Maybe you hear that and think that church meetings are boring, potentially contentious, an antiquated way of doing things, and that the people who “really care” about that kind of stuff can get involved in “that kind of stuff”.
I get it. I’ve been there, too.
Growing up as a PK (Pastor’s Kid), I attended my fair share of church meetings. Most were boring. Several got off track. A few were quite tense. At least one was a major dumpster fire that I think might still be burning today. And even though none of these experiences directly involved me, they did involve people I loved - my family and friends.
Needless to say that church meetings did not inspire me to follow Jesus and certainly was not the reason I chose to say, “yes” to God’s call into pastoral leadership and ministry.
But then, a series of conversations changed my mind. Now, today, it’s one of the most anticipated meetings that I prepare for and look forward to all year long.
I went to counseling.
At the time, I was seriously considering changing careers from pastoral leadership to organizational consulting. It was so serious that I had the open invitation to join an extremely reputable firm and become the lead person working with large and complex religious nonprofits and schools in the area of vision, mission, and strategic change management.
It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy pastoring. I wasn’t burned out. Besides not working every weekend, double the salary, and traveling (a lot) along with the perks were very appealing to me.
After two weeks of counseling, it became evident that the potential career change was not really the issue. I was fearing the upcoming Annual Voters’ Meeting. And the opportunity to avoid it was there, ready, and available.
My counselor helped me reframe my past experiences of the boring formalities of Robert’s Rules of Order, the people who would have challenged the filibuster record, the tense discussions (usually filled with unhelpful and un-Jesus like behavior), and the unresolved dumpster fire that was still smoldering in my heart.
She asked me, “what would your ideal annual meeting look like and how can you be part of the solution”?
It was that conversation that changed my mindset from a “victim” to a “victor”. I carried influence. I had freedom. I was not a victim of my past experiences, but a leader to create a different, healthier, and more effective one.
She then said something like this: Tim, the church is a family. How can your meeting feel more like family than business?
Shortly after, I made the decision to stick with pastoring. I met with my Board and shared my childhood experiences and together we made our meetings feel more like family than business.
As a Board, we began eating together. Laughing together. Celebrating together. Dreaming together. And all of this helped us make decisions and work better… together.
And that Annual Voters’ Meeting… it was one of the best! We ate together. We celebrated together. We laughed together. We dreamed together. And then we made some very important decisions together. And we left… together.
I still have a degree of anxiety when it comes to church meetings. That’s part of my story that I probably will always need to be attentive of and be working through. Let’s be honest, working through trauma and with ourselves is never done.
Here’s my point… if you’re like me and think that our upcoming Annual Voters’ Meeting on June 12 is going to be boring, potentially contentious, antiquated, or is “for the people who really care about that kind of stuff”… you aren’t alone. I’ve been there, too.
It truly is one of the most anticipated meetings that I prepare for and look forward to all year long. And while I can’t humanly guarantee anything - I can guarantee that we will eat together, laugh together, celebrate together, dream together, and make some decisions together (albeit in a formal way because there are state laws governing some of our organizational processes).
We will be family… together.
My prayer is that if you choose to be a part of it, you will find some new friends, mingle with some old ones, laugh, have fun, celebrate, dream with me about our future together, and then leave more together at the end of the meeting than we were when it began.
Because in the end - we are family.
Meet Pastor Tim
Tim Bayer has served as Our Savior's Lead Pastor since September 2019. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University - Irvine, a National Leadership Facilitator and Resource, and a Community Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Tim studied sociology, psychology, and theology prior to earning his M.Div at Concordia Seminary - St. Louis. He has also is a candidate for an Ed.D (ABD) in Transformational Leadership. He is married to Beth and they have three young children. Together, they enjoy exploring the outdoors, experiencing culture, and pizza and movie nights.