WCAS Principles of Action #6
Principle #6: Participants learn how to work effectively in board and constituency meetings.
Paul, more than any other of the apostles, addressed the widest range of issues affecting not only the global but the local church.
His words in I Corinthians 14:40 are as follows: “But let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner.”
In part, the importance of this counsel is reflected in WCAS’s Principles of Action #6: “Participants learn how to work effectively in board and constituency meetings.” It should be more than hypothetical that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is governed by committee from the bottom up. Because we are a world church someone has rightly said that we are to pray globally and act locally. Given this, it should be treated as no small matter that any one of us is a member of a church board! Here are several suggestions that you as a church board member might follow:
As an engaged church member, and especially as a board member, you need to study through the Church Manual. Its seventeen chapters actually make for interesting study. A few of the chapter headings are:
6) Church Membership
7) Church Officers and Their Duties
8) Services and Meetings of the Church
10) Ministers and Workers in Relation to the Church
11) Church Election
14) Church Discipline
15) Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
Church members who serve on their local church board are likely to be selected to serve as delegates to conference and even union conference constituency meetings. It is imperative for such members to become skilled in the basics of parliamentary procedure. Many local church board/business meetings follow what is known as “Robert’s Rules of Order.” They provide the universal standard for conducting formal meetings for groups committed to representative forms of governance. An internet search for and printout of “Robert’s Rules Cheat Sheet” will provide a useful, reader-friendly copy that provides numerous scenarios calling for the use of different rules and motions. Beyond this, begin to utilize and encourage the employment of these rules by your fellow board members.
In conclusion, I call your attention to several challenges that your local church board will likely have to work through—perhaps sooner than later. In listing these my interest is that our local church boards assume their responsibility in developing agreed-upon positions to be ratified where necessary by their churches in business session that will be biblically based and serve to preserve the unity of their congregations.
1. Based on recent developments, local church boards are being left to decide what should be the membership status of individuals identifying with the LGBT+ lifestyle. One question is, “Should people who do not act and dress in harmony with their sex at birth be allowed to become members, or if so, hold elected church office? “ Another question, “Should the church board leave the answer to the above question in the hands of their pastor?”
2. With the growing influence of worldliness in our churches, some of our pastoral families are soft on certain lifestyle standards that inspired counsel would have them uphold—especially those pertaining to the health message, modesty of dress, and entertainment. Should the church board oblige their pastor to lead his family in reflecting God’s counsel?
3. Some Adventist pastors are not on board with our church’s alignment with the Genesis account of creation being historical. Consequently these same pastors do not preach “the everlasting gospel” in the prophetic context of Revelation 14:6-12. Should the church board continue to support such a pastor?
Generally speaking (thank God for the exceptions!) our members do not rise above the spirituality of their leaders. Without inspired leadership, the steady diet of secularism, fantasy and meaninglessness in our culture weighs upon our members. Increased spiritual apathy and complacency is one of the greatest threats to the genuineness (and unity) of our experience in the local church. Those who are members of their church boards and delegates at their constituency meetings are to make a difference from the local to the global for the cause of Christ.
I’m reminded of Ellen White’s clear statement, “The whole of the gospel is embraced in the third angel’s message, and in all our work the truth is to be presented as it is in Jesus….Let nothing [as noted above] lessen the force of the truth for this time. The third angel’s message must do its work of separating from the [fallen] churches a people who will take their stand on the platform of eternal truth. Our message is a life and death message. And we… are to present it in all its telling force. Then the Lord will make it effectual.” Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases (Washington, D.C.: Ellen G. White Estate, 1981) Vol. 1, p. 58.