Posted by: ritagone | October 26, 2011

A Real Live Meeting

It has been a good two weeks, filled with Christian Associates business.  First we had our quarterly board meeting, but with a twist.  This is the first time we’ve ever had our entire Leadership Team members join us, which included guys from the Netherlands, Minnesota, Oregon, and elsewhere sitting in on the board meeting and participating, sharing their vision for the future of CA and being present with the board members, something that is too rare an occurrence, unfortunately.  Usually we get written reports which are read out loud, so you can imagine how much more vibrant it is to get the actual writers there instead, telling us what’s going on in their ministries in their various places of work!  Exciting just doesn’t even capture it.

In an organization such as ours, which is spread out over multiple continents and various cities, perhaps the most challenging aspect of doing the work of the Kingdom is the fact that we rarely get to see one another in person.  We do a lot of skype calls, we email, we Twitter, we make good use of Facebook.  Social media is our friend.  But it is not our first choice.  Our first choice would always be to sit in a room and talk, laugh, see facial expressions, body language, touch an arm, give a hug.  If we’re lucky, we get to do this twice a year.  During the past few years, given the financial restrictions we have suffered, like many other non-profits, once a year has been the standard.

It’s difficult to run an organization, to get the pulse of what’s going on on many levels, when you’re distanced to the use of the Internet, the phone and the void of ether space.  It’s frustrating, to say the least, to conduct business when you have to speculate as to body language, tone of voice, intention, meaning, when voices interrupt and speak over one another, when silences hang on because no one knows when it’s his (or her) turn to enter into the conversation.  When you’re in the same room, all of these things naturally take care of themselves without thinking about them, and so you can concentrate on the work you have to do instead.  When you’re on a skype call, it’s amazing how much time is spent setting up the call, fussing with the technology, worrying over connections and disconnections.  You can literally get right to the tasks at hand without worrying too much about whether or not the call is going to fail, the transmission is working, everyone can hear, who’s on, who has accidentally dropped off.  It’s a tedium that takes up time, energy, and focus that belongs elsewhere, and it robs the team of vital action and activity where it should be placed.  You don’t see it or grasp it fully until you’re sitting in a room smiling at one another and marveling that yes, indeed, you are really, truly together at last!

There are countless articles and seminars being offered nowadays about this very issue: how to conduct your business or your non-profit from within a virtual world.  I think every organization that operates the way we do is struggling with the same thing.  It’s unavoidable when you have feet on the ground in Europe, North and South America, and the beginnings of a presence in Africa.  How can you be in all of these places at once and still speak to and see one another with any degree of regularity?  How – unless you have the luxury of constant jet travel to anywhere in the world at any time – can you be with someone in Belgium when you live in Spokane, Washington? (And, to be perfectly honest, even the availability of a permanent jet plane wouldn’t really solve the problem completely but would just create other problems of its own.  Not that it wouldn’t be fun!)

In the years and decades ahead, I’m sure technology will offer solutions that are not even thought of at this point in history.  “Star Trek’s” beaming from one planet’s surface to another might not be as much a part of science fiction for the future as we think, given the fact that only a few decades ago, the personal laptop computer was unimaginable, and the word “computer” itself brought to mind images of a very large room with floor to ceiling hard drives.  Look how that technology has changed …and along with it, changed our lives.  Why could it not be so for those of us who live in the virtual world of trying to be together while actually being thousands of miles apart?  I may not live to see it, probably won’t, as a matter of fact, but the next generation might be a generation that moves more freely through space than we think possible on October 26, 2011.  You read it here first.  Well, maybe not here first, but I do think it’s going to happen.  Science fiction has a remarkable way of becoming scientific fact pretty rapidly in the world in which we now live.

In the meantime, we struggle on with second-best devices when we have to, and cherish the times when we can be in the same room, as we were two weeks ago.  The days were long, we did a lot of intensive personal and ministry work, but it was sweet and worthwhile because of the rarity of doing it together in the same time zone, same city, same warm Westlake Village air.

I think one of my challenges for the next year will be to do all the practical research I can dig up on how various ministries and businesses do the best job they can today while functioning in this multi-continent, multi-time zone world.  If you’re reading this and you have some good suggestions, please feel free to pass them along.  I’m opening up a folder and collecting any and all information on this subject, so whatever you have to contribute – no matter how small or banal — will be gratefully appreciated.

It’s awfully quiet at my house now; all the participants are back in their various time zones and countries.  For a few days, we were together, dreaming and praying and planning for the glory of God’s Kingdom.  And that’s the important thing, no matter what time it is anywhere on God’s earth.


  1. Thanks for the great summary and thoughts on this important work!

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