Command and teach these things… Set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love …
1 Timothy 4:11-12
Years ago, while visiting the church I now serve, I was shown a thick binder. It was a copy of the congregation’s policy manual, and it contained job descriptions for church staff, a procedure for accepting donations, the responsibilities of various committees, and so on. There was even a policy for reviewing policies!
Just looking through the manual made me tired. I am not naturally a detail person. However, having been at the church for a few years now, I can say I am thankful for the policy manual. Wisdom from the past, as collected in that binder, has often spared us from confusion and turmoil.
Large parts of Paul’s first letter to Timothy are like a policy manual for a church in that day—Paul’s wisdom to Timothy about various issues in the body of believers. As in our church’s policy manual, these guidelines were tools for shalom (peace and vitality) in the church. Neither church life nor church ministry can survive for long on good intentions. Both need structure.
Policies that support life and ministry reflect something of God. Remember, some of God’s first acts in Scripture were to set policy: separating light from dark, and wet from dry, to make order from chaos (Genesis 1). Like God’s decrees, good policies establish and preserve shalom.
Lord, sometimes it’s easy to bash policies and procedures. They seem so … unspiritual. Give us wisdom to know good policy from bad. And give us insight into you! Amen.
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