We will get somewhere between 50-90 folks out for the meeting. It will begin almost the second after the benediction from the late service. If things go well, there will be a good representation of folks who will stay after the service and others from first service will join them to consider the proposed spending plan. Most of the questions have already been asked and answered at the Q & A that took place between services over Labor Day weekend. Undoubtedly there will be questions that never get asked and presumptions (generally false ones) that will be whispered outside the meeting. Misinformation is often the most difficult part of a Voters Meeting. Some of that misinformation is innocent enough and some is because some folks presume that there are hidden things buried under the figures.
Inevitably there are those who will complain that more people should have been there and more questions should have been asked and more information should have been supplied. I suppose they are right. In the end, absent a controversial issue, I am fairly happy with the usual turn out. What disappointments me is not so much the questions and answers or attendance but the ones that should get asked but are never brought up.
Why are we NOT raising the bar with missions? Why do is our budget nearly the same as last year instead of growing? Where is our passion? Where are our hopes and dreams? Meetings tend to be less about the future and more about the past. Perhaps that is because we know the past and we do not know the future. But I wish it were more about the future. I long to hear people ask for more instead of settling for the same. I ache for the pointed questions about what we are doing today to prepare for tomorrow and what kind of tomorrow we hope and pray to see. I want so to be surprised by people volunteering or even demanding to serve or take responsibility for this or for that.
In many respects, Voters Meetings tend to be a lot about the Pastor. If things are going well, then folks are pleased with their Pastor. If things are not going well, they want to know what the Pastor is going to do about it. This is natural -- our great temptation is to see the Pastor as some CEO or COO who manages things on their behalf -- but it is not the way it should be. The meeting needs to be less about the Pastor and more about the parish -- especially more about the ministry of the baptized carried out from the parish base into the world (witness, mercy, service, teaching, and nurture).
In the end I will be happy if we get one or two questions that begin to raise these kinds of issues. I will be happy if we can get through the meeting without flubbing any answers to questions that might be asked. I will be happy if we can spend some honest moments reflecting upon our people, what is going on in their lives, and how we can serve one another in Jesus' name -- and the community and world around us! But we will just have to see...