One of my seminary professors often spoke of how we ought to aspire for our church council meetings to become a worshipful space. Between the snickers of disbelief and skeptical questions about the viability of such a practice, I got the sense that most of my classmates found this idea improbable, if not downright impossible. Myself included.
Fortunately for us, God doesn't remain bound by our disbelief or doubt. Fortunately for me, that meant last night God showed up in a powerful way at our council meeting. While I wouldn't necessarily call it a worshipful experience, we engaged in deeply prayerful conversation around our current financial realities, our future ministry hopes, community issues that need addressed, and the identity shift we're currently undertaking as a congregation.
This all began with a simple devotional practice at the outset of the meeting. We asked one another to share one placed we'd seen God at work since the last meeting, and one place we wanted to see God at work in the congregation in the coming month. What powerful stories we heard! Finding God working to bring healing and hope to youth with special needs. Seeing God moving at home through acts of surprising kindness. Even the candor of admitting that, with so many illnesses, disasters, and violences, that it's sometimes quite hard to see God at all.
These prayerful conversations provided an incredible foundation from which to consider the life of our congregation. It brought a tone of authenticity and hopefulness to our time. We began to lift up examples within our congregation of good stewards rather than shrink from facing our next stewardship campaign. We discussed difficult decisions like budget changes with a sense of purpose rather than a fear of the process.
Providing this kind of groundwork in council meetings, a foundation where we not only pray to God but share our stories about God and hopes for meeting God in the future, provided us with a powerful, prayerful conversation. This matters not only to those who were in attendance, but as the leadership more deeply engage God, helps to provide a faithful footing from which the entire congregation ministers.
Simultaneously a sinner and a saint.