It’s not always a fun experience to go to board meetings in a church. Okay, I’ll be honest, rarely is it a fun experience. But they’re not always bad. I have two different congregations, and they could not be more different. This is very obvious when you look at their board meetings and their structure.
A board meeting will tell you a lot about what a church things is most important—for instance, is the pastor’s report and outreach report BEFORE or AFTER the financial report? If there’s those reports at all.
This also brings up the amount of time spent at a board meeting. One of my congregations never exceeds an hour board meeting; the other routinely exceeds an hour. One is routinely done in 30 minutes or less, and the other lasts easily an hour and a half. One has fellowship time after and one does not.
These are the differences, in basic form, of my two congregants. My smaller congregation is the one who has longer board meetings, and I rarely stay for fellowship time with cookies and drinks afterward because it’s late, I have a thirty minute drive home, and usually by 8:30 I’m completely wiped out (I wake up between 5 and 6 every morning, so 9pm is LATE for me).
But how do I keep working to make these meetings shorter? It’s not a simple answer. I do try to keep us on track to begin with, and if you don’t have a board chair or someone else on the board who is good that this, it can be even more difficult. Often times we get off track and have meetings within meetings. What I mean by that is a special committee that has not met will start to have a discussion for their stuff during the board meeting.
This might be a very small church problem. However, I try to keep everyone on track. That means I say things like “Maybe you could discuss this at your next committee meeting” to try and nudge them in the direction of finishing up. Or “We don’t need to talk about that right now” depending on how my levels of patience are doing that particular night.
I always try to not sound frustrated or upset or annoyed when I’m saying things like this. Sometimes that can’t always be helped, especially when my toddler didn’t sleep the night before and it really has nothing to do with the meeting itself.
Do not be afraid to say something and to steer the conversation the way the conversation is supposed to go. That’s our job, to keep people on the right path, right?