Georgia Church Turns Business Meetings into Wholesome Worship Experiences

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By J. GERALD HARRIS, The Christian Index

FUNSTON, GA – Do you want to turn your church business meeting into something refreshing and with deep spiritual meaning? Funston Baptist Church under the leadership of Pastor Ron Shiver has seen a beautiful metamorphosis occur with church business meetings often characterized by tension and division transformed into spiritual gatherings designed to improve the health of the church.

Churches should be a place of refuge, peace and love, but they have often been known for conflict and contention. Years ago Baptist pastor Jess Moody wrote a book called “A Drink at Joel’s Place.” Joel’s Place used to be a bar, and Moody suggests that some people may find more compassion and understanding and less conflict at the local pub than at church.

The theme song from the 1980s TV show “Cheers” (a Boston bar) seems to confirm this: “Sometimes you want to go where everyone knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. You want to go where you can see that our troubles are all the same…..”.

Dr. WA Criswell, the legendary pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, told the story of the church he led while a seminary student in Louisville, KY. The church held a business meeting to discuss the proposal to build a fence around the church cemetery. A member described by Dr. Criswell as born in the objective mood, the negative case stood up to protest the motion and shouted, “I still am!”

The facilitator wanted to know why he opposed the construction of a fence around the cemetery. He responded by saying, “Well, do you know anyone outside who wants to come into the cemetery; and do you know anyone in the graveyard who can come out.

Business meetings can often have their own set of challenges. It has been claimed that whenever you have three Baptists together you can have up to four or five different opinions. Most pastors have approached church conferences or business meetings with fear and concern.

Funston Baptist Church has had its share of business meetings characterized by vigorous debate and differing opinions. However, about ten years ago the tenor and tone of these meetings changed when they transformed from church conferences to solemn assemblies. In the Bible, solemn assemblies were special and sacred meetings held for various holy purposes.

Deacon Len Thompson commented, “For years, monthly deacon meetings were like ‘board of directors’ meetings focusing primarily on finances and facilities. On occasion, the correction or reprimand of the “hired person” was the main topic of discussion. Monthly business meetings were just that – business. Our Solemn Assemblies are completely different from our old business meetings. These monthly meetings are worship services where we praise God and sincerely seek His will in all matters affecting the life of the church.

Funston pastor Ron Shiver explained, “The root of our problem was that many people in our congregation did not understand what it meant to be a spiritually healthy church member. One member said, “We win, but we don’t retain members. »

The decision was made to set a standard for new members of the church. However, lay church leaders realized that it was unfair to set a standard of spirituality for new members and not expect the same from those who had been members for years.

A long-range planning committee has been appointed, and they have expressed their desire to set the same benchmark of commitment and discipleship for all members. New standards have been set for deacons in the church. The new specifications were incorporated into the church’s constitution and bylaws, presented to the church, and passed at one of the solemn assemblies.

For about ten years, solemn assemblies have been held on the last Sunday evening of the month. During the solemn assembly, there are songs of confession and prayers of confession. Those present recite the old covenant of the church which states: “We therefore pledge ourselves, by the help of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; strive for the advancement of the Church in knowledge, holiness, and comfort. . . be fair in our relationships, faithful in our commitments and exemplary in our conduct; to avoid all gossip, slander and excessive anger. . . watch over one another in brotherly love; remember each other in prayer. . . being slow to be offended, but always ready for reconciliation.

The solemn assembly also includes various scripture readings, ministry reports and prayers for the Ryan Davis family serving as international missionaries and Dennis and Sandy Boatright, who are planting a church in Elkton, Virginia.

Church moderator Stacy Beacham, who is also a deacon, added, “By incorporating the church conference into a solemn service/meeting, I believe that the attention of the members to the business of the church is become more intentional. By that, I mean the business is not an afterthought. Before we transformed the business meeting into a solemn assembly, the conference was held after the evening service.

“I’m sure there were members who weren’t able to worship effectively because they were preoccupied with the business meeting to follow. Now our church business is worship. While there may be issues that members are deeply concerned about, making it a worship experience creates a more peaceful atmosphere for service.

“Instead of calling for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote, we say, ‘With the information you have, if you think it is God’s will that we __________, please say ‘I’. I believe it removes some of the personal feelings about a problem and leads us to seek God’s guidance in even the smallest elements.

Pastor Shiver commented, “The new approach to our business meetings has made a huge difference in the life and spirit of our church. The attitude of the church is different, and the fellowship is sweeter

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