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How to have a successful church meeting...

...or any other meeting for that matter.

Hopefully we had a great summer and now it's back to the fall routines. That often includes regular meetings. So here's my take on those...

Here's to you, Brigadier General Henry Martyn Robert, III - what a legacy you left us!

I know what most of you are thinking.... "Who is he?"

I am so glad you asked.

He wrote a book. Full disclosure I have never read the whole book. It's over 800 pages, but I do have the short version; and I highly recommend it to anyone who needs to lead a meeting.

The original book was titled "Pocket Manual of Rules of Order for Deliberative Assemblies." It was published in 1876, but it is still relevant today. Today it is known as "Robert's Rules of Order." When followed, it can help a meeting go much more smoothly.

Over the years I have been in many meetings and led some too. They usually flowed better when people understood the rules. However, there are certain exceptions, and I would like to offer 2 such personal examples; and how to deal with them. These are true stories, so names are omitted to spare the guilty of embarrassment. You know who you are! ;D


I was going to lead a 6-week small discussion group at my church. My mom decided to join my group. She was a big talker and could go off topic and take control. I was worried how that could affect the group. It was Mom! I could not correct her if she got out of hand. Two of my friends, who knew and loved mom, told me they would take turns interrupting her if she got off topic. She never caught on and we had great meetings. (Mom graduated to heaven in 2007 and I miss her!)

Most good meetings should not take more than one hour. To stay on task, have and follow a prepared agenda. New business may be added to be discussed later. If someone goes off topic as in example one, gently remind them of time constraints and bring them back.


I arrived at a home to lead a new group. Two infamous gabbers from our church were sitting together on the sofa. They never stopped talking TO EACH OTHER the whole evening! How would we endure weeks of that?!

After prayerful consideration (prayer does work), I made a plan. Next week I arrived early and sat in the middle of their favorite sofa. I spread out my literature. They were forced to sit at either end. Meetings went much more smoothly going forward. I never had to reprimand or embarrass them. At the end of the sessions the entire congregation gathered. The minister asked each group to stand and share their experiences and what they had learned. My ladies, who as usual were seated together, stood. "We were bad, so we had to be separated." The church roared with laughter!

My pet peeve is cross-talk as shown in example two. People talking to each other are not only distracting and VERY RUDE, they make taking notes a challenge for the recording secretary. Separate them and call them out if needed. Maybe they've never heard of the General and it's time they did! :)

Even with Gen. Robert's amazing book, sometimes drastic measures are needed. But way to go General! You make it so much easier, most of the time. :)

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