Board Meetings: Decisions, Not Updates

Church board meetings, like many non-profit boards, can easily be consumed by reports and updates from team leaders and committee chairs. Effective leaders of congregational meetings must see time as a precious commodity, best spent on yeasty discussions which foster effective decisions about the vision and mission of the congregation.

So – how can the meeting facilitator reduce the time spent on updates, and maximize the opportunities for quality deliberations?  A few suggestions…


  1. Meeting agendas should allot no more than 25% of the total time to reporting.  This must be strictly enforced by the facilitator, or designee.

  2. All reports should be submitted in advance of the meeting.

  3. Reports should be sent to a designated individual who can collect these into a single email, allowing participants to receive one pre-meeting “packet” with all the information they need to read.  This avoids the steady drip of report after report trickling into everyone’s inbox.

  4. These reports must be discriminated days in advance of the meeting, so members have time to read the information prior to the meeting.  There should be an expectation by the leader that all participants come to the meeting informed, while the participants should expect the reports in a timely fashion.

  5. Members are encouraged to contact the author of a report if individual questions arise, or if clarification is needed.  This helps limit the inevitable back and forth of questions and clarifications during the meeting.

  6. During the meeting, it is very easy for updates to go down verbal “rabbit trails” of rambling comments and sidebar conversations.  The leader must remind the group that the agenda parses out a time for updating, followed by focused discussion afterwards.

  7. Brisk pacing is important, for a sluggish meeting invites off-task conversation to fill the verbal void.

  8. Don’t forget to have a “parking lot” for legitimate issues that arise during the updates. This keeps the group focused, but recognizes those items that deserve later discussion or followup.

  9. After the meeting, detailed minutes should be sent to board members as soon as feasible.  This allows plenty of time for any corrections and/or amendments to be considered prior to the next meeting.

  10. If permitted, electronic approval of the minutes allows for timely reporting to the congregation, and takes one of the reports off the agenda of the next meeting.

To get even more help and guidance with your board meetings, reach out to us! Email us at or leave a comment below.


The Importance of Face-To-Face Events

In today's world the ability to "connect" virtually are everywhere. From tweets, to posts, to emails, to FB Lives, to webinars - your ministry can look a lot of different ways and reach people across the globe. And while all those ways are incredibly valuable (and we will teach on them soon!) they miss a few key pieces. Key pieces that take on a unique power when you are in person, connecting face-to-face. 

So while it may cost money to attend an event or even host an event, you’re sure to receive so much value.

Consider the following:

  • You're guaranteed to learn more. When you're in a different space with new people, you are much more present to what's happening. You're less likely to get distracted because you made a choice to show up and participate. Your time in workshops and conversations, and even with your own thoughts, gets your wheels spinning and creativity flowing. 
  • You develop new relationships and deepen established ones. Online connections and communities have their place. But when you can connect in person, you can read emotions, cues, and tone from the heart instead of the screen. The relationships are personal and impactful, which leads to more opportunities to brainstorm, debate, and empathize.
  • You can impact people for longer. When you connect with someone in person, they remember your points and ideas in a real way. Your idea isn't something they scrolled past on their lunch break - they have a face, name, and feeling to attach to the experience. (And the cool thing is that this works vise-versa too!)
  • You can network with all levels of experience. Workshops, conferences, and trainings offer a unique opportunity to engage with both thought leaders and up and comers. And when you are talking to people at all levels you can learn and teach, be inspired and guide, empathize and encourage. 

So as a leader, what events are you anticipating hosting or attending this year? Leave a comment below and let us know!

And if you are in need of an event to attend, consider attending our conference: 

Develop your skills and rituals of resistance to lead progressive faith communities. Keynote speaker Bree Newsome will share resilience in social justice ministry. Join us for workshops on multi-site ministry, courageous conversations about race, leadership team development and much more!


Time: Friday, March 24 6pm-8:45 pm and Saturday, March 25 9:00 am-3 pm

Location: The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta
1911 Cliff Valley Way NE, Atlanta GA 30329

Grab your tickets here:

One Thousand: A story of “Reverse Offering”

A few years ago, we noticed that the topic for our upcoming Sunday message was “Reverse Offering.”  Most of us assumed that this would be a message of love, of giving, of receiving more than you give in acts of kindness and charity.  It turned out that the message was in fact all of this, but really much, much more in both its operational definition and scope.

It turns out that the show-and-tell prop for the Sunday message was a pile of cash….literally….a pile of money.  Our minister started off by thanking the congregation for all that we do in our community, and it’s true that we take a lot of pride for being a force for good and a proponent for love in east Tennessee.  We have a lot of church teams that help those in need, feed those that would otherwise be hungry, provide support for those in need of social justice, and many other worthy endeavors.

In this instance, our minister explained that the reverse offering would be more personal in that each of us could come up and take as much as we wanted from the pile of money.  Frankly, we all kind of looked at each other with expressions that said, “Is he serious?” The only requirement was that we use the money to help someone.  The recipient could be an individual, a group, or a cause, with the only qualification being that it was what our heart called us to do.  The other requirement was that on a Sunday two or three weeks later we had to be willing to share the congregation who we had helped.

I have to admit that, on that first instance, I felt a little sheepish about taking money from the church.  I was certainly more familiar and perhaps more comfortable for the money to be moving in the other direction.  But I took a little of the money and my family discussed how we could use it for the greatest impact.  It turns out that other members of congregation did the same and, when we got back together a couple of Sundays later to discuss what we had collectively done, the stories were amazing in breadth and creativity in describing the giving that had taken place.  In making our “reverse offering,” we helped not only our community and folks in need but we lifted ourselves in the process. The stories were joyous and it was a service of celebration.

Our yearly practice of “reverse offerings” continues to this day.  This year our theme was “One Thousand” and the pile of money consisted of one thousand $1.00 bills.  As you might imagine, this was a pretty substantial pile of money.  Our format was pretty much the same in that each of us chose how much money to take from the pile and how to best use the money.  While we have not yet had our service in which we’ll tell our stories, I can share with you a few examples that I already know:

  • paid for a night’s stay for a homeless couple

  • gave to Gatlinburg fire victim who lost his job

  • bought Christmas for three migrant children

  • bought 12 pairs of socks for residents of the senior living center

  • gave to Salvation Army red kettles in 5 different locations

  • contributed to the Family Resource Center at a local school

  • contributed to the Free Medical Clinic

  • donated to the Second Harvest “Double your donation” telethon

  • made Christmas cookies for a family

  • donated gasoline to an out-of-gas family

  • bought food for animals at shelter

  • pooled money with three other members to buy a rolling grocery basket for an elderly woman

  • paid for meals for a homeless family

  • bought 14 books for Children’s Hospital

  • Added $45 more and donated to a program that supports children whose parent have cancer

  • Gave to a co-worker whose sister’s house burned down

…and the list goes on and on.

Would a “reverse offering” work for your congregation?  

For more information on the tip, please contact Fred Holland, Launchpad Ready Team Lead, at


Tips on Outreach

Rev. Robin Tanner introduces our newest project - Tuesday Tips. Every week we will provide you with actual strategies and tools you can use to grow your faith community and impact our world. Today, Rev. Tanner walks us through a really great starting strategy to community outreach (plus it includes a pink boa)! If you have questions or thoughts, you can leave a comment below. Enjoy!