Sitting in Council: First Sundays

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hawkgrrrl
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Sitting in Council: First Sundays

Post by hawkgrrrl » 10 Jan 2018, 19:06

I did a brief post on BCC about the new RS / PH curriculum and our first week "sitting in a circle, in council." What did the rest of you think of it? Here's the post: https://bycommonconsent.com/2018/01/10/ ... t-sundays/

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SilentDawning
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Re: Sitting in Council: First Sundays

Post by SilentDawning » 11 Jan 2018, 07:43

I read through the article.

To me, the new first Sunday sitting in council is a good idea. But it's no different than what I did when I was HPGL 5 or 6 years ago. I used that Sunday to make plans for the quorum, make assignments, to have reviews of progress etcetera. It's nothing new -- just good leadership to seek input and create plans consultatively with your group,holding them "accountable" to the extent possible in a volunteer context. The odd die hard would carp about not following the manual but I ignored it in favor of inclusion, empowerment, and the motivation that comes from getting people's input before you execute a plan.

Anyone who knows how to run a business meeting, focus discussion, and then distill the ideas into an action plan, make assignments and follow-up, would be able to do this kind of first Sunday meeting. So really, we are just allowing time in church for action planning.

For me, the effectiveness of the meeting really depends on the skills of the leaders.

The idea of everyone being in a circle is a matter of style really. You can achieve the objective of sitting in council and making action plans a whole number of different ways -- paper and pen suggestions for people who don't want to talk, small group brainstorming with the top 2 or 3 ideas bubbling to the general group, simple facilitation by a leader or member of the group as everyone sits in lecture/classroom formation with suggestions written on the board etctera.

There are times when we treat new church policies as grandiose exercises in revelation and operational change, when really, it's just common sense. I remember the youth curriculum a few years ago -- no more manuals, a reliance on technology, and interactivity. And everyone in our Ward went on about how technological and inspired the church was. Little did they know that full time educators like myself had been doing that for 10 years and were thankful the church had finally caught up.

But I don't want to be negative about a positive change. I hope leaders' skills are sufficient to make it a positive experience with impact. Any time you push decision-making and control to the local units is a good idea in my view, particularly when dealing with diverse needs and decisions that can't be centralized effectively.

Here is an article on how it could work in a High Priest Group...what they are suggesting with this 1st Sunday thing is participative leadership, in my view, and this article describes how to do it. It focuses on HP but could apply to just about any adult group,

https://leadinglds.org/5-steps-to-engag ... eadership/
Last edited by SilentDawning on 11 Jan 2018, 08:06, edited 1 time in total.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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SilentDawning
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Re: Sitting in Council: First Sundays

Post by SilentDawning » 11 Jan 2018, 08:03

A reader made this comment about the article above, which I just noticed -- that it helps people learn to do first Sunday meetings...
What Does Participative Leadership Look Like?

An example of a completely participative leadership looks like this: In my first stint in high priest group leadership, we’d had limited success in the quorum taking ownership for specific projects; we had a large number of initiatives, most of which did not engage the quorum.

In an effort to galvanize the group through participative leadership, our high priest group leadership dedicated a Sunday meeting to expressing our faith in the collective talent and wisdom of our group. We also affirmed our personal commitment to allowing them considerable autonomy in how they carry out the work of the group. At this meeting, we shared a four-step process of participation in which they would craft our quarterly, high priest group plan.

The first step was brainstorming initiatives and ideas. Our leadership would distribute a piece of paper divided into four sections, each with one of the four purposes of the church at the top. We would invite the high priest group to brainstorm initiatives they felt our group should be pursuing over the next quarter to achieve these purposes. We also encouraged them to brainstorm ideas they felt met the existing needs of our ward. The high priest group leadership would also contribute to the brainstorming. This way, both leaders and members had a voice.

Second, the ideas would be consolidated into an anonymized checklist. Anonymity was meant to prevent quorum members from giving undue attention to initiatives suggested by the leadership. On a subsequent Sunday, quorum members would check off the initiatives they felt they had the time and interest to support, along with their name. The high priest leadership also added items such as “Willing to lead [insert suggested project here]”. This was to expose the leadership passion in the group for initiatives that needed leaders.

We also shared our expectation that if group members felt they could not devote time to this type of quorum work, they could keep the sheet without turning it in. This would be without any negative judgements from the leadership; we respected their time and assessment of their personal circumstances. This element of the process was significant as it indicated the group members on whom we could rely, it also showed respect for the entire quorum’s volunteer status. As Max Dupree, the former CEO of Herman Miller said, the best leaders abide by the principle “When you ask someone to do something, make sure you wait for an answer”.

Third, the leadership would aggregate the checklist, and form project teams for those initiatives that had clear support from the group. Individuals who volunteered to lead certain projects were invited to be project leaders. When no leader had volunteers, we would invite specific quorum members to lead the project. Although we didn’t share this in our planning meeting, if neither of these avenues produced leaders, the high priest group leadership assumed leadership of the minimal, remaining, leaderless project(s). Leaders were responsible for providing us with dates of key milestones for larger projects.

Fourth, follow-up would happen in the form of status reports on progress in our first Sunday high priest group meeting. Status reports could occur during the opening of the any high priest group meeting if members felt they had something they wanted to report.

The initiatives and milestone dates that emerged from this process represented the quorum’s “operational plan” for the next quarter. At this point, project teams would be free to execute the projects with considerable autonomy.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

nibbler
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Re: Sitting in Council: First Sundays

Post by nibbler » 11 Jan 2018, 08:30

We've only had one go of it, it's still too early to tell.

Q: Did your group sit in a circle? Did you like it or not? How many are there in your RS/EQ/HPG?

A: We've been sitting in circles for several years now. We can't really sit in rows looking at the back of people's bald spots because in my ward the PH quorum gets the short end of the stick when it comes to meeting places. Once the teacher council thing got off the ground we got relegated to meeting in the hallway half the time. That's a fun experience. Primary kids all holding hands as they walk through the middle of the meeting on their way to the bathroom. The sister doing laps around the building that stops every time around to gawk at us all taking turns reading from the manual.

I prefer the circle. Now if there was something a little more interesting to circle around.

-----

Q: What topic did you discuss for this first one?

A: I was visiting a different ward. Where I visited we... took turns reading from First-Sunday Council Meetings. The person that read a sentence was also afforded the opportunity to state in their own words what they understood from what they had just read. IOW your typical PH meeting.

In my home ward they did the how we can increase unity thing.

-----

Q: Did people come away with action items? Was it a group goal? Do you think it’s going to happen??

A: Where I attended? No. Just mass confusion about what was going to happen during the 3rd hour in 2018. I suspect that ward will get better with time as they build experience.

In my home ward (I get an email). Tell the men working in primary what we read during PH so they can presumably read it themselves... and state in their own words what they understood from what they read. Will it happen? Yes. I got the email and I didn't attend. They're already doing it.

-----

Issues:
1) We didn't tell anyone what the topic was going to be for the Sunday council. Can't come prepared if you don't know the topic... but who am I kidding, who prepares for church by looking at things ahead of time other than the person giving the lesson and the goody-goodys. ;)

2) The council is still a leader driven thing. The BP and the EQP are probably dopey enough to think that since the leaders set the 4th Sunday topic to the "Sabbath" for 6 months ( :roll: ) that it must be important, so we should discuss it in our first Sunday councils too. You think I'm kidding.

That's the issue though. Member Mousey doesn't ever get to talk about things that interest them, they are at the mercy of the manuals and what one or two people in the ward decide. Not only should members of the council know the topic beforehand, they should have input on what the council will be about... which is something that could be brought up during council.

3) I worry that these councils will come with predetermined answers.

I attended a council two years ago with parents of youth. The topic was how to help our youth remain active in church after they are no longer forced to attend when they turn 18. I thought that the youth leaders may ask the parents how to better reach their children but it turned into a "council" where the leaders told the parents what they need to do better (in case you're wondering it was forcing kids to do all the boring stuff that they hate the most about church).

I attended another Sabbath council during a 5th Sunday discussion at the onset of the keep the Sabbath onslaught. It was billed as a meeting to solicit advice and input from the group, I came prepared to share, but it was a one-way lecture telling us that there isn't a list of dos and don'ts... but here's the list of dos and don'ts.

So, council leaders... don't come with a predetermined goal that you attempt to steer everyone towards accepting. LISTEN to people. Let the people steer the conversation and the goal.

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