Like many other Church of God pastors I spent the better part of a week at the Church of God General Assembly in San Antonio. Overall it was a great week, to see family and friends. It was a high water mark for our family as my brother, Tom Madden, was elected as the International Youth and Christian Education Director. He is well deserving of that post and yes, I am proud of him.
There were incredible "God moments" at the assembly. During a particular business session the Holy Spirit moved on the Ordained Bishops in a fashion I have never seen. During that moment I looked at an associate and said "this is a Like A Mighty Army moment". It truly was.
I leave that assembly with three observations and concerns and will briefly mention them.
1) A Dangerous Precedent - Without trying to explain too much the process of the Assembly, just know that during the particular business session I mentioned a substitute motion to the business at hand was submitted from the floor. The motion was good in content, but was out of order for the process. However, it was allowed to be considered and voted on.
Please understand, I like the motion and the solution it provides for a dilemma in our church. My concern is it subverted due process. That is not just my opinion. Dr. Hollis Gause, an expert in parliamentary procedure, had dinner with my parents the day of the session. He stated "the substitute motion was out of order and should never have been considered". Now again, I like the outcome. But my concern is we have set a precedent that "the end justifies the means".
We must be cautious in the setting aside of our by-laws and process.
2) Will Unity Remain? - There was great unity in the Council as we voted for a plan to reduce our church contributions from 15% to 10% over the next few years. There was great unity when we agreed that these reductions should be spread across international, state, and the Missions Department. My concern is that when the ideas become reality, will the unity remain.
When the cut impacts people close to us, will we still be unified? When the reduction eliminates jobs of people we know and love, will there be unity? When the ministry I love, be it Lee University or Missions or Youth or __________ (you fill in the blank) is impacted by the reduction I voted for, will there be unity? Time will tell.
3) What Are the True Motives? - There was a concerted effort at this assembly by a group of bishops to bring about change. I have no fault with that and probably by some am considered to be a part of that. Change is not bad and I agree with most of the actions the Assembly took.
But beneath it all I wonder about our motives. Is it change we want because we feel a particular issue needs to be addressed or corrected, or is it POWER we want? Hmmmm, time will tell.
Time will tell.