transition talk

by Emilia Deem

On Sunday, August 22, after a lovely brunch from Wes and Crew, we gathered as a congregation to discuss our congregation’s history and how to find our way to our future. Our transition team and Pastor Becky have been working together to help the congregation heal, and grow as we take our next steps towards life together in Christ. As a congregation, we brainstormed in small groups (6-8 people at a table), and then a delegate from each small group shared with the group as a whole. 

Our first topic of discussion was what “bad behaviors” have we witnessed in meetings (not necessarily at church). The following list was compiled:

Disrespectful Behaviors

  • Not respectful of time
  • Not prepared
  • Showing boredom (body language)
  • Doesn’t contribute
  • Sleeping
  • Distracted with technology
  • Mic hog, used incorrectly
  • Not taking action
  • Not showing up
  • Comparing negatively
  • Destructive criticism

Bad Leadership

  • Reading a handout
  • No control of moderator 
  • Micromanagement

We then went on to discuss what things are helpful during a meeting. Pastor Becky reminded attendees that no one will get their way on every topic of discussion, so we need a plan to work with each other when differences occur. The group listed the following as items that help make productive meetings, even when working on sensitive topics:


  • Opening prayer to set the mood
  • Gathering in Christ’s name to do Christ’s work
  • Recognize goals
  • Mission statement


  • Establish norms/rules
  • Sticking to “Robert’s Rules of Order”
  • People should feel safe to say what they feel
  • Organized
  • Time limitations

Individual ownership

  • Show respect/be open minded
  • Stay on task
  • Come prepared
  • Get mentally prepared
  • Be on time, stay for entire time

The conversation then moved to how do we ensure we see less of the negative and more of the positive things that we discussed? We discussed some basic ground rules that everyone in the room could agree upon.

Ground Rules: 

  1. Most Generous Assumption – for example, if you greet someone and they don’t respond, don’t assume they hate you, assume they are deep in thought, distracted, dealing with deep personal issues you aren’t aware of, or simply didn’t hear you.
  2. Respect:
    1. “I listen fully”
    2. Non-judgemental
    3. Think before speaking, stay “in check”
    4. Check body language
    5. Use technology respectfully
    6. Breaks (for group and yourself)
    7. It’s OK to disagree
  3. Preparation
  4. Manage conversation
  5. Move in the same direction, “Mission Statement”/focus
  6. Stay committed and connected
  7. Share workload
  8. Communicate Effectively

In a nutshell, learning how to have productive and respective conversations will benefit every individual in the church, and the church as a whole.

Communication Issues 

  • Non-stop gab
  • Getting off topic
  • Interrupting
  • Personal agendas
  • Speaking without understanding
  • Distracting
  • Domination
  • Not listening
  • Side conversations
  • Whining
  • Not valuing opinions

Combative Behaviors

  • Bad sportsmanship
  • “Excluding” behavior
  • Making threats (veiled or otherwise)
  • Arguing 
  • Physical fighting
  • Stomping out/tantrum 
  • Not following rules
  • Eye rolling
  • Condescending
  • Bullying 
  • Nay-saying
  • Unwilling to listen to new ideas
  • Name calling
  • Bad language
  • Don’t shoot the messenger


  • Strong leaders
  • Manage expectations
  • Lead by example
  • Update predecessors


  • Take breaks
  • Flexible format of meetings
  • HUMOR!
  • Refreshments


  • Don’t dominate the conversation
  • Be sensitive
  • Keep behavior “in check”
  • Redirect politely
  • Balance positive/negative statements
  • Put yourself in others’ shoes (empathy)
  • Don’t take things personally