It is almost funny how my comfortable world can be shaken at the most unexpected times. Last week, while visiting with a pastor in Washington, D.C., he made the following observation:
“You Mennonites are good at getting together and having meetings and you tend to think that having a meeting equals building a relationship. Simply put, this isn’t true. As a black pastor, I have been part of the Mennonite church for over 20 years. I am tired of going to meetings. Don’t get me wrong, you people run good meetings,” he said, then continued.
“I wish folks would take the time to get to know me.”
Here I was, visiting with him, asking questions—so I could be better prepared for a meeting.
This pastor, elder and bishop had lovingly and gently rebuked me.
Is it possible that we use meetings and consultations as substitutes for building healthy, trusting relationships?
Meetings allow us to be professional. They provide a stage to strut our stuff. Meetings allow us to connect without getting too personal. If the church was a business, this would be appropriate.
The church isn’t a business.
The church is that place where a new family is being birthed – the family of God. Families are not defined by well-ordered professional relationships. Families, when they work well, are messy and wonderful, intimate and accepting. They are safe places where warts and bad habits are tolerated, and sometimes even celebrated. Once you’re a part of a family you’re in, no matter what.
Maybe it is time to have fewer meetings and more family reunions – family of God reunions. We might not get much business accomplished, but we might start looking and acting like a family.