One of my favorite authors concerning leadership is Patrick Lencioni. Over the past 20 years, he has written a series of “leadership fables” that illustrate various points about organizational health. Perhaps you have read “Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” “3 Signs of a Miserable Job,” or “Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars” – all excellent books any leader can benefit from. One of my favorite Lencioni books is “Death by Meeting.” Every time I see that book on my shelf I chuckle a little. That title is just classic. If you have ever been a part of team that had staff meetings, the title “Death by Meeting” probably makes you laugh too . . . because you can relate to it.
Most all of us have gone to meetings that we felt like were a waste of time. At times it feels as though meetings exist merely because someone put them on a calendar. Not many people I know list “meetings” in the top 5 of “reasons I love my job.” Meetings have a reputation of not giving life, but taking it . . . therefore Lencioni’s title seems appropriate at times, doesn’t it?
I am a Pastor of a church. After 40 years of attending churches and 20 years of helping to lead them, I can honestly say churches love meetings. As a member of a congregation you are invited to many meetings. As a leader in ministry, you have meetings to plan your meetings. As a Pastor, I am invited to conferences (meetings at someone else’s church) to learn how to better prepare for the meetings you are a part of to plan your church meetings.
Think about it, as a church member, you are encouraged to attend a weekly meeting (of sorts) on Sunday mornings at 9:30 . . . we call it a worship service. Additionally, you are encouraged to attend a second meeting several times each month with a smaller group of people . . . we call it a Sunday School class or Home Community Group. If you were to attend the worship service 75% of the Sundays each month AND participate in a Home Community Group 3 times each month in the fall and spring, your church attendance would include attendance at roughly 60 meetings each year!
Since meetings have a negative connotation for many, the prospect of this level of involvement causes some (even some Christians) to slow, or even cease regular church attendance. Some have even tried to spiritualize the experience by saying that they “love Jesus” but “hate the church.” I believe some who are saying this believe that the meetings at their church bring death not life, so they want no part of it.
While all our lives could benefit from a reduction of some meetings, I have also found that the right gatherings bring life, not death. I believe that regular participation in church worship and small group are two of the life giving type of meetings. I feel that way NOT simply because I am a Pastor and these are meetings I help lead, but for some specific theological and practical reasons. Including:
- Who we are meeting with (part 1). When two or more gather together in Jesus name, there He is also. Gathering together in worship is life giving because we are communing with the God of the Universe.
- Who we are meeting with (part 2). Jesus saved us and placed us inside the Church (capital “C”). He dispersed and entrusted various gifts, insights, and opportunities to each person He has saved. That means that I cannot be all that God created me to be alone. I need to be in community with others to be all God has created me to be. The church is the relational incubator God has placed us inside to foster a vibrant spiritual life as we grow toward maturity.
- Who we are meeting with (part 3). Left to myself, I can get weird. Ever have a stressful situation going on in life that keeps you up late at night? So late that all the other people in your house are sound asleep and all you have is “Bowflex” infomercials to keep you company? On those nights I can convince myself that the world is falling down around me. You know what I need in those moments? Another person to speak into my life and stop the runaway train of our thoughts. We can convince ourselves that life is far worse than it is when left alone. We need someone to shake our brains forward and free . . . to unstick our cereberal needle that is skipping across the record of our mind. My friends in my community group and in my church move me forward at times like this. God increase the quality of my life through others.
- What we are meeting about. God has shared His truth with us in His Word. When we gather to read it and study it together, collectively we embrace it and generate corporate inertia to help us follow it and keep it.
I have found that life in Christian community is life giving, and I would love to share with you more why that is. This Sunday, August 24 at Wildwood Community Church in our 9:30 and 10:50 services, I will be talking more about community in part 2 of our Fall “Kickoff” series. We will be using Hebrews 10:24-25 as our base passage. Additionally, we will be highlighting an opportunity you have at Wildwood this fall to connect deeper into community. We hope to see you Sunday!