Our church has taken significant strides in the last 3 years. Moving from congregational to elder lead has been something we as a body have needed to adapt to. It hasn’t been easy and it isn’t without it’s faults or mistakes. Typically this is a transition process that takes the average church at least 10 years to complete, so we are far from ironing out the 180 year old tradition of a congregationally lead church (we are only 3 years in).
On that note it’s vital that the church family have ample opportunity to talk and address any comments, concerns, ideas or confusions that they may presently have. That’s why we are introducing Town Hall Meetings.
The term Town Hall Meeting (Started in New England in the late 17th Century) was given to the public meeting, function or event that took place to allow attendees the opportunity to present ideas, opinions, concerns and ask questions. Historically it was where the peoples voice was heard.
We are encouraging the church members to join with us on Sunday, November 23 at 7pm for our very first Town Hall Meeting. We would ask that if you have something to present you would observe the follow steps:
01 Write before you speak
James 1:19-20 says that we need to be people who are quick to listen and slow to speak or to become angry. Within the context of what James is addressing here, we see that he is talking about the importance of listening — not to people, although that is important — but rather to God. Please take time this week to listen to exactly what God would have you say, then write it down. It’s very difficult to articulate thoughts accurately especially when there are emotions attached to them. Make sure that you are prayed up and written out before standing up to speak.
Writing your thoughts also allows you to present a written copy that can be used for accurate prayer and understanding after the meeting.
02 Represent yourself not a group
This is an important point when presenting a concern or complaint. Representing yourself alone allows you to follow along with the Biblical patterns of Matthew 18, where Jesus himself teaches on confronting a brother with an issue you have against them. It is also not fair to try to represent other people on their behalf. Sometimes it’s very difficult to represent ourselves well, never mind other people. If indeed others feel the same as you do, let them say so; give them the opportunity to follow the biblical patterns of Matthew 18 too, don’t speak on their behalf. It’s hard to provide help for those who remain anonymous. If someone asks you to represent them, gently encourage them towards Matthew 18.
03 Don’t expect an immediate answer
It’s fair to say that some or most things that are communicated on the night may require the attention of prayer. It is wiser for the thought to be presented and prayed over than it is for it to be presented and answered right away, without seeking the Lord for wisdom first. There may be certain issues raised or a question asked that truly can be tackled on the night, but to save future frustration, come with the mentality that topics raised and questions asked will only be answered after a time of prayer, examination and seeking the Lord. Thank you for understanding.
04 Build up don’t tear down
Of course there is a great chance that whatever issues are talked about on the night have great potential to tear down and break apart. Remember, we are made in the image and likeness of our God, and we are called to look more like Jesus daily. Understand that Jesus’ ministry was not a ministry of separation, it was a ministry of restoration. Please come with the mind of Christ, not the mind of self. Come with the hope of building and bettering what already exists, not tearing down and starting again. Jesus is the only one who opens and closes churches so let’s be sure that our actions cooperate with the love of Christ as he has called us to work with him in building the church. Christians can be very quick in crucifying others, we seem to be one of the only armies who are known for shooting their wounded.
Please be reminded that Jesus has purchased us at great cost to himself. The blood of the cross has already covered all of our sins.
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brother. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. – 1 John 3:14-15
Lastly, make sure that your heart isn’t just bitterly communicating your concerns with no hope of restoration. Remember, the heart is deceitful above all.
05 Provide a solution not just a problem
Our Lord Jesus Christ never had an issue calling out areas that needed growth or removal in a person’s life. But one thing Jesus never did was point out a problem without providing a solution. It’s very easy to point out things that are wrong. The eye of criticism is much easier to use than the eye of constructive criticism, but that can’t stop us from trying. If you are planning on presenting an area of concern that needs attention, please try to be prayerful in providing a solution and not just the problem. If a solution is something that you don’t currently have, it’s ok to say so, but understand if you are willing to point out the problem then you need to make sure that you are also willing to help towards the solution.
06 Deal with personal issues privately not corporately
This is another encouragement towards Matthew 18:15-17. If the issue or concern you have is with an individual not the leadership or corporate body, the Town Hall Meeting is not the venue for it. Jesus is clear that personal issues must first be dealt with privately, and if that is not successful then there are clear steps to be taken. Between now and the meeting make sure that if you have an issue that needs to be dealt with privately, that it doesn’t become public that night.
If you planned on presenting the issue publicly because you don’t know how to approach the individual, ask for advice, counsel and prayer. Following these 6 steps may be a good place to start too.
It is the hope that these Town Hall Meetings would be effective and bring much glory to God, and that the Bride of Christ (whom He purchased with His very own blood) would grow stronger and healthier as a result. Remember we are a family and families truly stick together through the good, bad and the ugly. Yes we might disagree with one another sometimes and discussion can be heated too, but the one thing a family does not do is give up on one another. May we not use this time as foundations for bitterness and hardness but may we seek the Lord through discussion that will build humility and grace with one another.
Remember God is shaping, molding and strengthening His Bride to one day present her pure, holy and blameless before Himself. Jesus loves His church more than we ever will.
Stephen, Tim, Doug & George