For several years I have had the opportunity of working on resolutions for both the state and national levels of our association. At times I have wondered about the value of passing resolutions. On one hand, we should not feel forced to write resolutions for every conference or feel constrained to present them. On the other hand, a timely resolution can have a healthy impact on both the individuals and churches of our association. Here are some of the benefits:
A resolution may clarify our position. We live in a world of unsettling flux when it comes to doctrine and practice. A new threat to sound teaching seems to lurk around every corner. At times like this we must precisely restate our thinking on a teaching of Scripture, giving fresh clarity to our position (See “Our Confidence in Preaching,” 2007.)
A resolution may warn us. A resolution can warn us about present thinking, beliefs, or practices that threaten us individually, as a church, or as an association. In this case, speaking to certain issues and applying the Word of God to current theological or religious trends may protect the Body of Christ. A well-proposed resolution provides an element of guidance, awareness, wisdom building, and protection. Paul said, “Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears” (Acts 20:31). (See “Resolution on Same-Sex Marriage,” 2004.)
A resolution may remind us of important truth. We are united around great Bible doctrine, and from time to time it is helpful to reemphasize an aspect of our teaching, especially in light of the challenges of our times (see “Resolution on Prayer for Government Leaders,” 2009).
A resolution may influence others. The united voice of a larger body of people carries more weight when it comes to persuading others toward a right response to truth. Resolutions allow individual churches to speak with the backing of a larger association (see “A Resolution Concerning Israel,” 2008).
A resolution may motivate us to action. A segment of most resolutions calls for a change of thinking or possible actions in light of the resolution. In the 2010 resolution on “Revitalizing Biblical Fundamentalism,” for example, a number of actions were suggested, one of those being, “establish networks of labor and ministry to meet the challenges of the future.”
A resolution may encourage other people or groups. A resolution can convey thanks or appreciation; it can enlist positive support (see “A Resolution Expressing Gratitude,” 2008).
While a thoughtful resolution takes effort to write and time to approve, the benefits are worth the effort. The next time you have an opportunity to approve a resolution, carefully consider the content of the resolution and the impact it can have on your life. Since the majority of church members do not attend state or national conferences, pastors or other church leaders will want to make copies to distribute and perhaps even take time to discuss the resolution(s). Let’s resolve to make wise use of resolutions!
Bryan Augsburger (DMin, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is pastor of First Baptist Church, Arlington Heights, Ill.