Church Members’ Meetings and The Devil’s Playground

Church Members’ Meetings and “The Devil’s Playground”

Oh, the memories… I recall being in a church members meeting and being abhorred by the behaviour of a minority of people who’d inordinately question details sparking an array of hullabaloo–like a bunch of noisy, spoiled children. Such a history, unfortunately, many churches can call their own! So much for the holy house of God.

And how things have now changed. At a recent members meeting we were reminded ever so subtly by our very competent resident chairperson, much like in the oral tradition of the ancients, where we’d come from–a raucous rabble at times when the leadership of our particular church was disparate and not of one accord in serving the membership and pastor. But the Chair, it has to be stressed, did this in a very delicate third party sort of way–reminding us that his own father had called members’ meetings ‘the Devil’s playground.’ We got the message but it didn’t appear overly pointed on us.

It is some of the finer points of the chairpersonship that demands both consideration and applause. Reflecting over yet another successful meeting it was quite easy to see the tactics of strategy employed in successfully leading the meeting and influencing positively the behaviour of those there.

On potentially controversial issues, particularly in the presence of “question time” it paid to remove any of the potential confusion and make clear the already established premises–and the good chairperson leads the discussion regarding this, and even to the point of overdoing it. Where there are no obvious things left out of the putting of a motion most votes will pass through basically unimpeded.

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Not that members meetings are to ‘rubber stamp’ the further work of the church, but where due consideration, planning and prayer have already been invested, it’s nice when this is simply affirmed–trust is issued in transactions such as these.

The chairperson has to have at least a competent understanding of Robert’s Rules of Order meeting procedures. When they do the members there have a confidence that things can be left in the Chair’s hands. It takes out any sense of doubt. We comfortably leave the management of the meeting to the Chair.

Thankfully nowadays our members’ meetings are not the Devil’s playground anymore. The astute leadership and a competent chairperson augment that.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.