While on holiday, we met an old friend. She had been one of my church members in the circuit before last. I had trained her as a Methodist Local Preacher, and then supported her as she candidated for the ministry. Now she was the local minister in the town where we were staying.
It was a wonderfully happy reunion, and it was interesting to talk with her as a colleague in the ministry. We had so much more than ever before to talk about, and even more in common. She loved so much about being in the ministry, but one thing drove her mad. It does me, too. Meetings. For all the emphasis on the call to preach, care, lead, envision, pray and so on, the institutional side of church life often takes over. Those who hope to cast big picture visions find themselves weighed down by the minutiae of detail and micro-management. Well can I understand why the ‘new church’ leader Gerald Coates once parodied Jesus’ words, “I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly” by saying, “I have come that they might have meetings and have them more abundantly.”
My conversation with my friend reminded me of an article I had found just before going away. Well known British businessman John Timpson wrote a response to a question, and he called it ‘Our meetings get in the way of any work being done‘. Timpson says,
I have a theory that the fewer meetings you have the better you do.
Is he right? I certainly smile at his illustration of the supermarket chain Asda having a meeting room with no chairs, to keep chat to a minimum. While I imagine there are echoes there of Privy Council meetings, I also have mischievous thoughts about our Church Councils being conducted that way.
What do you think? Is Timpson right?
Yes, he is, and as a rule they’re far too long. I try to ensure that no meeting which I’m chairing lasts longer than 2 hours – and even that is a monstrous long time out of my week. I’ve been tempted sometimes to try the plan of not letting anyone sit down at meetings.
Couldn’t agree more Dave.
It’s always puzzled me that PCC Standing Committees in the C of E always sit down to meet…
The only meetings I’d like to see more of, are prayer meetings.
I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say, “this is such a big problem, we’re not discussing it any further until we’ve prayed.” Alternatively, schedule a meeting for 2 hours but have the first half hour in prayer.