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Meetings in the Church—it’s a love/hate thing. Rarely do people enjoy attending meetings but we still discover ways to plan more meetings.
This may come across as a blunt message, but meetings are either well done or toxic and it’s important that leaders get them right. How you run a meeting has a dramatic influence on how you are loved as a leader. If you run a good meeting, those who follow you will be more willing to serve you. If you run a bad meeting, the only thing to increase is the eye-rolling.
I want to use Ward Council as the model in this post, but this information can be applied to most meetings within the church. When I say meeting I am not referring to any meetings in the 3 hour block. I’m talking about council meetings (ward council, presidency meetings, stake high council, etc.).
Handbook 2 (18.2) tells us that ward council should be held “regularly (at least monthly).” I’ve heard about general authorities visiting local stakes and encouraging bishops to hold ward council more than just once a month. Some are even mandating ward council to be held weekly.
I get it. I don’t think these authorities are trying to torture anyone with more meetings. They want the ward council to work together more often and elevate the ward in general; however, I’m not sure if scheduling more meetings is the answer. I’m not saying meeting as a ward council more often is a bad idea; but if you do, make sure you set some clear objectives and rules.
Elder David A. Bednar said:
If I had the wish of my heart, I would remove from the vocabulary of the Latter-day Saints the word meeting. We have not been talking about a ward council meeting. We’ve been talking about a revelatory experience with the members of the ward council. And if members of councils, if members of families, as they come together, would think in terms of “I’m preparing to participate in a revelatory experience with my family” instead of going to a meeting—a revelatory experience with the members of the ward council—I think we would prepare and act much differently. In these latter days, given the forces of the adversary and the darkness, no one person in the family and no one person in a ward is going to be the conduit through which all of the answers come.
So all of that speaks to the spiritual nature of this work and seeking for the inspiration to do what the Lord wants us to do. (2010 World Wide Leadership Training)
So let’s agree that you won’t hold another meeting unless you have sufficiently outlined it as a revelatory experience. If it isn’t, cancel it; it isn’t worth holding a meeting that is anything different.
In an effort to do this, let’s review the 7 Unbreakable Rules of Church Meetings
7 Unbreakable Rules of Church Meetings
1. 60 Minute Limit (seriously)
Handbook 2 (4.6) advises ward council should be 60-90 minutes in duration. This is nice encouragement for those holding 3 hour meetings (you should be ashamed), but in reality there is no meeting that needs to go longer than 60 minutes. Do you disagree? (please comment below) Meetings longer than 60 minutes damage your effectiveness as a leader. Nobody enjoys them and they need to stop.
If you can’t help but go over the 1 hour mark, then you need more discipline through a timer. If you need help with not getting carried away in a meeting, your next meeting should have a kitchen timer present. Set it for 60 minutes and tell everyone in the room they are free to walk out once that timer sounds.
There is a concept called Parkinson’s law, which states that a meeting (or any task) will expand to fill the time you allotted for it. If you don’t give the meeting a time limit, it will grow out of control. This shouldn’t be a vague 60 minutes that grows to 90 minutes with the presiding authority stating, “oops, looks like we went 30 minutes over.” This is a hard 60 minutes. Once the timer sounds the presiding authority should say, “Well, looks like we have more to discuss but our time is up. Let’s close with prayer.” If you go over, you will find the creativity in the room plummet and individuals will agree to anything just to get out of there.
I’d even go so far as to say that any meeting can be done in 30 minutes and I’ll encourage you to try, but you can be comfortable with 60. But never, and I mean NEVER, is a meeting worth 61 minutes. If you can’t see how the meeting can stay under an hour, just cancel it because you aren’t ready to hold a meeting.
2. Anyone Can Cancel (No Excuse Required)
I had a good friend that was released as a bishop because he was called to his stake presidency. Soon after his call, he shared with me one day how different the feeling is to be a counselor to a presiding authority as opposed to being the presiding authority. As bishop, he could cancel any meeting on a whim. If things were crazy at home and his family needed more attention, one quick text message would free up his evening; as a counselor, he didn’t have that luxury.
Leaders need to give autonomy to those they lead. If someone on the council has reason to not come to the meeting or, quite frankly, doesn’t want to be in the meeting, then they should have the right to not be there. No excuse is required.
“But wait!!! This is ward council! This is a very important meeting.”
I agree. But if the meeting is consistently a revelatory experience, members of the ward council won’t dare miss it. If few want to show up, it isn’t a problem with those absent, it’s a problem with your leadership.
3. No Administration Allowed
Years ago, I had a boss who couldn’t process any problem without a room full of people. It felt like we had to decide as a committee how to respond to each email in his inbox. He was constantly pulling us away from our desk in order to hold a meeting and get our “perspective on things.”
It is tempting to use a meeting to process administrative tasks. Everyone is in the room and you can get quick feedback. Handbook 2 (4.6.3) states, “the ward council seeks inspiration in developing a course of action to bless the lives of members. The council’s focus is on helping people, not administering programs.”
Here are three big NO’s for how to avoid administrative topics in meetings.
No Downloading Information: Don’t inform for the sake of informing. It’s a waste of people’s time to review a list of announcements, activity details, dates, etc. If it can easily be communicated in an email, allow people to read it on their own time and respond with questions when they would like.
No Brainstorming: Brainstorming can be powerful, but it doesn’t need to happen within a meeting. If you need ideas to a problem, an activity, or whom to call to a position, ask people to prepare this in advance and bring the ideas to the meeting. Like I said above, the longer a meeting goes, the more creativity diminishes. Brainstorming can deplete chunks of time from the meeting agenda.
No Round-Robin: Just because you are sitting in a circle doesn’t mean you need to talk in a circle. Giving everyone a chance to state randomness unrelated to the agenda is a waste of time. Everyone will feel obligated to say something and that doesn’t help to keep the meeting under 60 minutes. If there is something they want to address as a group, they should have cleared it for the agenda.
4. Agenda Required
This is easier said than done because creating an agenda takes planning and preparation. In the busy life of a church leader, that can be difficult.
Some may argue over the details of what an agenda is. Do whatever works for you, as long as those attending the meeting know what will be discussed and have time prior to the meeting to process the information.
5. No Tech
One statement that was never uttered in the School of the Prophets, “Oh, sorry, I thought I put this on silent.”
There’s nothing more distracting than a smartphone or tablet. Get them out of the room (or put away) and you will have more of a revelatory experience.
6. Always Assume the Presiding Authority Is Misguided
This is in no way a statement of apostasy. If there is someone in the room who everyone thinks is the smartest, it hurts the quality of discussion and decreases revelation.
The bishop isn’t there to receive revelation; he is there to confirm revelation. I never really noticed this dynamic until I was bishop, but many times the bishop feels like people are waiting on him to come up with an idea or to lead the discussion in a certain direction.
So, assume the bishop is misguided until he confirms a final decision.
If you haven’t read the guest post, “You Are Not to Take Over”, it’s worth a read.
7. When In Doubt, Cancel the Meeting
Seriously, if you haven’t figured out how to turn a meeting into a revelatory experience, just cancel it. You will find that not much is impacted by fewer meetings.
Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work by Jason Fried
A Look At Meetings Productivityist Podcast
How Meetings Kill Productivity
I agree whole heartedly with what you state here:
“The mind can only take in what the seat can endure.” I believe it 100%. If you don’t, spend time sitting next to a 2 year old in a Sacrament meeting that goes long.
I have concerns with #5 – no tech. All of my bishopric meeting was run through Google Docs. We spent a lot of time on tablets / laptops reviewing spreadsheets and docs we created. This was done to help speed our process, help us remember who was in what position, what positions were open, etc. MLS is terrible at this – we put on one page what MLS put on 14. We also took a lot of notes, and updated agendas on the fly for our next meetings.
I agree, people can’t be getting calls or texting others in a meeting, but without my team utilizing tech, we would have been seriously hampered.
So, I don’t think this really addresses where our meetings are going wrong and it goes deeper into changing attitudes and cultures among (mostly) younger members of the Church. These members watched their parents put in so much time in their callings growing up that it turned into resentment. They have vowed NEVER to do that to their families:
The result? All EQ/HPGL/YM/YW/P/RS presidency meetings are held during Sunday School (SS holds them during the 3rd hour). Youth quorums and girl auxiliarys are rearely held because that takes too much time for the YW Leaders so the adult leaders plan everything.
Nobody has time to pre-brainstorm because (1) nobody plans that far in advance, (2) they actually believe that the Ward Council is the meeting where this takes place.
Am I getting cynical? maybe, but it seems to me that we’re seeing this kind of thinking more and more. Anything outside the 3-hour block is thought to be intrusive to the family and Church Callings are just not meant to be done outside that 3 hours on Sunday.
There are still those that are hanging onto tradition, however, After this next generation, I think it’ll be gone. I think there is some drastic attitude adjustment needed, but since we’ve worked so hard to have everything come from the top, it’ll need to come from there before it changes.
I believe, the message that went out about 15 years ago about ‘not having so many meetings’ and the teachings around Family responsibility (without further tuning of the message) has resulted in some unanticipated consequences.
I agree. I’ll add another thing. The in the higher echelons often do not deceminate information because they think ever he knows when actually only they and those close to them know. The rank and file workers are often clueless, and quietly steaming.
We used to have the prayer meetings before our meetings as a teacher and although they written 5 minutes long, still it was enough time for announcements and a prayer. We were in the know. Now we are clueless.
I note several spelling errors Please forgive them. I am still not fluent in “Ipad.”
I think is foolish to think that you can limit every meeting to sixty minites for instance high council meeting where missionaries report thier mission ,with the increased number of missionary there just isnt enough time in sixty minite meeting due to the number of missionarys .Remember Its the Lords work and as long as your making progress then a few more minites of our time wont hurt. Heavenly father doent stop in the middle of our life cause the timer went off or say sorry cant help i already spent my 60 minites
You may be right, but I challenge you to find a way. You will be shocked how little meeting time is necessary.
Split the meeting up. Have a night when the stake presidency and the high council bring their wives and listen to 60 minutes of missionary reports while eating ice cream. Everyone is uplifted, it would be unifying, and then go home after 60 minutes.
One thing we wrestle with is it takes 60 minutes to get to the meeting, and 60 minutes to drive home from the meeting (literally). So meetings are few, but precious. Yes we have tried conference calls but all agree it is not the same spirit. My point. Some geographies require a different balance. If you can walk to the stake center in 10 minutes…it is a blessing that supports shorter more frequent…HC or other meeting. That is not true everywhere…..yet.
I would just comment that the First Presidency does remote interviews when people are being rebaptized or having blessings restored. I’m confident that If the First Presidency can decide whether someone excommunicated for polygamy can be rebaptized over a video conference that Ward Councils can figure it out as well.
In a Stake we would do some alternating. every other meeting would be done over a conference call – we found ways to make it effective by doing certain types of discussions over the phone/video while others might be saved for face-to-face. Be creative and save people some time and money by using conferencing.
John, I appreciate the input. Points well made. The current pattern has certainly been by a unanimous choice/preference of those participating. It may well be time to re-revisit the tech options at hand. Thanks again.
I know how that feels, because we had 6 missionaries in one branch and branch coordination would last for almost 3 hours just because the way we (the missionaries) were reporting was really inefficient and it would go from there to the ‘brainstorming’ no-no that dragged it out even longer while people tried to come up with solutions. If the missionaries come with very prepared progress records and report the most important things and needs, then the other, less-important things can just be written on the progress record to keep the leadership informed. That’s just an idea that really helped us to have more effective meetings.
Thanks for sharing! Wow! I can’t imagine sitting through a 3 hour branch coordination.
Sixty minutes is too much if anything. RE: HC – If you have more than six missionaries reporting their missions in the same week (ten minutes per missionary), it is probably time to split your stake. If you prioritize properly, the excess beyond sixty minutes can be handled outside HC or left until next week.
You can run ANY meeting in the world in an hour, if you know what you’re doing.
Meetings are for reporting. Planning takes place outside of the meeting. Missionaries return reports? 10 minutes max. It should be a testimony, not a travel log.
I couldn’t agree more! I’d go to one of your meetings. 😉
Some leaders are great at running meetings and others really need to work on keeping meetings to an hour or less. I have started a silent protest with my spouse. At the hour mark, I politely excuse myself from the meeting. (because people are just rambling) I found myself becoming more and more irritated the longer that I stayed in the meeting. I would think about where I was supposed to be next, how this leader wasting my time, and checking my watch, and saw others zoning out as well. People commit certain amount of time and it should be respected by everyone.
Our Ward Council meetings have historically lasted 90 minutes. And while we do accomplish much and generally remain focused on the task at hand, input and involvment drastically drops after an hour. Yesterday, due to Ward Conference, it was made known beforehand that Ward Council would only be 45 minutes. What a shock when we had an extremely productive 40(!) minute meeting and accomplished all that was needed.
I emailed my counselors this morning and among other things from this post, told them our EQ Pres meetings would not last any longer than 45 minutes from now on.
Awesome comment! Thanks for sharing. This is a perfect example of Parkinson’s law. Keep pushing for shorter meetings.
Thought I’d follow up on my previous comment. I emailed my counselors early in the week with “business” items that needed to be addressed and taken care of outside of our meeting (gathering HT reports, callings that had already been discussed but were to be extended, who was teaching when, other assignements etc), referenced Elder Bednar and “revelatory experiences” and asked them to prepare accordingly for the agenda items I included.
Our meeting came, we opened with a prayer and scripture study and proceeded to discuss a number of individuals, but more importantly, action plans for those individuals, for the coming week. Assignments were made and we concluded as the timer in my pocket, set for 45 minmutes, buzzed.
Email and text follow-ups/reporting among the three of us (we’re without a secretary currently) have gone back and forth through the week and we’re now preparing for this week’s agenda.
It seems this post has hit a nerve with a lot of people. I understand their concerns about rigidness and lack of adaptation and time limits supposedly ushering the spirit out the door and all sorts of other things. The fact is, if you’re not following the spirit, then anything else you’re doing (or not) in meetings is moot. And if you can’t or don’t understand when there is a need to be flexible, then return to the step one, of seeking the spirit.
Our Stake President wisely counselled our presidency when we were set apart to not be bound by the “traditions” of how things have been done in the past. I, for one, think this is an incredible useful post. But then, I read “Unbreakable Rules” as “hey, here are some things you might consider to make your meetings more effective revelatory experiences.”
This comment is refreshing. I am excited to hear of your success with your approach. I wrote the post with the assumption that everyone runs their meetings according to the spirit. I used the title in the image “Unbreakable Rules” as manly a way to intrigue the audience, and it worked. You are right on! Thanks again for sharing and please share any future successes.
When my husband was a stake clerk, weekly high council meetings could last until midnight. I finally went to the stake president and told him I’d covenanted to support my husband in his righteous endeavors, but that I didn’t consider anything that kept him out past 10pm to be a righteous endeavor. The stake president moved things around so people weren’t out so late.
I think you did the right thing. Thanks for sharing.
Efficient meetings still require that people prepare. Preparation still requires time, focus and the spirit.
Maybe what I am pulling from this isn’t that people need to worry about time limits (yes they still do) ….but need to be prepared. Because 60minutes of people being unprepared is still as ineffective as 90min or 2 hours of people being unprepared. I guess the only upside is that you wasted less time away from home.
Prepared people held to 60min or less is highly productive and the spirit can communicate quickly what needs to be done.
I have seen both sides of the fence and it is joy when people are prepared to have as Elder Bednar taught “a revelatory experience” .
Joe, This is very true. Have you seen anything work that has helped people more effectively plan for a meeting?
I have and it might be more isolated to my experience in working with ward and stake leadership.
I remember this from a bishop I served with as a councilor years ago. He would be very detailed in asking the ward Council to pray
And consider specific items to discuss. Preparing for that purpose is the responsibility of each ward council member.
If you want to keep meetings on target and focused come prepared spiritually to discuss spiritual matters.
Sometimes a person has been placed in a position that is designed to stretch them, they will be in above their heads and that’s by design. It’s an opportunity for teaching and learning. So the next item is understanding that we have to work with what we are given…which means whether you’re a bishop or relief society president or EQ president or any other leader short comings abound but even the the greenest leader who does all they can to prepare spiritually will be able to give Council.
I agree. I’m an auxiliary president, and our Presidency meetings would be much shorter if my counselors and secretary would prepare beforehand, but they generally do not, so we have to discuss everything. I’m not sure how to resolve this as we have to continue functioning.
I have been in Presidencies and the secretary. Most of my experience is that the President/leader of the group doesn’t truly utilize the Secretary/clerk. The leader needs to instruct the secretary, several days in advance, as to what should should be on the agenda and then the secretary can send the agenda out by e-mail, mail or whatever. This gives the rest of the group time to prepare so that the “meeting” and discussions are more to the point and effective. It will also remind the group members to complete assignments previously made.
Jessica, agreed. As an example of having seen that – years ago our bishop asked each auxiliary presidency to fast, attend the temple and pray about a specific scripture and consider its application to their stewardship and how they could ultimately help their members grow closer to the Lord. Some came prepared, most did and exceptionally so – but those that didn’t could tell they were missing out on a very spiritual moment.
Preparation or the lack thereof can speak to the spiritual maturity of your councilors, or the circumstances they find themselves in. Find out (if possible) what keeps them from preparing, is it the timing of the meeting, is it circumstances at home and in the family. Pray to understand their needs and what you can do – then step out of the way and let the Lord do his work.
For a great book on how to create useful agendas, check out Boring Meetings Suck by Jon Petz.
Kohai, I’d love to have you do a review of the book and guest post on Leading Saints. I think many people would be interested in that topic.
Rule 8 — Do not establish unbreakable rules of Church meetings – by doing so you may limit or constrain the Spirit; we should allow the Lord to direct us in our meetings through the Spirit. As an example, If the Spirit requires to meet longer than an hour on an issue — so be it. The same goes with any point made in the article. Now having said that, there are things we can do that can make our meetings more effective and efficient, some of which were mentioned, but they are hardly unbreakable.
James, I agree. I think that goes without saying. The reality is, many leaders are addicted to the concept of meetings. They almost can’t function without being in a meeting. I hope it helps those individuals reassess their approach to meetings and have better “revelatory experiences”. I’d love to hear any further thoughts you have.
The last comment on rule 8…I have sat through some meetings that droned on and on…I have led meetings that I thought were droning on and on…wishing that we could just finish.
The one meeting that sticks out in my mind was a regional priesthood leadership meeting led by Pres. Hinckley starting on a Saturday morning and expected to last all day. He and Elder Nielson, and I think Elder De Jager spoke, and then we had a prayer and took a break, which we thought was for lunch, until we realized it was dark and we had spent the whole day in that meeting non-stop and it was over.
When a meeting is a “revelatory” experience it doesn’t take long, no matter how many minutes pass. the ones that drone, on the other hand….
Good direction here, but I think it does need to be said. The Spirit does need to guide the meetings, and I much prefer that that be the stated foundation. After that, we can talk about 45-minute meetings, etc.
Our Deacons quorum presidency is new, so while the meetings might not last more than an hour, we are going to need more of them just now until the new leadership understands their role. So, to go back to the earlier comment about too few meetings, I think that while we become more effective in any given time frame, a lot of us need to spend more time coaching and training and leading – just maybe not with everyone in the room. It seems there is too much left undone in too many callings these days. (that makes me sound old). 🙂 I think your points can help us swing the pendulum back to more honest calling magnification.
That said, there are thousands of AMAZING people doing amazing amounts of service and providing tremendous leadership all across the world just now.
Unfortunately, I cannot agree with most of the things you have said. It all seems a tad presumptuous that you should be able to state “unbreakable” rules about church meetings. For the sake of brevity, and manners, I won’t go into detail. But I think we’ll all be better off going by the spirit instead.
Going by the spirit is assumed in every meeting. I don’t think there is a bishop in the church that would say they don’t try to run their meetings by the spirit. Even with an invitation to the spirit there should still be guidelines that a leader follows to manage the meeting’s effectiveness. They don’t have to be the guidelines listed here (they are simply my point of view) but guidelines are important. Thank you for commenting.
Ugh, meetings. They make me so frustrated when they’re run poorly! Please respect my extremely limited time as a working parent. I will do what I can do, I will focus on what’s important, and I will try my best. And that is enough. WE ARE ALL VOLUNTEERS. Yes, we have been assigned callings, but ultimately, WE ARE ALL VOLUNTEERS. Lets treat each other with love and kindness and understanding. Love. LOVE. That’s why we’re at church.
Exactly, including the Bishop, RS President, EQ President, YW President, etc. Not every leader will be great at meetings, and in most cases, I’ll happily trade lack of that skill, for the other gifts the Lord sent them to their calling to use. They will connect with someone, somehow, that I can’t. Having these as goals is important, but if Bishop just isn’t a good meeting leader, I’ll cut him some slack, maybe try to help him out, and focus on what he does bring to the table.
It’s funny, because there is just something inherently wrong with someone besides the prophet pronouncing “unbreakable rules” for the Church, so I would guess most of the heartache here is due to the wording, which perhaps you meant to invoke. I’m not crazy about that approach if you did.
President Hinckley apparently was really big on being super “on time”. President Monson will apparently come late to a meeting, even with all of the general authorities, if he feels prompted to minister along the way. Very different approaches to meeting management, but I hope we won’t suggest that one embraced the “7 unbreakable rules” and one just didn’t get it…
The short story for me is to ignore the hyperbole of the article, and embrace the tips that make me a better meeting leader.
Thank you so much for this great post. Some of the ideas are new to me and some I have been trying to bring into meetings for years without much success.
I’d like to reach out to you all and invite ideas of how we can help others implement these principles.
I have served in many capacities on the Ward Council and currently serve as Exec Sec but I don’t seem to be able to sway any of our leaders to this way of thinking. I have ventured to using the red handbook almost as a weapon to invite them to change and try something new to see how it would work but I have had ward leaders tell me how they don’t care about the red handbook.
I do try the softly, softly approach and try to always sustain my leaders.
I once spent 2.5 hours in a Bishops Council where the majority of the time was spent reviewing the calendar. The final item on the agenda was to be a discussion on dealing with individuals with mental illness (a topic that was very important to me). When we got there the meeting was closed as we had gone over (over what I don’t know).
I went home, reworked the agenda, sent it to the Stake President with comments that we could all read the calendar and come with questions, if we had them. We would then have time for the important items on the agenda.
Unfortunately the next Bishop’s Council was the same.
Unfortunately, I cannot agree with most of what you have said. It all seems a tad presumptuous that you should state “unbreakable ” rules for church meetings. For the sake of brevity and politeness I won’t go into detail. But I think we’ll all be better off going by the spirit instead.
So, just curious…if we truly see these as being revelatory experiences, then they should be treated similarly to our sacrament meetings. I can’t imagine a bishop cutting off someone’s testimony because ‘the timer went off’ and it’s time to move along. I get the sentiment…but you will notice a recurring theme throughout Handbook 2…a lack of hard rules about church administration. It is put in the hands of those who are entitled to revelation to lead. Let them do so. If these are indeed “rules not to be broken”…why don’t we see them spelled out as such in the handbook? If we truly believe in revelation, there is no need for a time limit.
While I agree with most of what you say in your article, I take issue with some of the specifics and with your absolute language that does not give any room for exceptions or local adaptation. I have always believed that the only thing better than a short meeting is no meeting at all. But we have a certain amount of work that needs to be done, and rushing through a meeting and having people get up and leave when a timer goes off is a silly suggestion, in my view. I can’t imagine having the spirit burning strongly while someone relates a spiritual experience only to have it interrupted by a timer. Dumb idea. To say a meeting is never worth 61 minutes is putting artificial constraints on the spirit and leaders that are not appropriate. I do agree the vast majority of our meetings can be done in less than an hour. But some may need to go longer.
I have sat through high council meetings that were 2 1/2 hours long. They were painful. I have also sat through high council meetings that were 1 1/2 hours long and wondered where the time went. We have a stake that requires two hours to drive from one end to the other. When we hold Stake PEC (high council), most of our high councilors drive from 30 to 75 minutes to be there. One of your comments above says if there’s a bunch of missionaries reporting, let’s have that in a separate meeting and have ice cream! That would work great for the stakes in Utah and Arizona where I used to live where the Stake Center is only a mile or two away. But in our case, it’s much less intrusive on the time of our members if we have a meeting that goes a little later instead of having an additional meeting that requires them to travel again.
I whole-heartedly disagree with your guideline of no tech. We just had a stake presidency meeting last night via video conference. Your rule would have made that impossible. Without tech I would not be able to look at my calendar, look up what calling someone has, etc. during a meeting, which I do in most of the meetings I attend. Don’t preach your personal preference as an absolute that others should follow. The tech I use helps me be a better leader, and not using it during meetings would make me much less efficient.
I also strongly object to the language you use in point #6. I agree that all too often, people sit in a meeting without activly thinking on what they or their organization could do to help or to solve a problem. But assuming the leader is mis-guided is the wrong way to state it. I don’t mind the mindset of people questioning and actively participating, but starting from the premise that the leader is mis-guided is wrong.
Some of the info you provided is excellent. But to cast these as unbreakable rules makes no sense. The bottom line – leaders needs to be sensitive to the time demands on members, have an agenda and run meetings as efficiently as possible, and follow the Spirit. I don’t believe the Spirit operates according to your unbreakable rules.
I am not sure if I am reading your comment in the right tone but it sounds like my article offended you. I apologize. I am not claiming to have it all figured out. I’m not trying to push my ideas on anyone, I’m just sharing them. My goal was to get a conversation started about this important subject and it appears it worked. I agree with a lot that you said but feel bad that you classify my opinion in a negative light. Calling people’s ideas “dumb” isn’t the best way to have an effective dialogue that results in better ideas. I’m open to better ideas, so write your own list and send it to me. I’d be happy to consider it for publishing on Leading Saints.
Wow, the comment is depressingly negative and in no way helpful to the discussion. I wish you actually provided suggestions instead of full on criticisms.
I would love for better instruction to be given in the church handbook about HOW to conduct effective meetings – because people called to leadership positions don’t necessarily have any experience in that area at all. It’s not exactly their fault if they don’t know how to conduct a meeting.
The three things I can’t stand most about meetings are:
(1) when an issue takes up time at a meeting that could easily (or even more effectively) be dealt with in an email;
(2) when we discuss an issue but the leader in charge doesn’t assign any action as a result of it;
(3) when people in the meeting start contributing comments that aren’t really relevant or are just FYI-type items rather than what we’re in the meeting for.
While I agree with you in general, this depends a lot on the type and objective of the meeting. I have been in 8 hour meetings in a business setting where every minute was used effectively and set expectations and approaches in a way that guided everything the team did. And I have been in nice, succinct meetings that were a total waste of time. I have a problem with calling everything a meeting. We have working sessions while planning cultural arts events that require a lot of creativity, sharing of people’s experience, planning, and task assignment that can easily run to 2 hours, but result in an enthused group ready to pitch in and execute. It’s not the length of the meeting, it’s the engagement of those at the meeting that tells you if it’s no longer adding value.
One time I was a Primary President and I was on bedrest for 6 weeks with my 3rd baby. I went to a town 5 hours including a boat ride away to my parents house so they could help with my other 2 small children. Our best presidency meetings happened while I was away. We didn’t have the luxury of sitting together so we had to prepare, prepare, prepare and my counselors had to take up much of the work. Those phone calls we were prepared, we felt the spirit and we went ahead all in about 10-15 minutes. I’m a firm believer in keeping meetings under an hour. IF everyone is prepared it works very very well and everyone is happy! We did so much with those kids that 10 years later they still talk about their Primary Days and are using our ideas in their own presidencies.
Another problem with ward council is that it tends to be a gossip session about So-and-So family’s problems, etc. I always wondered why we are here discussing everyone else’s problems. Seems like gossip takes up most of the meeting. Eliminating gossip would streamline the meetings. Everything gets discussed but few solutions or plans of action are implemented.
Pam, I agree that ward council often descends into gossip. So much of the information shared is not needful for many in the room to even know! I have sat in wonderment at some of the things said about people. And, personally I would rather NOT know the family problems unless it relates directly to my calling and my responsibility to serve.
Can you imagine going in to interview with your bishop and watching him set an egg timer? Ding! Your time is up! If you need more time, go talk to the Executive Secretary and schedule another interview.
Or … Well, our 60 minute bishopric meeting has concluded. But since we didn’t get through everything on the agenda, we’re going to need to schedule another bishopric meeting. And some of these items need to be addressed before Sunday, so when can we meet again before Sunday? Bishop, this will be our 3rd meeting this week; can’t we just stay late tonight so that we can get through everything without losing another weeknight to meetings? Nope. The timer has spoken.
Assuming every participant is prepared (which is rare), assuming every participant is on time (which is rarer), assuming every participant is fully trained and well-experienced in his or her calling (which is even rarer – and certainly won’t last more than a week or two), yes, meetings can be efficient. But don’t confuse efficiency for revelation. I’ve experienced powerful, spiritual meetings that lasted well beyond the 61 minute mark. I’ve participated in meetings where, at the conclusion, participants couldn’t believe how much time had passed because it felt like no time at all. Time becomes largely irrelevant when you are about the work of the Lord. Not every meeting can be like that, so by all means, feel free to wrap things up at the designated time if the Spirit does not compel you to continue.
Also, not everyone feels the Spirit in the same timing. I’ve been in meetings where we’ve prayed about something (a calling for example) and I felt instantly the will of the Lord. Same meeting, same prayer and someone else struggles with it for several minutes. In other situations, I’ve been the one slow to receive confirmation while others receive confirmation quickly. You can’t rush the Lord.
#2 Anyone can cancel and #4 Agenda required are both good rules. #3 No administration allowed is a good thing to strive for, but it only works if the admin is actually accomplished outside of the meeting. If you have folks who won’t (or don’t) do administration outside of the meetings, then that admin has to get done sometime, somewhere. It is part of holding folks accountable. Some could argue that it is part of return and report. You just might have to schedule a meeting specifically to address admin. If admin gets done before the meeting, cancel the meeting. Easy-peazy. #5 No tech is a mixed bag. I like tech and believe it helps me be more efficient. Others might view it as a distraction. If your tech distracts you, then get rid of it. I’m keeping mine. If my tech distracts you, get over it. #6 the Misguided Presiding Authority – I’m not sure what you mean, here, but I think I agree with you. If you are suggesting that anyone who shows up at a meeting looking for “marching orders” from the presiding authority is doing it wrong, then I agree. #7 Cancelling meetings – If you find that not much is impacted by fewer meetings, then you should definitely be cancelling more meetings. Just be sure that if you cancel, you are not making more work for yourself (or someone else) down the road. One of my personal rules is to have meetings regularly recurring and on the calendar. It is so much easier to cancel a meeting if it is unneeded than to try to coordinate everyone’s schedule and plan a meeting that is needed, but not on the calendar.
I appreciate your comment AND your passion.
You’ve never been a Church Leader before have you? 🙂
Ha ha…I’m a bishop actually. I’m definitely still learning.
I think these are some really reasonable tips to improve the efficiency of meetings, but the article is titled “How to Make Ward Council a Revelatory Experience…” This list of do’s and don’ts will help a meeting run smoother and prevent some of the roadblocks that bog down a meeting, but to have a meeting become a revelatory experience requires much more spiritual preparation on the part of those involved that what this list requires, which was the point of Elder Bednar’s remarks.
This discussion reminds me of a quote I heard which sums up the whole concept: “It takes a mighty fine meeting to beat no meeting at all.”
Amen and amen.
I’m not sure I agree 100% with the No Tech. Mainly because many of us use our phones and/or tablets for calendars and such. I’ve found using my smartphone (properly) in a meeting has been very successful.
Now, if someone is playing a game on their device, that’s a different story entirely.
I agree, but I challenge you to try it. Prepare all the information you need from your device prior to the meeting and then see how it goes. I promise it will keep the whole group more focused. When you have your device in the meeting you can make sure you aren’t on Facebook but you can’t guarantee everyone is doing that same.
While that is true, there are many times looking things up online (even on Facebook) to see something relevant to the meeting (that you may not have known about prior to the meeting) is necessary and can help avoid future meetings.
I think if we treat the adults like adults, instead of children, you would be surprised how much can actually be accomplished in a meeting even with people using their phones. Note, I did not say playing on their phones. If they are in a meeting and playing on their phones, I will agree that can be disruptive. However, they are adults and responsible for their own actions.
I completely disagree with the opinion about tech. I keep notes, carry scriptures and manuals, maintain a calendar, and just about everything else on an iPad. Why should I be inconvenienced so that I can conform to a luddite version of proper meeting etiquette? Rifling through papers is inefficient and time consuming. I no longer have to carry around loads of materials like a bag lady. I have generally been involved in music and managed to avoid lengthy council meetings. The few I’ve had to attend were 2- to 3-hour nightmares, so I agree with you on the time aspect. By the way, I also generally play prelude music from my iPad. In a pinch, I’ve been able to provide music without any hymn books available using my phone, and yes, it accidentally rang once while I was playing. They got over it. They were happy to have music 😉
Thanks for your comment. You may be well organized and not tempted with your tech but that may not be the case for the entire room. I’d encourage you to try it for a few meetings (or ask the presiding officer to try it). I promise you will notice more engagement and focus on what the meeting is about.
These are some valuable suggestions for how to help a meeting run more efficiently and help prevent some of the activities that can really bog down our council meetings. They also help provide an atmosphere more conducive to enhanced communication. However, the title of the article is “How to Make a Ward Council a Revelatory Experience…,” and that requires more that what this article points out. Elder Bednar was teaching the principle of being spiritually prepared to participate in councils…what we do beforehand that will invite the spirit into our council meetings. That will be the greatest contribution to having a revelatory experience.
Great point! Looks like I need to write a part 2 focused on preparing for revelatory experiences.
I think these points are very good. I’ve served in the RS and primary presidencies for the last four years. Our ward council lasts about 90 minutes, but I feel if we were told it would only be 60 we would be able to do it in 60 without any trouble at all. A lot of time is spent oversharing information, relaying things that can be a quick text, and chatting. I believe my mother’s advice: if your meeting is longer than it needs to be, you end up gossiping as a group. I’ve seen that in ward council where we discuss needs of ward members for too long and inevitably someone says something a little unkind about someone else’s choices.
Having an agenda makes a HUGE difference in the effectiveness of a presidency meeting.
Spending too much time in meetings not only keep you away from your most important duty, your family, but it also wears on the people serving to the point they hope they are not in presidencies anymore.
Great points! I have never considered the temptation of gossip in a longer meeting but it makes sense. Thank you for sharing.
Yes! So true. Plus, in meetings where there isn’t a clear end in sight, it is easy to go over time AND I can see how it makes gossip more likely. OR you get TMI info from members at the meeting of things that you wish you didn’t know and were not pertinent of the goal of the meeting. Especially if there isn’t an agenda.
I detest meetings where there are no agendas. It is easy for the person in charge of the meeting to get derailed and go off on tangents.
Awesome points, everyone! I think Leading Saints & my stake president attended the same leadership school. 🙂 I love everything our stake president does, which are pretty much what you have mentioned here. Thank you. I have just received revelation to postpone our stake relief society evaluation meeting. I had forgotten that my counselor’s son was arriving back from his mission a few hours prior to our scheduled meeting. She did not remind me, and knowing her, she would have attended our meeting. The thought just entered my mind. I think it was this thread that put me into the zone – seriously. Thanks for these great ideas.
Wow, great comment!
Be sure to pass this article on to your stake president.
I’ll definitely do that. Cheers!
I believe many church meetings are a total waste of time. Like Elder Bednar said there are Administrators and Ministers in the church. I believe instead of always having meetings – take the time and go visit and minister to the less active, sick, and non attending members of the church! Go out as Bishoprics, Presidencies, and go talk with the church members and bouy and cheer them up! be part of the solution and not part of the problem! We have over half of our ward that is less active! I have never had the Bishopric, Elders Quorum Presidency, Relief Society Presidency, Primary Presidency, or High Priest Group Leader come to our home just to visit and say hi! And yet the church handbook used to say all quorum presidencies go visit your members at least annually.
I also believe in Agendas having been a member of Toastmasters for over 30 years! They do a great job setting up meetings, conducting meetings, and using agendas! And Toastmasters set a time limit for each agenda item! All church leaders should go visit Toastmasters meetings! They can also learn how to become better speakers, better leaders, and better people persons! And better listeners!
I also think using email is a great way to help discuss items that don’t require a formal meeting. However you do need to keep certain items confidential.
Also when you use a written agenda have meeting minutes prepared afterwards and send them out to everyone that requires them. And also include the taskers and asignments from the meeting as well. I would have old buisness and new business items on the agenda. And time limits for each one! And remind people before the meeting what their assignments were. We have lots of technology that never seems to get used in the church. And lots of tools for having meetings that don’t get used either. Many leaders are uneducated in these new ways and new technology. Or they are afraid to step outside the BOX! Use a timer! Again go visit a Toastmasters Meeting! You will see how to run effective meetings!
Great tips! Thanks for commenting.
Have you ever tried to reorganize visiting teaching? That is definitely a meeting that takes more than 60 minutes and you can’t just stop in the middle when the timer rings.
Very true, but I would consider “reorganizing visiting teaching” and administrative task so it shouldn’t be done in a meeting.
It is easy to get caught up In talking “about” people in ward council, but our focus should be more on how we can “help” people take whatever next step they need toward eternal life. That’s when spiritual synergy happens.
Elder Jeffery R. Holland:
“It takes a very good meeting to be better than no meeting at all.”
(Said at my stake conference in Concord, NH.)
March 26, 2015
Russia Yekaterinburg Mission
I have taught mtg. management principles in the corp world for many years.
I have retired 15 years ago and we are on our second mission.
I have served in just about every calling….Temple leadership…Mission Presidency, Stake Presidency, Bishop, HPGL, all of that. Been there, done that, experienced that! I really do not like church meetings especially high council meetings because they are so poorly run.
Without putting the lessons plans in this box…just a couple of ideas.
Br. Leader. Hold a meeting to have a meeting. Tell them you want to talk and get feedback on how your meetings are going.
Then implement their feedback.
Br. Leader. If you do not think that, Lord is it I?…..look around the crowded room where everyone is smashed together…hot, and uncomfortable. Look at their body language.
He is thinking…I wish that he would shut up!
She…I need to get home and fix dinner for my family! I have been at Church all day.
He is thinking…man, we just keep going around in circles on this topic EVERY week!
The EQ Pres. is thinking….I could be out with my presidency visiting families.
If the church leaders would wake up and admit, IT IS I! and then start running their meetings based on real needs, and so forth…the productivity in the Church would really go up. People would enjoy their callings more and sense more satisfaction.
If not you will hear in the halls of the Church buildings…
Honey….I have the Ward Council to go to. I do not know how long it will last…probably 2 hours or more….I will try to be home at 7 pm.
We had a hurricane come through our city. I was the Bishop. We were removing a large oak tree from the roof of the Seminary Institute Director. We were having fun and working hard. My first counselor said to me, “Bishop, THIS is where it is at….not sitting in those dumb ward and stake meetings!”
My husband is serving as a counselor in a bishopric with a bishop that I dearly love. I was concerned when my husband was called about the impact it would have on our family life. I’m not sure how he does it, but the bishop must be amazing at handling meetings. He makes a very concerted effort to minimize meetings and make sure they are productive. I can truly say that the impact to our family life by this calling has been minimal. One time when we had some serious family issues going on, my husband had to miss the morning meetings on Sunday. When I apologized to the bishop, he told me to never apologize — that my husband was were he needed to be. Having a bishop like this makes it a joy to support my husband. I know that when he is gone, it is for something to truly necessary and not for a meeting that is just for the sake of having a meeting.
Seems to me the article reflects the authers personal standards and that they want them to be church standards. Meetings should ALWAYS have a pupose other than to meet. The length of a meeting should be kept to the minimum amout of time need to fulfill the goal of the meeting. I have attended meetings that were too long at 20 min and at 2hrs plus that were not too long. Tech is not the most distracting thing ever. The lack of following tech etquette IS destracting. No one is required to atteng a meeting. They areasked to. The church does not operate on a volunteer basis. Instead people are asked to participate and then given the right to exersize their Agency to agree or decline. I agree an agenda should be created and followed. Anyone can choose to not attend a meeting with or without an excuse.
Thanks for writing this article. Both the article and the numerous comments have been enlightening and informative. IMHO, this topic could be a great teaching/training subject for many leadership meetings (both in a ward & stake). Learn, share — then “go & do” is my motto with this stuff.
I had to bring out a 1993 book written by William G. Dyer (past BYU professor of organizational development) entitled “Catching the Vision: Working Together to Create a Millennial Ward” and compare his writings to this topic. Pretty much spot on. For an interesting different take on things, I would suggest checking this book out (it’s out of print, so go to your local library or AMAZON for a used copy — it’s cheap) and relate to Elder Bednar’s teachings about seeking inspiration to do what the Lord wants us to do.
Here is a quick review of the book from the BYU Studies web site:
“Writing from his experiences as a husband, father, bishop, high councilor, general Sunday School board member, and stake president, the author adds his expertise as a professional sociologist to this serious look at what it would take to prepare the Saints, their families, and their wards for millennial living.
“Dyer asks readers to consider the questions ‘Can the Millennium begin if the Saints are not prepared to live a millennial law?’ and ‘What will our own wards and stakes look like and how will they function if we are seriously dealing with the question of becoming a prepared people?'” [https://byustudies.byu.edu/showtitle.aspx?title=6997]
Thanks again for sharing this topic with us.
I wish they would publish your blog and meeting insights in the Ensign Magazine and Church News! I think meetings in the church are always a big challenge and a big issue. This should also be discussed in General Conference as a topic! “How to hold effective and productive meetings in church!” We are all volunteers and have no paid clergy or professionally trained lay leadership. Maybe we should write a church book on how to conduct effective and productive church meetings!
I think one thing that I learned as an Elders Quorum President and a Sunday School President was to send my counselors to the Ward Council and PEC meetings! Too many times only the President attends these meetings. But one of our jobs as Presidents is to train our counselors to become better leaders! Plus it gave me a break from having to attend so many meeting! I love to delegate also! Learned that as an Officer in the US Army! Delegate and Follow Up! And hold people accountable! What a novel idea!
A week before I was called as a stake RS president, I attended a stake/ward leadership training meeting where stake president’s closing remarks were based solely on delegation and among other wonderful words of encouragement and counsel, related the story of Moses & his father-in-law, Jethro (Exodus 18) Being made aware of that principle has certainly helped me to cope and to enjoy serving in whatever capacity I have been called to serve. ‘Delegate or die’ I love it!
I believe there are lots of different meetings and meeting agendas for different purposes that could be held in the church. For example:
Yearly planning meetings – Plan for the entire year. The Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts usually do this on a Saturday morning or afternoon and sit down with the Troop Committee/Scout Master and use a planning calendar. They also discuss the annual budget requirements that will be required to run a scout troop. Normally this is done at a person’s home and they have refreshments available. This meeting can last a couple of hours. And it may take several Saturdays to accomplish this year long plan. But in the end there is a planning calendar developed and a year long budget developed. This same idea could also be used in the various church organizations. Plan as much as you can for the entire year instead of just month by month. Or week by week.
With a yearly plan/schedule established and a yearly budget a bishopric would have all of the monthly Sacrament meeting themes established, all of the music planned out. tentative speakers identified for the year, etc. I realize that last minute changes occur but an annual meeting schedule could help solve so many problems up front. I believe in the adage that – Failure to plan is planning to fail!
I also believe that well organized and well functioning committees could be used to help get many problems resolved in organizations of the church. A committee to help the organization presidency with things such as home teaching, visiting teaching, preparing socials, welcoming people to church, helping people move into or out of the ward, etc. There are so many church members that feel left out in church and being part of an active committee could help make many of these people feel welcomed and needed. Plus the presidency can delegate and that is one less burden on their shoulders. Committe members need to be trained and encouraged and follow up is required. But many organizations outside of our church use committees very successfully!
One last comment. I have been in several church positions where the leader doesn’t see a need to hold any church meetings. They make all of the decisions themselves! They attend all of the Ward Council or PEC Meetings themselves. They don’t communicate very well with their counselors. They don’t plan very well. They love to micro-manage everything! They tend to be very bossy! They lack people skills, leadership skills, and tend to turn others off. I usually ask to be released when I run into a church leader like this. Life is too short to be miserable and unhappy in the church and in life!
Have you ever noticed that people almost never complain when a meeting goes a few minutes long, but when it ends short, they lose their minds?
People weren’t made for clocks; clocks were made for people.
I also think that it is critical to look at the eternal perspective of things. And also to seek the Spirit for love, understanding, guidance, patience, and direction!
There are lots of great books, magazine articles, websites, talks, speeches, organizations, seminars, workshops, classes out there on preparing for meetings, holding effective meetings, evaluating overall meeting effectiveness, and becoming a great leader. Many people read and apply and others don’t for whatever reasons.
However, We are also a volunteer church and we have a volunteer lay leadership and not a trained professional ministry. Our church Members and Leaders come from all different walks of life and life experiences. They have different levels of education, knowledge, backgrounds, training, experence, culture, expectations, gospel maturity, etc. And yet we are all Children of our Father in Heaven! Sometimes I think we forget that we are all Brothers and Sisters with lots of faults, warts, weaknesses, and imperfections! However, We also have strengths, abilities, and talents! Sometimes I feel like we expect perfection out of our church leaders, teachers, and members. We expect perfect church meetings! We expect perfect home and visiting teachers! We expect and sometimes we even demand! And then when things, meetings, members,and leaders fail to meet our expectations then we tend to grip, get disenchanted, gossip, and complain. Some members eventually leave the church altogether, or go inactive!
I think we need to do the best we can with what we have. We need to build up each other, encourage, uplift, motivate, set the example, and help out where ever we can. Our leaders and members are not perfect and never will be on this earth!
We can choose to be miserable and unhappy or change our attitude and praise and uplift and encourage. We can offer positive suggestions and ideas. We can also choose to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. We choose and we decide what our attitudes will be!
I don’t think Christ held many meetings in his lifetime. But I do think he spent most of his time healing others, blessing others, cheering up others, encouraging, motivating, forgiving, looking for the good in others, living the gospel, and spreading the gospel. His motto was “Don’t keep the faith – Spread it!”.
So the next time you run into a less than perfect church leader, attend a less than perfect church meeting, don’t get home taught on time, or members let you down on a ward service project – think about What Would Jesus do in this situation and how would he react? How would he treat the situation? What would his attitude be? Would he build up or tear down? Would he complain and be miserable or make the best out of the situation. Remember Life is a Test! Do you want to become like Satan or like Christ?
And on the bright side I do believe there will be better members, better leaders, and better meetings in the next life! Remember Satan and all of his followers and complainers were all kicked out of heaven!
I highly recommend the book Death by Meeting. Though the title may sound negative towards meetings, the book is all about making meetings a place where work gets done and people want to be. It discusses the different types of meetings organizations should/could have. It’s all about the expectations: knowing what kind of meeting it is going to be. You would also be interested in the way they lay out an agenda–I can see it benefitting a ward council.
I really enjoyed reading this post. I am a Laurel class president and chair 1-2 meetings a month. I’ve tried to practice some of the things listed, but lately I’ve felt like my meetings haven’t been as productive. I hope to use some of your suggestions to improve my meetings.
I am new in this site, and I am grateful to all who have posted comments, whether I agree with them or not. I serve as a stake executive secretary in Southern Spain, where the Church isn’t that old (the country was dedicated in 1969). We still see many meetings not being ran the right way throughout our units. I perceive the following mistakes as some of the main reasons:
– AGENDA. Usually the bishop takes a paper with some notes. Then he presents the issues and debates begin. Executive secretaries should prepare agendas in advance. They can call or email participants and ask for businesses to be included. That agenda should be shared with attendants beforehand.
– IMPROPER CONTENTS. Unless the organizations have their own presidency meetings, leaders will bring out to the ward council ANY problem they have related with their calling. Many, many issues can be dealt with in an organization’s presidency meeting, especially when the member of the bishopric who oversees them attends too.
– TIME. Difficult issue. I like the 7 rules, though I may not share all of them. The author doesn’t mean to impose them, but it is a good exercise reading them and getting what benefits you. I definitely believe that a general timing rule should exist. On the other hand, the Spirit should be allowed to break that rule.
– GOSSIPING. That happens all over the world. The presiding authority or the conductor should cut it off politely and reconduct the meeting.
Again, I have enjoyed reading all the posts above, and I sure have learned from all of you.
People need to have input to High Council meetings. A missionary is released with a Stake President 10 min meeting and “great job”, so why do we need to take hours for them reporting to the High Council. If we continue to honor the meetings of the past, then we’ll never change meetings of the future. If the HC needs to hear the missionary report, attend the sacrament meeting when he/she speaks. We aren’t saving souls by spending 3 hours listening to 10 return missionaries at HC meeting. We need to challenge the status quo.
Do you have any source to back up this statement: “The bishop isn’t there to receive revelation; he is there to confirm revelation.”?
Sure. A simple place to start is searching for the definition of priesthood keys on lds.org. Elder Oaks gave a definition back in April of 2014 when he said, “Priesthood keys are the authority God has given to priesthood [holders] to direct, control, and govern the use of His priesthood on earth.” In a ward council meeting, for example, the bishop is the one directing the meeting according to the keys he holds. If he was the only person able to receive revelation then there would not be any reason to hold a council meeting.
Another great resource on this concept is Elder Ballards book “Counseling with our Councils.”
Thanks for your reply. No disagreement about that ideally all would receive revelation in ward council and that a bishop should confirm revelation, but I’m still unsettled. Saying that, “The bishop isn’t there to get revelation…” sounds shaky. However, even though I’ve read Ballard’s book and the handbk of instructions maybe I’ve missed something that you’re hitting on…While serving as a bishop I felt like it was my role to lead, “out in suggesting—not demanding, not commanding, and not insisting” (Elder Jay E. Jensen, BYU Speeches, Aug 16, 2011). Can you help me reconcile Jensen’s statement with what your saying?
Yeah, I think we agree more than we disagree. I should have used different wording to express my point. I love that quote you mentioned.
Elder Bednar (WWLT 2010, Panel):
“I think we have the mistaken notion that every element of revelation coming to the ward has to come through the bishop. By virtue of his keys, he has to acknowledge it and affirm it, but he doesn’t necessarily have to be the only vehicle through whom it comes. So in that council, as you have that spirit of unity and act under the influence of the Spirit, the contributions of all of the council members add elements to the inspiration.
So the council doesn’t decide. This is not just participation in decision making. It’s an inspired pattern that the bishop, by virtue of the keys, has to direct. But he doesn’t have to receive every jot and tittle of the revelation.”