Sunday, 2 March 2008

Minister in the Chair!

There is an interesting debate going on about the role of ministers as evangelist on a number of other blogs and while I do not want to comment on this I would like to raise another question.
For many years I have sat like many other Methodists in a variety of meetings, Circuit Meeting, Local Preachers Meeting, Church Council etc. and I have often wondered why they are always chaired by ministers? (I know it says so in CPD - although some meetings can have lay chairs) I am fairly sure that some of our ministers do not enjoy the role of chair and I have to say that this is an area of church work where I believe if someone has a fairly wide expoerience of this away from church it is perhaps something we should tap into. As with many things being a chair of a meeting requires particular skills that not evryone has.
I have been on a number of committees, groups etc in a number of roles (secretary, vice chair, chair) and have seen some exceptional people in the lead roles who have often also been members of churches and would make ideal chairs of meetings.
It often seems to me that the donning of a back to front collar is expected to turn a person into some sort of wonder person who can do anything and everything, evangelism, chairing of meetings, repairs to the church et al. Perhaps there is some value in revisiting some of our rules and regulations and bringing them into the 20th century or even the 21st!!!


Richard Hall said...

I don't entirely disagree. Chairing of meetings is a very particular skill, and not all ministers have it by any means. If you think the rules should be changed, argue your case at Circuit Meeting or Synod, and get a Memorial sent to Conference. It can work -- I've seen it happen.

Fat Prophet said...

Thanks Richard - now there's a thought!! I have to say though that when I became secretary of the preachers meeting one of the older preachers who had done it some years ago gave me a piece of advice which I have tried to take on board- he told me that a good secretary runs the meeting not the chair - not sure if it is working but our meetings are generally shorter by about 30 minutes and we still complete all the business

Methodist Preacher said...

I entirely agree FP.

Being a Chair is a particular skill which doesn't come automatically to many. However if you have a poor chair - Minister or lay - watch out! Not many people really understand the role of a Chair, especially the "Executive" Chair model, used within Methodism.

When I was a young shop steward - and a real firebrand, - I was eased into the role of JSSC chair.

This was not on the "Executive" model. I had to be completely impartial, let everyone have their say, and then try to interpret a consensus or accept resolutions and admendments and call a vote.

Meanwhile I'm sorry to find that the excellent book by Walter Citrine, "The ABC of Chairmanship" is now out of print. Generations of Labour and trades union activists were bought up on it and it provided a simple "gold standard" for the role of a Chair, easily understandable by all.

I recently tried to find something that was in print and there were lots of books about how to "run meetings" but not how to Chair.

Methodist Preacher said...

One other point specific to the role of Ministers - I can understand their leading the pastoral or mission committees. But would their time be better spent knocking doors than chairing property or finance committees? Do they even get any training in facilities management or finance? Does the Church offer training - to either lay people or MInisters - in property management of finance.

Richard Hall said...

The only meetings that have to be chaired by a minister under the current rules are the Circuit Meeting, the Church Council and the pastoral Committee. Churches and Circuits can have property and finance committees chaired by lay people.

PamBG said...

Well, it's the same old people saying vaguely the same old things.

I have no objections to lay people chairing meetings. I have one lay chair of a stewards' meeting at one of my churches. Otherwise, I can't get anyone to chair meetings or even to hold church offices.