One of the core practices of being “Presbyterian” is our commitment to collective discernment. Our belief is that discernment requires listening to one another and to the spirit of God and the scriptures. The result of this has been meetings, meetings and more meetings. How many meetings does it take to run a church!
My observation is that our meetings are not working.
- Our meetings are not practicing spiritual discernment. They are the collective sharing of the opinions of the opinionated and then taking a vote. These meetings favour only those who speak.
- The wrong people are at the meetings. How can we expect to make decisions about our God given futures if the very people we want to reach have no voice? Where is the voice of the minority and the voiceless; does God not speak through them also?
- It is taking far too much time running church rather than being We are spending excessive time talking, so we run out of time to actually do what we’ve discussed. Understandably, after 100 meetings there is little or no energy left to do anything.
- The agenda is to finish the agenda; that’s a good meeting. Surely not! The wrong things are on the agenda.
- People are exhausted. Evening meetings are robbing people of their families and their health. In a poor time management society people are opting out. The apology list is growing every year.
- People skills are not being fully utilised. We are being asked to discuss matters outside our area of interest or skill. When this happens people disengage.
Some possible ways forward
- Change the focus from meetings to experiencing God in one another.
- Multi task to do two or more things at once. Eat, relax, have fun and work together.
- Ask, “Is this agenda worth giving my life for ?”
- Ask who really needs to be at the meeting – if the right people are not there don’t have the meeting.
- Don’t record minutes of meetings only the action points.
- Set very clear time limits for a meeting (1 hour).
- Stop sharing opinions. In most meetings we already know what people are going to say before they say it. We’ve been practicing that for years. Listen for the silent voice, the voice you don’t want to hear.
- Ask what would spiritual discernment look and sound like?