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A New Way of Doing Church Business Meetings

by Pastor Roger Barkley, Congregational Church of Northridge

Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

 

Roger BarkleyI had just finished meeting with our Lead Team to finalize plans for our 59th Annual Congregational Meeting:

Music: Victory Chant and This Is the Noise We Make

Communion: We’ll do intinction this year

Installation of new team leaders: Laying on of hands

2015 Budget: All set and ready to go

As team members hugged and paraded out of the room, I found myself reflecting on how different this meeting would be from the business meetings of a decade or more ago. Those old meetings were held on Sunday nights with people’s anxiety and Robert’s Rules of Order setting the tone for a cantankerous evening that might drag on for hours and that few people wanted to attend.

Maybe you know that experience too well. Ironically, our former business meetings seemed disconnected from the values we proclaimed as Christians. Something needed to change.

Healing the Fracture As we contemplated how the church is the Living Body of Christ, we came to realize that the worship, missions and business of the church are the same – they shouldn’t be separated. To be a whole and healthy church, we needed to find a way to reconnect and integrate all aspects of the congregational life.

Lasting and meaningful change takes time, and so our style of meeting has evolved over the years. It began fifteen years ago with writing and adopting a short statement of “Meeting Etiquette” that was printed in the agenda and read at the beginning of each meeting. This spelled out expectations for how we would treat one another during meetings, and even specified that a disruptive person would be asked to leave the meeting.  After a few years this statement was unnecessary, and we relaxed the formality of Robert’s Rules.

Making Business and Worship One As the church is in the business of transforming lives through the proclamation, presence and power of Christ, we asked how we could help our business meetings be an extension of our worship and teaching.

For the past few years we have done this by re-scheduling our business meetings to Sunday mornings and making them part of our worship service.  On those Sundays we shorten our regular worship to 45 minutes or so, transition to the business at hand, and then back into worship. We choose music for that Sunday that elevates the theme of the Body of Christ and our fellowship together. The meeting’s agenda is printed as part of the published Order of Worship.

We begin each Sunday’s worship with the Worship Team gathering in a circle at the front of the sanctuary to pray for God’s anointing of the service and that God will be pleased with the worship we offer Him that morning.  We do the same with our business meetings: It is not enough to get through an agenda of items – we want God to be pleased both with our results and with how we arrive at those results.

In our church, the Offertory and Pastoral Prayers follow the sermon and the band plays throughout that time.  If there is a business meeting included in the service, then the band continues to play.  Our Co-moderators begin the formal meeting by reading our Mission Statement and inviting the congregation to come forward for the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

After the Sacrament, the band’s music fades away as the Co-moderators lead us through the discussion points of the meeting.  The music begins again as we install our new leaders and anoint their work by inviting everyone forward for a ceremonial laying on of hands.

Now, with everyone gathered together at the front of the sanctuary, the tempo and volume of the music builds as we break into song to conclude the worship/meeting.  As we project every part of our services – including song lyrics – onto a large screen, members don’t have to fumble with hymnals while gathered together in front of the sanctuary … they can just hold hands and sing together.

This new style of church meeting feels completely different from the tense, nitpicky meetings of yesteryear. We often feel that the Holy Spirit is with us as we seamlessly do the business of the church and worship Christ, the head of the church.

Note from the Editors:  We hope this article will inspire you to think about new ways of doing business in YOUR church!

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