EP 204 – HOW NOT TO HAVE BORING BUSINESS MEETINGS
Welcome back bootcampers, we hope your summer is finishing up well. Today we approach an important but perhaps boring topic-the Church Business Meeting. Yes, friends it’s true many hate, yea even loathe the monthly or quarterly business meetings. Here are some practical suggestions to enliven this important meeting of the gathered church.
- Encourage Testimonies that are tied to decision making and budgeting (camps, live change, baptism stories etc.)
- Spend time intentionally praying for the congregation, mission and the effort to proclaim the gospel in your neighborhood and around the world.
- Spend time highlighting “one” ministry a little longer, allowing them to unpack their work and mission.
- Celebrate a ministry leader or key volunteer.
- Conclude the meeting with a shared meal (a good one!)
Here are some of the EPs referenced in the introduction.
EP 8: How to handle a Bad Business meeting w/Evan Skelton
EP 92: Robert’s Rules of Order w/Craig Culbreth
EP 146: Formal and Informal Permission
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JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are, back at the bootcamp. Back at it again, Bob. I hope you’re ready for the next episode, episode 204, as we keep this train rolling.
Bob Bickford: Man, we are picking up Steam JimBo heading into the next,
era of the bootcamp. And, I think we are having some fun. If we were a, if we were a transcontinental, Railroad train, JimBo, where would we be? Would we have, would we have navigated from east to west and would we be halfway back or would we be making our second trip at this point?
JimBo Stewart: I don’t know, man. I, you know, who knows how long we’re gonna do this for? I could see we, we do it all the way till I’m double nickels.
Bob Bickford: Me and I don’t know, JimBo, I’d be pretty old by then. I might not be a sound mind. So,
JimBo Stewart: You don’t think you got 14 more years of this in you?
Bob Bickford: I know I got a solid 10, that extra four that could be the difference maker.
JimBo Stewart: You guys heard it here first. That might be the end of the podcast and we got a 10 year window. How much can we talk about revitalization and replanting in the next 10 [00:01:00]years?
Bob Bickford: Well, I don’t wanna sound any alarm bells, but you know, they’re, they’re, everybody’s always talking about climate change and that we’ve only got seven years left or 12 years left, that sort of thing. So maybe you heard it here today. We’ve got 10 years at least we think, statistically maybe the scientists have studied that the bootcamp has got about 10 years of life left.
I don’t know. I
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
Bob Bickford: I haven’t
JimBo Stewart: the, when the, boot camps done, what else is there?
Bob Bickford: Well, it’s time to turn the lights off.
JimBo Stewart: Well, one of the things I do love about this podcast and our time together, Bob, is it’s never boring. and, It, it’s a refreshing joy because sometimes the word rev revitalization has some pretty boring and depressing moments and seasons. And so we try to be lighthearted on this podcast to talk about, a heavy and important topics and, because we know if you’re revitalizing a replanting, a church, then you probably have a lot of not fun or not interesting or [00:02:00] not exciting moments in your life.
And so we wanna add a little joy and excitement and fun. Into that. And so I have a super, boring topic for us today, Bob. we’re, we’re gonna talk about business meetings, but here’s what, here’s how, here’s how I wanna frame it. We’ve had some other episodes where we have addressed business meetings, member meetings a little bit, and we’re gonna reference those because I don’t wanna spend all of our time rehashing everything.
here’s the question I wanna answer today. How do you have less boring business meetings? in a journey of church revitalization? One aspect that we talk about a lot. Is traditional business meeting and you know all the jokes about Baptist business meetings and many of us have experienced the monotony of these gatherings leaving us with a desire to make, make it more impactful and God glorifying.
And so if that resonates with you, listener, you’re not alone. We have all experienced that. and so I wanna talk about how to make it less boring. But before we even get to that, I think that we have to. [00:03:00] just quickly reference some ideas of what do you do before the meeting to try to prevent fireworks during the meeting.
Uh, there’s, there are a few things you can do and there are a few episodes we’re gonna point you to that will help you in this. You can go dive deeper into these topics to help you prevent fireworks or handle fireworks when they come. One is, I’m just gonna list these and then Bob, you get some commentary after.
Have one. You can have informal meetings with key influencers. informal meetings, just like in the hallway or grabbing lunch or just on the phone or, you know, just before church, after church, and get a temperature reading on what, what concerns them, what people are talking about, what’s going on. And this is a great place to kind of casually float out ideas.
that you are thinking about presenting at a business meeting that could possibly cause friction and just kind of see how they react and see what questions they have and what ideas they have. We talk a lot more about informal, informal permission and episode 1 46.[00:04:00] during the meeting, how, or before the meeting, select who the moderator’s gonna be and do a really good job of getting that moderator ready.
Check out episode 92 with special guest Craig Culbert, the Baptist Bouncer, where we talk about the values of Robert’s rules of order and why they matter and how to learn them and how to be prepared for them. But then what if, what if you do all that and the fireworks still happen? Bob, what if it just still blows up?
Well, what do you do when conflict breaks out during the meeting? Check out episode eight and before your next meeting, don’t in the middle of the meeting, pull up episode eight.
Bob Bickford: Man, you’re reaching way back in the archive there,
JimBo Stewart: I’m go back all the way to episode eight with Evan Skelton and how to handle bad business meetings. So I wanna, before we dive into how to make it less boring, just kind of hit some of the practical meeting stuff.
What can you do beforehand? ’cause part of keeping it, I mean, there’s, there’s, there’s different ways you could make it not boring. The fireworks aren’t [00:05:00] boring, but they are not fun. so we want to do the right kind of less boring.
Bob Bickford: Yes. I think a lot of pastors always feel the stress right before the business meeting. Right. Especially if they’re not, if there’s a, maybe a difficult topic that they’re about to discuss, or if they have that, you know, the, the line, new business, right? And, you know, who knows what’s gonna come up then and, and get a, get a handle on your order of business and submissions and all of those sorts of things.
But off oftentimes it is just a. Kind of formalities, a few reports and some formalities that that’s what you really hope most of your business meetings are. there are times when the church has to come together and consider more significant and weightier matters, but hopefully by and large, your business meetings are not that colorful or fantastic unless you’re gonna do some of the following things that we’re gonna talk about right now.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. So I think one of the great things you can do to make sure we’re focused on the right things. ’cause part of this, I [00:06:00] think, is when I, when I wrote these out, Bob, one of the things I was thinking is not only how to keep it from being less boring, but also how to keep us focused on the right things.
And so we’re not just coming in and reporting, you know, bap, you know, budget numbers and attendance numbers and uh, and just, and statistics. ’cause one of the things we’ve tried to do on this podcast is talk about how, we can’t live and die by those metrics
alone. We can’t ignore them. But we can’t live and die by them.
And that includes a business meeting. How do you make the business meeting not just a report of here’s where the money is, here’s where the people are, yada yada. Right. So one of the things I think is, I think it’s awesome opportunity to celebrate testimonies and, and stories of. Life transformation.
Incorporate a segment where members share their personal testimonies and stories of God’s faithfulness in their lives. ’cause good testimonies remind us of God’s transformative power and encourage others in their own walks of faith. And it, sets a tone for what we’re talking about and why we’re here and why we gather when we can celebrate those [00:07:00] things together.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, mission stories, you know, ministry stories. If you have students that receive, you know, support from the church to go to camp or on a mission trip, all those sorts of things. And, and then also people who come to Christ and talk about the transformation. I think those are really helpful because they, they do show that there is an administrative side of.
Ministry, right? We’ve gotta do these organizational things. We’ve gotta give these permissions, we’ve gotta sacrifice together to do these things, but we’re doing them unto a greater importance. and that’s the work of God in someone’s life, not just that we’re running an organization. So I love that first one.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, and so then I, I would say, Also in, in, in the light of keeping things focused on what they need to be focused on. Have times of focused prayer and intercession dedicate time during the business meeting for intentional prayer. Pray for the needs of the congregation, the community and global concerns.
By seeking God’s guidance and intervention together, your church members will be reminded of the importance of corporate prayer and [00:08:00] unity. write out a pastoral prayer and. Pray it over the congregation, have people break into groups of three to four and pray together. We did this often at redemption, and, and I would get some pushback on the awkwardness of it.
And, and I would always just say, just lean into that awkwardness. And I know it’s weird, but it’s also important and it’s good. and, we could see some really neat things happen when we would do that together. Times of, you know, our team got an opportunity to pray with, one of our, Breakout session leaders for the Replant Summit, at namm.
scheduled a Zoom meeting with our team to pray and. It was a sweet, wonderful time of just praying for the, the ministry revitalization and replanting and the replant summit itself and, and all the things, and, and we spent probably 30, 45 minutes praying together and,
that I, I mean, let the Holy Spirit work in that and praying for unity and praying for focus and, and being what we’re supposed to be.
Let us build community together as we pray together.
Bob Bickford: I love the idea of, breaking up into [00:09:00] smaller groups and then giving prompts out, like for everyone.
JimBo Stewart: Mm-hmm.
Bob Bickford: because it, it requires participation, more participation in those little triads than, than just, Hey, who’s sick and what do we need to pray about? And then one or two people praying, right? I think it’s, it’s good to break those up into groups and so I think that’s super important and, and what I would say is focus on the focused prayer side, like on the mission side, on the.
You know, building unity on Lord, giving us opportunity to share the gospel, or Lord, help us to serve this community. Well, help us to, to think your thoughts about how we live in ministry, you know, and, and on mission here where you’ve called us. Those things are super important. Most of the time it is sub, it is intercession on behalf of those who are not doing well.
Right. So it’s kind of the, we pray through the sick report and the hospital list and the, I’m not trying to diminish those things, but oftentimes the, the needle points more to that than it does towards mission and
JimBo Stewart: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And I think that’s, that’s great. We gotta make sure that we’re praying, not [00:10:00] just for sickness, but for, for Mission and Unity and the church as a whole and the community. and then kind of like celebrating test testimonies and, and life stories. I think you can share ministry spotlights and missions updates, in ministry spotlights.
I think you can highlight different ministries within the church during each meeting. you could, you. Here’s the thing, instead of like giving every single ministry equal time in every meeting, what if you created a rotation and each meeting one ministry gets more time? Not that we don’t. Give updates on other ministries if, if they’re necessary.
But we pick one that we just really highlight and we really, we really share stories out of and allow ministry leaders to share their successes, their challenges, upcoming events. it’s not only raises awareness to the various opportunities for involvement, but also it helps again, foster a sense of community and teamwork and, and togetherness, which is, I think if we can move business meetings.
Towards a tool used to build [00:11:00] community. Man, we’re, we’re doing something and, and we can quit with the bad Baptist business meeting jokes and we can, we can make it something we really look forward to, and people wanna be a part of. ’cause who wants to be a part of a bad business meeting?
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I don’t, well, so maybe a cranky person who wants to, you know, unleash, uh, their crankiness on people. maybe, but not many, um, not healthy people, but I, I love this idea of. Spotlighting ministry and what the Lord has done. And I think most of the time when you come to a business meeting, the posture is not that.
The posture is we’re here to get permission,
right? And, and so you’re flipping that. You’ve already been given permission, your budget, right? And your bylaws have given you permission. So flip the script a little bit and ask for, you know, let’s celebrate, let’s, let’s rejoice together and let’s, let’s understand what God is doing together.
I think that’s a great way to, to frame it.
JimBo Stewart: Well, and then even thinking externally, not just what you’re doing within the church, but who are you partnered with externally? [00:12:00] Missions updates devote a section of the meeting to hearing updates from missionaries that your church supports. This connects your congregation with the global mission field and reminds them of their involvement in God’s larger redemptive work and.
Even if you’re a Southern Baptist church, which I know not all of our listeners are, but if you are, then even if just the cooperative program, you can share i m b updates or, or NAMM updates or things like that. But if you’re not part of the Southern Baptist Convention, then surely I, hopefully, I. You are supporting some missionaries somewhere to do something.
Uh, and, and so you can hear from them and celebrate them. Let ’em come, let ’em set up a table and, and, and share for a few minutes and, and give people an opportunity to connect with them in a personal, real way and, and, and pray for them or, or if they’re overseas, send a video and, and share that video update.
And some way to just to highlight, Hey, when we’re gonna talk about money at some point. And one of the things you gotta understand is this is not about just paying the bills. This is about being obedient to what God has called us to do and being on mission and [00:13:00] a, a portion of everything you give goes to help us support our mission partners.
And here’s one of those. Here’s one of those mission partners and how God’s using them to advance the gospel across the world.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. One of the, the things I did probably in the spring, I think this year, right before the Easter offering was a pastor called, and said, Hey, could you come in and be part of our business meeting? And I just wanna highlight what Replant is doing. I. And so he brought me in and I was part of a, a business meeting, right?
And got asked questions and, and it was pretty cool. It was good to see the people there and be able to share what we were doing and replant and to thank them for their partnership in ministry.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, and I think another piece with that is you can do vision casting and celebrating progress, right? Like it doesn’t just need to be reports of the budget and, and here’s when committee meetings are, but. Use this meeting as a time to communicate the church’s vision and goals. Remind people of who you are, bringing clarity to what it is God’s called you to do.
Share stories of how the congregation is making a positive impact in the community. [00:14:00]Recognize the efforts of individuals who have contributed to the church’s mission and vision. Figure out ways to really celebrate those that have volunteered and given a lot of time. To the mission that you have, because we know most churches have kind of that 2080 rule, right?
Where 20% of the people are doing 80% of the work, and it’s really easy to feel. Unappreciated, and this is not about that. We don’t do it for the appreciation, but at the same time, Romans chapter 12 tells us to outdo one another in showing honor. And I, I remember we would at redemption on our Facebook page for a while, we would do, uh, once a month, we’d do like a volunteer of the month and we’d celebrate that person and tell a little bit of their story and.
I had a loving member from another partner church message me, and they did it very graciously and kindly and, and we’re like, Hey, just help me understand because as my, as I understand it, you know, we’re not supposed to let the right hand know what the left hand is doing. We’re not supposed to, you know, if we get our rewards here, then we don’t get ’em in heaven.
And, and they were message me and we’re just trying to [00:15:00] get clarity and I just said, look, this is us out doing honor out doing one another and showing honor. And, you know, we’re almost 12. And, uh, and just helping people. not feel burned out and underappreciated and, and overworked because all, most volunteers are kind of overworked.
And here’s, from my experience, Bob, when people burn out, when volunteers burn out and leave, they don’t leave and go to another church. Far too often they just leave. And just quit going to church.
and so, I mean, help take care of your people and highlight and help them feel the honor that, that of, of being one of your lead volunteers, that gives so much effort to the church’s mission and vision.
Bob Bickford: I think helping people see that your church is moving forward and accomplishing the things that you have decided together to do is super key.
Here, um, most of the time we get permission and then, uh, we really don’t report back. Did it work? Did it not work? And, and so this really closes the loop, to help your [00:16:00] congregation understand what their sacrificial gifts, what their efforts and service are, and what they’re, they’re, you know, preyed upon priorities that you guys have decided together if those are moving the church forward.
So I, I think that’s a really important aspect of. Of saying, you know, Hey, last year we said we were gonna do this and we’ve been working really hard and the team’s been working to put this together, and then we, we did this event, or we, you know, launched this initiative, or we got these resources and we created this ministry room, or et cetera.
And so we just wanna share that with you all as a way of celebrating and I would say celebrate on Wednesday night. Celebrate on Sunday too,
right? Because, because the majority of folks who come on a midweek Wednesday night, For a business meeting, or if you have your business meetings or members meetings on Sunday after the church, you’re gonna get a subset of the entire attending population.
So you kind of wanna cascade it out. So you treat these guys as your, like key stakeholders that come to these meetings and you really wanna do your best at giving them [00:17:00] the, the, the best and the most thorough information. And then share a little bit beyond that circle on a Sunday perhaps. Uh, to help people maybe get an appetite to go to this stakeholders meeting, right?
That they’re gonna get inside information, they’re gonna get more information, they’re gonna be more valued, that sort of thing.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I think that there’s such an important thing that happens when we just celebrate what God is doing and and find things to celebrate man, and we’ve talked about this a lot on this podcast of the, you should be celebrating something every week. I. And if you can’t find anything in the local church that you’re serving to celebrate, then find something on the mission field to celebrate or find something in another neighborhood church within your network there in your community that you can celebrate.
I promise you there’s something somewhere you can celebrate. It doesn’t have to be massive, it doesn’t have to be a salvation every week. Uh, but it can be somebody taking a step of, of faith in, in obedience, somebody sharing the gospel with their neighbor, somebody [00:18:00] serving the, the community, somebody.
Reading to kids at the school in the community or something like that. And, and just find ways to tell those stories. Uh, because here’s the other thing I. This does is it helps us move away from the celebrity. Single pastor is the hero. He’s the hired hand, he does the ministry. We’re just here to kind of rah rah, hear a good sermon from him and, and move on.
And it helps. I. The whole body see that the whole body is a part of this, right? And when they, and when they see somebody being celebrated for walking over to the school next door and reading to kids for a teacher so that teacher can have a minute to eat their lunch,
Bob Bickford: Mm-hmm.
JimBo Stewart: let’s celebrate that. Let’s make a big deal about things like that and let ’em see that it’s, it’s a whole culmination of all those little things that really help us as a body be who God called us to be.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I love it. I think it’s a great idea.
JimBo Stewart: And then lastly, here’s what I think. If you [00:19:00] can end with having a meal together, consider concluding the, the business meeting with a shared meal. Eating together. Eating together, fosters. Fellowship. A deepened relationship echoes the spirit of the early church gatherings where believers gathered for the breaking of the bread like we see in Acts two.
The communal act of doing of dining can cultivate a sense of family within the church, leaving everyone nourished in body and in spirit. And you know, we did this, a lot of redemption. The church I’m a part of now does a. Very good job of this with their annual meeting. I mean, they make a huge feast out of it, and it’s just, it’s a blast.
It’s a, it’s an enjoyable night where everybody looks forward to it. So I don’t know how often your business meetings are. we would do, we did quarterly and we would always have a huge meal, man. And so we would do it every fifth Sunday. We would do, we would have, our Spanish church would worship with us.
We would translate everything. The kids would worship with us. We would try to get as close to just packing out the, the worship center as possible. Head over to [00:20:00] lunch and just pack out the fellowship hall. Have a great meal, have a business meeting together. And make a really great day of it where we did all the, we celebrated testimonies and life stories and we prayed together and we highlighted what God was doing and we shared vision and then, and we would always encourage people, kinda a little bit, little bit of what we talked about in last week’s episode about having a meal with somebody you don’t know.
Like take this as an opportunity to sit down with somebody that you’ve never had a meal with or never talked to and sit down and, and listen to ’em and, and get to know ’em and have, have just an opportunity to break bread together.
Bob Bickford: There’s nothing like eating together to have great con table conversations and create that bond of fellowship, and usually there’s, there’s good noise. There’s laughter. They’re, they’re all ages together, so yeah, I mean, have good food. and you can, it doesn’t have to be hard. You can do potlucks and they can be good.
You can do. you know, simple meals and, and they can be good. And you’re not trying to, you’re not trying [00:21:00] to, impress a Yelp elite by your church meal necessarily, but you want to have a good meal with some options for different kinds of folks with different kinds of, You know, tastes and dietary things.
But the, the big thing is, is do it in such a way that it is a, a blessing and it looks, people look forward to it as a celebration. So we, I, I always enjoyed doing members meetings with meals. We, we had such a good time. We had everything from peanut butter and jelly to nachos, to pizza, to, you know, Chili to spaghetti.
I mean, it was just, you never knew. and we kind of went the potluck route. And then sometimes what we would do is, is we would, you know, prepare stuff in advance and just have it down in crockpots and warming. So if it was a chili or if it was tacos or, you know, taco meat or that sort of thing. So it’s, it’s, you can easy to do.
It’s not as hard as you think. And then what I would say too is get, get some of your, um, get some of your folks who love to do this, some of your multi-generational folks, your [00:22:00] grandmas. To, um, have the best dishes, man. Just tell ’em, bring out the best dishes, like, make them, let’s, let’s do this, and it’s gonna be a lot of fun.
JimBo Stewart: Man, I, I wish we, we could learn from my experiences with the Korean church in America. They have lunch together every single Sunday. I mean, every single Sunday they, once the worship service is over, they go have lunch together. And, and Bob, I don’t know, I think they’ve tapped into something that, that we’re missing.
And I know we’re, we’re so busy and we got so many different things to do, and that’s such a long day. And I don’t know, man, there’s a part of me, Bob, that if I were a lead pastor again, I would try to figure out how to have meals together with the church family as often as possible.
and it is not just a, I mean, it is a biblical idea, but it’s also, I mean, it’s just, man, what a bonding experience to just sit and eat together.
and almost as if that’s how God designed it all to work. That, where to sit and enjoy food together and enjoy [00:23:00] the company and, and so man, not just in your business meeting to find opportunities. Wherever you can to sit and break bread together. Have fun together. Enjoy each other. Celebrate what God’s doing.
Don’t get caught up in the discouragement and the things that you don’t have or the things that you’re quote unquote not good at or don’t have enough of. And man, just find the, the little things that God is doing and celebrate those like crazy and enjoy each other. All right. It’s If you’ve got ways that you have celebrated and made business meetings fun together, we’d love to hear from you. shoot us a note. You can always email us replant firstname.lastname@example.org, questions that you’ve got, ideas that you’ve got feedback. Leave us a comment on social media or on the website, and we’d love to hear how we can continue to serve you and even serve you better.