at the annual meeting in our churches is much more than a discussion about how to spend our money. The money conversation becomes a conversation about what part each of us will play in the provision of the money the church proposes to spend. You work hard to acquire your money, and you want to see your money used of the Lord to fulfill eternal purposes.
There is no shortage of organizations to which you can give away your money. You give it to the work of your local church because you are a member of that church who believes in the mission of the church and its pursuit in following the leadership of Jesus.
Over the decades and centuries of congregational meetings, less than Christlike communication raised the decibel level in the place normally reserved for worship. I suppose there were times when the emotion rightly fell under the banner of “righteous indignation,” but I suspect more often than not the divisive banter was a failure to be of the same mind in Christ and to esteem others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:1-5).
Maybe it would be helpful for us to read Philippians 2:1-11 or 1 Corinthians 13 before we meet to discuss the business of the church.
We are not a social club nor a local non-profit, we are the church of Jesus Christ, and our business meetings should reflect the personality and character of our leader, Jesus Christ.
I hope we Christians can approach our annual meetings with a prayerful disposition that builds the unity of the church, that honors the name of Jesus, and that causes all of us to leave the meeting happy to have been together with our church family.
We better because in just a few days we will sing together, O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant.
As always I welcome your feedback and any suggestions you might have for an upcoming Lunchtime Musing.