I am preparing for my first annual congregational meeting at Resurrection Lutheran which will be this Sunday. Annual meetings among pastors often have the reputation either of being boring, business-as-usual constitutional necessities or of being highly emotional and conflicted debates on peripheral or personality issues. As a pastor, I don’t want either extreme to happen, but I do pray that the Holy Spirit comes to work: to coax, push, pull and move the congregation towards God’s future. Discussion regarding a congregation’s priorities can be passionate and yet loving, for we share a common mission to trust, live and serve God.
The book of Acts has a lengthy account of a large church meeting in Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas brought a major concern to the whole church for discussion and debate. Their concern was whether new Gentile members to the church had to fully convert to Judaism before they could embrace Jesus. Since most of the early members of the church were Jewish and since Jesus was a Jew, many believed that Jewish laws should be upheld. Paul felt otherwise and a strong debate developed among the leadership of the church. What rules and regulations, if any, were needed? After a lengthy debate, the leadership wrote a letter to the many new Gentile believers, “It seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from fornication” (Acts 15:28-29). What stands out is that they trusted the Holy Spirit to be part of the discussion. This was a matter of faith, since the Holy Spirit did not fly into the meeting like a dove and deliver a telegram from heaven. It was in the discussion itself that God’s Spirit worked.
I think every pastor hopes and prays that the Holy Spirit would be the key partner in any congregational meeting. The Holy Spirit is neither boring, nor highly emotional, but is trustworthy. The Spirit calls us to trust God in all things. That seems good to me!
How has the Spirit worked in guiding you and your life with other Christians?