Last year around this time, I gave an impassioned defence of the church business meeting as we approached our Annual General Meeting. It was pretty convincing. Right? Uh, hello? Is this thing on...?
I like to think that I'm more than a one-trick pony. In fact, I see myself as a well-rounded pony. A renaissance pony, if you will.
Funny how self-perception can be so incorrect. Instead of trying to be clever and providing a new angle to the "here's why you should prioritize the AGM" post, I'm just going to speak to you from my heart again this year, even though what I'm saying hasn't really changed.
And that's not a bad thing. As Baptists, our tradition is strong on the autonomous local congregation made up of Spirit-filled believers who exercise careful discernment and who make wise decisions as a unified body.
We haven't always been great at living up to that vision throughout history. In fact, our own denomination was founded when a small group of churches in the Vancouver area walked out of their denomination's convention in protest of a decision that they saw as leading to liberalism and, eventually, heresy.
And believe me when I say that I've sat through a number of contentious business meetings in my life. Meetings like that really aren't productive, and they become more about selfish human ambition than careful spiritual discernment.
But I've also been to other business meetings that haven't been like that. Meetings that have been true celebrations of the work that God has been doing. Meetings where the Spirit's presence was unmistakable, where strong opinions were aired in respectful ways, and where iron truly did sharpen iron instead of just making a bunch of sparks.
(Don't get me started on using the idea of iron sharpening iron as an excuse for venting human anger in an unhelpful and ungodly way. Although I might have an idea for my next blog...)
That's why I love business meetings. They're a chance for us to speak truth in love to one another, to share hopes, dreams, and ambitions for the future of our church, and to allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our planning.
This year, we're going to be talking about where we're going as a church and what we're trying to accomplish. This is a fairly significant piece that will shape a number of the decisions that we'll be making this year, so it's important for you to be part of the discussion. And even if you're not a member at Parkland, you're still a part of our congregation and your voice matters.
So, this Sunday, right after we serve lunch, we're going to commence our Annual General Meeting. It's going to be great.
I'm looking forward to seeing you there.