Mormons love meetings. Actually, we don’t love them at all. But we find ourselves in them quite often. We try to pare them down, eliminate them, and spend more time with our families. But, before you know it, we’re back in them again.
I’m not talking about our actual worship services, of course. I’m talking about meetings that deal with your particular calling-meetings to train, plan, and coordinate: The gatherings that are more about administering than ministering. How can we 1) eliminate some of them, and 2) make the ones we have more meaningful?
I imagine the world’s first meeting took place eons ago, as the result of not having copying machines yet. It was essential to meet face-to-face because that’s all there was. There would be no paper, no printing press, no phone lines for centuries to come. But then modern inventions came along and we could communicate faster and more efficiently. Except that no one did it; we kept having physical meetings.
We’ve all attended meetings that start with a hand-out. And an outline or an agenda is a good thing to have. But what’s the use of a meeting where the leader then proceeds to read the handout? Couldn’t this have been sent to us electronically, or handed to us to go home and read? My first suggestion to the meeting planner is to ask yourself if any of this pertinent information requires an actual gathering. Or, is it just material you want to disseminate? Use computers, texts, or snail mail if all you’re doing is announcing something or making assignments.
Next, eliminate the items that are individual-specific. Instead of making 20 people sit and listen to something that only involves one of them, make a separate phone call to that person. And, if you’re that person and you have a question during the meeting about your particular stewardship, save it for a private moment later.
Third, look at the time required to solve whatever issue necessitates the meeting. Are you taking 3 hours to plan a 1-hour event? Look for ways to streamline your time, and you’ll also get better attendance. People are more likely to come if they know you stay on task and keep things moving along.
The Ward Council members of my stake were recently advised by a General Authority to make Ward Councils revelatory councils. In other words, stop just scribbling assignments on the white board, or ticking off a list of “to-do’s” and really tap into the Spirit to find ways to gather sheep. It can include planning events and making assignments, but they will now be the result of inspiration, directed at common goals: missionary work, strengthening testimonies, and getting members to the temple. If we come to the meeting prayerfully, really seeking promptings in behalf of our brothers and sisters, we can pool that strength to devise ways to bring back that struggling soul, comfort those in distress, and ignite excitement over the gospel in the hearts of those around us. An entire room filled with people seeking revelation can yield amazing ideas and focus. And that’s a meeting worth having, an assembly of busy people that’s justified, because the net result will be powerful and insightful, something an email or a handout couldn’t create.
If we see meetings in this new light, instead of as compulsory get-togethers that aren’t always warranted, we’ll not only accomplish the Lord’s work with greater success, but we’ll look forward to the spiritual experience we’ll have there. What could be better than feeling impressions from the Holy Ghost, and sharing those with like-minded servants? We’ve raised the bar for missionaries and their parents, how about for those who attend meetings? And isn’t that all of us?
Joni Hilton is “Your YouTube Mom” and shares short videos that teach easy household tips and life skills at
Be sure to read her blog at jonihilton.blogspot.com.
Hilton’s most recent LDS comedy, Funeral Potatoes-The Novel, is available at LDS bookstores. She is currently serving as Relief Society President of her ward in Northern California
DaleAugust 23, 2013
Another thing we do here in Japan is limit the time to one hour. People come prepared better when they know it is not going to be a brain-storming session or just each organization announcing activities,
MaryannAugust 23, 2013
THANK YOU!!!!! I love something Elder Packer said when people would ask him, "Wouldn't it be nice if we........"(schedule another meeting or event). Elder Packer quickly replied, "no" because of his concern for family time being once again pared down. I very well recall my experience serving in a Primary Presidency where the President would call me and tell me to plan on 3 hours for our Presidency meeting because we had "so much to discuss." These kinds of expectations are inappropriate and indicate a lack of understanding about where our greatest energies need to be focused.