Don't Lose it All Because of Bad Church Government
By Raul Rivera
The Following is a Story Based on True Events!
In the middle of a hot summer day, Pastor Jones had a strange conversation with one of the members of his church. Isabel, the secretary of the board of directors, and the one in charge of all corporate documents, shared that in her opinion his current bylaws were not properly ratified. Though the church had started the incorporation process, there were several issues with the bylaws. Two sets of bylaws existed. One she could tell had been ratified, but the set of bylaws that were supposed to be the latest version had not properly gone through the formal ratification process. She pointed out that though the church had written the new bylaws, there was no record in the minutes that properly rescinded the old bylaws and adopted the new ones. Pastor Jones and Isabel continued to dialogue, as a shift in conversation led them to the topic of a very divisive board member, Abel. Quite often in disagreement with the direction of the church, Abel freely spoke his mind, even when reason was far from it! Isabel knew that Pastor Jones would have to deal with this potentially hazardous situation sooner rather than later. Her advice to him was to first tackle the deficiencies in the church government, and then immediately deal with Abel. Grateful for Isabel's input, Pastor Jones thanked her for the heads up and assured her that he would take care of it.
A Season of Harvest for Pastor Jones
It was very exciting to see the church grow to 185 members from the time it had begun in their basement, just five years prior. But this past summer marked an all-time increase, with over 140 new members added! The month of May ushered in a divine season of outpouring of God's manifest presence, paired with an excellent discipleship program that included very successful, weekly banquets for all newcomers, and a strong follow-up visitation ministry. And as can be expected from such occurrences, inquiries came flooding in from ministers eager to learn Pastor Jones "secrets of success". Though at first he received calls only from local pastors, continued church growth resulted in calls from all over the United States. But Pastor Jones knew he was not to be credited with the growth, for there really was not anything special he was doing, simply enjoying a season of harvest.
Pastor Smith Summer Season
A slow season for Pastor Smith, this summer was truly a time for sowing. He knew in his heart that the Lord was bringing him through, but the economic downturn in the textiles, manufacturing and furniture industries challenged the Greensboro, NC church in many ways, and plans for church growth were eclipsed by the large increase in benevolence requests by its members. Many churches were in survival mode, cutting back on everything from staff positions and children's church curriculum to outreach programs and other avenues through which a church usually operates to reflect the glory of God.
Sitting in his office chair that morning, Pastor Smith couldn't keep from smiling, gratitude filling his heart as he recalled the word God had spoken to him in the summer of 2006--that a time of leanness was coming--which had caused him to begin saving 20% of the church's tithes and offerings into a setback fund as preparation for the upcoming hardships. Little did he know at the time, America was on the brink of entering the worse economic disaster since the Great Depression. By late 2008, the "bailout era" was in full swing and approximately 25% of the church members were either unemployed or underemployed.
Though the summer had been difficult, Pastor Smith church now had a fully implemented benevolence program based on a biblical model, and 100% compliant with IRS Regulation. Were it not for the planned season of savings and the implementation of the benevolence program, many of the church members would have suffered loss of water and electricity to their homes, and in many cases, loss of the homes, as well. Pastor Smith knew he was walking out the Lord's will revealed to him two and one-half years earlier, a path of obedience which resulted in complete success for both him and the church . . .even during a time of economic downfall for many ministries across the nation.
The New Year for Pastor Jones
The New Year for Pastor Jones started strong, with the church at 325 members. Finally sensing he had reached a place in ministry where planning for exponential growth was of necessity, Pastor Jones began to dream of focusing attention on what he had always felt in his heart would one day be a reality: investing church finances into business opportunities which would bring financial increase to the church. But with the arrival of the New Year, he first had to take care of old business. Abel continued to be a divisive member of the board of directors, and frankly, Pastor Jones was out of patience with the matter! Contacting each of the board members prior to the Sunday morning service, Pastor Jones informed them all of an emergency board meeting to be held at the conclusion of the evening service that same Sunday night--a board meeting to which they each agreed to be present. During the meeting, he invoked Article V of the constitution and made a motion for Abel to be removed from the board of directors, mentioning that on many occasions he had tried to reason with Abel but his disposition was inordinate. While the board members were altogether perplexed by Pastor Jones motion, they did agree that removing Abel was in the best interest of the church and its viability, and therefore, voted unanimously to remove him! Abel was notably upset. He kept quiet, though, appearing to accept his fate after being voted out by his pastor and three other board members. Isabel was doubtful that the bylaws Pastor Jones had quoted were actually the official bylaws of the church, but she only mentioned this to Pastor Jones after the meeting. His thoughts went back to the conversation they had shared last summer; his reply . . .only a pensive "hmmn". (To be continued . . .)