The New Testament is intentionally vague about the precise details of how decisions should be made in the church. What it does teach is that local congregations should be led by a group of elders and the whole congregation should be involved in some decisions, such as church discipline.
In an attempt to best capture the biblical example of church leadership, Whitton Avenue Bible Church is largely elder-led. However, we meet annually for all the members to vote on items we believe to be significant enough to require the affirmation of the whole church before making a final decision. As we prepare for the meeting on Thursday, February 16th, I wanted to share two items we will vote on (apart from approving the budget) so you can prayerfully consider your decision.
1. Vote of Confidence for Don Vander Giessen
According to our bylaws, “An Elder may serve two consecutive [three-year] terms with a seventy percent (70%) vote of confidence by a quorum of the church membership prior to each term.” Don is currently completing his first three-year term and, at the encouragement of all of the elders and his wife Jacque, desires to serve another three-year term. I appreciate the theological bearings and God-centered perspective Don has brought to our elder team for the last three years, as well as his ministry at the personal and public levels. That being said, we hold this vote to give anyone with concerns an opportunity to question the continuation of an elder’s ministry, so if you have such concerns please contact me [firstname.lastname@example.org] as soon as possible.
2. Vote to Support Dan and Anna Julian
Our church’s purpose statement includes bringing glory to God through reaching out with the gospel of Jesus Christ. While we focus on this in our own neighborhood, we also desire to engage in what God is doing globally through the efforts of cross-cultural missionaries.
In an effort to do this well, we have distinguished between “sent” missionaries and “partner” missionaries. As the name suggests, sent missionaries are actually sent out from our church to make disciples and plant churches in another culture. Currently we have two sent missionary families: the Simon family in Brazil and the Vuletic family in Croatia. These are families who were part of our church for a significant amount of time before following God’s call to cross-cultural missions. Partner missionaries are those who were not sent out from our church but who are nevertheless friends and partners in the gospel.
The connection between these categories and our annual meeting on Thursday comes down to a question of support. While we support partner missionaries with our prayers and the financial support of individuals in our church, we give the added support of general budget funding to our sent missionaries. Thus the Simon and Vuletic families are in our church’s general budget while the others are not. On Thursday we will vote on whether we should add the Julian family in as another line item for ongoing support. In particular, we are proposing $330/month or $3,960/year in support (the support would be pledged but will not begin until the Julians have raise the majority of their funds).
The weight I pray you will feel as you make this decision is not primarily financial but spiritual. When we commit as a church to financially support a missionary family, they are committing to us a higher level of accountability regarding their personal integrity, their spiritual health, their doctrinal fidelity, and their hard work in ministry. Likewise, we commit to an increased level of prayer, care, and accountability toward the sent missionaries. So I would ask you to take some time to look at the Julians’ website, listen to the sermon Dan preached in October, and contact me with any questions or concerns you may have. Dan will be in attendance at the meeting on Thursday to answer any questions you have in person.
Finally, if you have not looked at the packet for the meeting, please look at the documents here so you can be prepared to bring up any questions or concerns you may have at the meeting.
Our greatest desire in meeting together is to highlight the greatness and mercy of our God in the most strategic way possible. I look forward to meeting with you on Thursday toward this end.