Meetings are boring, right? Stack up all the meetings you’ve been to in your brain and put the ones that weren’t boring in a separate pile. Makes for a pretty small stack, doesn’t it?
I’ve been to A LOT of meetings. And I mean A LOT. (Thirteen years in the public service and two years in non-profit = approximately 3,987,072 meetings. Don’t ask me how I came up with the number – I just KNOW!) If I could have all the time back I’ve spent in meetings, I could add about 17 years onto my life.
Yesterday I spent all day in meetings. From 7:30 in the morning until 9:30 at night (with a bit of a break for a bike ride and supper). Fortunately, they weren’t the dry, boring kind where you go through your annual budget line by line and decide that if this is what you have to do for the rest of your life, you’d rather poke out your eyes and live the rest of your life in the dark to avoid it.
Trying to look on the bright side, I’m lucky that I get to facilitate more and more of the meetings I have to be part of. That’s good for a few reasons: a.) it’s harder to fall asleep when you’re runnin’ the thing, b) I get to control the agenda, c) I get to throw in fun things now and then, d) I can tell anyone fiddling on their Blackberries to shove them up their @#$%#$, and e) if the finance person wants to pick apart the budget, I can kick her/him out of the room (mwahaha!).
Yesterday, I did one of those fun things that help make meetings at least somewhat less boring. It was one of those brainwaves that strikes you at approximately midnight, the night before a big meeting, when you’re trying to sleep but you can’t help running through the agenda time and time again.
Picture this, 5 respected church elders sprawled out on the floor with old magazines, colourful paper, scented markers, and glue sticks. (Okay, so the truth is, they’re not the kind of elder you might be thinking of – these are the kind of elders that are all way younger than your grandfather – the kind that are hip and fun and they’re not just leaders of your church, they’re the people you like to have over for a bonfire and glass of wine on Friday night. They’re the kind of elders who tell you that their son messed up with the law and has to go to court. The kind that let you know they’re in the middle of a depression and are considering medication. The kind that cry with you when life looks like shit and you can’t find your way out. They’re the kind that SAY shit. The honest, authentic, flawed kind that EVERY church should have.)
So… back to the picture… 5 elders, glue sticks, and pictures torn out of magazines. Out of this moment came 5 beautiful collages, each of them representing someone’s vision of the church. Each one had personality. There was the one with the picture in the centre of a bad-ass kid with a colourful mohawk and an attitude. Another one focused on the different kinds of relationships we all have. On almost every one, the faces were as diverse as a box of new crayons. On one of them, there were words like “hope” and “love” and “community”. On another, the pictures represented the realities of life – the messy stuff that most of us hide – the depressions, the anger, the fear. One of them had a variety of pictures of people expressing themselves in art and music and all kinds of creativity.
It was brilliant. I want to do it at every meeting. I’m just not sure I can convince the board of directors at work to get down on the floor and get glue on their hands.