Dear members and friends of Valley Park,
This is the month for final budget preparation and approval by the church membership. The Annual Budget Meeting will be held Sunday, June 30th. Our next fiscal year begins July 1st. If you are a member of Valley Park you may either pick up a copy of the annual proposed budget on June 16th or request one so that you can review it before the Annual Budget Meeting.
Many Christians go to church assuming that the business and ministries of the church are managed by leaders paid by the church. Valley Park is managed in a different way. Valley Park empowers members of the church to lead and to guide. The word we use to describe our kind of church management is “Congregational Rule.”
“Congregational Rule” means that every person who becomes a member of the church is empowered with a voice in decision-making and more. This means that every member has a vote at congregational meetings and has a voice equivalent to, if not greater than the pastor, staff, and others in leadership. Recognizing this type of church management, a member can embrace decision-making and ministry involvement knowing that such involvement is a representation of authority entrusted to members.
There are pros and cons of “congregational rule.” One of the most important reasons I like it is that it is respectful of the value of every Christian in the Body of Christ. It is also respectful of every member of the Body of Christ to serve the corporate good of the church without promoting him or herself as a leader. Jesus taught the following:
“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.“Matthew 23:8-12
This teaching of Jesus emphasizes that we are “all brothers” so that all titles associated with leadership or authority should be avoided. The value Jesus wanted exemplified in the Body of Christ was “servant leadership.” That is why our best leaders are those who serve. Jesus desires that “the greatest among you shall be your servant.”
So, at the heart of Valley Park Church, and one of the most important principles I try to promote, is the value of the congregation and the commitment of every member to “servant leadership.” Servant leadership empowers and entrusts members with both the responsibility and privilege of voting on matters of significance in the church. But it is more than this. It is that we also stress that the strength of the church is the ministries created, managed and accomplished by the members who serve. What we are able to accomplish together as a TEAM (Together Embracing A Mission) is greater than what we can accomplish as individuals.
So, it is extremely important to nurture a “congregational rule” model for our church because it prioritizes servanthood embraced by every member as the best form of leadership. The term TEAM represents we are Together Embracing A Mission and that the leadership we prioritize embraces and encourages the involvement of every member in leading the church. We are all brethren working together as servants of one Teacher, One Father, One Leader. We are all servants and we seek to be exalted by Him in the future as we humble ourselves in the present. The reputation of VP is the result of what we do, whether on Committees in the church or simply by serving people in every setting. I love to hear about what people encounter at VP after visiting or attending.
“I was greeted by a lot of loving people when I visited the church”
“People at VP seem to really care about each other.”
I received a lot of caring cards and calls after my surgery.”
“I have learned to understand the Bible better because of studies and teaching.”
These are things I have heard that make me proud of VP. These things flow from members who pay attention to people even when not working in one of the ministries of VP such as Children’ Ministry, Youth Ministry, Missions, Hospitality, Shepherding, Property Maintenance, Administration, Worship). Our strength as a church is the product of what each member does to serve. Our members, cooperating together impact the lives of others beyond what any one leader can do.
In this sense, servant leadership, the one thing we are all called to pursue as Christians, is a habit in life that we practice in every context. It is what visitors encounter and remember. It is what our members and friends most appreciate from their involvement in the life of VP. It is what Jesus referenced when He said, “whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” It is what makes our Lord and Savior proud. It is what our Lord and Savior rewards.
If you are a member of VP, consider how you will serve the church more in the year to come in order to make people feel welcomed, loved and encouraged. Attend and vote at congregational meetings like our Annual Budget Meeting on June 30th. But be mindful of the importance of doing more than voting. Ask not what your church can do for you. Ask what you can do for your church.
To God be the Glory,