Seven weeks. No meetings – except for prayer and study gatherings. We prepared ourselves for this (traumatic) shift by getting business done in advance and giving people permission to do what needed to be done between Ash Wednesday and Easter without calling the Boards together for debate and discussion.
Two things happened:
- People loved it. (We were free to be with our families and friends all those week nights and weekend days. Church became more about “get to” and less about “have to.”)
- People hated it. (There were complaints of “I don’t know what’s going on!” and some of our leaders felt like their power had been taken away.)
We in Church World have entered the season of Meeting-Palooza. Stewardship Meetings. Capital Campaign Meetings. Thanksgiving Service Meetings. Advent Planning Meetings. Christmas Pageant Meetings. 2016 Budget Meetings. Staff Review Meetings. And then all the usual staff/elders/deacons/trustees/area clergy meetings continue as well. We complain about them perhaps but then we keep meeting. It’s what we do.
This article recently jolted me back to organizational sanity.
Our lives include both horizonal and vertical meetings. Most are well-planned. Some are not. Many have clear purposes. Some are a waste of time – except for the fact we can say we met. Management happened. Order was maintained. Sacred assumptions about What-We-Are-Supposed-To-Be-Doing were achieved.
Dear Pastors and Other Leaders: what if – instead of scheduling and requiring meetings and more meetings – we managed our ministries in a different way?
John Donovan, Executive VP of AT&T defines the role of a manager as “removing roadblocks and recognizing excellence.” What if we set our people free to do their work, with quick check-ins or planned “stand up meetings” at the coffee pot (“What’s going on with you this week?”) Healthy churches, for example, set leaders free to do ministry with two basic parameters:
- Is what we’re doing within the budget?
- Is what we’re doing within the core values of the church?
Beyond that, leaders have permission to do their work. Excellent.
What are you finding about the culture of meetings in your church? Do committees even meet anymore? (Or is everything done digitally?) Are meetings well run?
Imagine an institutional world in which formal meetings were rare and ministry was set free. Would that work in your context?