13 January 2009

THE ADVENTURES OF GRAYING PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: Red’s First Meeting

Sunday evening, Red turned to his copy of the Book of Order to prepare for the next day’s meeting of the Session.

He remembered the call from Ellen Dyess, a member of the Nominating Committee. "Red, we are in a real bind. We a short an elder and none of the resting elders wants to come back on session. Someone said you might be good at it, what with your military background. You are probably well organized, eh? What do you say? Can you help us out? It's not hard, just go to the monthly meeting and watch the others."

Red had seen good sessions in his previous churches. He and MAry had been members of Graying for 4 years now. The kids were active in Junior High youth and Red was active in the Men's Morning Bible Study. After he and mary prayed, he agreed.

But now, he realized that no one really knew his qualifications. As he read, he saw that there was much amiss in his election. He had not been examined by the Session about his personal experience of the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ and his progress in spiritual growth. He realized that he should have been examined on the Faith of the Church, the Sacraments, the Government of the Church, the Discipline of the Church, the Worship of the Church, the History of the Church, and an understanding of the office of ruling elder.

Neither he nor the other two new elders had been given any special preparation for their duties. Red had not conferred with the Session about his call to office and his willingness to serve as a ruling elder. The Session had conducted no classes for the new elders, although he had been given a copy of the Book of Order after the Ordination service the week before.

In fact, had he not found the Leadership Training Guide on line and ordered it, he would have had no idea about the weighty office of Ruling Elder.

But now, he was responsible for monitoring the spiritual conduct of the members, and taking action when appropriate. With the other ruling elders, he was to initiate the ministry of evangelism as the first business of the Church, and to seek to lead persons to an acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

He and his colleagues needed to remind parents of the responsibility of presenting their children for Baptism, and to provide instruction as indicated in the Book of Worship. They would receive members, keep rolls, dismiss, restore, grant affiliation, or remove members. They would determine the budget of the church and the benevolence objectives of the congregation. (Whew, at least that’s done for the year!)

It was their job to oversee the educational program of the congregation, to determine its literature and to oversee the work of the Board of Deacons and to oversee the worship of the congregation, including the time and place of worship, special services, the music program, and the celebration of the sacraments. They had to organize themselves for the advancement of the ministry of the Church and the mission of the congregation and to do whatever else was necessary for the spread of the Gospel, the edification of the members, the well being of the church, the advancement of the Kingdom, and the growth in grace of all.

Well, he thought, tomorrow’s meeting will be interesting. At least there won’t be much in the way of specific business. After prayer for the upcoming year, just organizing for ministry, scheduling worship, and coming up to speed on the spiritual health and needs of the congregation ought to take most of the evening.

He read his evening devotional scripture, prayed and turned in for the night.

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At 6:30 Monday evening, Red walked into the Church. His written statement of faith was neatly folded and placed in his Bible at Isaiah 6:8.

As he walked into the Fellowship Hall, he saw that a square of tables had been pushed together so that all of the Elders were able to see one another. He place his Bible, his copy of the Westminster Confession, and his Book of Order at a chair.

Earl Regis and Pastor Rex were standing in a corner reviewing a number of papers.

Paul Peters looked up from reading a pile of papers and smiled. “Ah, fresh meat. Welcome, brother.”

He motioned towards a pile of folders. “Find your folder, Red. We’ve got a busy night tonight.”

Red took a green folder with his name on it. He sat down and opened the folder. A large stack of papers were in one pocket. As he reviewed them, Red found the following

1. Docket 7:00 pm
Establish Quorum, Call to Order, Prayer (5)
Questions and Comments from Visitors (30)
Trustees Report (30)
Deacons Report (5)
Clerk’s Report (5)
Pastor’s Report (10)
Committee Reports (90)
Old Business (5)
New Business (15)
- Welcome New Elders
- Committee Assignments
Close With Prayer NLT 10:30 pm
2. Letters
- Mary Smithers
- Sally Drumwright
- Gertrude Awling
- Cynthia Guthrie
- John Jefferson and Bill Fredericks (e-mail)
3. Trustees Report
- Weekly Financial Breakdown
- Monthly Financial Breakdown
- Year-to-Date
- Year-end Report
- Work-order list
- Investment Report
- Cemetery Report
3. Deacons Report
4. Clerk’s Report
- Baptism Request
- Request to us Sanctuary for Wedding
- Request to Use Fellowship hall
5. Pastor’s Report
6. Committee Reports
- Fellowship
- Discipleship
- Outreach
- Worship
- Mission
- Evangelism

Red was stunned. The meeting was scheduled to run until at least 10:30 pm, but all of the “business” appeared to be “busyness.”

As the other elders began to arrive, Red prayed, Dear Lord, please make me wrong. Please make tonight about You and this flock. Let me use my ears exceedingly, my mouth infrequently, and my mind to Your glory.

As the elders seated themselves, the conversation was all about the Eagle’s win and the potential for a Super Bowl visit. Finally, at 7:15, Pastor Rex called the meeting to order.


Well! Will the Session approve the docket? Will anyone point out that a lot of the busyness can be delegated? Will the Eagles win in Arizona and head for the Super Bowl?

Join us tomorrow for the continuing adventures of Graying Pres.

5 comments:

Rev Kim said...

One of my biggest challenges is getting the Session to not work as "a committee of the whole", to delegate, and to trust the committees to do their work.

And yeah, when some complain about a long Session meeting, it's hard not to point out that if everyone arrived on time, read their reports ahead of time, and stayed focused on the task at hand we'd be much more efficient.

Now about those Eagles of yours...though I've sworn off the Cowboys until there is new ownership (see lengthy rant at my blog for more), I think I'm pulling for the Cardinals. Or the Chargers.

Quotidian Grace said...

Read a report ahead of time? Not discuss a report unless it required action by the session to approve a recommendation? Surely you jest!

~tongue in cheek~

Mac said...

My Kim was a 'Boys fan, too. The wailing an gnashing of teeth a couple of weeks ago was......delicious!

Reformed Catholic said...

Keep 'em coming, Mac. Your nomination process sounds a lot like the one that was in process here.

"All you need to do is show up for the meeting, and occasionally vote on things."

Bill Crawford said...

Mac,

Unfortunately all too true. One story from old and graying land - conversation in a real session meeting:

Will you do the benediction of Sunday?

I wouldn't know what to say.

Just read one of Paul's benedictions?

Who is Paul?

.......

Stunned silence.