We don't have a Church and Pastor's Council like most congregations in the Church of God. I made the decision decades ago to never have one for two reasons. First, the are a strange conflation of the Biblical offices of elder and deacon. Secondly, until our last General Assembly women could not serve on a Church Council. I resolved to conduct all business in church conferences open to all members. Then a couple of decades ago the Assembly authorized congregations to use Deacons and Elders without placing restrictions on membership. Most of our deacons and elders at New Covenant are women.
I often hear pastors complain about their councils or deacons. It is as if the lay leaders of their churches are their enemies, and maybe they are. I don't know. At New Covenant our deacons and elders are outstanding, mature, responsible, and cooperative brothers and sisters in Christ and I am thankful.
We had a deacon’s meeting this evening. A couple of years ago I delegated these meetings to our Assistant Pastor, Kim Belcher, because I was over extended at the Seminary. Frankly, I was negligent of my duties. I keep a close eye on the congregation’s expenditures and I know where we are financially, but I wasn’t staying in touch with these church leaders and the financial processes as I should. I would attend only when there was a critical issue demanding my attention. Our Assistant Pastor moved last summer to accept a residency as a hospital chaplain and I haven’t called a meeting since she left.
Our deacons are conscientious about their duties and understanding and patient with me, usually. The meeting tonight was to reorient ourselves, schedule regular meetings, and consider a request to purchase a van for our youth and children’s ministries. The Youth Pastor and Children’s Pastor had made the request having located a used van. I entered the meeting with a strategy to get the van; the two ministries would accept responsibility for raising the money to repay the church for the van over time. (We rent vans enough that it would have paid for itself in less than two years.) The plan was to assure the deacons we are fiscally responsible. Within the plan I had some reserved funds I could release to help cover the initial cost.
My plan worked, maybe too well. One deacon protested we should just purchase the van and let the children’s and youth departments use it “they are just as much a part of our church as we are.” I was extremely proud, but I couldn’t let it show. I challenged them we need to commit to raise the money. The specific van under consideration had been taken to a mechanic for inspection and found wanting so that our discussion was about locating a good used van and purchasing it. The deacons authorized up to $1,300 more than was initially request.
Our deacons are dedicated servants of God and the church. At times they are a little too fiscally conservative for me, but I prefer that over a Board that throws money around. They are also sold out to ministry. I am proud of them and thankful for their dedicated service.
October 20, 2010