Sunday was our quarterly ministry (business) meeting at church. Budgets were prepared and reviewed. New church bylaws were proposed. The mission statement was read and affirmed. We sat around tables having shared a meal together before the meeting. Our small church was smaller than usual. In this way it is like most churches. Quorums are set low and still hard to meet. I've noticed newer, larger churches have done away with business meetings. In some, the pastor and a small board make the business decisions and announce them to the congregation. There are no business meetings. I suspect the leaders of these churches know people would rather crawl through a mile of crushed glass than attend a church business meeting. At ours a toddler ran free and a couple of teens talked and giggled through most of it. The pastor did her best to engage us. We talked later about the frustrations of business meetings.
First of all, they are ministry meetings and ministry can be frustrating. So no surprise there. I've had prayer meetings and bible studies with smaller turnouts. Second, if some one is interested in the ministry of the church there is no better way to take the pulse of a church than to look at the way it spends the money that it is given. In fact, it is poor stewardship of resources to give and not know how it is spent. I was glad to find out how much was given to our Christmas offering that all went to a Ugandan ministry to refugee women. The director has been to our church. I was interested in how much money our church used for outreach and for the emergency care of our members. I saw that our pastor did not receive a raise but her annuity was restored. Our church pays $200 a month to rent our facility. Most of our giving goes to pastoral ministry and missions/outreach. I was pleasantly surprised that our small church is able to do so much. We celebrated communion, held hands and prayed and picked up the room and went home. I was glad to have been at the church ministry meeting. It was good to know how God was at work in specific, practical ways through our group. I had a good meal and got to know one of our members better over dinner. I affirmed our treasurer who does a whole lot of work behind the scenes (the paperwork is the same no matter how small the church is!) and told him it was appreciated! I got to play a bit with the toddler running loose and I enjoyed hearing the laughter of the teens in the middle of business meeting! I came away impressed that business meetings are an instance of church life, as spiritual as any other instance, evidenced by the fact that God shows up!