Turning Commitees Into Community

Even the let's-get-down-to-business types will be more effective when they see the hidden human element.

We dreaded the meeting but attended once a month anyway. It always ran long. We usually went home frustrated. None of us, if we were honest, could say we enjoyed the meetings of our board.

One night the issue was how to revitalize our worship services, which we all agreed were flat. Someone had argued at a previous session that the elders should "exercise some responsibility."

The solution: we organized a committee and assigned an elder to be in charge. What happened? Nothing. Month after month, no report, no report, no report. The tension and pressure kept rising.

Each meeting began to follow a pattern: After prayer we'd go directly into committee reports. Although scheduled, we'd get to old or new business only rarely. We would rehash each committee's report or, in the case of the worship committee, the nonreport.

Bob, the chairman of the board, would make a speech lamenting comments gathered from parishioners who took him into their confidence that month. He'd report "some people" about ...

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