Wednesday, 13 April 2016

A Guide to Church Committee English

You know how it is. The Church Committee has been looking to involve the "Young People" in its decision-making. The annual church meeting has come round. Bargaining has taken place, and despite unimaginable amounts of chicanery, gerrymandering and unexpected rule chang
An ecumenical matter
es, you somehow got your application - with proposer, seconder and two witnesses each - posted into the special post box, in the Dark Wood, past the rabid wolves, during the seven minutes for which applications were open. And, despite vote rigging, ballot box stuffing and double-voting, you got elected.

Or maybe it is one of those churches where they think, the more the merrier. And all new applicants, and the entire incumbent committee, are always elected en masse. Including several who send "apologies" to every meeting because their official residence is in the churchyard.

But either way there you are. A mere stripling of 57, at your first Church Committee meeting. And some people are going to use some terminology or phrases you won't understand. Well, worry not.

Here's the Beaker Guide to Church Committee English.

What they say
What they mean
Old Pastor Greengage would never have allowed it. Pastor Greengage refused to allow us to sweep the floor as he regarded brooms as a dangerous modern innovation.
You will modernise the Gothic font over my dead body. I have misinterpreted a discussion about the Christmas advertising leaflet, as being one about church architecture.
A lot of people are unhappy about this. I am unhappy about this
When we get into these kind of complex debates, with many points of view, it's important we remember that the Church has given to some the burden of leadership.I'm the vicar. I've got the funny shirt. I have a hotline from God. Obey me, minions!
I feel this kind of decision needs to be taken to the church as a whole. I reckon I'm going to lose this vote if we hold it here.
I think we could argue that it is de minimis. No way will the Diocesan Registrar will say "yes" if we ask to remove it.
We need to consult the Mission and Outreach Committee...... ...which never meets so this idea will be as good as dead.
We shouldn't rush into radical change. You've proposed this every meeting for 8 years. And we've kicked it into the long grass every time. I see no reason not to let it fester for another 2 months.
I feel God is telling us.... My argument is, to be honest, pretty shaky.
That would be an ecumenical matter. If we twelve Methodists can't agree, there's no way we'll get a consensus at "Churches Together." The Minister's idea for a Town Mission is as dead as Tony Blair's career as a peace-maker.
I'm aware I may sound a little pedantic.... I am unaware I am about to sound unutterably pompous.
Its not that I am opposed to modern language services per se. You can stick  your Common Worship where the sun don't shine, "Trendy Vicar-Boy".
We need a radical approach to mission and fund-raising. It's time for another jumble sale. We've still got all the stuff from the last ones.
Do we have any nominations for the person to organise the Harvest Supper? Elsie has been organising the Supper since 1972. If she doesn't get asked, we won't dare drink the tea on Sunday.
There have been complaints about the poor behaviour of the children. The children are being children. But if we get action, with any luck there won't be any around on Sundays any more.
I'm a bit worried about the groups that are hiring the Church Hall. The Pilates is probably OK, the yoga is dodgy but why do no goats ever leave the Church Hall on Thursdays, despite the number that keep being taken in?
I am all in favour of ecumenical activity, as long as people respect our tradition. If the Churches Together service is here, we can have a nice Evensong. If it's anywhere else, I'm not going.
Could we review the way we welcome visitors to the church? Following them around in case they steal the pews is not encouraging people to return.
What we need is a Vision Statement. Because the 3 hours we spent brainstorming the Mission Statement revolutionised the way we "do church", didn't it?
We need a new mission approach to men. We've tried beer evenings, and curry evenings, and skittles evenings. And they've been really popular. But they still don't come to church.
I could be persuaded. You can argue until you're blue in the face. But this disagreement will only end when one of us dies.
Our church needs to be prophetic. I read an idea in a book somewhere, The church was nothing like us. But they were amazing. Grew 300% in six weeks. I blame our pastor.
People will be upset if they are asked to give more. They're perfectly sanguine about the roof falling in on a minister-less church.
We need more people to come to church. Stating the obvious is a lot easier than doing things, isn't it?
We can't keep revisiting the decisions of previous meetings. The sun will be a red giant before people stop bringing this back for review.
How can we attract more young people? Why aren't young people more like normal people?
We should look at more modern worship. A bit of AOR chorus-singing from the 80s, "Lord of the Dance", something from Iona - that's how to reach the Millennials.
Any other business? We may as well get the meeting over. As I know, the minute I leave, you'll all transact the really important business without agenda or minutes.

Nicer in Comic Sans?

Father Ted Characters from Wikimedia. By Source, Fair use,


  1. We need to consult the Mission and Outreach Committee.........which never meets so this idea will be as good as dead.

    Speak for yourself.

  2. Wonderful. I feel very very sorry for 'Trendy Vicar Boy' , he doesn't stand a chance.

  3. In my experience, whatever the size of the committee, the real executive power always resides in an inner group of not more than three (which may or may not include the official chairman), who will listen politely and then go off and do whatever they had already decided to do.

    I once served with a chairman who refused to allow the secretary to issue agendas for forthcoming meetings, on the grounds that it was none of the committee's business what matters were to be discussed.

    Committee meetings are a total, utter, complete waste of everyone's time and the fact that I have one looming up next week, and that it will take two hours to decide matters that would take a maximum of two minutes even if they hadn't been decided already, which they have, has nothing to do with any bitterness in this post.

  4. I was elected to the PCC at 17; about 12 months after I had discovered the faith. PCC meetings lasted (on average) 5 hours.

    I could have done with this.


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