Business Meetings gone Bad

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Dr. Bob, Dec 6, 2005.

  1. Dr. Bob

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    From "Leadership" (1997) by Jim Carpenter & Mike Wagner comes this humor. BUT I am asking (after chuckling over the humor) how YOU have handled some "tough times" at Business Meetings.

    TOP 10 SIGNS OF A BAD CHURCH BUSINESS MEETING

    10. The church loudmouth rises to his feet and announces dramatically, "I can no longer remain silent..."

    9. Mike Wallace and the 60 Minutes crew are there to film it.

    8. Your picture ends up on a milk carton.

    7. People arrive at the meeting, clutching copies of books about "spiritual abuse."

    6. The church constitution suddenly becomes revered as the most important legal document since the Magna Carta.

    5. The little, blue-haired lady who's in charge of the nursery pounds the lectern with her shoe and screams, "We will bury you!"

    4. The next day your spouse books a one-way flight out of state and doesn't invite you to come along.

    3. Your neighbors hear about the meeting on their police scanner.

    2. You're asked to try on a pair of bloody gloves.

    1. In the middle of the meeting people begin referring to you as "our former pastor."
     
  2. Dr. Bob

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    I'll start. We did have a meeting of the Deacons over disciplining a member for adultery. He was asked to come and got a call from his wife that he was bringing a gun to kill the pastor!

    Two godly deacons "hid me" out at a nearby Baptist Camp and eventually the man was found and had cooled down.

    When we held the church business meeting for full discipline, everyone was very worried every time the door opened. He never showed.

    Thankfully.
     
  3. Hope of Glory

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    Many years ago, I had the "pleasure" of playing the part of a bouncer. Why? Because it became a need through no fault of the pastor of that church. Why me? Well... I'm huge; big; McLarge. No physical force was necessary, thankfully. (It's amazing how quickly you can cool down hotheads when you're the size of two of them put together.)
     
  4. pinoybaptist

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    You can also add:

    A member and his wife who are rarely in church suddenly shows up.
     
  5. Pastor Larry

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    This brings up an interesting question that more churches need to consider: Why are they members if they are rarely in church?

    We had a problem with that 20 years ago or so and the constitution was changed to require active membership (basically weekly attendance) in order to have speaking and voting eligibility. We are getting ready to change it again. If you don't come (on average) at least once a week for three consecutive months, you are ineligible to vote and speak at a business meeting. To be eligible for voice and vote at a business meeting, you have to have attended 13 or the past 39 services and 4 of the past 12. That is not a high bar at all. It basically means that the church will be run by those who care enough about it to faithfully show up. (There are exceptions for those who becasue of medical reasons, or work, or the like, cannot meet the requirements.)

    If you do not come at all for three months, you are on probation and at the next annual meeting you will be removed with prejudice unless you start coming again.

    Membership needs to mean something.

    These business meetings can get really ugly in unspiritual people. We are blessed here that in my seven years, we have had one "no" vote at a business meeting. Some of that is due to the way we bring business before the church. Someone asked me once how I decided what to vote on. My answer was simple: We vote on things I can win. If I don't think the vote will go my way, I won't bring it up. We will handle it another way. The reason is to preserve unity in the direction of the church.
     
  6. bapmom

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    A church I went to when I was in high school had a very bad situation going on which came to a head in a business meeting. People were yelling at the pastor, and the poor man eventually just left the church.

    btw, the things they were fighting about were an issue that, IMO, the pastor was in the right about. So I was very disappointed that he resigned the church.

    Do you think that in such volatile situations its better for the pastor to leave rather than stay and fight? Or not?
     
  7. Pastor Larry

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    It depends. Perhaps I am naive, but by the time it gets to this, there is ample warning. It seems to me that the pastor has not been leading properly and preaching the word properly regarding these kinds of issues. I know that is a broad generalization and I am not speaking of any specific instances.

    But as one person in a recent discussion here said, If we believe enough in these men's spiritual leadership and qualifications to vote them as pastor and deacons, then we should trust their judgment adn give them the benefit of the doubt. Of course, I have spent years hammering the word as the authority, and the NT structures of church responsibility and leadership.

    I have publicly said that if people don't like something, to come and talk to me about it. Don't talk to others; they can't help. And in the end, if we have a disagreement on where we should be going as a church, one of us is in the wrong place and I am not going anywhere. I have told them if they don't like it to vote me out. Of course, I have tried to develop relationships with people so that they know me and can trust me, even when they don't necessarily like it. I have been sensitive to pushing ahead too fast.
     
  8. PastorSBC1303

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    You can usually tell how a business meeting is going to go by who shows up.
     
  9. Hope of Glory

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    It depends. I have seen legitimate reasons for both sides, and sometimes both sides are not unbiblical.

    Suppose there's a preacher who preaches the meat of the word, and there are a large number of people who don't want that? They want Biblical truth, but they don't want it to be tough. (I know, unbiblical to the extent that we're supposed to grow up; perhaps I should say "anti-biblical".)

    Should he stay or should he leave? Splitting a congregation is not always a bad thing. One group can get a preacher that will spoon feed them what they want, and the other can continue feeding the others the meat of the word.

    On the other hand, many elements can come in from the world, and many may want to compromise the gospel to appeal to more people in order to fill the pews, and in that case, it would definitely be worth fighting. (But, God never promised that we would win every battle.)

    That's why elders shoulder a heavy responsibility, but even they may have a split.

    BTW, you know your baptismal service is out of hand when the Coast Guard becomes involved.
     
  10. Squire Robertsson

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    Now that's what you call being a deep water Baptist.
     
  11. Carolina Baptist

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    Now that's what you call being a deep water Baptist. </font>[/QUOTE]I came close. I was in the Coast Guard when I was baptized.
     
  12. Barjonah

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    Here's one...the church where I formerly served on staff has a fellowship dinner on Wednesday nights before business meeting. As I was eating one night, I looked up from my green bean casserole to notice that there were many people who had arrived, (about 3x the norm) and had set up chairs along the wall (not participating in the meal!). I asked the man beside me, "What is going on here, am I being fired or something?" He said, "I think it's about the piano" It seems that some of the members were upset because the piano had been moved from one side of the stage to the other without a vote from the church. They were there to voice thier disappointment that such an ungodly thing would happen.
     
  13. gb93433

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    It does. Membership usually gives about 3 times the numbers in attendance on a typical Sunday.
     
  14. gb93433

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    Leadership Journal, Winter 2003

    Preacher in the Hands of an Angry Church

    Jonathan Edwards's church kicked him out after 23 years of ministry, but the crisis proved his greatness was not merely intellectual.
    by Chris Armstrong

    As messy dismissals of ministers go, the 1750 ejection of Jonathan Edwards by his Northampton congregation was among the messiest. The fact that it involved the greatest theologian in American history—the central figure of the Great Awakening—is almost beside the point. The fact that it took place in a New England fast moving from theocratic "city on a hill" to democratic home of liberty is more relevant.

    But another aspect is worth a closer look: Friends and enemies alike agreed that in the long, degenerating discontent, Edwards continued to love and pray for—or at least tolerate and refrain from attacking—his people, even when they bared their fangs.

    Salary controversies and power struggles marked his ministry during the 1740s. In the infamous "bad book" episode of 1744, some teen boys in the church distributed a midwife's manual, using it to taunt and make suggestive comments in front of girls. When the culprits were summoned before the church, their response, according to documents of the proceedings, was "contemptuous . . . toward the authority of this Church."

    Edwards chose to read before the church a list containing, indiscriminately, the names of both the young distributors as well as the purported witnesses. Some parents were outraged at Edwards.

    Another issue was Edwards's personality and style as a minister. At the outset of his ministry at Northampton, for example, he decided that he would not pay the customary regular visits to his congregants, but would rather come to their side only when called in cases of sickness or other emergency. This made him seem, to some in the church, cold and distant.

    An Edwards "disciple," Samuel Hopkins, later wrote that this practice was not due to lack of affection and concern for his people: "For their good he was always writing, contriving, labouring; for them he had poured out ten thousand fervent prayers; and they were dear to him above any other people under heaven."

    Rather, Edwards had made a clear-eyed assessment of his own gifts and decided that he was unable to match the graceful gregariousness of those ministers who had a "knack at introducing profitable, religious discourse in a free, natural, and . . . undesigned way."

    Thus he would "do the greatest good to souls . . . by preaching and writing, and conversing with persons under religious impressions in his study, where he encouraged all such to repair."

    Edwards's ministry might yet have endured, however, were it not for the death of his uncle, Colonel John Stoddard, in 1748. Born in 1682, 21 years before Edwards, the colonel had built a friendship with his nephew. A sharp thinker, a county judge, and a savvy politician, John was a militia colonel who had become commander-in-chief of the Massachusetts western frontier by 1744. Stoddard wore—at least in the secular sphere—the mantle of his father and Edwards's grandfather, "pope" of the Connecticut Valley, Solomon Stoddard.

    Edwards found himself often leaning on his uncle's influence to navigate the affairs of the church. Thus when Stoddard died, Edwards lost not only an uncle but a powerful ally and confidante.

    As Ian Murray put it in his biography of Edwards: "There would be no open criticism of Edwards as long as Stoddard sat appreciatively in his pew beneath the pulpit in the meeting-house Sunday by Sunday." Once the colonel was gone, however, that changed dramatically.

    Stoddard's heir-apparent as Hampshire County's leading figure was Edwards's cousin Israel Williams, a Harvard graduate, imperious in manner and implacably set against Edwards. In his early nineteenth-century biography, descendant S. E. Dwight named Israel and several others of the Williams clan as having "religious sentiments [that] differed widely from" those of Edwards. Their opposition soon became "a settled and personal hostility." Williams served as counselor and ringleader to Edwards's opponents. Joining this opposition were another cousin, Joseph Hawley Jr., 21 years Edwards's junior.

    Visible saints, hidden agendas
    The same year John Stoddard died, an event finally pushed the hostile faction into open revolt.

    For years, Edwards had been uncomfortable with the lenient policy on membership and communion set by his grandfather, Solomon Stoddard, Edwards's predecessor at Northampton. Stoddard had allowed almost anyone to join and to partake, hoping that membership and communion might encourage true conversion. In 1748, Edwards changed the policy and told an applicant for church membership that he must first make a public "profession of godliness."

    Thus Edwards rejected the "Halfway Covenant"—the longstanding compromise of the Puritans who had, generations after planting their religious colonies, found their church membership dwindling. That compromise had reversed the traditional Puritan requirement that new church members be "visible saints," godly in word and deed.

    When the congregation saw that Edwards intended to return to the earlier, stricter Puritan position, demanding not only a profession of faith, but also evidence of repentance and holiness, a firestorm arose. Many of the church's leading members felt Edwards's innovation was a direct threat.

    Two revivals had produced many converts, but, as biographer Patricia Tracy put it, "Men and women who had been recognized as visible saints in Northampton still wallowed in clandestine immorality and flagrant pride."

    Though Edwards knew, as he notes in his letters, that he was likely to lose his pastorate as a result, he stuck to his principles.

    A council of the congregation put a moratorium on new memberships until the issue of criteria could be resolved. Edwards told them he planned to preach on his reasons for changing the policy. They forbade him to do so. Edwards began to write a book on the matter. Few read it, and too late to do much good.

    In 1750, a council was called to consider whether the congregation would dismiss its minister. No one doubted what the conclusion would be.

    Edwards's friend David Hall noted in his diary the minister's reaction when on June 22, 1750, the council handed down its decision:

    "That faithful witness received the shock, unshaken. I never saw the least symptoms of displeasure in his countenance the whole week but he appeared like a man of God, whose happiness was out of the reach of his enemies and whose treasure was not only a future but a present good . . . even to the astonishment of many who could not be at rest without his dismission."

    46 and unemployed
    Edwards wrote that he now found himself a 46-year-old ex-minister "fitted for no other business but study," with a large family to provide for. Although he knew "we are in the hands of God, and I bless him, I am not anxious concerning his disposal of us," he fretted over his situation in letters to friends. Yet neither the distressing conditions nor the continuing antagonism of his opponents drew him out to open attack.

    Remarkably (and partly because of financial need), Edwards agreed to continue preaching at the church while they searched for a replacement. But his Farewell Sermon also indicates he acted out of continued concern for the flock. He continued through mid-November, despite the Town maliciously barring him, a month after his dismissal, from using its common grazing land.

    Finally in December 1750, after an anxious autumn during which he had even considered removing his entire family to Scotland to accept an invitation there, Edwards accepted a charge in Massachusetts's "wild west," the Indian town of Stockbridge. There he would labor the rest of his life, pursue his theological thinking to its most brilliant heights, and create one of the most enduring missionary biographies of all time, the life story of his young friend David Brainerd.

    Belated praise
    In 1760, his former enemy, cousin Joseph Hawley, wrote to Edwards's friend David Hall, confessing that "vast pride, self-sufficiency, ambition, and vanity" had animated his leadership in the "melancholy contention" with Edwards. He repented of his earlier failure to render the respect due Edwards as a "most able, diligent and faithful pastor."

    Hawley concluded, "I am most sorely sensible that nothing but that infinite grace and mercy which saved some of the betrayers and murderers of our blessed Lord, and the persecutors of his martyrs, can pardon me; in which alone I hope for pardon, for the sake of Christ, whose blood, blessed by God, cleanseth from all sin."

    On June 22, 1900, exactly 150 years after Edwards's dismissal, a group gathered at the First Church in Northampton to unveil a bronze memorial.

    H. Norman Gardiner, a professor of philosophy at Smith College and chairman of the memorial committee, characterized Edwards's ejection as "a public rejection and banishment" that remained "a source of reproach to his church and people." He noted the "hatred, malice, and uncharitableness which characterized the opposition to him," for which, to Gardiner, no apology either contemporary or modern could atone.

    Edwards would have disagreed, arguing instead that even such deeply wounding actions as the aggravated and wrongful dismissal of a pastor from his pulpit of 23 years are not unforgivable. In that understanding, as in so much else, Edwards was far ahead both of his enemies and of many of us today.

    For 2003 Christian History magazine is publishing an issue commemorating the 300th anniversary of Edwards's birth. For information visit www.christianhistory.net
    Copyright © 2003 by the author or Christianity Today International/Leadership Journal.
    Leadership Journal, Winter 2003, Vol. XXV, No. 1, Page 52
     
  15. Squire Robertsson

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    Now that's what you call being a deep water Baptist. </font>[/QUOTE]I came close. I was in the Coast Guard when I was baptized. </font>[/QUOTE]So, you served at a lifeboat station. What happened your 41 footer take a roll in the surf?
     
  16. Brother Ian

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    We haven't had a business meeting at my church in several years.
     
  17. Pastor Larry

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    It does. Membership usually gives about 3 times the numbers in attendance on a typical Sunday. </font>[/QUOTE]??? How so??
     
  18. guitarpreacher

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    Hope,

    My good friend, I would just like to take this opportunity to say that if in the past I have offended you in any way, I humbly and sincerely apologize. No hard feelings, okay buddy?? :cool:
     
  19. Hope of Glory

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  20. MatthewHenry

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    Now that's what you call being a deep water Baptist. </font>[/QUOTE][​IMG]
     

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