Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Are We Deliberately Inefficient? 

by NA
So, I got a call the other day from a stake representative who wants to meet with me on Sunday, 15 minutes before meetings start (8:45 a.m. --- groan.... ). I said to him, "why don't you just tell me what's going on now, so that we don't both have spend the time at this meeting?"

His reply was unsurprising, but disappointing: "I think we're supposed to meet in person for this kind of thing." I shrugged and agreed to meet him.

WHY? I don't think The Manual speaks to this point directly (though please correct me if I'm mistaken), but in any event I'm sure the rationale is that our communications mean more when done in person, or something similar. You know what would mean more to me? Fifteen more minutes of sleep on Sunday morning. Are we afraid that people will be offended by telephone or email communication? Is this some sort of anti-efficiency movement?

I see little tokens of inefficiency like this all over the church: insisting on meeting in person, guarding secrecy around callings for needless reasons, rearranging your stuff so that you can pass the sacrament with your right hand, etc., etc. It makes me wonder if we're holding on to these cultural inefficiencies for some greater purpose, as if we were deliberately trying to slow down our relations with each other, and make Church a longer experience. I'm reminded of the famous story about why we have QWERTY keyboards, a sort of inefficient but necessary relic. Although that story has been largely debunked, I wonder what the obstacles are to having a more streamlined, efficient church administration. If God is directing this Church in its structure, are the inefficiencies deliberate?
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