Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Polity Matters (Part 2): If You Don't Like Congregational Meetings . . .

. . . then don't bother listening to Mark Dever's views on congregational rule.

Before you write me off, though, forget everything you've ever experienced in congregational meetings. What I'm talking about is much more than a compulsory reading of the minutes, your hum-drum financial report, and a couple rubber-stamp proposals referred to the congregation by the deacon board. Far from it. I'm talking about 2-3 hour meetings in which the pastors and the congregation talk openly about a vision for the upcoming year's ministry and how the budget needs to be designed to reflect those ministry priorities. I'm talking about grasping the concept that the budget reflects the spiritual objectives of the church. And then I'm talking about another 2-3 hour congregational meeting a month or so later to reconsider the budget that's been fleshed out since the last meeting, finally culminating in its ratification.

But then, they're used to it, since Dever typically preaches for 60-70 minutes. And then virtually no one leaves the building for a half hour after the service because they want to fellowship with each other. And they do have a Sunday evening service and a Wednesday evening service.

So if genuinely engaging the congregation in the church's decision-making process sounds aberrant or frightening, CHBC is real world evidence that it can be effective. (It's biblical, too, but then we always like pragmatic arguments.) It's what congregational rule used to be like before our congregations decided they liked the comfortable disengagement of deacon rule through representative democracy. Personally, I like the idea of church members demanding of one another a higher level of involvement and responsibility for the ministry direction of the church. More to come.

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