“I hate meetings!” I’m not kidding! One thing I didn’t anticipate when becoming a minister, were the absurd number of meetings that come with church life. Have you ever been to a board meeting with the main topic being whether to pay someone to cut the grass or use volunteers? Churches often have hundreds of committee meetings, each jam-packed with issues. For example:
- Who left the lights on in the men’s bathroom last week? (Wasting money)
- Did you hear what happened to Martha last night? (Gossip)
- There’s a bunch of spoiled food in the refrigerator. (Clean-up)
- Who’s cooking the hot dogs after church this Sunday? (Hey… I like that one!)
Do you see the picture? It’s not pretty! But after many years of ministry, I’ve learned an amazing truth! Are you ready? This will surprise you! The issue isn’t about meetings at all. Nope! The real problem is my leadership and my bad attitude. As pastor, I was the one who needed to mend my ways and fast.
“Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23 – 25
In other words, we gather at a meeting in order to hold tightly to the hope God promised. Meetings should be used to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. The idea is not to stop meetings but rather to use meetings as a source of encouragement, an opportunity for teaching and especially a divine call to action.
Wow! I was missing the point – I was the one who needed to change my attitude and fast!
Now, before any meeting I ask four simple questions:
1. Is God invited? This is about priorities. More than a perfunctory prayer or devotion, this question is a spiritual challenge: Are we vigorously seeking to follow Gods will?
2. Do you know where you’re going? This is about organization. What will you accomplish? Is there a clear agenda to follow? Are you prepared to answer reasonable questions?
3. Are the committee members with you? This is about communication. Does the committee have enough information? Is everyone participating in a healthy and creative discussion?
4. Will the meeting end with smiles or frowns? This is about encouragement. Does the meeting end with the anticipation we are following God’s will?
Do you want something more specific? Maybe these questions will help:
- Do you begin by seeking God’s direction?
- Do you start and finish ontime?
- Is there a written agenda?
- Are you providing adequate information?
- Are you making reasonable decision-making progress?
- Is there an atmosphere encouraging creative thinking?
- Do you offer opportunities for friendly disagreement?
- Is there reasonable consensus with the direction of the group?
- Has the overall atmosphere been encouraging?
- Do you end seeking God’s blessing for your action?
Now, after carefully following all the lessons learned — I love meetings! (No I don’t.) We never argue! (Yes, we do.) Our discussions are always relevant! (No, they aren’t.) But we are making solid progress and God’s hand is gently guiding our ministry. Just one more thing: “Who is cooking the hot dogs?”