I'll confess, I'm one of those "weirdos" who actually enjoys meetings. I like gathering with others, discussing ideas, sharing information and figuring out where to go from "here". Recently I attended my first Strata Council Meeting (a gathering of the owners of the suites in my building). I was so excited about meeting more of my neighbours and hearing about the "hot topics" that I actually showed up a week early for the meeting! Whoops!
Attending the meeting was... well... interesting. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't what unfolded. Though we had an agenda, the chairperson jumped around and went on tangents left, right and centre. Frankly, it was a tad annoying. It seemed rather haphazard and for someone like myself who enjoys order and routine this meeting was mildly frustrating. I'm certain the chairperson didn't intend it to be like that, it was just his personality, and the way he thinks. But I sat there, aware that this meeting could be so much better - and I started to think of the ways I would change it. I mean, I sort of "get" meetings - I've been attending the church ones since I was 14. Generally I can tell when things are going poorly, when a discussion has extended too long, and when people are ready for a change of topic or a break.
As I was sitting there, mulling over how I would bring yet another tangent conversation back to the agenda point, a frightening thought crossed my mind. What if all I've learned from the church gathered is how to run a meeting? My years as a deacon, regular attendance at congregational meetings, the youth group executive, various committees - attending church meetings are how and where I learned to set agendas and write minutes.
A question I didn't want to answer bubbled up: "Have I learned more about how to be a good administrator than I have about how to be a faithful disciple through my congregation?"
Ick. The idea alone repels me. Surely that's not the case. But some might argue that even our order of worship comes across as an agenda with items to check off! Double Ick!
Committees. Council. Elders. Deacons. Classis. Synod.
Please - tell me we are more than agendas and meetings and minutes and reports and overtures and Robert's rules.
Tell me that we're a body, community, sojourners, explorers, kingdom agents, disciples of Jesus.
I believe Christ loves the church - this gathering of eclectic people coming together - to praise and worship a living God, to fall down before him, confessing together our brokenness, receiving together the assurance of his pardon. Eating of the loaf. Drinking of the Cup.
I believe that the church has the power to show the world what heaven is like - to reveal God, not only as individuals in our "own" lives, but also as a corporate body. Welcoming strangers as friends, overflowing with love and hospitality, genuinely caring for one another - all while we acknowledge our pain, our brokenness, our humanness.
I want to encourage you deacons to live and serve beyond the administrative. I think we can get a little too comfortable in our meetings. They can be insular and safe. A nice little place to curl up for 3 years and claim that you're busy "serving". We are called to more than running "good" meetings. We are called to be light in the darkness. We are called to make disciples.
We are called.
How are you - as an individual, as a deacon or as a deacon team - living out your call?