I’m an efficiency nerd.
I love tinkering with systems until they work like a well-oiled machine.
Since many of you can relate, let’s have some fun and dissect the sacrament meeting system from a leadership point of view and see what ideas we can share.
(I’m really excited to hear what you can add.)
Here are my hidden secrets of a smooth sacrament meeting:
1. Start on time. – This one is a no-brainer but important. If you are presiding over a meeting, set the cultural standard that you start on time no matter what! This may require you to get the young men to prepare the sacrament so that they are done by the time the meeting begins on time.
2. Announcements work best via email. — The popular myth in our church culture is that sacrament meeting announcements communicate information. Generally, they don’t. People are late. People are distracted. People complain you never announced information when you did. Also, it seems in the last few years, there has been an official push to get rid of announcements in sacrament meeting (or keep them super brief). Use the email blast function in Clerk & Leadership Resources to send all announcements to people’s inboxes. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s a lot better than worthless announcements in sacrament meeting.
3. Create a speaker invitation letter/email. – I have talked about this in detail HERE. This is a game changer. When I was a bishop, we would send out an invitation to speak in sacrament meeting via email months in advance with all the information they needed. This would help us avoid getting behind schedule, set the speakers on a path of success early, and avoid awkward speaker moments.
4. Notify the speaker when they go over time (especially the first speaker). – Most people who speak in sacrament meeting don’t have public speaking experience and don’t know how to gauge their preparation and speaking time. Many are nervous to speak, so they will over-prepare. Then, they end up filling too much time. A bishopric should get comfortable placing a note on the lectern notifying them their time is up. Giving the speakers a head up before the meeting will diminish the embarrassment this might cause. This is really important to do with the first speaker. Too many bishoprics allow the first speaker to eat up the following speaker’s time. This isn’t fair to the other speakers, and it only increases the chances of them going over.
5. Announce the entire program after the sacrament. – Conducting a sacrament meeting looks easy until you’re called to a bishopric. Too often, I see bishopric members stand up way too much during the program. The best practice is to stand after the sacrament is passed and announce the entire program, including closing hymn and prayer, and then sit down and enjoy the program. If something comes up or a speaker ends early, you are always able to stand up and adjust the program before the closing hymn/prayer. This rarely happens.
6. Be in the ear of the baby blesser. – This is a minor one but still worth mentioning. This was a helpful piece of advice my dad gave me when I was called as bishop. When there is a baby blessing, the bishop or presiding authority should position himself to the right of the father (or person blessing the baby). That way, if something comes up and the father needs direction, the bishop is right there to give it. I remember one time the group of priesthood holders surrounded that baby with the mic positioned by the deacon in front of the father’s mouth. Then, the father whispered to me, “What do I say?” Thankfully, I was right in his ear to whisper the wording to him, and it avoided any embarrassment. This goes for confirmations as well.
7. Funeral door escape. – As a bishop, I always had a goal to greet each person who attended church on Sunday. This can be difficult when so many arrive late or leave directly after sacrament meeting. After the closing prayer in sacrament meeting, it is hard to get to the back of the room to greet those who attended. So, I would leverage the funeral door to the right of the chapel. I’d slip out there, walk outside around to the back door, and be at the back of the chapel before anyone was able to leave. This option depends on the layout of your chapel, but most have funeral doors. Over the years, I was able to connect with so many people weekly and meet the newbies fast.
Now it’s your turn.
What are your tips, tricks, and tactics to making sacrament meeting run smoothly?
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