Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday Five: Meetings, Meetings

This week's theme suggested by Reverend Mother.
  1. What's your view of meetings? Choose one or more, or make up your own:
    1. When they're good, they're good. I love the feeling of people working well together on a common goal.
    2. I don't seek them out, but I recognize them as a necessary part of life.
    3. The only good meeting is a canceled meeting.

    If you've heard me gritch about Vestry Meetings, you might have expected me to answer "c". The main problem with vestry meetings is that they have traditionally lasted late into the evening (sometimes as late as 10:30 or 11). One of the main reasons for this is the fact that the chair (a) thinks out loud; and (b) tends to get lost in his own digressions.
       This has improved over the past year, partly because the Vestry agreed to meet earlier in the evening.
       If we had an official parlimentarian, s/he would shudder at how poorly we follow the traditional Rules of Order. The most egregious example being the tendency to discuss issues without there being a motion on the floor. In my first year on the Vestry, I mentioned this to the chair. His response was that this was fairly common, and he didn't know a better way to conduct business.
       Other boards I have served on have committed the same "sin", so his point is well-taken. My vague recollection of Robert's Rules is that the intent is that committees and individuals develop ideas and motions that are brought to the central Board. This system, I think, is intended to keep the Board on task, and on topic.
       My experience, however, is that even when you have a committee system, board members still want to discuss the issue at length, and still want to offer off-the-cuff alternate resolutions.
       So, one can either be a stickler for the Rules, or strive to keep free-wheeling discussions on-point. The latter preserves a strong dynamism, which seems a worthy goal for a church board meeting.

  2. Do you like some amount of community building or conversation, or are you all business?
    Pre- and post-meeting visiting is desirable, and is often where the "real" business gets done - politicing and lobbying, if you will. The key point, in my mind, is to start and end in a timely manner - no more than five minutes late seems a worthy goal.

  3. How do you feel about leading meetings? Share any particular strengths or weaknesses you have in this area.
    I have been chair for a church group for the past two years. My goal has been to honor the agenda, and to listen more than I talk. Most days, I think, I achieve that goal.

  4. Have you ever participated in a virtual meeting? (conference call, IM, chat, etc.) What do you think of this format?
    My only experience is through attempting to conduct some business via e-mail. This works fairly well in terms of setting up meetings, confirming calendars, and introducing issues and concerns. It lacks the dynamics of a real-time meeting.
       I have also been involved in a couple of teleconferences. Those seemed to work fairly well, but I did miss the physical interactions.

  5. Share a story of a memorable meeting you attended.
    The first story that comes to mind is the time I worked up the nerve to confront our Dioscean bishop. This was near the end of my term on the relevant board, and I felt frustrated with what I felt to be a double-standard.
       The issue was the matter of churches paying their assesment (sort of a tithe churches make to the Diocese). The bishop was firm in saying that churches that could not pay their assesment, or make arrangements to be forgiven for not paying their full assesment, be changed from parish to mission status.
       The difference between parish and mission is whether a church is self-supporting: a parish is; a mission receives assistance from the Diocese. In the bishop's view, failure to pay this assesment was a sign that a church could no longer be self-supporting.
       This topic never came up when discussing one of the two largest, and wealthiest, churches in our diocese. This church had chosen not to pay any assesment because it did not agree with particular issues - primarily women in the ordained ministry, and the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
       I kind of enjoyed the irony of "All Saints and Cadilacs" being "demoted" to mission status. The bishop's approach was pastoral: he felt it was more important to keep this church in the family, rather than push them out.
       I might argue that the church in question has only been nominally part of the family, but I see his point (in retrospect).


Leah Sophia said...

Wow, you did have a lot to say--great play, though, thanks!

Deb said...

"All Saints and Cadillacs"

I think I visited one just like it near us...