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.