Churches: Put Your Faith in Action, Not Passing Resolutions

Churches: Put Your Faith in Action, Not Passing Resolutions

October 23, 2014 by

We churches like to talk big. But too often we’re better at passing resolutions than actually doing anything.

“Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, ‘Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!’ and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?” -James 2:14-17, The Message

“Don’t think that passing resolutions, singing, preaching or tweeting about something is the same as doing it.”

Resolutions Do Not Equal Action

Does your church actually do anything to help people? Or do you form committees and pass resolutions?

  • Voting in favor of evangelism is not evangelism.
  • Inserting a line about love into your anti-[insert hot-button issue here] resolution is not loving people.
  • Re-tweeting your favorite cause does not accomplish its mission.
  • Forming a committee doesn’t accomplish anything. It might be a first step, but simply having an outreach committee doesn’t mean you’re doing outreach. It means you have bureaucracy.
  • Flowery quotes about justice do not deliver justice.
  • Singing beautiful worship songs about grace and mercy does not extend grace and mercy.

None of these things are inherently bad. Just don’t think that passing resolutions, singing, preaching or tweeting about something is the same as doing it.

Real World Examples

Those examples are all kind of vague, aren’t they? Let’s look at real world examples:

Catholic Abuse

A legal settlement forcing the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to follow a 17-point child protection plan to stop sexual abuse—while a massive step forward—is not loving and protecting children.

It could (and hopefully will) protect children. But it’s just a legal settlement. It’s guidelines. What really matters is action. And sadly, the church has already proved itself through action:

“This isn’t the first time the church has promised to follow protocol on child protection,” said [former archdiocese canon lawyer and whistle-blower Jennifer] Haselberger, noting the archdiocese had not followed the protocols forged by U.S. bishops in 2002.

“This settlement is a heartbreaking acknowledgment of how far the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has strayed from its mission,” she said. “It should never take action from the civil courts to compel a Catholic diocese to act in the public good.” (emphasis mine)

“Do not allow a good first step to be your church’s only step.”

Lack of Evangelism

Passing a resolution to create an evangelism guide is not evangelism. That’s what the Episcopal Church did at their last General Convention, passing resolution A070 to “Develop a Multimedia-Based Evangelism Guide.”

The resolution was passed “Concurred, with Funding Implications,” which means they approved it but didn’t fund it. Oops. (In fact, all three resolutions related to evangelism were passed without the appropriate funding.)

Gender Issues

A resolution by the Southern Baptist Convention earlier this year that resolves to “extend love and compassion” to people who are transgendered (while also denying the transgender experience) does not love or show compassion.

It’s just an 800-word statement, voted on and approved by 5,000 pastors. It doesn’t do anything to offer hope to the 41% of trans people who have attempted suicide (National Center for Transgender Equality).

“Passing a resolution to create an evangelism guide is not evangelism.”

Action Equals Action

None of these examples in and of themselves do anything:

  • Is the Catholic church in Minnesota doing more to protect children after this legal settlement? I hope so, but a settlement is just that.
  • So is the Episcopal Church actually helping their local churches do evangelism? I hope so, but apparently not through this effort—they didn’t put their money where their mouth was.
  • Are Southern Baptist churches loving trans people and stopping any bullying or violent behavior? I hope so, but I don’t know. The only headlines I can find are negative reactions to that resolution.

Each of these examples, like most church resolutions, votes or committees, are well-intentioned. They might be good first steps.

But do not allow a good first step to be your church’s only step. Passing resolutions, forming committees or writing articles is a start, but it does little to communicate your church’s message. Put your faith in action. If you want your church’s message to connect, back your words up with action.

And then make sure those actions are backed up with love:

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, ‘Jump,’ and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” -1 Corinthians 13:1-3, The Message

Photo by Public Collectors.
Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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