Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Doing It Wrong

Yesterday I was in a meeting and we talking about Synod Assembly (the BIG annual joint congregations church meeting). When we were trying to figure out how to include more young people in the meeting, someone mentioned "the boring parts".

I retorted, "You mean the part where we're doing the work of the church?"

Someone later said, "What did you call it 'the work of the Lord'?"

I said, "No, the work of the Lord and the work of the church sometimes overlap, but are not interchangeable."

Work of the church: stewardship (care of) financial, spiritual, physical and emotional resources.

Work of the Lord: care of neighbor and fulfilling the Great Commission (not necessarily simultaneously).

Yes, church meetings can have slow parts. Not everyone is interested in or understands budget discussions. Not everyone comprehends the, sometimes, technical wording of resolutions or the use of shibboleths to show who's in and who's out.

The necessity of planning for the future and talking about details is sometimes the work of the church, on the local and national scale. Leaders must be chose and decisions must be made and dollars must be accounted for.

True enough, people who don't have control elsewhere in their lives often bring it to a church meeting where they can yell about what we're spending on toilet paper or whatever. Forgiving them... that's doing the work of the Lord. Figuring out how to appease them and move on before the meeting lasts four hours... that's the work of the church.

Often pastors find themselves groveling to people to fill church council/board/trustee spots. The prayer that goes into this is, "Pleeeeeeease, God, let So and so say yes." People are intimidated by the title of church leadership and/or they've heard that the meetings are BORING!

Church leadership takes energy, vision and prayer. If you're depending on the pastor to supply that, it won't work. The pastor is not the Messiah. He or she can't save the church single-handedly.

If the work or the discussion seems boring or intense, CHANGE it. Pause to sing a song or say a prayer. Encourage the judicious use of "calling the question". Don't allow moaning and groaning to precede a meeting.

I'm not Pollyanna enough to say that meetings are ALL GREAT, ALL the TIME. However, a church meeting shouldn't be a sprint- covering all the ground, but no room for the Spirit. Neither should it be an ultra-marathon, where at some point everyone has zoned out and you're only debating for the sake of debate.

Not every bit of conversation at most workplaces or in most families is fun, but some conversations have to be had. The opposite of fun isn't boring. We can have profound, meaningful discussions on finances, vision, expectations and the future that are motivating, well-paced and well-lead.

The real question is not "Can church meetings NOT be boring?", but "Are you willing to put the effort and challenge forward to change the culture of church meetings?"

Maybe changing how we do the work of the church IS the work of the Lord for this day.

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