The hurricane that is bearing down on the east coast as I write this, the earthquakes that have shaken Japan, the spilled cargo of an 18-wheeler that snarls traffic for hours on your way to work—these are bad, potentially dangerous disruptions. Likewise, institutions and churches spend so much time trying to anticipate – and, if possible, eliminate – disruption.
But then there is disruption that leads to imagination, creativity, new windows of opportunity, and redemptive experiences of the presence of God. But disruptions like this tend to be seen as the exception, the “well it worked out this time, but…” sort of occurrence.
I think the place to initiate change in many congregations and faith communities is not what we might think. Worship, outreach, or strategic plans that seeks to enlist every participant you can find—these initiatives are places where we usually find the disruption of change. Sometimes those can be places of life. Often, they are fraught with anxiety and retrenchment.
In its place, I wonder if we look at an aspect of church life mostly taken for granted and almost always overlooked as an opportunity for creative disruption: the meeting. The committee meeting, task force meeting, church board meeting. The opportunity presented by the simple “well, it’s 7:00 pm on the third Tuesday, so I have to go to…the meeting.” I believe this is an invitation to depth, nurture, and discipleship.
One of the churches I served had two church board meetings a month. They told me one was “for business and the other was for growth.” Let’s just say that arrangement didn’t last through even my first month. There is no business in church that is not about growth. What if 90-minute church board meetings were 80% imagination, discipleship, study, and prayer and 20% (that’s less than 20 minutes per meeting) is left for what most meetings are consumed by: cautious oversight to see that nothing much gets disrupted?
This is what we will take up in this space next week—the humble meeting, the well-spring of creative disruption and growth in the life of the church.