Everybody mumbled and grumbled about too many ministry meetings for pastors and elders at the higher governing body level. We all had other important work to do at our churches. These meetings lasted too long. They required time and travel. And worse, the content of the meetings drained our energy. We dealt with one problem after the other. It was discouraging.
Then at one meeting our Executive Presbyter, that’s a fancy name for the pastor to all the pastors, stood up and said, “We are adding an additional item to the agenda. We will spend 15 minutes in guided table talk.” I gasped at the cruelty. These meetings were bad enough. Now the leaders expected us to talk to each other. I mumbled, “Why can’t we just get on with the business?” I didn’t want to talk to other people for 15 minutes!
Sheets of paper were passed around to each round table where 5 - 7 people sat for the meeting. There were three questions on the paper.
1) Where have you seen God at work inside your church?
2) Where have you seen God at work in your neighborhood?
3) How can you meet up with God in this work?
Now, in my years of ministry it was customary for pastors and others to complain about the church. Conversations often centered around needing more people, not having enough money, hurt feelings and other negative frustrations.
It took a minute to let the first question settle in. Sadly, I was used to feeling the absence of God. I had to visualize the presence of God. I dwelt on the question, “Where have I seen God at work inside my church?”
A scene came to mind of two members at my church getting coffee ready. One member had lost a husband and child 20 years ago. She was still a positive, light-hearted soul. The other had a very sick wife. They weren’t just making coffee. They were sharing life. God was there in the kitchen.
I thought about the second question, “Where have you seen God at work in your neighborhood?” Several ministries appeared to me that I had never really taken noticed of in the community. The thought occurred that God was working in my neighborhood!
Suddenly, for 5 to 15 minutes in this tepid meeting, I found myself excitedly talking about positive aspects of ministry and where I have been seeing God. The ways to meet with God came flooding into my mind.
Our Executive Presbyter encouraged us to look, see and meet with what God is already up to. He moved us from the negative side to the positive side. He told us to build on that momentum. Join the work God is doing.
After that meeting I began to look around my church differently. My eyes sought places where God was at work, rather than looking for places where I wished God was working. Now, I saw God already present.
Where do you see God at work already? In your life? Your work? Our church? Our neighborhood? How can you meet up with God? I love those meetings!
REV. TREY HEGAR