Wednesday, July 29, 2009

FBCF Passes Church Covenant

I blogged earlier (see here) about the proposed covenant being considered by First Baptist Church of Farmersville.

Sunday evening, our church adopted the covenant with 91% of those voting supporting the adoption of the covenant. I'm proud of our congregation. We discussed the matter thoroughly. We probably spent a cumulative total of 4 hours in congregational discussion about the covenant over the past three months. That's not counting at least 2 hours of discussion by the deacons and an untracked and incalculable amount of time spent over the course of the past several years in development of this document.

At First Baptist Farmersville, we believe in allowing every member of our congregation his or her opportunity as a believer to pray about our congregational decisions and to share what they perceive to be the results of that prayer. I mentioned the above high percentage of consensus for adopting the covenant, but you would be wrong if you presumed that 91% of our congregation had no questions about the covenant or that 91% of our congregation started out in favor of this action when they first heard about it. The document has been improved along the way by the input of our congregation. Congregation members' understandings and opinions of the document and that nature of the church have grown through the unfolding dialogue that we as a congregation pursued. We had a robust discussion about this before our vote.

I thought that the 90 minutes spent Sunday evening discussion this covenant represented the absolute apex of biblical congregationalism. I felt like we were experiencing Acts 15 all over again in some sort of an updated framework. The leadership of elders was a part of the experience. The members of the congregation interacted with one another. The whole congregation had an opportunity to express its approval of our final outcome. And this business meeting was not centered around financial statements or paint colors or indemnity—we spent 90 minutes talking about people, their relationships with the Lord, how to aid new believers in their spiritual growth, how to have a biblical church of mutual accountability and encouragement without its devolving into legalism. We spent far more time conversing with one another about spiritual things than about temporal things. I was so proud of our congregation.

The highlight for me was the church member who told the story about having used the list of scriptures given in the church covenant to minister to couples having marital problems, young believers struggling to grow spiritually, and even to witness to some lost people. We discussed the use of the covenant catechetically (OK, so that particular word never actually entered the congregation) as a curriculum framework for an ongoing class for new believers, new members, and people who just think that the class would be helpful for their spiritual growth.

Our Constitution & Bylaws vote has been delayed. It turns out that changes in the Texas Business Organizations Code make it worthwhile for us to postpone that vote while we secure a legal review of our organizational documents (both those in force now and those proposed).

Monday I shared this thought with my pastoral staff: The job before this congregation now is to proceed with such careful grace, such heavenly wisdom, such mutual love within our congregation, that a decade from now our 91% who voted in favor of the covenant will be glad that they have done so, and that the 9% remaining will rejoice that their fears did not materialize. Perhaps even more importantly, we need to fall on our faces before the Lord and ask him to work through our growing emphasis upon the biblical nature of the church to see the large numbers of people who are members of our church but were not present for the vote—those who are never present for anything at the church—either saved if they are lost or reclaimed for Christ's service through our persistent gracious and restorative wooing of them in Christ's name.

Upon my return from London, I will share some of my reflections upon this process so far, as well as my hopes and fears for the work yet to do.


Andrew said...

I am glad that your church meeting went so well...what a success for cordial and Christlike business meetings!

On a related note, recently heard about a church that has virtually split over a less cordial, less grace-filled (may I say legalistic) covenant. Would you mind walking us through how you managed to "get everyone on board" and why you chose the wording you did? (I think I know, but I would like to hear you say it!)

Anonymous said...

I wanted to get your thoughts on an unrelated matter that I brought to your attention sometime ago.

I cannot understand why women close to my own age will not give me respect or try to establish some kind of a meaningful friendship or relationship. Of course I am talking about single women.

I am really beginning to wonder if the so-called formula for marriage today that is used is the Bible way. Let me explain. I recently read a book. It was letters that Robert E. Lee had written during the Civil War to mostly his family. All throughout the book, many times he referred to someone that would make a good wife or husband for a family member. When the 2 in reference eventually made acquaintance, most of the time they married. But today the process has become something similar to a rat going through a maze. So the question I am asking you is, the system of modern times of 2 people meeting, striking up a friendship, and ultimately marrying- is this the Bible way, or have we strayed from the original purpose? If it is the Bible way, then why is so much misery and suffering encountered by so many people? And why does every single woman I come in contact with want to chat for a little while and talk about general things, but anytime you bring up going out or meeting over lunch, etc......... the bomb has been dropped. I then become this terrible person they want to avoid. Why? You know , my impression of the average female anywhere close to my own age is becoming very unfavorable, whether they are unmarried or married. Now the older generation of ladies, that's a different story all together. They were the real matriarchs. I should have been born in 1864 instead of 1964.

You know I just don't get it. Everywhere you look, people date, marry, shack up. And that brings me to this point. It's so funny when 2 people say they are moving in to "share expenses." Give me a break. I'm sure you know young and old who have done this.

Just think about this in regards to your personal situation. If you were 45 with no wife or children, would your situation in life be the same? Do you think you would still be a minister? Sometimes we all need to stop and just think and analyze different situations. And what about this? Say you were not married, and someone came along that was of a different religion, whether it be Methodist, Catholic, Holiness, Church of Christ, etc. But this person was as solid as a rock, in every way. Would that be tempting to you if they wanted you to convert to their way of worship? You might tend to say no, but you probably have never been in that type of situation.

To sum it up, women have ruined my life. No two ways about it. Tell me this........ what would it have hurt for the lady at a local cafe to meet one afternoon over a drink, after you have carried on a few conversations with her for a period of time? This is not just one instance, but several others in much the same situation.

Again let me present the question to you. Is the concept of marriage today, the true Bible way? If it is, why is so much misery and heartache attatched to it? Why has it destroyed so many? Something to think about.

If you are going to say that is just was not meant to be for some, I refuse to believe it applies to me. I intend to hold out until the very end. I believe it can be for me. Did you ever think it wasn't for you? If you did, that turned out to be wrong. So many people gripe and complain about how hard they have it with the kids crying and all of the chores that go along with it like taking them to ball practice, cleaning up after them, helping them with school work, doctors visits, and such. Well........ let me tell you something......... I would more than welcome having to deal with some of that. God Bless you.

Alex said...

Ignoring the lovelorn anonymous and returning to the subject I profess some surprise that this covenant caused any dispute at all.

What were 1 in 10 of the members against?

Anonymous said...

Just maybe someone needs to ignore you. It would be interesting to find out what type of person you are. If you know what hard work and sacrifice are all about. If you were in dire need at 3:00 AM and called on someone, would you want to be ignored then. I have learned this in life and you just may do so as well. Be careful who you direct your comments to when you do not know them and have no clue as to the situation. One day you might be begging for something in return.

Nathan Finn said...


I am thrilled to hear the new covenant passed with affirmation from over 90% of the congregation. What an exciting era in the life of FBCF. I pray that this new covenant will further the church in its labors for the sake of the gospel in Texas, all of the North America, and to the ends of the earth.