Thursday, March 08, 2007

Reflections on Jury Duty—How it Relates to the Church (Part 2)

There I sat—in the jury gathering room with a couple of hundred other potential jurors. The entire room was in a “wait” mode. Three jury pools had been instructed to be in the jury room at 9:15 a.m. Two of those jury pools had to wait for almost an hour and a half for all of their people to arrive! Those few inconsiderate people caused two courtrooms to be on hold. Lawyers would bill their clients for that time. The tax payers would have to foot the bill for the wasted time of the judge, court staff, etc.

The above experience brought about two observations: the inconsiderateness of people today and the wasting of someone’s time.

Inconsiderate People:

My wife and I saw a person run a red light last night as we drove home from working out. That observation brought on a discussion of how inconsiderate drivers have become in the past few years. I see a car run a red light almost every day. Every day I see drivers cut off other cars. Inconsiderate people are only focusing on their needs and wants—they don’t “give a rip” about you and me.

Believe it or not our churches are not immune from this cultural mindset. Recently, a family visited our church. Following the service the “dad” had the whole family talk with me (actually, he did all the talking). He told me that he would probably never be a regular church attender ever again (he didn’t give any reason). Yet, he had also decided that it was time for his two teenage sons to be baptized! I got in a couple of words about the requirements for baptism when he interrupted, telling the boys that they would start attending our youth group and our high school church school class. The entire discussion was by the dad and about what the dad wanted. But wait, I don’t want you to think that this “me” attitude is only in our visitors—it is found in pastors, elders, deacons, members, regular attenders and twice-a-year “Christians.”

It might be time to focus on Jesus’ teaching about counting others as more important than ourselves!

Wasting Someone’s Time:

Time is a valuable commodity. There are only a finite number of hours in a day. Too often churches waste people’s time. Our Presbytery meets next week. If I could be “Pope for a day” I would decree that every scrap of paper that was going to be given to the delegates would be mailed out a week prior to the meeting. Delegates would be able to read everything before going to the meeting. People could give careful thought and consideration to each item. Just don’t waste our time.

Another time waster is the infamous “committee meeting.” A person once defined a committee as the place you send an idea to get that idea killed. Too many committees meet for the sake of meeting. Busy professional will not tolerate these time wasters. Committees can be very useful—if they are done right.

Our church’s annual congregational meeting for receiving the Annual Report is a waste of time. When I came to the church almost eleven years ago the meet consisted of each group reading aloud their written report (every family gets a printed Annual Report). We have moved away from reading aloud the written reports. Still, nothing of substance happens at the meeting. For the most part, the meeting is attended by our LONG TIME members (mostly retired people). Even my wife considers it a waste of time. No young families attend. No visitors attend. I can’t think of a single person under the age of 50 (except my wife) who attended the January meeting. The congregation does vote on my salary and benefits package at that meeting. Too much of that meeting wastes our time.

The church needs to make a commitment to be a better steward of time. We carefully guard our pennies and keep up our facility. Why can’t we be as good at being wise in how we use the time of our people.


At 6:07 PM , Blogger Quotidian Grace said...

Our presbytery posts every scrap of paper for a presbytery meeting on the website well in advance of the meeting. Pastors and clerks of session are emailed and reminded to download, print and read the material before the meeting. We do have a few copies on hand at the meeting for the very few without internet access. We don't read the reports out loud in the meeting. The internet saves us a lot of time in meetings and posting in mailings!

You're so right about pointless meetings and wasted time.


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