No more meetings, please

Mar 5th, 2007 | By | Category: Ministry

A colleague in the North had a plaque on the all of the vestry of his church, “For God so loved the world, he didn’t send a committee”. To a young, inexperienced curate, it seemed an excessively cynical and jaundiced view, although his suggestion that a camel was a horse built by a committee did have a ring of truth about it.

Having spent seven hours today attending a committee meeting, the colleague’s plaque seems an appropriate reflection on precious time being completely lost. The committee had the grand title of being a “Board”, but the business seemed no more than a rubber stamping of decisions already taken. If the Kingdom of God was advanced one inch by my presence at that meeting, then it moves in ways far more mysterious than I can possibly fathom. Today’s business could have been done by a group of three or four people; having eighteen of us present added nothing to the final result.

Although committed to democracy, I wonder, sometimes, if it is the best way to run church affairs. What would happen in the Bible if they had adopted a democratic committee method?

Moses would have returned with the tablets containing the Commandments and told the Lord that after an extensive consultative process and after a show of hands at the meeting, the people of Israel had decided not to ratify the Law.

Jesus would have told his followers that they must take up their cross and follow him and the disciples would have come to him and said that whilst they accepted the sincerity of Jesus’ words and whilst they agreed with him in broad terms, they didn’t feel able to recommend the programme he advocated.

Christian history simply would not have happened if a committee had been responsible. There is a Biblical mandate for sharing ministry, but there is also a Biblical mandate for getting on and doing things. Prophets would never have had any impact if they had appointed a committee to consider what condemnations were to be issued; Saint Paul‘s letters would never have been sent if they had required a committee for their composition, it would still be thrashing out now what way the Letter to the Romans should be written.

The organisation under whose auspices today’s meeting was held is excellent; it does life changing work; it takes seriously Jesus’ words. It’s a weakness of our age, in which we often appoint more administrators than frontline staff, that a committee is thought even necessary.

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