This Sunday, June 21 is our semi-annual “church-wide” meeting at Prism. Some may ask, “Why not just call it a Congregational Meeting?” Good question. There are two reasons.
First of all, we don’t have membership yet because we don’t have a plurality of elders. Our Association (the Acts 29 Network) is compelled by Scripture to require its new churches to develop into ones that are overseen by elders. I was installed on 10/03/10 by a commission of Acts 29 to be the sole elder at our church until Prism could install qualified leaders to assume the leadership of the church.
This fall – on our fifth anniversary – we will formally install three other elders at Prism. Once we’ve established the required plurality of oversight, we can then receive members into the church. Our collective of elders will the be the final authority for matters pertaining to church life.
My second reason for not referring to our church-wide meeting as a “Congregational” meeting is because of the bad inference many might draw about what they’re signing up to attend. The experience of many who’ve been part of congregationally governed churches is that their church-wide meetings regularly degraded into division in the church and people within the church would at times exhibit ungodly attitudes. When a system of governance for a church is out of sync with Scripture (as is congregationalism) and encourages voting on all issues related to the church (as is done in a pure democracy), battles for control are inevitable.
We believe the Scriptures clearly teach that the church of Jesus is to be overseen by a collective of the most mature, most respected, servant leaders of a church. However, under their oversight, the entire body is empowered to serve and work together to be the incarnation of Jesus in the city in which they live. Our Elders can and will make decisions that are wise, but the overarching goal of this team will be to empower the people of our church to make many decisions while we oversee, care for them and shepherd their souls through the Word of God and prayer.
Even as we move toward the adoption of a new constitution that transfers the authority of our church from a pastor-led board of directors to a plurality of Elders overseeing ministry teams, our congregational meetings will continue to be pleasant times of communication within our church. Our Elders-in-training will be introduced, our Deacons-in-training will be identified, our Staff Team will bring updates from our recent retreat and we’ll provide a time of question and answer with everyone.
This Sunday’s meeting will take place immediately following an abbreviated worship service. You’ll receive a packet of information that will include a complete schedule for 2015-2016, a brief summary of our form of Government, the leadership transition schedule for the next few months, and a copy of our church budget for the balance of this year.
Please make it a priority to be with us this Sunday. I promise you’ll be encouraged.
Your Pastor & Friend,