My late friend, Dan McBride was a Baptist humorist from Jacksonville, Texas. Dan’s album “Tiptoe Through The Tithers” contains many light hearted songs. One of those songs begins with these words:
“Every month we’ve got a meeting in our plan.
It’s the church’s business meeting. Man, oh man!
You’ve really got to see it when you’re in our town,
‘Cause you’ll never see a better fight in 15 rounds!”
Anyone who has ever been present at a business meeting in a Baptist church can relate to this concept! What is it about we Baptists that make us want to argue and fight at business meeting? It matters not whether the meeting is held monthly, quarterly, semi annually, or once a year. In fact, it really doesn’t matter if it is a local church conference, or an associational level meeting, or a national convention. It just seems as though whenever two or three are gathered together to conduct the “business of the Lord and His church”, you can bet that sparks are likely to fly.
What is it about God’s people (who like to talk about spending eternity together in Heaven) that makes them want to step outside over a financial report, or the report from “the ad hoc committee to investigate the empty beer can found on the church parking lot”? Obviously, David, who wrote, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalm 133: 1) never witnessed Baptist brethren in passionate debate over such highly spiritual matters as, “whether to serve ham or turkey at the holiday dinner”, or the ever popular “color of the new carpet” debate. Churches have actually split over such weighty matters as “who should be allowed to have a key to the church kitchen?” As a matter of fact, the church where I grew up came into existence from a church split. The reason? Debate over whether the walls of the Sunday School rooms should be painted or papered! No wonder our business meetings were so lively. It was our heritage!
As a Pastor, myself, I look back on those days and think how “Preacher” Vallance must have dreaded that evil Saturday evening on every month’s calendar. That’s right, Saturday. I have no idea why the church chose to have the monthly business meeting on Saturday, but I can tell you that it often made for interesting Sunday morning services!
Fear of litigation prohibits me from mentioning any names in this chapter, however a number of deacons and assorted other church members certainly distinguished themselves in those “main events” that one neighbor called “The Saturday Night Fights.” Two ladies in particular seemed to have a real talent for kicking off the festivities. Both of them seemed to live only for the opportunity to stir something up at business meeting. I formerly thought that things would have run a little smoother if we had literally enforced Paul’s admonishment to the Corinthians (chapter 14 verse 34), “The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak,…” . However, later in life I served a church who DID practice that. It didn’t work.. Since the women couldn’t speak, one of the deacons would see to it that something got stirred up.
It is absolutely amazing to see the transformation of otherwise “Godly saints” into spiritual pit bulls, bent on having things their way. In the heat of debate, I have actually heard statements like, “I don’t care WHAT the Bible says, here’s the way I feel about it…”. Honestly, I’m not kidding. I’ve actually heard that said in a business meeting! I’ve seen folks get mad and not speak to each other over some silly issue. I’ve heard one church member refer to the pastor’s wife as “an angel faced hypocrite” from the floor in business meeting. I’ve seen folks who haven’t been to church in YEARS show up at business meeting trying to vote on some hot issue. I’ve seen pastors reduced to tears, people walk out in anger, and on one occasion a deacon tell another deacon, “You either meet me at the altar as a Christian, or meet me outside as a man!” I thought that was the worst business meeting action ever, until a Church of God brother related a story to me about two of their preachers getting into it at a district conference. I have no idea what the issue was, but the debate was lengthy and fiery. Both were becoming exasperated with the other to the point that one, not having anything else he could add to the debate, shouted to the other, “Bless God I’ll bust you right in the mouth!” I guess that kind of behavior crosses denominational lines. Kind of makes you want to sing, “To God Be The Glory”, huh?
As a pastor myself, I dread business meeting night. I know we need to hear financial reports, deacon activities, Trustee recommendations, elect teachers and officers, etc. I just wish folks would always be as passionate about evangelism and discipleship, as they sometimes are over how much money we’re spending on toilet paper. I know that business meetings are a necessary evil in Baptist churches. I’d just like to see Christians act like Christians when the dreaded date rolls around!
Romans 12: 9-18 “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (KJV)
Ephesians 4: 29-32 “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (KJV)