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Making the Most of Meetings

What happens in a meeting is decided before the meeting, by the process.
— John Maxwell

Two weeks before beginning a pastorate in Lancaster, Ohio, I attended my new church's business meeting. The outgoing pastor had informed me the church would be voting on a hot issue: whether to build an activity building. So I drove to Lancaster, slipped into the church after the meeting had begun, and went upstairs to the balcony to watch.

What I saw depressed me. Christians fought and yelled like children. The ruckus began when a man named Bill, a well-known saboteur of church business meetings, stood and used a familiar ploy. He raised a procedural question that the pastor didn't know how to handle. Bill then rattled off chapter and verse from Robert's Rules of Order and before sitting down intoned, "I hope the rest of this meeting can be run more competently."

That parliamentary move set the tone for a four-hour meeting that felt more like a beating.

Meetings bring out the best — and worst — in us. ...

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