My big fat Young Adult mouth

I donít know what it was about Wednesday: maybe I was still buzzing off of the great conversation regarding young adults, maybe it was because I read The Bondage Breaker before bed (not a good choice for a peaceful nightís sleep: I knew I shouldíve gone with The Jesus Creed), maybe itís that Iíve been thinking these things for a while and they just built up to a boiling point. And boy, did my tea kettle whistle – woo whee.

At our board meeting on Wednesday I spoke up twice (or as I said later, ìmouthed offî – to which John Macy told me he thought I did it the whole meeting: thbhbhththth) :). The first instance was regarding the lack of equal representation on the board. Iím one of three girls and the only young adult. We have no representatives who are attending a New Works or Hispanic Ministry – if those are three of our target groups, shouldnít we include them on this supervisory structure?

[This leads to a greater problem that I talked about later in the meeting.] The thing is: board structures donít necessarily match up with young adult or New Works lifestyles – thatís why they arenít naturally on the board. The YA and NW populations generally gravitate towards more organic organization structures – not a group of people that donít really know each other who meet twice a year and spend a lot of time saying ìwhat did we say last time?î Should we look to get those representatives on the board, or should we look at where these folks are and change our organizational manifestation to meet them where theyíre at?

Which led to my really mouthy time (let me preface this with the fact that Ií was tired, it was the end of the meeting, and I was hungry – not a good combo for a hypoglycemic. Someone shouldíve put my mute button on). The chairperson for the visioning committee came to talk with the board to get our opinion on their work. Last fall the Yearly Meeting office sent out a requests to churches and to the individuals of the Yearly Meeting asking what the YM can do for them – a sort of assessing our strengths, weaknesses, and attempting to draft a vision statement (this whole process has been prompted due to a change in superintendents). The committee made a report and has compiled a different document containing vision, image, and mission statements as well as assessing strengths and weaknesses in the Yearly Meeting and creating contingencies to deal with those.

I understand why weíre doing the vision statement: whenever thereís a change in leadership, the easiest way to make a mark, to gain control, is to get a vision or identity and lead with that in mind. But I wonder what good it will do. The statements brought to our board sound so academic, not practical – is it going to help me be missional, or will it be something to put in nice little italics underneath the YM logo on the letterhead? I understand that the organization probably needs an identity . . . but does it matter if we as individuals donít know our identities in Christ? How much time and effort and resources are going to go into this? Is it worth it in the long run?

Then we got on the topic of structure, specifically re-structuring – trying to clarify what functions are for boards, task forces, specific areas, etc. Some of the work that my board and other boards do overlap – should that be happening? One person voiced the idea that folks donít want to restructure because they might lose representation. It seemed like a lot of ìwell, letís try putting this piece over here and that piece over thereî when maybe Godís calling us to get rid of our ìdefunctî (yes, I used that word – probably poor choice, but see above about my lack of mute button) pieces and engage in something completely new and out of the box.

I asked if they believed this new structure would last into the future – and how far. The reason weíre looking at things now is that they havenít been seriously looked at since itís creation ìin the horse and buggy daysî (so saith the Vision Committee rep); communication is much faster, and society has changed so much on the whole. I pointed out that change is coming ever faster than before: how long will this last before it needs to be restructured again?

Does it take into account that there are no young adults? Whoís going to maintain this structure, or is it going to die out in fifteen to twenty years when there are no members to keep it going?

Is the purpose of this whole process to maintain an institution, or is it to equip our body to be incarnational and missional? The vision statement says we want to be missional, but weíre spending our time and resources pushing words around rather than acting – how is that missional? Do our words and our actions match up, or are they correct-sounding theories?

Why is it so pastor-focused? It seems that a great deal of effort is put into equipping the pastors. Which is fine, to a certain point: why do they need so much equipping? Could it be that the pastor-as-the-head-of-the-church model is faulty, that weíre putting too much pressure on the pastors, that they arenít using their gifts correctly and so theyíre burning out? The image I have is of a car: if you use a part incorrectly, it will burn out and break – you can do tons of stuff to patch it back together, to strength and ìequipî it to work, but if thatís not itís true function, itís going to burst apart. Why do we have so many pastors burn out? Does this mission/vision statement still work if we remove the pastor/head-of-church model?

Are we spending time asking God what we should be doing, making room to hear His voice, using spiritual disciplines rather than business models to discern our direction? Perhaps He wants to move us in completely radical ways, but weíre too busy rearranging our puzzle pieces to listen.

Yeah, that flew over really well. Last year I couldíve blamed this on having six-months-pregnant hormones, but this year I had no such cop-out. 🙂

The representative pointed out that people wouldnít be pouring time and effort into this if they didnít have a passion for people, that they wouldnít be doing this ìjust to keep an institution going.î Hmmmm . . .

My beloved mama sent me a quote that she found during a time of one of her bajillion restructurings at her former place of employment:

We trained very hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to
form into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that
we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing, and a wonderful method it
can be for creating the illusion of progress, while producing confusion,
inefficiency and demoralization.
… from writings of Gaius Petronius, arbiter elegantiae and Roman consul of
Bithynia, who was forced to commit suicide in 65 A.D., having fallen foul of
Tigellenus, favorite of Nero

I don’t believe this is what the vision statement/restructure is intending, but itís something to take into consideration.

I shouldíve kept the wise words of Andrew Jones in my mind, but the mouth got going, and the brain shut down:

ìGive them time . . . Donít expect considerable change. Its not good for an old wineskin to stretch too much in case it bursts.î

I love being on my board. I love being a part of this Yearly Meeting. I feel a call to be a bridge between those who donít resonate with the ìinstitutional structureî and those who do. This post probably sounds otherwise, but I think of it more as voicing concern out of love – if I didnít love, I wouldnít say anything: apathy would be my friend. If that ever happens, Iíll be sad.

So, in case I become ìdenominationally rejected,î does anyone have room for a sometimes-mouthy, new mama blogger? My accessories include an awfully cute son and a tech-savvy husband. 🙂

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