If virtue is a stable disposition to act and feel according to some idea or model of excellence, cultivated over time, then surely virtue is cultivated no more acutely than in the ordinary church business meeting.
“Church business” is itself something of an oxymoron. What is the “business” of a church anyway? It’s not business. It’s ministry. It’s the ordinary stuff of agendas, budgets, motions, seconds, and votes, all for the purpose—we pray—of building God’s church and hence glorifying Him. A church business meeting requires that we talk to one another, listen to one another, and disagree when necessary, all while paying attention, taking turns, and sitting up straight. A church business meeting is a sanctifying experience.
A week ago today, I moderated a presbytery meeting. A presbytery is a regional governing body of churches, and we met together in the midst of a larger church gathering for a business meeting–yes, a business meeting. A simple one-hour meeting took many more hours of preparation. No matter how prepared I actually find myself as one of these meetings begins, I always feel rather like an emperor with scant clothing. God gives me courage, though, and I forge on, trusting that He will accomplish what He needs accomplished, through me, regardless of my private insecurities.
Last Wednesday, we approved a budget, we gave birth to a new presbytery, we approved the creation of a new church, we celebrated new churches coming into our midst, and we elected new leaders. We talked to one another, and we listened to one another. We didn’t need to disagree. We paid attention to one another, took turns, and (mostly) sat up straight. It was all good news, very good news, as the Spirit did His work through us.
Along the way, I tried to be dignified, as I imagine a presbytery moderator should be, until a fellow pastor rose to announce her church’s hiring of a new Pastor for Family Ministries. For the life of me, I heard her say, “Pastor for Feeling Ministries.” I laughed and commented that we might need the presbytery’s judicial commission in short order. Actually, I didn’t laugh. I snorted. So much for dignified.
So, dear Presbytery of the West and new Presbytery of Mid-America, thank you for that practice of virtue last Wednesday. Thank you for that sanctifying experience. Thank you for forgiving my snort, and, most of all, thank you for celebrating Jesus with me, obeying Jesus, and loving Jesus, all in the midst of an ordinary business meeting.