The Bethlehem College & Seminary Board of Trustees met from 9am–5pm on Thursday, May 19, 2022. If your reaction to the preceding sentence was: “This is not important for me; my time is valuable; I’m going to quit reading this article,” please invest 3.5 more minutes because it might change the way you pray for the school.
Like you, Bethlehem board members care about Education in Serious Joy, and, like you, they are sinners. Board members are tempted to sin before, during, and after board meetings. My name is Tim Johnson. I serve as the Vice-Chairman of the Bethlehem College & Seminary Board of Trustees. Pastor Sam Crabtree serves as the Chairman; therefore, he normally leads our board meetings. Because Pastor Sam was asked to preach at a funeral on May 19th, I led most of that board meeting, and that’s why I was invited to write this article.
For those with little or no experience serving on boards, it is important to know that board members and key organization executives are both present at board meetings. Prior to board meetings, the board members review reports that are designed to provide them a sense of how the school is operating financially, and how it is doing with respect to donors, students, legal requirements, and other stakeholders. For me, and I believe for almost every board member, the temptation to sin starts with the receipt of those reports. The first lie that board members face is this: The Enemy whispers, “You can do this in your own strength. You have the skills and experience. You may need to set aside some time to prepare, but you do not need God’s help to get ready for this meeting.” Please pray for the board members to recognize that lie, deeply internalize the truth that without faith it is impossible to please God, and then ask God for help, strength, and discernment. Pray that we would ask God for wisdom to learn and to probe where probing would be beneficial.
At board meetings, the board members ask questions of each other and of the organization’s executives. To do our jobs well we must listen carefully and weigh what we hear. This is the next place where we are tempted to sin. This is the next place where your prayers are needed. The temptation at this point is to fail to recognize that the Spirit of God is at work in each person who is sitting around those tables. The words that come out of every person’s mouth—especially those words that don’t immediately line up with my thinking—were spoken for a reason. The temptation to discount those words as useless is real. Pray for your board members and for the organization’s executives who are present to think—really think—about all that they hear. Pray that none of us would focus too much on what is out of alignment with our own individual ideas, but rather that we would think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or praiseworthy in the words of others. This is particularly important when the words of other board members or executives don’t support my argument or my preferred direction. It is a remarkable thing that God has given us the ability to think about something from another person’s perspective. Please pray that we would use that ability to bless this school.
Board members provide oversight, shape policy, and make some strategic decisions. The organization executives are there to inform the board of what has been happening, and to gain clarity of where and how they should be leading the organization in the coming months and years. Here are a few things that happened at our May 19 meeting:
- The board members approved a guiding document related to complementarianism.
- The board members reviewed and commented on a document aimed at broadening the base of partnering churches.
- The board members approved a governance roadmap for “ownership” of the school as Bethlehem Baptist Church moves toward becoming three independent churches.
- The board members created a subcommittee to provide oversight of the financial affairs related to the construction of Église Baptiste Bethléem, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
After a board meeting is complete, members are tempted to go on with their lives without giving the work that day another thought, until the next set of reports arrives three months later. It requires conscious thinking to thank God for his help and to pray about the actions which were set in motion by the board’s decisions and actions at the meeting. Please pray for the board members to remember to thank God for the mercy and grace he provided in Jesus Christ and for the grace and help he provided in that day’s meeting. Pray that those board members would frequently ask God to use the decisions and actions that were made to be fruitful and to advance the work of the kingdom.
- That the guiding document related to complementarianism will serve President Joe Rigney well as he and other members of the cabinet seek to steer the school through the many challenges that will arise as they seek to implement the beauty of biblical manhood and womanhood.
- For wisdom for the President and Cabinet as they begin to discuss and explore broadening the base of churches that are involved with the school.
- For God’s help with the ongoing efforts to come up with a plan to govern and own the school after Bethlehem Baptist Church becomes three independent churches.
- For God to guide and protect all the fundraising efforts related to the school including the construction that, Lord willing, will occur at our extension site in Cameroon and for the funding of Serious Joy Scholarships.
Together, let us draw near to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.
Praying with you for our school,
Bethlehem College & Seminary Board of Trustees