All church meetings have one thing in common…the need for approval. Whether it’s a nominations committee, an administrative council meeting, our pastor-parish committee, or the annual charge conference…we have to approve items. Often, these items are names of people to serve in some capacity within our church family.
This is uncomfortable for me to say the least. As a woman, my brain and my heart immediately go to women of the Bible who some might not have approved of, yet who Christ embraced. If I were a man, I would probably think of men so please don’t be offended. Many of us, might have been reluctant to really get to know the woman at the well. Especially if we found out she had been married four times and was now living unmarried with another man. Would we have encouraged her to join the weekday ladies Bible study? Would we have invited her to a circle meeting? Christ didn’t hesitate to embrace her for a moment.
Other women have played significant roles in the history of Christianity. Rahab would probably not have been approved by the church council, yet she helped the Israelites and holds a place in the lineage of Jesus Christ. Even Shiphrah and Puah might have been underestimated by one of our committees. Aren’t we so thankful God knew the strength of their faith and used them for his glory?
These women and their stories, make me look at people willing to serve through a different lens. I see people who choose to commit to our church in many ways, who take the steps to become a member, who are in varied places in their faith journeys, and I wonder what God has in store for them AND our church family. Actually, I try really hard to look at people that way the first time they walk through the door. I don’t see their limitations and flaws, because Lord knows I don’t want people sitting around a table talking about mine! I see the possibilities in their personal and individual callings.
Our congregations should be a beautiful hodge podge of different interests, strengths, and gifts. It only makes sense that our committees should resemble that amazing and diverse mixture as well. Without including all voices at the decision-making tables, we can end up falling into the trap of only having people like us…in worship with us. It’s easy to accidentally make people feel unworthy in our efforts to serve. They then leave in search of a church that WILL embrace the calling God has put on their hearts and help them grow in faith, leadership, and service. We all need to remind each other that the approval given by Christ, is sufficient.
The next time our committees meet, let’s look around at the hearts and gifts we might be missing at the table. As church leaders, we should always be walking beside people as they grow in their faith, encouraging them on their way even if that means re-dipping ourselves in that membership class so someone doesn’t have to do it alone. We want to keep growing ourselves and letting others see that process happening. We don’t want to unintentionally become gatekeepers of the buildings or barriers from the love Christ offers everyone. We are called to throw our arms and our doors open to all. Maybe the secret to membership growth we’re all searching for, is opening our leadership teams and committees with the same grace offered people throughout the Bible. Jesus Christ has shown us how…over and over and over again. Don’t miss the possibilities of the hearts right beside you.
“God doesn’t have any favorites!” Romans 2:11
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