Articles

Written by Dan Busby
From his column God, Government and Me—Money in the Church

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Your church board meeting is probably always opened and closed with prayer. Anything less might be considered sacrilege! But what about those times in between the opening and closing bells at your board meetings? Does your board send up prayers at appropriate times? Now, the review of the minutes from the last board meeting may not require prayer. Nor am I suggesting that boards should routinely pray for every board agenda item—this would reduce prayer to the perfunctory. But taking time to pray should not be limited to board decisions. There may be occasions for prayers of thanksgiving when God has helped the church achieve a significant goal.

A good time to pray might be after the pastor’s report. Your pastor may be weary. But a prayer of encouragement might have the effect of Aaron and Hur when they lifted Moses’ arms toward heaven to keep the power flowing (Exodus 17:12.)

Based on many years of service, it is my observation that boards often miss prime opportunities to be empowered by our Heavenly Father. It is this simple: God’s power is revealed in the boardroom when members pray together. I believe God wants to release His power in your church boardroom. This power may come in the form of:

  1. Wisdom – a plan of action that the board cannot determine on its own.
  2. Courage – more than the board could ever muster on its own.
  3. Confidence – an uncommon belief that the board is on the right track.
  4. A miracle – for example, God may move a giver to fill a huge financial need.

If boards often miss the nudge from the Holy Spirit, how can this be overcome? Let me share a few ways:

  1. Having an attitude of need for God's help. God’s power comes when boards realize they cannot handle things on their own. We need to enter the boardroom with receptivity to hearing from the Holy Spirit. Such an attitude recognizes that we don’t have all the answers and need His direction.
  2. Committing to slow down—lower the RPMs. If a board is running behind on its agenda, stopping to take time to pray may seem like an imposition. But it is possible to be aware of God’s gentle promptings throughout a session and still efficiently get through the meeting.
  3. Understanding that any board member can feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit. It may seem as if only the pastor should call for prayer during a meeting, but this should not be. Every board member has equal access to the Holy Spirit hotline. The board chair should make it clear that any member should feel free to “throw the flag” when he or she senses a need for prayer.

St. Ignatius outlined three occasions for when it is especially important to be discerning about key decisions. These seem to apply to those made by church boards, like:

  1. A revelatory time – when something becomes evident beyond the shadow of a doubt, and conviction is crystal clear (Saul fell to the ground blinded by the light).
  2. A discerning time – when facing a major decision there are interior movements of consolation or desolation about whether to move forward or pull back.
  3. A waiting time – when you don’t know what to do and are feeling stuck, like a sailboard without wind.

A revelatory time may not require prayer in a board meeting; however, when a board is in a discerning or a waiting time, prayer is often just what is needed.

Church boards carry out the work of Christ, so they need to seek His will and guidance in their decision making. When a board prays regularly, sincerely, and specifically, God will answer their prayers, and He will be glorified.

Dan Busby is a certified public accountant and president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). This column is an excerpt from a soon-to-be-published book entitled Lessons from the Church Boardroom by Busby and John Pearson.

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