We’ve all been there. It’s Wednesday or Sunday night, and it’s been almost an hour. And you’re still caught up in a business meeting after church. As you wait, a few comments come up: “Why are we still here?” “Are these necessary?” “Is there a better way to do this?” “Who is Robert, and what are these rules?” Especially in a replant or revitalization setting, business meetings can become the death of a church!
As Christians, we are supposed to be filled with inexpressible joy (1 Pet. 1:8). So, why do some business meetings suck the fun out of you? Business meetings are often associated with a sense of boredom and monotony. These gatherings, intended to facilitate communication and decision-making, can sometimes become tedious and unproductive. But this past week, Jimbo and Bob discussed ways to excite church members with better business meetings and some practical tips to kill the boredom once and for all.
A Mentality Change
When my wife and I lived in Raleigh, North Carolina, we had the privilege of attending what we considered a very healthy church for the first time in our lives. No, it wasn’t perfect, but it was a church that took sin seriously and had exceptional leadership, biblical worship, solid preaching, and well-executed ministries.
After we became members, somebody told about an upcoming “Member’s Meeting” coming up. Our whole lives, we had grown to either dread business meetings or skip them altogether. But we decided to go to hear more about our newfound church family. When we walked in on that Sunday afternoon, I kid you not, and the atmosphere was joyful and exciting. Music was playing, people were hanging out and finding a place to sit, and the sanctuary was almost FULL. As the meeting progressed, there was not a boring part, including the “financial update” by one of the pastors. Every month, people in our small group and the larger church family were excited about the upcoming Member’s Meetings.
We all want this, but how do we get there? Here are a few things to think about as you change the mentality of these crucial meetings.
Change the Conversation
First, it’s good to ask the question: what’s the purpose of our gathering? Is it because your church by-laws require you to once a month? Because it’s necessary that you vote on every issue that comes up? Or do you truly desire, as a body of Christ, to think about more ways to gather together so members can rejoice together, pray together, hear about the ministries, and attend to business matters with joy?
Sometimes, all that’s needed is a refresh in how you talk about your upcoming business meetings. I would not want to go after hearing something like, “Well, after church today, we are going to have a quick business meeting to take care of some things around the church, so please stick around.
“Hold on,” I’m thinking. “I’ve got a toddler that needs to get to nap time, and what business are we talking about?” With an announcement like that, I’d probably skip it. The repetitive nature of business meetings contributes to their dullness. Sessions often follow a predictable structure, with participants going through the same agenda items month after month (or quarter). This lack of variety can lead to monotony and disengagement among members. Moreover, if the same topics are discussed repeatedly without any tangible progress or resolution, it can further exacerbate the feeling of boredom.
Change it up.
That’s right, change it up.
Listen to this announcement: “On [this date], we are going to have time to gather together and hear some exciting updates from our ministries. It will also be a time to enjoy fellowship and pray together about important matters. We want to communicate some updates that require your input as a church member. So, let me encourage you to try to be here on that day.”
Before, there was a lack of communication, a sense of boredom, and an unimportant call to gather for just another meeting.
Now, some words cause an emotional reaction, like “exciting,” “enjoy,” “together,” “require,” and “encourage.” Words matter! And nothing will change if we do not modify the conversation about it.
Sometimes we have to cut out the fluff. What do you talk about at your business meetings? Is it mainly earthly temporal things, or kingdom-minded things? Does it involve dealing with complaints, voting on everything, and endless discussion, or do your meetings have intentional purpose where you use each moment to point people to the Lord Jesus?
Involve Your Members
Do your business meetings involve that same deacon or leader standing up and speaking for 45 minutes to an hour? One of the ways you can change it up is by including other church members to take part of those meetings. You can incorporate them by allowing them to lead worship, share testimonies, lead in prayer, or read scripture. Doing this involves sharing responsibility and giving opportunities to serve in a new way.\
The lack of active participation and interaction during business meetings makes them boring. Sometimes, meetings turn into one-sided monologues where only a few individuals dominate the conversation while others passively listen. This not only stifles creativity and excitement but also makes the forum less engaging for those not actively involved in the discussion. Additionally, if there is a lack of opportunities for members to contribute their ideas or ask questions, it can further create a sense of boredom and disinterest.
If you’re nervous that this will just add additional time to the meetings, have people share testimonials or prayer topics that directly relate to the business of the church (like baptism stories, a camp experience, or the blessing of a particular ministry). Using kids or youth in these activities gives them a feeling of leadership and responsibility. These are things you want to cultivate in your church family.
Celebrate Your Ministries
Like most businesses, executive officers and owners want their investors to see the value of their investment in showing the quality of what they produce. In a church setting, members want to see the value of the ministries they supports by seeing how it affects people’s lives for the kingdom of God. Are you looking for ways to celebrate your people and ministries?
A lot of this has to do with the language we use in those settings. The use of jargon and technical language in business meetings can contribute to its boredom. When leaders use complex terminology or acronyms that others may not be familiar with, it creates a barrier to effective communication and understanding.
This can lead to confusion and disengagement among members who may struggle to follow the discussion. The way we combat this is by utilizing people and simple language to communicate updates about the ministries and celebrate together.
Involve Prayer and Food
Remember that we can do nothing apart from Christ. Any time your church members gather together, use it as an opportunity to pray for one another, your church, and your community. This creates the ability to help members see that your business meetings are about eternal, kingdom matters, not temporary, meaningless matters.
Eat food. What brings people together like a good meal? Have everyone bring a covered dish, and sit down to enjoy it together, afterwards. The Church is not a business that operates off meetings. Church is a family of God that operates off of shared community and servanthood, and sometimes this involves “doing some business.” With that in mind, my encouragement to you is to enjoy one another. And if you approach business meetings like that, you’ll approach it with joy instead of boredom.
For more podcasts on this topic, see the following.
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