There is one word that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It is the word committee. I understand that my issue with the word might be a matter of semantics, and it also might be the result of personal experience.
Early in my ministry, I was thrown into a monthly board meeting. It was not a pleasant experience as we met each month to discuss with great detail topics that needed only a few minutes to decide. The three months it took to agree on the purchase and installation of a sump pump for our crawl space was brutal.
The other interesting part of our meetings was that significant decisions were always assigned to some committee. That meant that a small group of people would spend their time meeting and research a topic. They would type up their finding and present it to the board. These small clusters usually consisted of the most interested party on a subject. The lady with two small children was assigned to the nursery committee, and she was happy about it. Sometimes the opposite happened. The person with the least interest was given the opportunity to lead a committee only because no one else would do it. The church was always full of various committees meeting all over the place.
These small groups of two to five people met for an assigned period in an attempt to keep things moving. They were usually given little authority to make decisions and quite often they were not taken very seriously by all those involved.
One day I was discussing my hatred of the board and committee system with a friend at college. A man, whom I did not know, was ahead of us in the line at the bookstore. He was listening to my complaining, and he turned to us and said, “Sounds like you need to move to ministries.” I assume I gave him a dirty look and he walked out of my life forever.
For the next few days, I couldn’t shake the thought. Who was that man? Why was he listening to my conversation? What in the world did he mean about ministry?
My service at that church ended after several failed attempts to make changes, and I moved to new church hundreds of miles away. There I embarked on a transition away from committees to ministries. It made a huge difference in my life and in the church.
The fourth definition of ministry in Webster’s Dictionary is “a person or thing through which something is accomplished.” The word has the religious connotations of being a minister and the actions that lead to accomplishment. It was the perfect description of what needed to happen in the church.
The word committee conjures up images for me of a few people sitting at a table talking and accomplishing very little. They are about information and not execution. Ministry is an active word. It means that you have a God-given responsibly to complete a task for the kingdom of heaven. The church moves forward when people see their service as a ministry for God.
That man in the bookstore that day will never know how much he contributed to my life with that one statement. I captured my hatred for committees but my love of serving the Lord. My hope and dream is that everyone in the church will serve in some form of ministry. I pray that everyone will give of their time and energy to accomplish something great for the kingdom of God.