It’ll Only Take a Few Minutes

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How often have you heard, or read, this as you’re being asked to fill in a form? Probably more times than you care to remember. What I find interesting is how much variation there is in the definition of a few minutes. One definition is: “not many but more than one”. So completing a five page form is only going to take a few minutes? Yeah, right!

Believe it or not, there are some folks whose hearts beat a little faster when they get to fill in a form. Yup. They actually like filling in all the boxes. If you’re one of these people, you understand. If you’re not, please don’t quit reading. This post is really for you.

I actually fall into the paperwork junkie category. I love to answer questionnaires, update information, and fill in forms of every shape and size. One of my favorite times of year is tax time. I LOVE doing taxes! This fondness for “paperwork” was almost crushed by the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service). Our family began the process of applying for green cards in July 2001. The timing was terrible as just a couple of months later, 9/11 occurred. The result was a five-year process and a file of paper that’s 2 ¾” thick. (I measured it.) This is enough paperwork to dampen the passion of any paperwork junkie.

Ministry seems to have its fair share of forms/paperwork. To some, this is much like a bothersome fly—it annoyingly hangs around until it’s taken care of. I once had a pastor tell me that he wanted to do ministry and not fill in a report about it. I get that. I really do, but the paperwork can be just as important as the ministry. Stay with me here. If you’ve held any sort of leadership role in your church, you’ve probably filled in something for the denomination: Yearbook data, report on special project, survey, grant application, financial form, etc., etc., etc. You may have muttered words of frustration while doing so, wondering what good the information really is. I want to assure you it’s good, and valuable. Here are a couple of examples.

While on vacation, a family is looking for a church that is handicap accessible. Consulting the Yearbook they find such a church 30 miles away. This means the family is able to worship—together because the church completed the Yearbook survey last fall.

An empty lot beside a church has been turned into a community garden. Using food grown in the garden, “drug-addicted neighbors became generous chefs”* for the monthly community meal. This means lives were impacted because an application form for a grant was completed.

Good stuff, right? So what’s the bottom line?

  • Paperwork is necessary. It’s a part of the church’s life and it needs to be done, and done well. So complete the forms when asked and please, answer all the questions.
  • Paperwork is valuable. We’re not asking you to complete forms just because we can. The information impacts a number of things and ultimately, it furthers the Kingdom. (I think the examples above clearly show this but if you want to push back on this idea, give me a call.)
  • Paperwork is enjoyable. If you don’t think so, then you’re probably not the right person to take the task on. Find that right person.
  • Paperwork is here to stay. There’ll always be a form that needs to be filled in. That’s life. Just accept it. A positive attitude can go a long way.

*Quote from the submitted report.

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