It’s budget and nomination season at Centennial, and I thought I would take this opportunity to review some of the ins and outs of these two things. Our denomination’s Constitution speaks to the congregation’s role in the budget and nomination processes. In our Form of Government, you can find these responsibilities for congregations listed, “Election of elders, deacons (the number determined by the congregation), and the congregational officers,” and “Adoption of the congregational budget as prepared by the Diaconate and approved and recommended by the Session” (ARP Form of Government, 3.24.B, D). I would like to draw y’all’s attention to two words: election and adoption.
First, the word election regarding how elders and deacons come into their offices. If someone is unfamiliar with the process of how our officers come to be ordained into ministry, it can seem very convoluted. First, there is a special Nominations Committee formed. Second, the names of individuals the committee feels are qualified and called to service are brought to the Session. Third, the Session either approves or rejects the nominations. If the slate of candidates to be nominated is not approved, it can either be sent back to the Nominations Committee or taken up by the Session. Once a list of those nominated is approved, it can then be taken to the congregation. But literally, nothing but a nod of approval has happened at this point. Only with the congregation’s election of these candidates are the nominated individuals formally called to service.
Second, the word adoption in reference to the budget also carries similar weight. If you happened to notice the language, the Diaconate prepares a budget, the Session approves and recommends the budget, but only the congregation can adopt the budget. In other words, the power rests in the people’s hands. The deacons and elders seek only to serve in bringing forward a worthy budget that the congregation will find satisfying. Again, it is the congregation alone that can enact the church’s budget.
There is powerful doctrine being revealed in these two things. God has called His people to a personal ownership of His work on earth, and that is seen in the real and tangible responsibilities of church membership. Oftentimes in churches, two of the primary responsibilities spoken of is tithing and service. That is to say, monetary gifts and being a part of different ministries (like singing, nursery care, teaching, and so on). These two things are very important, but what the leadership sometimes forgets to convey is the ownership of the members. This is what our denomination believes about the congregation: “The purpose of a congregation is to glorify God by conducting public corporate worship, bringing the lost to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, building them up in the Christian faith, and preparing them for Christian service” (FOG, 3.2). The nuts and bolts of this are the tithing and service, but these things come about as we as a family at Centennial begin to own it. Casting a thought-out vote on the election of elders and deacons as well as the budget is a part of that ownership. This is why we as a church have the informational Wednesday night discussion of the budget before the Sunday meeting. It’s also why the slate of those nominated is published beforehand. It gives each member opportunity to reach out to those individuals if they want more information.
Simply put, God has given us ownership in the work here at Centennial. I praise God that we can move forward together as a family. And I praise God that I get to serve each of you. My only request is that you own it. Get more information if you need it. Reach out to me or any of the other elders. And above all else, seek God’s glory. Blessings to you each of you.