5.4 Parish Pastoral Council meetings
Frequency of Meetings
Most Parish Pastoral Councils find that one meeting a month is all that can be expected of members - some have many family, work and other parish commitments.
As the role of Pastoral Council members probably involves time apart from meetings, some Councils meet only every six weeks or two months. Too great a time between meetings, however, can make consideration of deeper parish issues more difficult.
In some parishes, members meet twice each month, once on the full Council, once in a sub-committee.
Length of Meetings
Evening meetings are best kept to no more than two hours, plus supper. Daytime meetings are mainly special events on a weekend and, if the purpose demands it, a good agenda and process can profitably extend the time to three or four hours. But there should be a significant break in the middle and a variety of processes used (e.g. time for private writing, small group discussion or work, some activity that focuses on analysis and debate, etc.).
Agendas can be drawn up by an Agenda Committee (including the chairperson and one or two others) and follow an agreed formula. If preferred that can be done by email.
The agenda should be circulated to members before meetings. It is useful for the Agenda Committee to develop skills of:
- identifying what is expected to be achieved from each item included on the agenda (e.g. Is it to Provide members with information? Is it to canvass opinions and suggestions? Is it to make a decision?),
- foreseeing the amount of time that each item will take,
- having a longer term view of the possible content of the next few meetings so that the appropriate items can be deferred if time is limited, and
- using a variety of processes that achieve the outcomes efficiently, but which also allow all members to be effectively involved (e.g.time to write their own thoughts, time in small groups to share them and discuss the different perspectives, time to get an overview of all members' views).
The key issue in building agendas is that they should assist in the major role of the Council, providing a plan which will make the parish an evangelising parish. Don?t get bogged down with details of the latest parish issue, most of which should have already have been referred to the responsible parish team member or volunteer leader.
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