I got back from Kenya on Tuesday evening and it's been busy the last few days catching up. Before the week gets away entirely, let's look at the next installment in my series on how we need to change the way we do church. When I read some of the thoughtful and profound blogs on the modern church, its ills and problems, I feel like my suggestions are simplistic. There are many others with much better ideas than mine, yet these are borne out of 35 years experience in church work, so I hope they are worth something. You can read my past entries on this topic here.
The fifth step to church reformation is:
It's not that the church has too many meetings, but rather that we have too many bad meetings. I watch as a malaise come over many people in our gatherings, even in business meetings. The facilitation is poor, the leader usually talks too much, people don't contribute for a variety of reasons and the result is boredom, lack of focus and confusion. What's worse, we force our children and youth to go to ineffective meetings because we hope they will "catch" something while they are there, but the only thing you can "catch" in a bad meeting is the flu. There is nothing else passing from person to person that can make a difference. I was in a board of directors meeting the other day and it was just flat out "bad." If I didn't have to be present, I would have run out of the room looking for comfort.
I put the responsibility for poor meetings at the feet of leadership, for they are the ones who call the shots. What we usually lack is any kind of accountability and feedback that can help our meetings improve. If the youth are sitting in the meeting and they look bored, then they are bored. And if leadership insists on doing the same thing for the next meeting, the youth will be bored then, too. The same holds true for adult services and meetings.
Everyone who leads a meeting should hold to the same standard that Jesus set, as found in Mark 12:37: "The large crowd listened to him with delight." People walked for days to listen for days only to return home for days and they kept on coming, because Jesus had something to say. His "meetings" were filled with controversy, the unexpected, excellent insight delivered in an exciting and dynamic fashion. Jesus' stories were relevant and He allowed people to ask questions. And He did it all without video, ushers, PowerPoint and audio-visual paraphernalia
So what kind of meetings do you lead? What kind do you attend? What price are you willing to pay to see the Mark 12:37 dynamic present in your work and meetings? I am not saying it is easy, but this level of excellence must be achieved if the Church is going to move from people who have to attend to people who want to attend.