By Thom S. Rainer
It is unwise to assume all churches do things the same way. I certainly know that the readership of this blog includes leaders from tens of thousands of different churches. Even within the same denomination, there are countless different approaches to church practices.
Such is certainly the case with church business meetings. You may be in a congregation that does not have any business meetings. But if you are in a church with these meetings, please stay with me through the remainder of this post.
I have been observing churches for decades. And I have been observing how many congregations conduct and utilize church business meetings. This process has led me to ask a few questions. Are we utilizing these meetings effectively? Should they be dramatically changed? Should they be eliminated altogether?
While I certainly don’t have the answers to these questions, I am seeing lower participation and greater dissatisfaction with business meetings in many churches. That is the reason I am asking these questions.
While recognizing the diversity of churches represented by the readers of this blog, allow me still to make some observations about business meetings in many congregations. I make them in no particular order of priority.
- There are still many churches today where the business meeting is primarily a gathering of critics and malcontents. The happy church member tends to avoid the meetings for obvious reasons.
- There is a clear trend toward less frequent business meetings. Quarterly meetings are becoming common, and many churches have moved to annual meetings only.
- Though I have not actually done a precise statistical study, I am confident in saying that there is a high correlation between the size of the church and the way a congregation does business meetings. Larger churches tend to have less frequent meetings. And smaller churches are more likely to require votes on more issues than larger churches.
- Most pastors and staffs dislike, even dread, church business meetings.
- The most common item covered in church business meetings is the finances of the church. For those congregations with annual meetings only, the church budget is the primary item brought as business.
- Relatively few churches discuss ministry in these meetings.
Is There a Better Way?
I love local churches. I desire to see God’s glory manifest in these congregations. And I desire to see these churches be the best possible stewards of the resources God has given them.
With that in mind, I am asking the simple question: Is there a better way to conduct the business of the church? Some congregations have already responded by having less frequent meetings, and by empowering staff and lay leaders to make most decisions.
Should we totally rethink the way we conduct the business of our churches? Are there practices that would better protect the unity of the church while making certain accountability and decision-making are working well?
This article was originally posted on ThomRainer.com.
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.