Tag Archives: Church Life

Church Business Meetings … Ughh?

iYou hear the stories. You may have sat through a few that got … spirited. You may have been the one that got … spirited. Maybe you see it on the church calendar and decide to take that weekend off from church. What is it that makes people dread these church meetings of business and reports?

We had our quarterly meeting this past Sunday night. It was pretty much uneventful if one was looking for fireworks. But it was necessary. Being every church is autonomous, being that pastors don’t need to be making all the decisions, and being that churches (at least at this size of membership) need to encourage membership involvement and ownership – an occasional such gathering is healthy. Or should be.

Okay, I blew one of Robert’s rules this time. Age? Expediency? Ignorance? I claim all three. But the correction came privately and after the meeting … I like that and appreciate that.

My father, veteran pastor of 4 decades, one said church business meetings should be conducted as if they were held in the local mall with spectators watching … and they should see love, excitement, and respect between members.

What a great way to have business meetings. Here are some reasons Thom Rainer gave for business meeting being eliminated in many churches: they attract negative attitudes and negative members who often push out positive members, it leads to micromanaging, Millennials abhor contention, and it can give too much attention to naysayers (even if they are only a small fraction of membership).

So why do we have them?

  • We are to run churches without confusion. Business meetings help inform and should smoothly expedite ministries of the church.
  • We are to be a church that encourages involvement. Business meetings should allow engagement and promote an ownership to ministries.
  • We are to be a family that values everyone.
  • They can be great way to show respect and unity, even in, or especially in, scenarios of disagreements.
  • It can be a great way to share visions and passions of leadership. Sunday mornings (or whenever your worship times are) are great for this too, but business meetings can go deeper and broader – and cast the vision in a different setting.

I realize they can be overdone, over emphasized, and under-planned. But a well planned, and Spirited meeting (note the S not a s) is something to look forward to.

So, let’s call this meeting to order.


About our meeting this past Sunday. We reported God blessing in members’ stewardship, building debt coming down, many members getting involved (Nominating report), new members, and more. We even voted to begin an ongoing support of Gabe King in his new ministry role with Life Action … sweet.

See … God is good, all the time … even in business meetings.

Don’t Friend Anybody, Ever … or Not

Making friends in an online community just ain’t the same. Neither is church!

He was a person who was older than me. He shared from his heart with confidence and fervor. And he told the group point blank … never make friends there – never ever. Maybe he wasn’t so much older then me, but I know I act more childish, oops, I mean childlike. But his directness caught me off guard.

Let me give some context. I was at a recent forum with a group of pastors. They asked if pastors should have friendships in the church at which they serve. It was to this question he was adamant.

But I wonder if we create this culture of separation in so many places that prohibits us from truly reaching out and making relational connections to those right around us? It’s not a vilification, though that happens in many places (think Washington). It’s not a taking a light view of the call, though people do that as well. Could it be pride? Fear? Busyness? Or just the only way one knows?

Now I’m not a snuggly, huggly, make friends quick type of guy anyway. Growing up, I moved around a lot and did not make many long term friendships. I blame my family’s lifestyle. (Thanks dad, I guess I need therapy … jk, I’m fine. I hope I didn’t pass this on to my legacy … sorry Calvin). But I think we all need each other, we need to get along, and we need to make an effort to work together.

I once picked up a book, They Smell Like Sheep, and it was written for pastors. I thought it was going to be leadership tricks to direct, shape, and make the sheep (aka congregation) to do what you want. How to overcome the sheep’s laziness, smelliness , graziness, and messiness (and yes, I made those words up). But it was not about these things. I was ticked off. It was about me, the pastor … how I was supposed to spend so much time and abide in the lives of the sheep that … that, I begin to smell like the sheep.

Maybe we all need a Dale Carnegie class (win friends and influence people). Jim Dennison wrote a great article today. Worth the read if you want a bit more on getting along with people in today’s divided culture. (Go here). Whether this dilemma is to be seen as pastor-flock, or as any person to any person, these few points might help. So, what will it take?

– hang out with people. Not just those like you, but different beliefs, different cultures, different styles. The shepherds lived with the sheep. You don’t have to forsake friendships of like minded people, but don’t wall yourself off from those different.

– know about the people. The Good Shepherd knows His sheep. Parents, get to know your kids music, preferences, and ideology. This is not about compromise. It helps in communication so that you know where each other is coming from. It will also let them know you care. Such the next point …

– show you love and care for them. Most don’t care about what you know till they know that you care. Bless those who persecute you, treat those who might vilify you with congeniality. As one author stated, no one has ever been hated into agreement.

– think more of them, then you do of yourself. I’m getting all Biblical on ya now. A little Pauline all up in your biz. A ‘stepping on my toes preach’ moment. Philippians 2.3.

So with this I close. Let’s be better at connecting; and maybe, just maybe, others will see the message of the Gospel in the way we live and the way we make friends.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Who’s That Peeking Through My Window?

eyes

The other day, at my fav Appomattox breakfast spot – Granny Bee’s – I was talking to one of the morning regulars who said he needed to run by and work on some plumbing. at my house/parsonage. Ned S had contacted him about a slow draining tub. I said this was great, when should I be there to let him in. He said he had a key. Let me say that again, he said he already had a key. I responded with the question, “Does everybody in this town have a key to my house?” He said probably. Then we laughed.

Now, I know that everybody does not have key. But there is something about privacy, or lack there of, here in this little community. Maybe it is because everybody knows everybody – or that many are related by birth or marriage – or that’s may just be the way heartland America is. I have no issue for I truly have nothing to hide. Well, mostly nothing. I am not super excited if people are found peeking through my windows. But if you were to look at me, I know you will quickly discover I am messed up. I have a messy life … not in a ‘socks on the floor’ type messy (though Lisa is more the OCD one on cleanliness in our house). But my blog is titled Muddy Shoes – and my shoes, your shoes, my life, and your life gets messy. Do we want people to see that or do we try to hide who we really are?

Maybe being in Dallas and Richmond and other metropolitan areas has made me more inclined to being private. I barely knew my neighbors and they were just a few feet away at the apartment complexes.

I once read an article (long ago, don’t know where, don’t ask me to find it) that architecture was changing when it comes to home preferences. Front porches were disappearing and bathrooms are getting bigger. Fences are more for privacy than animal control.

When you hide in your residence, close your blinds to the world, and never interact – how can you help?
How can others know when you need help?

But you know, I kind of like it when everybody knows each other, shows concern for each other, and shares life together. The best place that should be seen is the local church. That should be the way church operates. Not an in your face, nosy, intrusive, or pushy way – but truly concerned and interested. The early church helped those in need. When you hide in your residence, close your blinds to the world, and never interact – how can you help? How can others know when you need help?

People often visit churches and think – Wow, these people have it all together … Or – I could never fit in there, for I feel too messed up. When we really get to know each other, drop the masks and let people in to our real world, we see we need each other.
Privacy can be healthy in some regards, but it can be unhealthy too.

For the next couple of days, I want to explore this. I will share some of my thoughts on privacy in our culture versus our deep desire for connection. Where does technology come in? Where do we draw a line? As I ponder these issues, I invite you back.

See you tomorrow – but online, not peering through your windows. Or will I be?

What Comes Next?

((OOPS – did not push post – this is was for 4.26.  Thanks))

Today was a weird day. I started second job. That wasn’t what was weird. It was getting the shirt, hat, and rest of outfit. Then after putting them on, I looked at myself in the mirror and sighed. I looked like a 55 year old teenager starting his first job. The job itself is not the issue. I love helping others, I am a very natural servant (I seem to be Calvin’s personal servant acting at most every whim), and I relate well with people for all walks of life. I am part of the hospitality team, and that is a very Biblical principle we all should practice more of. And I do not have to hug anyone, so that is a positive note.

The founder set a tremendous philosophy and company motto. “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact” with the company. This international company has a philosophy that most companies would flee from, or even attack.

Now, let me give a lesson I learned just from day one. They have an excellent pattern to integrate someone in to the company culture, to connect each employee to a deeper level within the team. And let me connect this to how a church can learn from it.

The church needs to invest in helping everyone connect to the family, connect to service, and connect to a small/cell group where they can walk along together on their journey. They have a person that is responsible for the process of connection – like a connections pastor or next step minister. This person invests in knowing each step, each area of service, and how each person can fit within the institution. The process includes getting to know each person’s story, sharing the vision, and than teaching basic principles and methods. It also includes introducing the new guy to everyone possible. Building relationships is key – bonding with others aids in the process.

  • Have  a process in place
  • Have a main contact person
  • Be intentional
  • Be visible
  • It’s about relationships – not numbers
  • This is just the first of many steps to deeper relationships – an entry point

There is discipleship, accountability, and sharpening one’s skills to be the best they can be. There is teamwork and sharing the load. There is feedback and watching out for each other.

In just one day there is a process and a plan to connect each person to the next steps in their journey. If a church would just put into place the priority of connecting people, then I believe they would be a stronger church family.

I realize this is a basic blog. but it does teach us to look everywhere to glean ways for each of us to be better at what God desires.

Tomorrow – A follow up to the NFL Draft: Day One.

Marching to Our Doors! Are You Ready?

It is happening. Thousands are marching. They are headed toward the US Border. People want to get into our country. Can you blame them? We have problems for sure, but I still believe we are blessed beyond measure, and who wouldn’t want some of this. I have read much about this caravan, and yet I am not sure how much to believe. I also understand the government is sending in the National Guard to patrol our borders. And politicians, news stations, and more are getting all riled up. Should we let them in? Should we turn them away? What should be our response?

Yesterday, I interviewed for a second job, and I deeply appreciate the climate they try to develop for their guests. They want people to come in, hang out, bring friends, and make it welcoming and comfortable. And in the years that I have been to their establishments, I have always felt that way.  In my circle of influence – the church world – I can say most churches also strive to be friendly and welcoming. Unfortunately some of the churches I go to have not always been so inviting. And since the church rarely has thousands of non-attenders marching to our doors, we should be doing everything we can to be welcoming. For two years, during this wonderful time of transition I find myself, I have gone to many different churches and have had a wide variety of responses. Most are welcoming and cordial, but a few experiences could easily turn away guests.
For the first time in fifty years, I had someone say I was in their seat – and Lisa and I should move. It was rather humorous and I got it. But there were many occasions that weren’t. (Not going to list them, this is not about whining). Thom Rainer had a blog about ten things that turn away guests – and then another one about ten more reasons – and so on. Some items were ‘stand up and greet times’ (the #1 item, go figure), ‘unclean/unsafe children’s area’, ‘poor signage’, ‘bad/boring service’, and yep, ‘telling them you’re in their seat.’  If you see these, you need to get all Barney Fife on ‘em and “Nip it, Nip it in the bud!”

But let’s make this positive. Let me share and adapt a bit from what Leonard Sweet said in “The Gospel According to Starbucks.” (disclaimer – the Greatness of the Gospel is better than any business paradigm, but this is not about the Gospel but about how we as a church can be welcoming and inviting to those to whom we have a responsibility to share the Gospel in the most clear and inviting way possible without compromise.)

Get EPIC – Experience, from parking lot to exit and everything in between, let others experience the love, kindness, and grace of God from His followers.

Get EPIC – Participation, get people involved in a way that connects and shows how we love God in heart, soul, mind, and strength. Invite all to get immersed in the greatness of God’s gospel.

Get EPIC – Image Rich. Using the arts, illustrations, music, stained glass, anything to help the message of the Gospel get across. As a kid, I remember the flannel graphs, the Bible pictures, the music, and not so much the sermons (sorry dad). And I am sure Calvin is the same (I had to throw this in so he would read the whole blog).

Get EPIC – Connecting. Isn’t the Gospel about reconnecting the broken relationship with God through the act of love seen at Calvary? Isn’t fellowship about connecting? If there is anything I miss since I left Virginia, it is the community, the connection with my family and friends.

It’s happening. People are coming. They may not be marching, but people will enter the circle of influence of our church. They are seeking something. And we who know and have experienced the greatness of God’s grace – may we be prepared, may we create an environment where every person can have an epic experience of that grace. Are you turning them away (even unintentionally)?

OR … will you be ready to welcome them with love and open arms? Well, what about it?

post script – Rainer’s article