If meetings could bring in the Kingdom and build the church . . . well, obviously they don’t! An outside observer might think that other than worship, having meetings is the primary mission of many congregations. And yet, I have yet to hear anyone on their deathbed say, “I sure wish I’d gone to more church meetings.” Somehow most of us recognize that while meetings may be critical to managing and leading a faith community, many of them seem to accomplish little more than taking up people’s precious time – something younger generations are less and less willing to do.
Here is my best image for many church meetings.
Since, like many of you, I have endured my share of do-nothing, time-wasting meetings, I’d like to share with you my recipe for having truly frustrating and missionally irrelevant meetings. So -- half in jest and fully in earnest -- here it is:
1. Have meetings just because they are scheduled, even if there is nothing to do.
This way, people can take time away from their families and use up what little discretionary time that they have.
2. Immediately jump into the important business at hand; don’t waste time reconnecting with one another relationally, studying scripture, witnessing, praying or other faith-community-like fluff.
After all, we wouldn’t want our meeting to reflect the essential identity of the church when it can be just like a PTA, city council, business or government meeting.
3. Use meetings to rubber stamp decisions already made by key leaders.
This way, leaders get what they want and you don’t have to spend time considering the opinions and perspectives of other people on the committee. Of course, these people leave feeling like they did not -- and, in fact, they did not -- play a role in making a better decision. But that is a small price to pay for things going smoothly.
4. Make all discussions about personal preferences and implementation, never about missional purpose.
Strictly avoid asking purposeful questions like, “Is this going to help us be more effective fulfilling Jesus’ mission?” or “Is this helping us join Jesus in ministry in our community?” or “Is this what Scripture suggests we should be doing?” Instead, focus only on what people want and what will make them comfortable. Then, focus on how to implement what will keep them happy.
5. Never clarify who is doing what to implement the decisions that have been made.
To truly frustrate people, make decisions and never be clear about who will implement them. Especially, never check at the beginning of meetings to make sure that those who had things to do from the last meeting followed through. This way you can keep discussing the same issues over again every month and you will always have a reason to meet.
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Dr. Jeff Stiggins