With the honor of chairing a church's committee comes the responsibility to conduct fruitful, effective meetings. The tone, atmosphere and results of the meeting are dependent on leadership skills of the Chair. Church committee members who experience unity and consensus at a meeting become motivated lay leaders. With proper preparation, a prayerful countenance and goal-directed strategies in place, anyone can be equipped to effectively chair a church meeting.
Open the meeting in prayer, focusing on thankfulness for the opportunity to serve. Ask God for wisdom, discernment and unity. Solicit God's blessing on the meeting and for His will to be revealed in the discussions and decisions.
Offer a mini-devotional of no more than three to four minutes. Select a scripture that is pertinent to the meeting's goals or issues. Reflect on the passage in a way that directs the spiritual atmosphere in a productive manner.
Establish the meeting agenda. Hand out sheets and/or put the agenda on a whiteboard so that everyone has an understanding of the flow of the work that must be accomplished. Clearly state the goals for the meeting.
Running the Meeting
Manage discussions and debates with keeping an eye on the clock. Allow a limited number of pros and cons of an issue to be offered and then call a consensus decision. Summarize the issues and ask for only new input if people seem to be repeating each other. Unity and consensus come from listening to all sides.
Reinforce the meeting's goals if discussions seem to be getting sidetracked. Encourage the group to stick to printed agenda as a demonstration of good stewardship of everyone's time.
Table a decision if it appears that consensus is unobtainable. Committees function better when everyone feels that they have been heard and can agree on a consensus decision. Allow for time away from an issue that can't be resolved on the first round.
End the meeting as it began, with prayer. Attend to any feelings of hurt, frustration or anger that may have been experienced in the meeting. Leaders set the tone; pointing toward reconciliation and healing is the job of the Chair. Productive meetings result in committee members who are motivated to grow the church's ministries.
Follow up within 24 hours with a phone call, a brief note or an email to each member. Thank them for their time and give a summary of the decisions made. Have the recording secretary send out full minutes within a week, with the next meeting time clearly noted.
Church Chair Duties
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Elizabeth Park has written since 1983, with work appearing in the "Oxnard Press Courier" in Oxnard, Calif., "The Centre Daily Times" in State College, Pa., and online at VisitSouth and other websites. Park holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Pennsylvania State and completed graduate work at Rutgers University in English literature and Emory University in theology.