If You Could Change 3 Things About Your Church . . .

We had a long Presbytery Assembly meeting last night.

For you non-Presbyterians, our occasional Presbytery Assembly meeting is for business and announcements.  Ours meets five times a year, but other Presbyteries meet more or fewer times depending on their own desires and rules.

I staff our Presbytery but my responsibilities don’t involve planning these meetings, really.  But I have some ideas – especially after such a long meeting last night and many other long meetings I’ve attended in my 25+ years of attending these things.

If I could change just 3 things about Presbytery Assembly meetings, I would do this:

  1. Have Pre-Presbytery events that looked more like TED Talks than church workshops.  10-20 Minute Talks About Ideas.  Just imagine: Sculpted Space, Within and Without;  The Global Food Waste Scandal; Photos That Bear Witness to Human Slavery – all real TED talks that members and friends of our Presbytery could also conceivably share from their own experience and expertise.
  2. (From the exceptional Shawna Bowman) Experience the examination of candidates for professional ministry to be a teaching moment during which they teach us.
  3. Show a stream of slides throughout the meeting showing images of what’s going on in our churches, photos of new pastors with their names and the names of their church/hospital/educational institution/etc., photos of pastors, educators, musicians, etc. with significant anniversaries which include their names and occasion (e.g. Susie Smith, Ordained 15 years on September 19. Joe Jones the organist of St. Nicholas became a dad on September 1 – with requisite image of cute baby)  This would help us with names and faces, and the recognition of what’s going on for us corporately and personally.  Also this would add interest for those of us who have attention deficit issues.

So, what would you change if you could change 3 things about your church, your presbytery, or (this could get interesting) your pastor?


Image is Water and Spirit by Shawna Bowman.  See more here.


5 responses to “If You Could Change 3 Things About Your Church . . .

  1. Those three would be a great start, as would worship interspersed throughout the meeting and questions of incoming ministers that invited them to speak of their passions rather than their backgrounds.

  2. My favorite artist and my favorite blogger in one place? I’m absolutely swooning!

  3. Jennifer, our Presbytery did the ‘worshipful work’ model for many years and just now (next week) we are switching back so that we can welcome regionally and nationally recognized preachers and teachers to our Presbytery meetings. It involves compacting the ‘business’ of our time together to action items only, and we are trying new ways (including video compilations and other media) to present the ‘reports’ segments of the agenda .But, instead of spending up to an hour listening to people read their written reports to us,(which is the death of any meeting) we are adding an hour of teaching/leadership training! It’s a brand spanking new model, which our Council (which includes me) is committed to working and tweaking over the next three years.

    I think you know our first preacher/teacher: she writes this blog.

    Yay! ::flailing arms in the manner of Kermit::

  4. Martha Shrout Brown

    Love your ideas and others, Jan! Yesterday I was struck more than usual about the “whiteness” and advanced age of those present (most even older than me!). We need to find ways work on this in ways other than the mandated Committee on Representation.

    We need to be more and more intentional about inviting, encouraging and mentoring younger Teaching and Ruling Elders to be involved in traditional and non-traditional faith communities and presbytery. How do we make the Connectional Church ALIVE! for them so they feel comfortable and want to participate?

    More questions than answers as usual!

  5. Amen! to all your suggestions – especially the streaming photos for significant anniversaries and new arrivals!

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