A CMD Day for Stipendiary Clergy (19th October 2009)
It has to be admitted that I attended this day at St John’s Greenock reluctantly, and only through the gentle cajoling of Anne Tomlinson! After all, what would a busy clergyperson whose diary is backed up by a plethora of meetings, want to go to another meeting to talk about.... meetings!
I have to say that I was more than pleasantly surprised, and indeed stimulated and encouraged by what was on offer! Some really helpful suggestions, tips, and plenty of affirmation was on offer to clergy who probably considered themselves fairly expert in running meetings effectively anyway!
In Alison Clark, from the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles, we had a tremendous facilitator, and I would hope that the Diocese uses her skills more often in the future. She pulled the group together expertly, and created an atmosphere where people were open to new ways of thinking, and felt secure enough to share in a deep, honest and constructive manner. It was wonderful to share some important and stimulating material with brother and sister clergy, pool our experience, and express our frustrations and successes.
We covered areas such as preparation, setting ground rules, and the theory and practice in the art of chairing. We looked in depth at the handling of tension and conflict, and explored tools and techniques in that area as well as understanding the “double agenda”. Traps that we can constantly fall into are the inappropriate use of “matters arising and AOCB! Meetings have a tendency to run out of control if we aren’t firm in handling these two items in any agenda.
There is certainly an art of keeping time, affirming contributions, guiding the discussion and the decision making process, and plenty of practical tips were shared and offered. We even looked at the bad practice of simply having meetings for the sake of having a meeting! Time was spent on our listening skills as well as our ability of including everyone in discussions and dealing with individuals, often bullies really, who constantly hog the agenda to themselves or have a tendency to interrupt when someone needs the space to say something which is important to them.
Servant leadership was explored as an option, having the capacity to display ministerial leadership as founded on Christ-like servanthood, enabling the skills of all.
This was my first CMD (Continuing Ministerial Development) event, and it certainly encouraged me to attend others in the future. I came away feeling affirmed, my head swimming with new insights, reminded of my need to listen more effectively, and becoming more aware of the individual in a Vestry situation!
Will my meetings be run more effectively in future? Probably, but if nothing else, they will be run more sensitively!