Nine steps to a successful church business meeting

Stressed out by your church business meetings? Frustrated when nothing seems to be accomplished? Turn these gatherings of your church body into positive times of team-building and Kingdom work with these nine common sense ideas.

1. Publish the meeting agenda of ahead of time.

  • Make a printed agenda available several days before the scheduled business meeting, include it in your church's e-mail newsletter, and post it on your church website.
  • If your church family knows what will be discussed at the meeting, they will be better prepared, and more encouraged to participate.
  • It will also demonstrate that church leaders are planning and there is nothing secretive about the meeting.
  • Consider including in your policy manual limitations on items that can be brought to the floor that are not on the published agenda. This will prevent major surprise votes at the meeting.

2. Know the agenda well.

  • Do not assume any motion will pass without discussion.
  • Talk with the committee chairpersons who will be presenting motions.
  • Be sure you know the "ins" and "outs" of each motion.

3. Know the underlying agenda items in your church.

  • Who are the primary stake holders and leaders in your church?
  • Who are the opinion makers in the church?

4. Set a positive tone.

You need to be comfortable in front of the church body and radiate a sense of positive self-confidence.

5. Get outside help with controversial issues.

If you are working with a controversial subject (one that might cause a split in the life of the church) consider inviting an objective, outside person who has strong communication skills and is versed in Robert's Rules of Order, to chair the meeting (possibly your association moderator).

6. Be familiar with Robert's Rules of Order.

Take a copy with you into the meeting or have someone you can trust who might function as a parliamentarian. When used properly, Robert's rules can be very helpful in organizing the discussion.

7. Present motions clearly and professionally.

This is almost as important as the content of the motion in terms of its acceptance. Use a variety of presentation methods such as handouts and PowerPoint. Anticipate questions that might be asked in the presentation of the motion. Sloppy presentations invite sloppy discussions of the motion.

8. Preface the meeting with prayer and Scripture.

Move the meeting toward the direction of the church as an organism, rather than the church as an institution. Set the tone for the meeting so that this is not just a business meeting like those of other organizations. Emphasize that this is a business meeting where God and God's people are present.

If at any time in the discussion you have the sense that feelings are getting out of control, take a break in the discussion, and then pray again.

9. Have as few business meetings as possible.

Many church business meetings are a waste of time. Meeting once a quarter would be sufficient in almost any church. As your church family embodies trust within itself, most business of your church can be delegated to other small work groups. These groups should operate within the bounds of the policies of the church and the annual church budget.

Give them freedom to do their work without having to get approval from the church for every jot and tittle. In between business meetings, make available on Sundays or in mail outs, information about the work of the church. Consider occasional "information meetings" (no motions, no voting) to keep the church family informed of all the wonderful actions taking place in the life of the church.

Hal Pettegrew previously served as associate pastor of church ministries at Walnut Street Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.

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