What if you could make parish council (PC) meetings 2X more efficient? What would that look like? If you could get the same results in half the time what would you do with that time? Leave early? Or (better) discuss meaningful topics that you never seem to have time for under your current system.
Session three in our 2016 Ministry of the Parish Council Webinar Series , was devoted to making PC meetings more productive.
Here are nine ways to save time:
1. Protect Your Agenda
Agenda items come to the PC from many places -- but not every topic needs to take agenda time. Appoint one person (whoever chairs the meeting) to guard the agenda and shift potential topics to keep your agenda lean.
2. Use a Consent Agenda
Many agenda items require only council approval and have no need of discussion. Group those items and approve them en masse with no discussion allowed. Before approval ask if any consent items need to be discussed. If one member wants to discuss it -- move the item to the regular agenda. Make them wait to discuss.
To use a consent agenda requires being prepared. Send out necessary background info by email ahead of time.
4. Limit Financial Discussion
The monthly review of money matters rarely results in any new actions. "Let's ask Father to make an announcement." Competent people don't want to waste time discussing dialing back the thermostats. The world will not end if you limit financial reports and related debates to every other month. Or every three months.
5. Start on Time
The number one reason things end late is they start late. The old saw about "We're on Orthodox time," ceases to be funny.
6. Use an Annual Calendar
Not every topic needs to be discussed every month. Set an annual rotating topic calendar that helps the PC review each ministry each 6-12 months. No need for monthly reports.
7. Smaller Group
Parishes of 90 people do not need a PC of 16. Parishes of 300 do not a PC of sixteen. Furthermore, groups of sixteen are not good at problem solving and no parish is without problems. Change your bylaws to make your PC more nimble.
8. Use Flip Chart - Topics that require people to explore issues and search for new solutions can be painful because they wander. These sort of topics require a discussion leader (not a chairperson) who captures thoughts at a flip chart or board, summarizes, and refocuses.
9. Track Time Use
Assign a member to track how much time you spend on various types of topics. Decisions and oversight. Team Building. Info sharing. Discussing motions. Planning and Future. Urgent but not important. Off topic wandering. Discuss the aggregate time usage finding every couple of months to find out what you want to do more and less of.
Would more productive meetings make serving on Council be more attractive to your most competent parishioners?