Ye pay the tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted
the weightier matters of the law, judgement, mercy, and faith:
these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Matthew 23:23

He stood up from his seat near the back of the auditorium. At a glance, his gray hair might cause you to think he was a granddad. But his black goatee and smooth face served as evidence that he was a younger man, a man with two kids in the church, kids who belonged to the church youth group. With the reading of the church budget ended and the Pastor ready to field whatever remarks came from the congregation, the floor was opened for questions.

“We send a lot of money around the world to get the Gospel to other people. That’s good. But we have quite a few here who could use help from us to get to church camp this summer. I vote that the church put more funds towards that,” he said, “Thank you.” And he sat down.

The pastor waited a moment to respond, and in that moment he rubbed his chin as he is wont to do when thinking while at the pulpit. Church business meetings are one of those necessary things. For a church to survive, it must tend to the necessary things. How a church tends to those matters reveals much about the church.

The church camp up for discussion is not cheap. Consequently, one could make the argument that families should temper their spending throughout the year and save up for such an expense. Does a vacation need to be as long or as costly with church camp on the schedule? Do Christmas gifts need to be as many or as expensive? Must fast food restaurants be as frequently visited when a highlight such as church camp has been circled on the calendar? Of course, one could make the argument that such a camp be taken off the schedule. Find another place. Or, let the church forego the experience all together and channel its resources elsewhere.

To the first argument, in defense of church families, some live on a tight budget and receive help from their own kin or from other families in the church, and adding an expense such as the specific church camp adds even more strain to some family’s bank accounts. To the second argument, in defense of the church, organizing events that allow the congregation to spend time with one another, especially away from daily routines or distractions, gives members an opportunity to better understand one another, to better understand themselves, and to better understand and love God. However, when the church promotes an event—such as an expensive church camp—it seems calloused to require member families, several of whom are poorer or have three or four or five kids eligible for camp, to come up with all that cash, year after year. In addition, most families at the church go all year long fielding requests and requirements for money, money, money as their kids spend years and years and years in school. The joke criticizing pastors for preaching about money isn’t without validity, but schools spend more time in families’ pockets, and families spend more time at school than they do at church.

After a moment or two, the pastor said, “I think you’re right. While we ought to be wise with our money, the church isn’t a bank. Let’s talk about what the church can cover for the camp expenses. Who, by a raise of hands, is in agreement?”

The church voted to cover all of that year’s camp ticket. A few thousand dollars. Not only did the church pay for the campers, it also took care of the adult sponsors who drove the kids to camp, stayed the whole week, checked on the campers should any emergencies arise, and drove the kids home from camp. At the time of writing this, the church still covers a significant portion of the camp fee for its members, and a church member has loaned the use of his truck to haul the camp luggage trailer. Two church vans haul fifteen youths a piece.

One of the vans has a memorial on it to the man who stood up and asked the church to help with camp expenses. Within the same year, he suffered a fatal accident at work. He passed away in a hospital bed, his wounds too awful in their havoc. The pastor and his wife spent long, hard hours with the man and his family during those days, and after the man’s death, his widow gifted a 15-passenger van to the church. That van has an inscription which reads:

In loving memory of
Robert "Bo" Worrell
1967 - 2012

The church business meeting doesn’t always provide fodder for a memorable story. When it does, not all the memorable stories end with happy resolutions. Quarrels sometimes ensue. Members leave. Pastors quit or resign or get voted out. Churches split. Some church houses close their doors. Nevertheless, business meetings are necessary, and what’s necessary must be accomplished. This rural mountain church continues to be good because it continues to do what is necessary. From the pulpit to the back row, the pastor and the congregation have put their hands to the plow and, though not without failure or faith that sometimes needs quickening, have not turned back from their labor.

Image via Flickr

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


  1. In Amity Schlaes The Forgotten Man she reinterprets the history of the depression and the New Deal by pointing out that no one included those that were taken from (the forgotten man) in order that these programs exist.

    What became of the overseas congregation(s) that this church did not support so their children could go to church camp “for free”?

    What became of the Christian character that might have been developed if the congregation was called to sacrifice more for the Gospel, for each other, and for their brothers and sisters around the world not present at the meeting?

    I am good at saying “What about me?” Not so much “What can I do for him?”


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