“But How Will We Get the Work Done?”

That is the understandable question that church board members ask when their meetings begin to tilt toward Bible study, discussion of articles about the nature of God’s church, and prayer. Of course, church being church, rare is the occasion that any board member will speak against those noble, spiritual items. Instead, everyone diligently works to assure that we will “get to those things” once we attend to the finance report, stewardship plans, urgent building and grounds repairs, the thing that happened with church school two weeks ago, recent rumblings from the choir, the uneasiness about the youth ministry, emails from two older members wondering why something has changed and emails from one young family wondering why something has not changed, the problem with one of the staff members….and…and…and…

“…But how will we get the work done?”

As a parish pastor for three decades, I know the LONG work agenda is real and pressing. I also think privileging that work is suffocating our congregations. Instead, I offer three words that should guide all our meetings:

1. Trust
2. Depth
3. Joy

If trust is not present that sub-groups (committees, task forces, pastor, staff, small groups) can do the “work” consistent with developed values, then that trust is the ONLY thing to work on. Without trust, nothing else in church life is possible.

And how do we develop values by which everyone understands the “work guidelines?” By spending lots and lots of time going deep together as a church board. Not by solving problems or transacting “business” but by letting God’s imagination for the world–and work–become our imagination.

Joy comes from spending 90 minutes with fellow board members who love Jesus and don’t agree with one another on everything, but who love talking about what Jesus meant when he told followers to take no thought for tomorrow or what Flannery O’Connor was getting at in one of her short stories, or asking one another for what and for we need to be praying.

To what extent does your church board experience and evidence trust, depth, and joy? How do we get there? That’s next, beginning with what you do in a large pasture filled with cattle when you don’t have money for a really big fence…