Your church’s Annual Meeting – essential Do’s and Don’t’s

5

19/04/2018 by Chris Green

It’s the time of year when churches have their Annual Meetings, looking back, looking forwards, and making sure that everything’s legally neat and tidy.

ring-binders-aligned-2654130_1920

I’m sure I’m not the only pastor who dreads them.  I’ve seen a number of such Meetings go horribly wrong, hijacked by silly side-issues, falling apart in blazing rows, or just quietly managing decline. And I’ve heard about so many others even worse that I know it’s a pattern.

So apart from praying (which you’ll do) and preparing (which you’ll do), how can you navigate these turbulent waters?

Don’t be defensive

I think this is #1, and the critical issue to get right.

It’s  really hard to stay cool when we are being asked lots of questions, but I have seen too many leaders react to questions as if they were meant in a hostile way, and then get angry (or at least irritated), and shut down genuine discussion. Pray hard, talk to your co-leaders, and think about how you react in advance. Watch your reactions on the night too, and own up in advance if you’re getting irritated.

Perhaps the best bit of advice is to share the spotlight – make sure there are other people on the platform with you, and defer answering as many questions as possible to them.

Do allow people to ask questions

Don’t be controlling

People can smell when elections are rigged, questions are shut down, and voices are silenced.  Be warned – you can get away with it for a season or two, but down the tracks it will come back to bite you, and with force.  

Do allow genuine decisions.

Don’t be naive

Your church will have rules about elections, who can stand, and things like that.  You need to know those rules, or have someone on hand who does. At the very least you want to make sure that what you are doing is valid (I was recently in a meeting where the chairman knew for hours that we didn’t have enough people present for a legal decision, but still let it go ahead only to announce at the end that the whole evening had been invalid. Don’t be that person).  But you also want to be ready for the trouble-maker who likes to point out that you’ve misread the rules and not chaired it properly. Remember, too, that those bylaws are there for your protection, too.

Do allow the rules to work

Don’t be ignorant

There will be questions on finances – especially if you’re reporting a deficit.  So make sure the treasurer is on hand with the figures, and you have your pastor’s hat on as well.

We always try to make sure that the accounts come in two forms – the full set that accountants can read and ask questions about, and an amateur set that everyone else can read and ask questions about.  It’s more work, but really helps the mood of the meeting if you allow basic questions as well as sophisticated ones, and that everyone knows what they are voting to approve.

Do allow the right people to answer the questions

Don’t be secular

You have good things to report – so praise and sing!  You have hard decisions to make – so pray!  Don’t let the fact that you have bylaws to keep mean that God is left out of the equations.

In my denomination people have a careless habit of talking about an Annual General Meeting, as if they were shareholders and the church council were the Board, with the pastor as the CEO.  Get people out of that mindset as quickly as you can.

Do be Christian

Don’t be boring

Yes you’ll have reports, accounts and all that sort of stuff But you have plans, and ideas, and hopes.  So lift horizons and let people see where you’re heading together.

Do be visionary!

And finally, DO think about the context

There’s an increasing pattern I’m seeing of putting the Annual Meeting in, or alongside, a service.  I’m really not persuaded about that.  I’m sure that the thinking is to make sure lots of people are there, that it’s spiritual rather than business, and so forth.  But I fear that it tends to discourage people asking proper questions and holding the church’s leadership to account.  And that, once again, will come back to bite us.

It is essential we put things in a church rather than a business meeting, but do allow the business of the meeting to be done.

What else have you found important?  Pile in!

5 thoughts on “Your church’s Annual Meeting – essential Do’s and Don’t’s

  1. James says:

    Great insights Chris, thank you. When it comes to elections prepare people properly for them. You can find advice on how to do that in PCC Tonight (CPAS).

  2. Rory Graham says:

    I think setting the meeting within a context of a Vision Sunday or the like really helps. It moves it from being a bit of admin which needs to be got out of the way, to an opportunity for thanksgiving and prayer for all that God has done.

  3. […] Your church’s Annual General Meeting – essential do’s and don’t’s […]

  4. Tim G says:

    Great post, as always Chris – thanks!

    I would add:

    ‘Don’t make decisions in meetings; instead either initialize or finalize them.’

  5. John Mowat says:

    We have found it helpful in recent years to separate the vision-casting / significant presentations into a Church Update meeting (need a better title) on a midweek evening.

    The formal Annual Business Meeting (finance / secretary / building reports) is held on a Sunday evening, shortly after the Evening Service, which helps keep numbers a bit higher and avoids the problem of lack of “business focus”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

From Now On: first steps for new Christians

Launch dayJune 1st, 2018
10 days to go.

New resource

Pastors are busy, and leading a church is a demanding task.  That’s why I wrote this e-bookchecklist: The Pastor’s Checkup – The Top 10 Questions every pastor needs to answer (and helpful stuff if you can’t)

There’s only way to get it is by subscribing to my  (occasional) email newsletter here.

Topics

God, Suffering and Joy

A conversation between me (with cancer) and Michael (with Multiple Sclerosis)

Legal stuff

This blog does not share personal information with third parties nor do I store any information about your visit to this blog other than to analyse and optimise your content and reading experience. I am not responsible for republished content from this blog on other blogs or websites without my permission. This privacy policy is subject to change without notice.

I welcome your participation on the Ministrynutsandbolts site, and invite you to share ideas elsewhere on what you learn and read here. At the same time, I ask that you respect my intellectual property rights in the process.

You are welcome to link to my site or any specific post on my site, extract and re-post less than 200 words on any other site, provided you link back to my original post, or print my posts in any non-commercial publication (e.g., company newsletter, class syllabus, church newsletter, etc.), provided you include this copyright notice: “© 2017 Chris Green. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.ministrynutsandbolts.com.”

Please do not do the following without written consent: Re-post one of my posts in its entirety anywhere else on the Internet, use this content for commercial purposes, including selling or licensing printed or digital versions of my content, or alter, transform, or build upon this work.

If you have some use for my content that is not covered here, please contact me. If you would like me to do a guest post on your blog, email me at ministrynutsandbolts@gmail.com

Copyright does not apply to the titles of books, but transparency means I should own that the title of the blog is taken from the excellent ‘Ministry Nuts and Bolts: What They Don’t Teach Pastors in Seminary ‘ by Aubrey Malphurs (Kregel: 2nd edn. 2009)

© 2018 Chris Green

%d bloggers like this: