We had our Annual Meeting last night (I capitalize because it’s always a Big Deal – to me at least). I always get nervous about the Annual Meeting because administration is not my strong point. I always worry about missing things. I worry about controversy. I worry about questions that I can’t answer. I worry about convicting questions about people that I should know more about. I worry that I worry when I know I shouldn’t worry (Philippians 4:6-7). I worried more than usual this year for two reasons.
First, we had a big, ugly happening in our town last year – centered on our church and Christian school. I haven’t blogged on it and I won’t blog on it. In broad strokes, let me say it was regarding a very involved member of our church that was sexually exploiting a young person. Charges, sentencing, church discipline have all taken place. The perpetrator has moved to a different community with his family. After sentencing, it made a front page headline in the Edmonton Journal. It was hard to write a paragraph that acknowledged that reality in our church life without unnecessarily poking at fresh wounds (I don’t want to do that here, either).
Secondly, I – among others – believe it is time to seriously consider hiring a family ministries pastor. Multiple staff would be a first for me. I have sought advice on how to best bring this up to the congregation. I don’t want to push the agenda, but I don’t want to let it slide.
With such a nervous ramp-up to this years meeting, why did I title this post ‘Thankful’? I’m thankful because of God’s faithfulness expressed through the people of this church. The unity and good spirit at the church is very encouraging, given the tough year last year especially. Giving was amazing last year. There was very little controversy at the meeting (a little regarding some proposed renovations, but that’s it).
Most of all I’m thankful that God is good even when I have so little faith. I tend to get tied-up in knots for no good reason. A little tension is good – after all, even the Apostle Paul was anxious about his churches (2 Corinthians 11:28).
Is anxiety about God’s work and God’s people a bad thing? Not if it drives the pastor to watch, pray and preach. I did my little devotional last night on Acts 20:17-38 – Paul’s farewell speech to the Ephesians elders. Now, I’m no Apostle Paul. I don’t weep, work, pray and warn my people enough for one thing. I’m not an Apostle for another.
As I reflected about my level of concern for my people, I was reminded of a quote from Mark Dever. I think I’ve posted it here before, but it bears repeating:
I remember reading a quote by John Brown, who, in a letter of paternal counsels to one of his pupils newly ordained over a small congregation, wrote, "I know the vanity of your heart, and that you will feel mortified that your congregation is very small, in comparison with those of your brethren around you; but assure yourself on the word of an old man, that when you come to give an account of them to the Lord Christ, at his judgment-seat, you will think you have had enough." As I looked out over the congregation I had charge of, I felt the weightiness of such an accounting to God.
There is useless worry and there is constructive concern. I hope that 2006 will produce more of the latter and less of the former in the pastor of Edson Baptist Church. I am very thankful to be here.