Management & Leadershipin Ministry Business Meeting Mistakes & Misunderstandings
Common Mistakes &Misunderstandings a) Committee Reports: - Do NOT need a motion or a seconder to present a report to the business meeting for their consideration (The report of the Treasurer or Sun. School Dept. is before us for your consideration and questions …). - Do NOT need a motion to „receive, adopt or accept‟ most reports. Instead say “Let‟s express our thanks to the committee” The mtg. HAS received the report! - Do need a special motion to accept „recommendations‟ contained within a report. Wording: “I would like to make a motion to adopt the recommendations” Note: it is common for the reports of ministry leaders to express opinions or hopes for the future, without those opinions necessarily being a formal recommendation. Hopes and opinions do not necessarily become „motions‟.
b) Discussing, debating motions: - no one may speak either for or against a motion, until it has been „seconded‟. People often want to talk about the motion, even before it is officially before the congregation for debate. Once a motion has a seconder, it may then be discussed. A motion without a seconder is automatically defeated and thus not open to discussion. - no one may speak twice (for or against, NOR ask clarifying questions) concerning a motion, until each member has had an opportunity to speak once to the issue under discussion.
Discussing , debating motions (continued): - Does „silence‟ indicate consent? The answer is YES. If the chair makes a statement/decision & no one objects, that decision has the support of the assembly. - The person or committee who originally makes a motion always has the right to speak first & last to the issue, plus one other time (they get to speak 3 times to the issue). This is commonly overlooked & when not done is a violation of the rights of the mover as provided for in Roberts Rules.
Discussing , debating motions (cont): - Discussions of the motion, must be done in a civic & impersonal manner (no personal attacks are allowable against another person‟s character/motives). “The comment is out of order.”- All comments made by those in attendance at a business meeting are to be directed only to the chairperson & NOT to anyone else in attendance. The formal rules of debate indicate no one‟s name is to be used (i.e. it is improper to say “George, you are an idiot”)- It is helpful to everyone present if the debater clearly states, “I am in favour/against the motion …” and then proceeds to say why.
Common Mistakes &MisunderstandingsDebating (cont.): - No one may debate on a matter that solely affects themselves (they and their spouse/children should temporarily excuse themselves from the meeting). An individual may stay and debate items that include them self & others in the issue being considered. A person can vote for them self.
Discussing , debating motions: - The chairperson CAN make a motion to help move business along, but should do so rarely. The role of the chair is to ensure „orderliness, clarity and timeliness‟ but not to influence decision-making. “Would it be helpful to the assembly if I made a motion to refer this matter to the Finance committee?... Or The chair would entertain a motion to amend the motion to include the words …” - A person may only speak to an issue a third time, IF the assembly votes 2/3 in favour of extending this privilege (suspend the rules).
Amendments - The business meeting must vote either for or against the amendment, before returning to discuss and vote on the original motion. - Although technically a violation of Robert‟s Rules, it is common practice that if a minor amendment is agreeable to the original mover of the original motion, then by general consent, the amendment does not need the formal approval of the business meeting to be included in the original motion being considered. However if any one person objects to this practice, then it is handled as a normal amendment.
c) Lack of Clarity: - The wise chairperson will periodically remind the business meeting what motion is „on the floor‟ & any known implications of the motion Before the business meeting votes on a motion… The Chair ought to provide one last chance for those who have not spoken to the issue, to speak. The Chair provides the „mover‟ of the motion the opportunity to have the last word. The motion being considered ought to be read slowly & carefully one last time in its entirety (highlighting any modifications/ amendments that have been made to the original motion).
c) Lack of Clarity (cont’d):- One of the most frustrating and time consuming issues to contend with … is a lack of clarity concerning a motion that is verbally and spontaneously made (off of the cuff). It may be wise to take a short recess and ask the „mover‟ of the motion to take a few moments to write out his/her motion and give it to the secretary and chairperson.- During debate, do not assume that just because someone is stating their objections or thoughts, they are also suggesting an amendment. Ask the person if they are proposing an amendment …or just stating their thoughts.
d) Insufficient Committee work:- Many annual business mtgs. & monthly Board mtgs. get bogged down by doing the work that ought to be provided by committees. Make sure committees have done sufficient investigations into the „details and particulars‟ of the item up for discussion and are MAKING SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATION(S) so the annual business mtg. and/or monthly church Board mtgs. function primarily as supervision, and high level „decision‟ making meetings. Boards and Business meetings exist to make decisions. Committees exist to study, recommend actions & direction, and implement decisions ! Differentiate between : Standing Committees (permanent, structural/strategic) Special Committees (short term, temporary/tactical)
e) Exhaustive “Minute’ taking:- Typically the secretary only records „decisions‟ and a general summary concerning discussions & reports (i.e. „The church board received the Trustee report, and then discussed the pros and cons of whether or not to purchase a van.’). The secretary should NOT record „who said what‟ other than „who‟ makes a motion, the actual wording of the motion and the numerical results of a vote. There is no need to record who „seconded‟ the motion. The minutes of any church business mtg. are public information and available to any „member‟ who
f) Voting - A person may fill in (write in) „any name‟ they wish on a ballot, even those not formally nominated. Those ballots ARE counted in the totals, and their votes included in the report of the tellers.
f) Voting (cont.) - A „tie‟ vote is a negative vote- The chairperson is entitled to vote, but usually only does so when the vote is taken by ballot- The chairperson may break a tie with the permission of the business mtg., if he/she has not already voted.- The chairperson may create a tie, by adding his/her vote against a one vote victory thus creating a tie (negative) vote. The chairperson should RARELY use his/her right to make the final decision on such controversial issues. The better course of action is usually to send the issue to a committee for further study, planning, review, recommendations.
f) Voting (cont.) - Do not begin or continue the practice of allowing non-members to vote at church business meetings. First, it is illegal (invalidates the vote) and second, it is contrary to denominational policy in most denominations. IF you do allow non-members to speak and vote at church business meetings (usually on major items such as building projects, calling a senior pastor, etc.) make it clear their votes will NOT be tabulated in the deciding vote, but their votes will be made known to the church board at their next meeting, IF the non-members have substantially voted differently than the members of the church. Be especially mindful to follow through with your promise.
f) Voting (cont.)- In a large group setting where both members and on-members are present, it is sometimes helpful to set the „bar‟ (the seating area in which only members sit during a business meeting) … thus making it clear who can speak and vote, from those who may not. The bar is particularly helpful to the tellers in establishing „who‟ to give ballots to & „from whom‟ to collect ballots. An alternative to setting the bar is to purposefully distribute ballots only to the members of the church, at the beginning of the business mtg.
f) Voting (cont.)- The names of individuals recommended from the Nominating Committee or „from the floor‟ for various offices in the church (including pastoral votes) ARE technically debatable, however in most situations the actual vote becomes the members opportunity to voice their preference and opinion. In a large church context it might be best to have a „Meet & Greet the candidates‟ meeting prior to the business meeting, and then to simply cast ballots at the actual business meeting (think of an ‘All Candidates Mtg.’ separate from voting day, during a government election)
g) Nominations - A person may nominate them self. - A person on the Nominating Committee can be nominated for a position in the church. - Anyone in the assembly can make a motion for „Nominations to Cease‟ (requires a 2nd is debatable, and amendable, 2/3 vote). - The better and more common practice is for the Chairperson to simply announce/declare „Nominations to cease’, without vote or debate, etc. If anyone objects (appeals) … the chairperson‟s decision can be overturned by a majority vote.
h) Lack of Control- The most common problem with many business meetings is the chairperson not exercising the „authority‟ that he/she has to maintain decency and order. The lack of boldness (taking charge) is usually an indication of: a deficiency in the chairperson‟s understanding of the „rules‟ of business meetings (not sure what to do, when to do it) OR an overemphasis on maintaining „relationships‟ at the expense of the „rules‟. The Chair must make quick, clear, decisive decision. It‟s acceptable to refer to “Roberts Rules of Order” for direction/clarification.
i) Allowing a “Call for the question” to result in an immediate vote. - The chairperson may call the „question‟ and immediately lead the assembly into a vote, when the chairperson believes the debate has run its course. However when a member of the business meeting calls for the question, this is a motion to „limit debate‟. In this case, the motion to limit debate must be seconded (no debate) & the business meeting must vote by 2/3 to actually end the debate before proceeding to the actual vote on the motion.
j) Overly informal - Small church business mtgs. are notoriously so informal, that decorum often breaks down. Refer to people as: the Chair, the Speaker, the gentleman, the lady, the brother/sister who just spoke. Keep personalities out of the discussion … the issue is not the person, the issue is the motion. Note: Committees don‟t need to follow Robert‟s Rules (more free flowing, informal discussions)
k) Secretary mistakes. Failing to record … - Name of organization - Year, Month, Date and Time of meeting - Attendance (or have people sign-in) - Who „Chaired‟ the meeting - Points of Order & the subsequent ruling/rationale - The exact wording of the motion/amendments - Attach: Reports submitted by committees - The tally of the votes (including unanimous votes) - But do not include the debate/remarks
Class ExerciseFix Time to AdjournAdjourn Scenario:Take a RecessQuestion of Privilege Location: Your Local ChurchCall for Orders of the DayAppeal Situation: Annual Business mtg.Division of Assembly (6 month financial crisis)Division of QuestionInquiry/Pt. of Information Motion: “Motion to sell the presentPt. of Order church van and require theSuspend Rules parents of teens to drive theirWithdraw a motion own sons & daughters toLay on the Table church-related, off-site events.Previous QuestionLimit/Extend time Debate Rationale: Save costs forPostpone to Certain Time gas, monthly vanRefer to CommitteeAmend payments, insurance &Postpone Indefinitely upkeep. Church gets $5000Main Motion cash from sale.