Tuesday, December 07, 2010

PC(USA) Q&A

"Hi, I was recently elected elder of finance and a member of session.  I am looking for discussion on best practices for church finance.  Also, I am the youngest elder on session by fifteen years and am considering asking if I can create a private blog for our session discussion topics.  Thoughts or comments?"

Perhaps I find Nick's questions so interesting because I, too, am a recently elected elder in the PC(USA).  I'm also fairly young and will be only the second elder in our congregation to give birth while actively serving on session.  (Please note that I don't intend to actually be at a session meeting for the big event!)  I don't know to which committee(s) I'll be assigned, but I'm willing to bet that Children, Youth, and Families is more likely than Finance.  I'd love to serve on Adult Ed and Nominating (both committees on which I've participated as a lay member).

Does anyone have any church finance or committee experiences to share?  Advice to give?

And does anyone's church use a private blog for conversation?

Nick, my family uses a private blog for communication and it's been very helpful for us. I'd imagine, though, that with an older session you might have some people who aren't too comfortable with the internet and others with significant security concerns.  Another group to which I belong has a blog, and I made a very simple step-by-step cheat sheet to help each of them log in.  I passed out hard copies at a meeting and this tactic met with great approval.

4 comments:

Bob Davis said...

I will leave finance questions to someone else; but I would give a word of caution about developing a private blog for session topics.

Although online communications can be efficient, efficiency is not always the healthiest way to develop conversation. Nothing can replace time spent face-to-face prayerfully discerning the mind of Christ together. We value the "togetherness" so highly we do not allow proxy voting.

A pragmatic illustration is that online conversations spiral angrily a lot faster than in-person conversations. As the moderator of the session, I have had to step into several e-mail kerfuffles because someone misinterpreted tone, raised the stakes for disagreeing with them, or disparaged someone else.

I hope that's helpful.

NicodemusLegend said...

It's not a direct analogy, but our church used to use a private blog to discuss issues related to our Children's Ministry (especially the "Godly Play" program we use for Sunday School). However, outside of two or three of us, it never generated enough usage by all the relevant adults, and has since become largely defunct.

If a blog will actively be used by all (or at least most) of the session members, I think it's a great idea. But without that buy-in, it isn't helpful (Bob Davis' concerns about online communication notwithstanding. Incidentally, those are important concerns, but personally, I don't think they are insurmountable. The potential for difficulty just needs to be taken seriously).

Alan said...

I would think that a private blog would violate the spirit of Session meetings being open meetings. That's a requirement unless personnel or other confidential matters are discussed, isn't it?

Sarahlynn said...

Another potential concern that would need to be addressed is the ease of copying, pasting, and forwarding around things posted to the private blog.

Alan, fair point, but I assume business must be voted on at actual session meetings and discussion on the private blog would be akin to face-to-face conversations between session members outside of meetings.

I belong to a relatively large church where much of the work is done in committee, outside of session. Brief reports/recommendations followed by voting is all we have time for at session meetings because of the large number of committees and issues we deal with each month. A place for the interested to discuss issues in more detail might be useful.

Bob, very good point and a reasonable concern.