There have been countless times I have been so tempted to have t-shirts printed with that emblazoned on the front in bold, neon letters and distribute them among every church committee or board with whom I have worked.
It’s not about more information.
Of course, information is important. Data can provide insights to move decision-making forward in a way that casual comments of “well, I’ve heard” or “I’d like to think” or my favorite “they are saying” just can’t.
But if church needs to feel different than the rest of our lives;
If what we spend our time on in church board meetings needs to reflect a deep understanding of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ;
If our life together needs to be formed by our experience of the grace of God;
If we understand our life before God contains a generous portion of mystery in an age, as Flannery O’Connor wrote, that sees mystery as embarrassment—then every church board will reach a moment where we must acknowledge that it’s not about more information.
In my experience, breaking free of a rote business agenda is strangely appealing to elders, deacons, council and vestry members in equal proportion to how it makes them feel restless, anxious, and uncertain.
A significant reason to change church board meetings to be two-thirds study/discussion/prayer and no more than one-third “decision-making/business” is to place ourselves squarely in front of the God of mystery. The God who shapes the universe and no less shapes our communities of faith. The Body of Christ is not established or maintained by majority vote. It is created and nurtured by the God of grace and hope, whose ways are not our ways.
Every church board, in trying to be responsive to the needs of a community, will reach a point of stress, uncertainty, conflict, and/or confusion. At that point, more information will prove unreliable. A growing faith in the God we worship will free us to be the Body of Christ as we make decisions for the Body of Christ.