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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor
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We Don't Have Voters Meetings Anymore
Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A.
- Does your church still have regular Voters Assembly meetings? Are they productive? Or do
they tend to be an exercise of futility causing untold frustration?
- Several years ago, Rev. Erwin Kostizen, Vice-President of the Michigan District-LCMS,
shared with me a very helpful balloting procedure which his congregation, Messiah Lutheran
Church, Clio, Michigan, used to replace the "typical" congregational voters
assembly as held in many LCMS congregations.
- After presenting this procedure to the leaders of my congregation, we discussed the
possible benefits of a balloting procedure, some of which are listed below.
- 1) It makes it easier for all members of the congregation to vote;
- 2) It gives a greater participation in the voting process;
- 3) It prevents decisions made my a minority of the congregation who happen to be a
majority at a voters meeting;
- 4) It gives members four weeks to consider the proposals and to share their concerns
(express their "voice") with the congregational leaders or at a Congregational
- 5) It prevents sudden, unplanned or unexpected decisions from occurring at a
- 6) It eliminates the "legalism" of who's a voter and who's not;
- 7) It helps eliminate the stumbling over Roberts Rules Of Order which can occur
in Voters Meetings, especially in an antagonistic environment;
- 8) It helps to keep the congregation as a whole out of the day-to-day business of
micro-managing the church,
- 9) It enhances the roles of the Church Council/Board of Directors and allows leaders in
the respective boards to lead with greater freedom; and
- 10) In general, it appears to foster a greater sense of unity in the congregation by
avoiding the uncomfortably inappropriate outbursts which can happen in Voters meetings.
- Our Two-Year Trial Implementation
- Agreeing that it would be a good thing, our leaders modified the model presented to us
and presented it to the congregation for an initial two-year trial period. The
congregation overwhelmingly accepted the two-year trial period.
- Our experience in this two years trial period was positive. In fact, it has been a
remarkable success and has been widely accepted by our congregation. The congregation has
since incorporated this permanent change to the current Constitution and Bylaws with
continued success. Perhaps you might consider this for your congregation, too. This
concept can easily be adopted to suit the voting membership and procedural requirements in
- A friendly word of advice: Don't have a "heavy" item for the very first
use of this procedure. Select a "lighter" issue to avoid arousal of normal
fear of change.
- An Important Consideration
- Perhaps the most important aspect of any decision making process is to allow for the
"voice" of others to be expressed and considered. Whether affirming or
dissenting, the appropriate enabling people's voice to be heard is a key aspect of
encouraging congregational health.
- Squelching or silencing other's voice often increases the potential for conflict. The
"Congregational Forum" and the four week period between the time of introduction
to the time of adoption are intended to address this issue. Of course, it's not just
having the procedures in place that makes the voice heard. It's the attitude of the
leaders and the manner in which these leaders address the (sometimes inappropriate) input
of others that is most critical.
- Don't let the voice go unattended to!
- Don't be afraid to hear from all sides of the debate. Indeed, more than one
pastor has been surprised by a barrage of apparent negative responses followed by a
unanimous positive vote by those same individuals! God does work in mysterious
ways...and isn't that the ministry?!
- Thomas F. Fischer
A. Voting Membership: Any communicant
member of this congregation who has attained eighteen (18) years of age shall have the
right to vote in the meetings of the Voters Assembly unless they are currently under
B. Voters Meetings: Voters Meetings, in their present form, be
replaced by a new balloting procedure. The Congregational Forum will serve as an
opportunity for congregational members to discuss the ballot item(s) at hand at a
Congregational Forum to be held as part of a Church Council meeting. The Church
Council will present the ballot item(s) at this meeting for discussion and will consider
any additional input for the ballot in preparation of the final ballot.
C. Ballot Procedure:
- The sample ballot will be distributed in all congregational mail boxes at least two
Sundays prior to the regular Council Meeting and Congregational Forum in which it will be
- The sample ballot will be presented and discussed with those present at the
- Any proposed changes will be considered by the Council. The approved changes will be
printed and distributed in the mailboxes the next Sunday.
- The final ballot will be distributed by the Elders on the second Sunday after the
Every communicant member present desiring a ballot will be given a ballot based on
the current membership roster. Ballots must be immediately returned at the time the vote
is taken. No absentee or late ballots will be accepted.
- Ballots will be counted by the Trustees who will report the results to the Pastor, the
Secretary, and the Congregational Chairman. Results will be printed in the next
Sundays bulletin and entered in the minutes of the next regular Council meeting.
- Completed ballots will be placed in the custody of the Church Council. Without Council
action, ballots will automatically be destroyed after a period of thirty (30) days.
D. If necessary, a special voters meeting may be called as described in the
Index Articles 1-49
Articles 50-99 Articles
100-149 Articles 150-199
200-249 Articles 250-299
Articles 300-349 Articles
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was revised on:
Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:02:49 PM