Church Workers Handbook -- Chapter 13: Planning and Conducting a Public Meeting

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The Church Workers Handbook is filled with practical information that you may not have learned in Bible college or seminary. If you haven't already learned this information in the school of hard knocks, you need this series of blogs. This will be information for anyone who serves in any capacity in a church (from senior pastor up to janitor).

Ed and Nancy Lint

G. Edwin Lint, BS, ThB, MA
Bachelor of Science in Bible, Bachelor of Theology, Master of Education Administration and Supervision.

Much of the Drawbridge content is political in general and anti-Obama in particular.

I am still convinced that Obama is America's worst president, bar none. However, I have decided to give Obama a rest on the Sundays of 2012 and concentrate on spiritual and/or educational content, only.

If you wish to download the entire pdf file of 205 pages, click this link: Church Workers Handbook

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You have been appointed by the church board to conduct a planning session for a series of community Bible studies to be held during the coming year. This chapter will walk you through the various steps you will need to take to make this a successful meeting. Some of the specifics are real and others are fictional. For example there really is a Hoss's Steak and Seafood House and the food really is reasonable and delicious.

The sample meeting discussed in this chapter will be fairly small, low key, and low budget. However, someday, you may be planning and conducting a regional conference of several hundred participants. Learn on a small meeting and then you'll be better prepared for a larger one.

Picking a Time

Since it has already been decided that the Community Bible Study will be held the fourth Thursday of every month, it makes sense to hold your planning meeting on a Thursday. The church board has recommended that the Bible studies be held from Noon till 1:00 P.M. in a brown bag-lunch environment.

A bag lunch will be okay for the eventual Bible studies but you want this first planning meeting to be a little nicer. So you decide to have it a local restaurant.

Making a Reservation

Food makes your planning a little more complicated, with such things as menu, and price to be considered. Hoss's Steak and Seafood House sounds good. The menu ranges from an all-you-can eat food bar for under $6 to prime steaks and lobster. Hoss's is centrally located, close to the Gettysburg exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. You've eaten there many times and you know the food is good. [Try to avoid making a meeting reservation at a restaurant you've never visited.]

First hurdle crossed: you've picked the location; it'll be at Hoss's.

Second hurdle: make the reservation.

The person who takes your reservation assures you your group will have a private room for about 50 people. She asks for your name and you say Jane Doe. She asks for the type of affair and you say a "planning meeting". She writes in the reservation book: Jane Doe, planning meeting. You hang up, pretty pleased with yourself. Everything's all set for the meeting. Right?

Read on!

On the day of the meeting, your baby sitter is late in arriving and you are fifteen minutes late in getting to Hoss's.

When the first person arrives for the meeting, this dialog takes place.

"I'm here for the Community Bible Study Luncheon."

The hostess looks in the reservation book and says, "Oh, are you with Jane Doe's group?"

"I don't know any Jane Doe. I'm here for the Community Bible Study."

"It says here Jane Doe's having a planning meeting at Noon. Is that your group?"

"I don't know anything about Jane Doe's meeting. I thought I was coming to the Community Bible Study Luncheon.

Maybe I have the wrong place or the wrong day. Good-bye."

This scenario is fictional but a similar thing happened to me at Hoss's. [I stayed for lunch until the mix-up was fixed up.

Follow these steps in making a reservation for your meeting:

1. Know the name of your meeting. If the meeting doesn't have a name, give it one. You must give a meeting name when you make a reservation.

2. Make sure the reservation clerk records this name in the reservation book. It's okay to give your name but make sure the clerk writes it down.

3. If the reservation doesn't ask for a meeting name, offer one. Sometimes reservations are taken by people who are not skilled in public relations.

This identical meeting name should be used from this point on regarding this meeting: in the church bulletin, on posters or flyers, and on the restaurant/hotel marquee or meeting board.

Publicizing Your Meeting

Go to Chapter 10: Church Publicity and Public Awareness for detailed information on how to publicize your meeting with little or no cost.

Giving Directions

Preparing written directions may be a gift or it may be an acquired skill. If you're not sure you have either, follow these steps for preparing directions:

1. Drive the travel route from the main traffic artery to your meeting place in your car. Use your trip odometer to make note of the mileage between various landmarks.

2. As you drive the route, make special note of the marked route numbers. Strangers will appreciate route numbers rather than street signs and landmarks. Of course, if there are no route numbers, give whatever information will be helpful.

How many times have you diligently followed directions to a meeting place with left and right turns at landmarks, only to realize the whole thing was following a marked route number?!

3. If you are giving directions in an urban area, give tips on the street layout. Example: The north-south streets are alphabetized and the east-west streets are numbered.

4. If your directions include an exit that leads onto a dual highway with North/South or East/West lanes, be sure to include which direction to take. There is nothing more disconcerting than to be told to "Take the Route 15 exit" [without being told if it's Rt. 15 North [to Harrisburg] or Rt. 15 South [to Gettysburg]. If a traveler gets onto a limited access highway but going the wrong way, your directions may go beyond confusing and create a potential accident.

5. An ideal set of directions has both narrative descriptions and a map. My personal preference is narrative descriptions; never omit that. Here's a sample narrative on how to get to Hoss's from Harrisburg:

  • Follow I-83 South across the Susquehanna River to the junction with Pennsylvania Route 581 West.

  • Follow 581 West 3.5 miles to the US 15 South exit.

  • Follow US 15 South 3.5 miles to the entrance to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

  • Go one half mile past the turnpike but don't get on the Turnpike; go under the overpass and take the Mechanicsburg/Bowmansdale Exit off Route 15.

  • When you come off the exit ramp, turn right at the stop sign. Go .5 mile to the first traffic light, Gettysburg Pike.

  • Go one half mile more, to the entrance to the Country Market Nursery, on the right. As you enter the nursery complex, Hoss's will be on your right.

  • Author's note: I have never clocked that route on my trip odometer so I estimated the distances.

Making Name Badges or Tent-card Style Place Cards

For additional information on making name badges, printing an agenda, and managing registration data, go to Chapter 7: Basics of Desktop Publishing.

Name badges are an absolute must if there is a good chance that attendees at your meeting will not know each other. Such badges can run from the do-it-yourself Hello, My Name Is type to computer-generated ones laser-printed on colored card stock, printed in color ink, encased in plastic windows and spring-clipped to the lapel. There is a right and a wrong way to do both kinds. We'll look at some guidelines.

The ideal procedure for any name badges is to make them up before the registration starts. If you are having self registration, array the badges in alphabetical order.

[Tent-style Place Cards may be made from folded card stock and handwritten with standard broad-tip markers. However, Avery also makes tent cards for computer generation. "

If participants are writing their own names, provide identical sharpie-style fiber-tip markers with indelible [non-smear] ink. Avoid standard broad-tip markers. Sharpie makes a retractable tip marker.

Always provide the writing instruments. Never allow participant to use their own pencil or ball pen.

Computer-generated; laser or ink-jet printer

1. The Avery label company provides a wide range of name badges and tent cards. Many productivity computer programs provide a drop-down menu of Avery numbers. Select the product number on the Avery box and your software will automatically format your badge or tent card in terms of size.

2. Hello, My Name Is [Peel and stick, with space to write a name] 3.

Follow these rules for laying out the content of your badge:

Omit redundant information. For example, it is not necessary to include the name of the meeting; most folks will know where they are. If all attendees are from the same church, from the same city, or even from the same state, it is not necessary to include this information on each badge. The less information [clutter] a badge contains, the more legibility there will be from a distance.

Set all text in Helvetica bold for maximum legibility at a distance.

Place the name at the top, in 24 point, if possible. This is the most important item on a name tag. Allow two lines for the longer names which will wrap.

Place the church name and city next, in 14 point, if possible.

Place the meeting logo last if there is one. This is the least important item on a name badge since each is the same.

Here is an example of the content of Jane Doe's badge:

Jane Doe
Christian Life Assembly


If you are planning an alumni event, the badge should include years attended for everyone and maiden name for the ladies.

Planning and Conducting Registration

Collecting information from application forms
These guidelines take precedence over what people may write on applications when attending a workshop or seminar. Over the years, I have conducted dozens of meetings and workshops requiring filling out and mailing in a pre-registration form. The contents run from ludicrous to sad.

Example: Applicants from the same church may show the following information when filling out forms which ask for home church:

Church of the Nazarene
Crossroads Church of the Nazarene
First Church of the Nazarene
Lewisburg Church of the Nazarene

In each case, church should be entered as Crossroads Church of the Nazarene, it's official name.

After registration information has been entered in a data base, sort each involved field in alphabetical order. This will enable you to quickly identify and correct errors and inconsistencies. This is especially important when the data will be displayed in a list of meeting participants and used to generate name tags and printed lists of participants. If you don't know the official name of a church or organization, find out.

Omit Titles

In a list of names or on an agenda, omit all titles such as Miss, Mrs., Ms., Mr., and Dr. If you wish to show a doctorate, it should appear in its proper form after the name. Exception:


Name badges or agenda listings

Jane Doe, D.D. [doctor of divinity]
John Doe, Ph.D. [doctor of philosophy]
James Doe, Th.D. [doctor of theology]
Joanne Doe, M.A. [master of arts]

Mailing address:

Dr. Jane Doe
Dr. John Doe
Mr. James Doe

Miss / Mrs. / Miss [as indicated on the registration form] Joanne Doe

A title is used with a full name when it is part of a mailing address. A title may be used with a surname only in a second reference but do not use Miss or Mrs. unless you know for a fact that the woman does not prefer Ms. As a general rule, a woman who prefers Miss or Mrs. will be less annoyed by Ms. than will be the case when the converse is true.

Creating an Agenda

Most formal meetings should have an agenda. Don't avoid it because you don't have a lot to say. People like to know what to expect and who's involved. Here's an example of an agenda for the Community Bible Study planning session, expanded into a one-day meeting:

[Lines marked with an asterisk [*] may be omitted from the agenda but should be included in a publicity flyer or poster]

Planning Session for the

Community Bible Study

Wednesday, March 10, 2012

9:00 a.m.

Hoss's Steak and Seafood House

*1234 Gettysburg Pike Mechanicsburg, 17055

*717-555-1212 Jane Doe, Chair

Registration and Coffee -- 8:00 - 8:55

Invocation: -- Rev. Paul J. Wislocky, Senior Pastor,
Christian Life Assembly, Millville

Morning Break 10:30 - 10:45

Lunch from the menu 12:30 - 1:30

Afternoon Break 2:30 - 2:45

Benediction: Pastor Wislocky 5:00

Arranging Seating

For additional information on using projection devices during your meeting, go to Chapter 6: Using Audio-Visual Equipment

When you have an opportunity to control the seating arrangements, follow these guidelines:

1. If interactive discussion of a fairly small group will be the primary activity of the meeting, place the chairs in a circle.

Use a semicircle if a projection device, chalkboard, or flip chart will be used.

2. If a larger group of participants will be seated in movable [stacking or folding] chairs, have the front of the room be along a long wall, the left/right of the room be along the short walls.

Example for 45 chairs.


If the participants will be seated at tables, follow Rule 2 above but have the tables in a horseshoe, with the open side toward the front of the room.

If interactive discussion will be the primary activity of the meeting, place the tables in a hollow square or rectangle, with a small opening for the chairperson to enter.

When tables are used and there is a good chance that participants will not know each other's names, it's a good idea to provide tent cards with names.

Following Your Agenda

Sometimes there will be extenuating circumstance that prevent you from sticking to the printed agenda, but make a sincere effort to do so.

Start on time
Take breaks and lunch on time
Resume activity on time
Adjourn on time


G. Edwin Lint, BS, ThB, MA, -- Editor

This blog provides conservative information on political, spiritual, economic, educational and social issues Monday through Saturday.
On Sunday, the content is spiritual and educational only.
Jesus said: What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. Luke 12:3
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)