The joy that congregational meetings can be

The joy that congregational meetings can be

I recently wrote some documents for our church annual general meeting. I know, that sounds boring, right? Most of us hate going to meetings, and we usually have a series of drawn-out unnecessary meetings in our past that have made us feel that way. Yet preparing these documents were a great reminder of God’s kindness to the church I am a part of.

We don’t notice things if we see them consistently over time. For example, I have three boys, and we measure their heights on their birthdays. It is surprising to see that they have grown so much year on year because the daily growth is small. It is when we take the time to compare things with a previous time that we notice there has been a change.

One of the documents I prepared was a description of all of the ministries currently taking place at our church. It is humbling to be reminded that although I am part of some of them, there is so much more happening. New people have started attending Bible studies. Our English classes have continued to present Jesus to people despite the borders of our State being closed for two years. We purchased new office space. Our afternoon service that started last year is being a consistent blessing. We have ordained a new elder. We have generously supported eleven different missions. Our youth group has grown. New service leaders have been trained. We employed our first ministry apprentice.

It has been a good year for our church in so many ways, yet the collective impact of all of these things is stronger than the individual positive things. Many people in our church family are using their gifts to serve others. And any list of ministries cannot capture the whole truth of what happens in a church. It cannot capture the phone calls and meals that have been delivered to those in need, the constant prayers, and the shared lunches.

There is an old hymn that encourages Christians to count our blessings, and this endeavour has been a positive one for me (even though I don’t look forward to the work involved in preparing the reports). It is helpful to look back on God’s kindness to us.

Of course, not every year will be so positive, and not every ministry has worked well. Some have stopped running for some reason; some initiatives have not worked as well as we might have hoped. Some people have moved to other churches or gone overseas. Some young adults who grew up in the church have actively rejected Jesus at this point. We live in a fallen world. Yet even amongst the heartbreak, we can see God’s goodness to us if only we would stop and look.

Meetings don’t need to be boring. They can be a celebration of God’s goodness.