The Value of Hearty Discussion

This past week saw the first meeting of the new Board of Deacons. I always love that particular meeting because it is the first chance to see what the basic personality of the group will be. Is it chatty? Quiet? How many devil’s advocates are there (so to speak – no one actually advocates for the devil!)? Thoughtful? Detail-oriented?

Over the years I have learned that there are many basic Board-personalities that are effective at leading the church. I have served with quiet groups and more boisterous groups, and each one has made significant contributions to the work of our church.

Whether a Board has a basically talkative or quiet personality, though, the group still needs to be able to engage in hearty discussion. We need a group dynamic which encourages people to speak their minds, to give their views, with forthrightness and clarity. The Board is not effective if we are afraid to speak our mind. There have been seasons, in fact, where I have said to the chair, “We need to get a good discussion going this meeting so that, when there is something really important to discuss, we already have some practice at it!

I will say, though, that the chattier groups are more fun.  I remember a meeting where we were working on the wording of the Employee Handbook with regard to our policy on the use of illegal drugs or the abuse of prescription drugs. We got so tied up in wordsmithing that much hilarity ensued. That was a great meeting, and we all came away from it with a renewed appreciation for each other (and for the fun to be had with word choice)!

After the discussion, whether fun-filled or serious, the best Boards all come together with a united purpose to move the action steps along. Our goal of promoting the mission of the church through the work of service is best accomplished when we all discuss with vigor and then fully support the resulting decision.

Please pray for the leaders of this church to be able to lead well through hearty discussion and equally hearty unity!