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November 23, 2014
Attended by: Sally Bishop, Tom, Mimi and Caleb Bach, Tim Bach, Stephen and Nicole Hay, George and Ida Mae Waters, Lisa Johnston, Phil Sheppard, Don and Jean Potter, Dawn and Jeff Monroe, Rob Reisman, Ken and Sherrie Twist, Keith and Laura Schessl. Randy and Kim McNally, Matt and Amanda Vail, Doug and Lois Farley, Steve Ornella, Jack Hanna, Chris and Sandy Scrufari, Matt Johnson.
The meeting was opened by Stephen Hay who explained the proposed agenda followed by a corporate time of prayer.
Questions, comments and responses;
Lisa Johnston expressed concern about Pulse and the ages that are currently being served on Friday nights…She stated that we are losing some of the older students who are basically the core of strong believers due to the immaturity of the 8th grade students. Lisa stated that she has heard the students discuss this issue and has also talked with them about it. Her suggestion was to possibly have 2 rooms segregated by ages.
Rob Reisman then asked as a point of order…if there were notes being taken as per the Constitution. Though the Church Clerk was not present, Lois Farley stated she was taking notes and would provide them for record.
Jean Potter stated that the Eldership process is in its second year and when it was begun, it was stated that an Evaluation would be part of the process. She then asked, “What is being worked on and when is that going to be shared?” As well as “Is this a tool that the Congregation would have to evaluate the Elders?”
Stephen responded, that indeed there is a tool, it is in its second draft, and the goal is to get this done sooner rather than later. Stephen also pointed out that the Elders are open to evaluation at any time and that members of the congregation should contact them. Currently, there are two forms of communication, those being (1) email to the Elders or via the website: wilsonfbc.com, or (2) write a letter and put it in the box that says Elders upstairs in the sanctuary. Phone numbers are also listed in the bulletin for each Elder.
Keith Schessl stated he and Laura have been members for 14 years and they love this church and like seeing the ministry grow particularly to youth and community.
- He stated that he feels that the church is being Elder ruled and not Elder led. Keith listed the scriptural duties of the Elders: settling church disputes, praying for the sick, leading by example, spending time in prayer and teaching the word, leading the church in worship and prayer. Keith stated that he did not understand the role of the Elder to be so hands on with daily running of the church. Keith gave examples of issues between himself and Doug Rohring and the Elders in regards to their position as co-chairs of the Maintenance Ministry.
- The church building itself considering the age of the building and the repairs they have designated such as the cement and bell tower work.
- As well the parsonage and the work being done and there the bids, concerning specifications, scope, correct licensure, and insurance validation.
- Also the property recently purchased: obtaining bids then being told to hold off, the safety issues that Keith has concerning possible injury and vandalism. He feels the area needs to be fenced and posted as soon as possible, if it is not going to be torn down.
- Keith also listed parking issues, the need for a temporary or permanent lot and how this affects attendance.
- Keith stated that he does not trust nor have faith in the Eldership. He brought up the issue of Tim and how the decision made last year was changed after an outcry from the congregation, but the understanding was that they would have 100% agreement yet Tim was leaving and he is the only qualified Elder on board.
- Keith asked that the Elders search their hearts and meet this week with him and other concerned members to discuss more concerns.
Stephen’s response: Elder Rule versus Elder Led…Stephen stated that the Elders have recently begun discussing this exact issue…that there is no reference whatsoever to Senior Pastor in Scripture and the desire was for a Scripture based structure of the church. When the current Elders started the course 3 years ago they thought that the model they were taught was Scriptural and realized within the past 4 months the model is not practical or Scriptural and the Elders have begun discussions as to rectify the discrepancies of the model being used.
One issue they have discussed was George and Tom looking at the Constitution that was put in place with the Eldership program and how it is a key piece to moving the structure from Elder Rule to an Elder Led model. As well as putting the call out for Godly men to come along side and work as God leads to Elder Led.
Stephen also responded about the issues Keith had mentioned concerning the Parsonage asking Keith what work he referred to. Stephen explained that the sign for Kevin Wise was simply some advertising done for Nicole’s brother and the work he did for them was personal; he built a desk for them, which was for them personally. Stephen stated that the only other work done was a dishwasher was installed and Doug Rohring has been contacted with any changes happening at the parsonage.
Sally Bishop asked for clarification of what was meant by Elder Rule (or Run) versus Elder Led. Stephen explained that Elder Rule was like a dictatorship with no input or voting from the Congregation that the Elders made all decisions…and the Elder Led model means the church is shepherded, nurtured, guided and decisions are made with the consent of the Congregation.
Stephen stated that one of the issues is how do we engage more of the Congregation in communication. This forum (the town meeting) was done because it appears the perception is that the Elders were not/are not being transparent and sharing all the information with the Congregation and that to some degree this may be a reality in certain areas.
Tim reiterated, “This is why we are having this meeting,” and that the Congregation is learning as the Elders are learning and the hearts of the Elders is that they lead and not rule.
Nicole brought up the property issue with it being put on hold. Doug and Ken both responded to this. Ken stated that this may be partly due to his leave from the Elders starting about that time period. Ken stated that a lack of communication may be at the heart of that issue and Doug stated that with what demolition was going to cost at that time there would not have been enough money to pay for demo and pay current bills. The demolition work was not budgeted so an appeal went out to the church to provide building fund donations to get the demolition done.
Jack Hanna stated there has been a recent rash of break ins in the area and that he felt a swift demo would be warranted, rather than investing money to secure a building that is going to be demolished.
Doug responded that the finances are back in an upswing because of the cycle of church giving and this could be considered, but little or no building fund income has been received yet.
Doug Rohring was not in attendance and Doug Farley stated that he did not speak with Doug Rohring about the demolition and that if he had he would have communicated the financial point.
Stephen spoke at this point about Elder versus Deacon role and the desire to have more men rise up to take active roles in the Ministries. He stated within the last year the Elders have gotten into the bad habit of picking up all the things that need to be done instead of turning it over to particular ministry leaders. He stated that the goal/vision was to raise up Deacons who handle the hands-on daily tasks.
At this point Chris Scrufari suggested a time check to see how many others had issues they wanted to raise and maybe not give answers right now. After a show of hands it was decided to continue in same format.
Tom Bach brought up the issue of the Constitution, wanting to clarify Elders and when they do what they want.
Stephen stated that the goal is not to split and divide but to seek unity. The Elder’s intention is not to make decisions but come to the Congregation and if they disagree with the Elders recommendations that they would go back to God and continue to pray until a decision could be made in unity.
Nicole stated that with the trust and skepticism issues that it will take time to trust decisions of any leadership.
Lisa brought up the subject of questionnaires’ used in the past to help screen volunteers for youth workers as far as background checks and wanted to know if they are still being used.
Stephen stated that he has spoken with Tammy Rohring about them but they are not widely used right now for any of the youth programs.
George Waters stated that he meets monthly with the current Deacons who are taking care of the ministry to the shut-ins, planning Communion and with flowers and gifts throughout the year.
Rob stated that it is not Biblical to make everyone who serves in a ministry be a Deacon, and that there is only one or two verses that would indicate a difference between Deacon and Elder. He is concerned with the financial end of things and feels that it is a Deacon responsibility and would take the pressure off the Elders- there should be Deacon run finances. This would leave the Elders to take on spiritual issues inside and outside of the building.
Concerning the Constitution, Rob stated he needed to be ask for forgiveness for not reading the Constitution when he became a member…mentioned that the Constitution does contain a lot of Scripture references, but felt it was an Elder Rule not Elder-Led. Rob read the responsibilities of the membership. Rob stated that he has read many Constitutions and there are many on line that could be examined and the fact that the Constitution needs to be rewritten.
As far as the Youth/ Worship Pastor should we bring someone into this disunity and the search should be put on hold because it would not be fair to a candidate or the church. Rob stated that we already have the most qualified Worship/Youth Leader who knows the youth and is the most Biblically educated pastor. Rob recommended a solution of putting the search on hold for 6 months.
Rob also shared that he had felt that he was not called to serve as an Elder because he was to serve in this own community but has realized that many of his community, about 30 -35 in number, are presently coming to Wilson FBC. He is willing to help in the spirit of truly Elder- Led and not Rule. He has had experience in getting out from under the brutality of a Constitution.
Tim Bach responded asking,”Is it fair to bring someone into this disunity?” He cannot answer. Tim stated he has been praying to the Lord for a new staff member – since the Lord has put a huge call to music and eventually to the Philippines. Tim feels we need prayer and asked if it was disunity or a learning and growing process.
Chris stated that everything that was spoken tonight was a sign of God’s grace. Also this is an opportunity for the Elders so that we can grow and create unity.
Sally asked how we could pay a salary for new staff with family.
Stephen stated this is certainly not an ideal situation, but that he felt it unwise to go back to a one person staffed church and that Lord has clearly blessed the 2 staff format. Stephen shared the statistic that regardless of the size of the church-only about 30% of people volunteer in a church but that 15% is a more realistic. We have to be aware of the calling on Tim’s life and that it would be foolish for us to try to stall God’s call and the timing He has in mind for Tim’s ministry. He stated that a lot of people are talking and asked that they talk to the Elders. The Elders are trying to be transparent. He stated that it was God who opened the church and it is His business to close it. He stated that there is pain in the birthing or creating process- that we all need grace for the process.
Chris stated that Tim agreed to stay on in an interim basis, so we need to ask God for more provision or ask God to release Tim to stay longer.
George stated that God had given the vision to the church to start the youth program and bring Stephen here and He has continued to confirm this. George also spoke to the property purchase and the funds being there when needed and having faith that God would continue to provide – God pays for what He wants.
Jack Hanna stated concerning the Constitution- that he hoped we would put a committee together to revisit the constitution to be more palatable and Godly. Jack asked the Elder candidates to look in their hearts to examine for prideful debt …that debt can become a god to you if the church is not financially set.
Mimi Bach spoke to the process of the hiring and looking for a new youth pastor and wanted to know who else was included in the process. Her concern is that she wants to be sure that a youth pastor background needs to be looked into- look into everything from their past. Mimi spoke about including some parents of current youth in the search for youth pastor…feeling they would have a better grasp of youth today and the qualities we need in a candidate more so than the Elders on the board.
Don Potter stated the budget was in place before air conditioning was installed and the final cost not being in budget. He asked if the units need to be covered and also expressed concern about snow plows. Don also wanted to know if he gave money what it would be going toward.
Doug responded the first thing would be the demolition and once costs are estimates are for work on the parsonage and any church work would come to the congregation for approval.
Keith (and Chris) stated that this was the time of year that those who will be graduating from Bible College would be looking for positions and the job posting should go out to college sites.
Sandy asked for Scriptural reference as to how do we faith budget. God does not go on credit. She felt the church should budget for what they could afford.
Doug stated that in actuality the entire church budget is a faith budget we have no other income than people’s tithes and offerings, there is no guarantee of meeting a budget…we have to have faith.
Phil Sheppard shared about tithing and stated that we need to use wisdom and discernment in budgeting but have faith. Phil also stated that it sounds like the engine was sputtering but it is in need of a tune up in regards to the church leadership process.
Rob asked that the Elders have a timeline -a timeframe for the Constitution and that a solution to the parking issue is an important issue since it is one of the top items people look at in a church.
The meeting closed with a time of corporate prayer.
(These are certainly not all the comments and not word for word, I tried to write key phrases and ideas discussed and I am not a secretary so I ask for grace if you made a comment that was missed in my notes. Notes were written in the order that the comments were made.)