I see ghosts every day. And I’m willing to bet you do too. Although you probably don’t recognise them for what they are, and just pass them by.
Don’t worry – I’m not going all Bruce Willis on you.
‘Ghosts’ are the habits, practices, customs of the past that don’t have any present value, but the organisation (church, group, whatever) still carries on with them.
There’s the famous story of the ham. A newly married couple were cooking their first Sunday lunch together, and the bloke cut both ends off the ham before putting it into the oven to cook.
‘“Why do you do that?” asked his wife.
“I don’t really know – it’s what I we did when I was growing up. Next time I speak to my mother, I’ll ask her why she did it.”
And so he did. And she didn’t know whey she did it either, except it was what was done to the ham when she was growing up. Cut the ends off before you put it in the oven.
“I’ll go and ask Grandma.”
Grandma came to the phone.
“Oh that goes back right to when we were first married. We had a tiny kitchen, with a tiny oven, and I could never get the whole ham in. I used to cut the ends off so it would fit. And somehow I just kept on doing it…”
Things get tricky when we expect the ghost to say ‘boo!‘
Now the ham’s easy and funny. But things get tricky when we anticipate the ghost saying ‘boo’. When we say the ‘boo’ for it. When it spooks us. When we let it spook us.
The missionary you support, even though he stopped doing the work that you originally supported. But no-one says anything.
The committee that meets to run a group to serve people who are in plenty of other groups anyway (my mother was in a group called Young Wives until she was well into her eighties). But no-one stops it.
The meeting that always happens on a Monday because that was the evening that everyone could make (twenty years ago). But no-one thinks to question it.
The agenda that always starts with people correcting minutes, even though it could have been done digitally.
The team that exists to oversee the way new members get involved, even though its handled far better by the church software.
The sound person who runs the new sound digital desk just like she ran the old sound desk, because no-one has been able to persuade her to adapt and improve.
Seen any lately?
Thanks for stopping by. Let me know your thoughts, additions and questions below.