Charge Conference

FUMC Pittsburg has Charge Conference in just over a week. Here’s my communication to them about the meeting.

When: Next Sunday, September 25, at 9:00 a.m. Because of this odd hour, we will not have Sunday school that day and our single worship service will be at 10:30, after the Conference.
Where: In the Sanctuary
Who: I’ve asked Howdy Dawson, our District Superintendent (who presides over the meeting) to consider this a Church Conference. As a Church Conference, all full members of the church, regardless of age, are welcome to attend and vote.
What: Here are the main things that we do at Charge Conference:

  • Hear reports summarizing our ministry for the year
  • See the budget for the coming year
  • Elect the slate of leaders for the coming year
  • Make decisions on big issues facing the congregation

Why: The first answer is that the United Methodist system requires it. The better answer is that God has called us together to be one body in Christ. None of us alone has the wisdom and faith necessary to proceed. As we discern God’s will together we do much better than we ever would alone.
Dangers: There are several dangers associated with Charge Conferences.

  • Sometimes strong emotions are present. God made us to be emotional beings, so there is nothing wrong with emotions. Danger arises when we give them control over our actions.
  • Sometimes the way we do meetings leads us to believe churches are another example of American democracy at work. The church is not a democracy. We give our allegiance to the Kingdom of God. We are servants of a King. What the King says counts for more than what we say. Nonetheless, God likes to work through his people, especially the weak.
  • We will be contending with other gods who do not like us on their turf. One of those false gods is Mammon – money. When Mammon accompanies us to church we usually end up fighting, bickering, and fearful. The alternative – which will frustrate Mammon – is learning to trust and obey God in the area of money, a challenge for the rich and poor alike.
  • When we mix strong feelings, personalities, decision-making and fear, non-Christian behavior often results. We attack each other. We forget love. We forget our purpose. We forget Jesus – except when we find him useful for achieving our desires.

This year’s big issues:

  • Election of leaders. Since we’re in the people business, what we do with people is the most important thing we do. When we elect leaders, we’re not looking for representatives of various constituencies or for our favorites. We’re looking for people sold out to Jesus who will lead us in the fulfillment of our mission. This is hard work.
  • Building stuff. The end of the sanctuary renovation (building, windows, organ) is in sight. But now we have to replace the sanctuary roof and our youth building is burned down. What is our next step? What does God want us to do?
  • Pursuing unity. You cannot read the letters to the early churches and not see God’s concern for unity. The three foundations of this unity are: (1) Our common sharing in Christ through the Holy Spirit; (2) Our sharing of a common mission of making disciples; (3) Our growing and abiding love for each other.

Preparation:

  • Pray. Pray hard. Submit yourself to the Lord.
  • Come. You are a part of the Body. We might need God speaking through you.
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