Opinion—The Family Meeting
By Melissa Pratt
Editor’s note—Views expressed in the following op-ed do not necessarily reflect those of Church of God Ministries, Inc., or its affiliates (in this case, we offer an enthusiastic Amen! to the spirit of this article in support of General Assembly participation). We publish op-ed features to provoke thought, stimulate healthy discussion, and inspire us to be with Jesus, become like Jesus, and do what Jesus did. We’ve asked to hear from a diverse range of voices across the Church of God movement. This op-ed features one of these voices.
When our kids were growing up and we needed to get on the same page about something, or when we needed to communicate something weighty, or perhaps when we just wanted to discuss upcoming plans, we called a “family meeting.” There we established that it was okay to share frustrations and feelings, and communicate about hopes and dreams. We typically played a game called “High-Low,” during which we asked our kids to share something that was going well in their lives and then follow that with a challenge, which we could take to prayer. Sometimes our meetings were light and full of laughter. Sometimes we shared tears. Always, however, we were reminded that we were family and were meant to do this life together. Hearing from each other, in intentional ways, like the family meeting, deepened our family bond and gave us understanding about each person.
I view the Church of God regional and national meetings kind of like a family meeting. It’s an opportunity to exchange some highs and pray about some lows. There I am reminded that I am part of a big family of faith, a diverse one, a blessed one. I look forward to hearing the God-stories that emerge in those moments, which remind me I am on the winning side! Our meetings, the General Assembly included, are always filled with inspiration and spiritual vitality that become ministry highlights for me.
I count it a privilege to come alongside brothers and sisters who share struggles and challenges they face back home. We gain strength from the prayers of God’s people, from fellowship with people who “get” the challenges that accompany ministry. Though trekking across the country or driving to a regional event requires time, effort, and money, the result for me is always renewal.
Being part of the leadership in the Church of God reformation movement comes with a responsibility to engage with the larger family. We are meant to do this life of ministry together. Learning about regional and national initiatives enables me to be informed on the many ways the kingdom of God is advancing beyond the local church. The two churches where I have pastored have always financially supported the national work, and it is important to me to be informed about how those funds are used. Resources are always shared that can enhance local ministry, so our Church of God gatherings provide me with tools to take home.
The invitation to engage in the General Assembly by speaking on the floor of the Assembly, and by voting, is a tremendous opportunity for every ordained minister and lay representative. It is important to me to hear firsthand where we are headed as a Movement and to voice my affirmations and concerns when necessary. For me, as a local pastor, attendance at a “business meeting” communicates a level of commitment and interest that encourages me. There are so many reasons to celebrate what God is doing through the Church of God reformation movement, and we miss the chance to do so when we don’t participate.
Hearing one another’s perspectives, engaging in meaningful dialogue, meeting new colleagues, and reaffirming friendships that have been forged in the past all enrich who I am as a minister. When I think of the spiritual giants I have been blessed to hear from along the way, those who have presided over the Assembly, those who have preached in the worship services, I recall the positive ways God has shaped me and my calling to his kingdom work. I was called into full-time ministry at the national (United States and Canada) convention in 1986 in Anderson, Indiana, and have been blessed to walk in that calling ever since.
I believe in unity. I believe God’s blessing is on a united church. I believe more kingdom work can be accomplished when we are united. That’s why it is important to me to show up at the “family meetings.” I want to show support, to be involved, to be informed, and to help God’s kingdom advance through the Church of God.
You are part of a wonderful family. I encourage you to consider making every effort to join us at the next “family meeting” in Tampa. You’ll be glad you did!
Melissa Pratt serves as lead pastor of Teays Valley Church of God in Scott Depot, West Virginia, and currently serves as a member of the Ministries Council. Her extensive ministry involvements over the years have had a tremendous kingdom impact on state, regional, and national ministries.
Feature (top) photo: Jim Lyon addresses the General Assembly in 2019.