Changing Presbyterian Light Bulbs

You’ve probably heard the old one about how many Presbyterians it takes to change a light-bulb – ‘Change! we don’t change anything.’ Well I’m about to put that theory to the test. I and a couple of other guys have been asked to look at the time and the format of our PCQ state assembly and bring any recommendations for how it could be improved.

I have two immediate goals which I’m keen to pursue. The first is to change the time so that more lay elders are able to be involved. Currently, because the assembly meets during the day on Monday-Thursday, it pretty much rules out younger working elders and means all the lay members are older and retired. It’s fine to have the wisdom of grey hair, but it would be fantastic to have the gifts and enthusiasm of the new generation of younger elders that is springing up around the denomination. My initial thought is that a Thursday night-Saturday night might work. That would require only one day off work, or people could miss the Friday daytime session. Obviously this will also require some streamlining of the current program, but I think that is possible.

The second goal I have is for the assembly to actually enthuse people and promote a vision for ministry around the state. This is difficult in the Presbyterian system. There’s no archbishop to make a stirring speech and lead the agenda. We do however have a body called the commission of assembly that has a limited leadership and supervision role l between the annual general assembly, and might be able to foster a sense of direction and vision.

Anyway, the task will not only be to come up with concrete workable ideas, but to sell them. Believe it or not, I have a sense that the denomination is ready for some well thought through changes.

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3 Responses to Changing Presbyterian Light Bulbs

  1. Anthony Douglas says:

    I know you hardly want to mimic synod down here, but for what it’s worth:

    We have five days, Mon Tue Wed/ Mon Tue. Each day 3.15-9 or so, with a break for dinner. The first part of each day is comprised of stuff that is non-business or non-interesting, to varying degrees – so, a Bible study, a song, some of the minutiae that come with meeting rules and formats, and so on. We meet right in the middle of the city.

    You see a whole bunch of high-powered laity knocking off early from work, so they can dribble in at 4, or 4.30, and certainly make it to the evenings. With draft timings for various discussions, too, they can pick anything they particularly want to get to. Seems to work fairly well for enabling lay attendance.

    Obviously, that works for a largely urban diocesan meeting, and a whole of state thing is different. Is there a way of doing lots of business at night, and having something else useful on during the days, for out of towners who will be twiddling thumbs – committee brainstorming, that kind of thing?

    Best of luck…!

    • apricho says:

      Thanks for the info Anthony. I have been aware that Sydney Synod is mainly conducted in the evenings, and this originally did inspire some of my thinking about what we are doing. As you rightly guess, the challenge for us is that people come in from all over the state, so you need to find away of both keeping the meetings out of work time AND minimising the overall length. Hence my thoughts about using Saturday.

  2. Nathan says:

    I think workshops on practical stuff with people who are good at practical stuff might be worthwhile (ie Public Relations and Marketing, making coffee, etc).

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