Seven Reasons Why Monthly Church Business Meetings Are Dying

It is almost an unspoken phenomenon in church life.

Three decades ago, over nine of ten churches with a congregational government had a monthly business meeting. Several non-congregational churches had monthly business meetings as well.

Today, less than one-third of American Protestant churches have these monthly meetings. That is an incredible decline hardly noted by many pundits.

The monthly church business meeting is dying.


  1. The meeting often attracts the most negative members in the church. It becomes their place for griping and criticizing. One elder told me his church’s monthly business meeting was “the meeting from hell.”
  2. The negative church members have pushed the positive members out of the meetings. Healthy church members have no desire to be a part of a gripe and complain session. Most of them who do attend do so to protect the pastor and the staff.
  3. The frequency of the meeting leads to micromanagement. There is typically not sufficient major business to discuss every month. So the void is filled with discussions and complaints of minutiae. One monthly church meeting lasted over an hour due to disagreements regarding the quality and cost of toilet tissue in the restrooms.
  4. This meeting has become one of the most dreaded times for many pastors. These pastors certainly do not demonstrate excitement and anticipation in most cases. Church members typically will not follow unless leaders are enthused.
  5. The Millennials abhor contentious meetings. The monthly meeting thus has become one of the ways to drive off many young adults.
  6. The meeting often allows a few naysayers to have inordinate power. Frankly, that’s why many of them attend. A church members seeking power is a church member in need of repentance.
  7. The monthly business meeting is simply not necessary. It is a waste of the precious resource of time. If there is a need for the church to tend to a major issue, special meetings can always be called.

The monthly church meeting is dying.

And few tears are being shed.

Let me hear your thoughts.

Posted on February 29, 2016

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Billie Brewer says on

    I abhor business meetings. I pastor a small, country church (which are usually known for their long, detailed, and boring monthly business meetings). A few years ago we implemented a new budgeting process, and moved our business meetings to quarterly. Since doing that, our longest business meeting has been 6 minutes. It has made my life much happier!

  • Excellent points! Business meetings are necessary evils, I suppose. My least favorite thing about ministry.

  • Comments # 1, #2 and #6 do not have to be a reality in every church. We’ve refused to allow those “Negative Nancys” and “Negative Nates” to dominate or to commandeer the opportunities to reveal ministry challenges or to revel in ministry celebrations. If the elder/leaders will set the tone, then #4 doesn’t have to be the result. As pastor, I have to possess the courage to lead according to the mantra “What does the text say?”

    I don’t censor everything the “Negative Nancys” and “Negative Nates” share because they may just expose a leadership weakness or ministry opportunity that needs addressing. But I don’t give them a format where they can selfishly manipulate the direction of the church’s purpose – “to make disciples.” If such control agents are not allowed to dominate the meetings, then they often cease attending when their fleshly agendas are not considered by the elders/leaders and church body.

  • Dr. Rainer,
    In the last 5 years that I have been pastor of LBC, we have twice addressed this issue with no success (as of yet!!) to make the switch.

    We continue to have monthly business meetings, which is now in its 61st year of “how things are done”.
    However, this meeting that once was 25 strong 5 years ago, is now struggling to see 15 who participate. This is evident to all, and has raised some concern by a few.

    To me, the obvious is disheartening, but reality. Micromanagement, lack of trust, lack of excitement, and worse yet…lack of authority in those appointed to serve the congregation has become the norm.
    Though our meetings are respectful in tone, and character, the underlying, silent “health concerns ” still abound.
    Pray for us.

  • Spot on Thom!

  • Given these reasons that you’ve shared, do you think that it’s healthier for a church to transitional out of the traditional business meeting format? And what might be a better way to lead through that while still allowing members to feel that they are heard?

  • Bro. Leroy Rearden says on

    I must be blessed for the last 18 years we have had monthly business meetings they are short and to the point and very Christ like with love shown for each other and the business to care for our Lord’s work. I always bring a short message before each meeting.
    For us monthly meetings in the country works. I know nothing about big city churches.

    • We have quarterly meetings that are normally quick and thoughtful–rarely lasting more than fifteen to twenty minutes. The “business” of the church is carried on through committees and staff members-mostly we trust each other. A church is a family and should never have “ugly” meetings. You should never say anything to a church member you wouldn’t say to your mother!

    • Amen brother! I echo your response.

  • I wholeheartedly agree with your points here. I have served in a few churches that held these monthly meetings. The worst was when I pastored a church. There was a 20-minute discussion over what to do since Sunday School attendance pins were no longer available. Business meeting night was a great opportunity for those who did not normally attend on Wednesday nights to let their voice be heard. I am glad churches are seeing the light on this subject, and I’m praying more will.

  • I have reading this blog for awhile and I realize really that the majority of the problems that are identified and addressed here are really the symptoms of one main problem that the church refuses to address or will never admit, that is the fact that the church worldwide across all denominations are dying spiritually and as a result dwindling in numbers and not making any spiritual impact on the culture and society.

    Take this article for example. I would suspect that church committee meetings 50 or even 30 years ago would be dominated by well-intentioned members who genuinely like to help improve the church. The fact that the most of them are the most negative members today is not something has changed in the nature of committees and committee meetings, but rather the general spiritual state of the church has declined resulting in a low level of spiritual life of the members. Just like people get the government they deserve, a church gets the committee it deserves.

    I have enjoyed coming to websites like this and I find it useful, but spiritual problems ultimately cannot be solved by church growth solutions. And until Christian leaders like yourself admit that low spirituality and lack of life transformations are happening all across of the world resulting from a lack of the presence of God, then the problem will remain.

    • If you genuinely want ideas, as seemed to be the case long ago, then have a meeting periodically and solicit them. However today, it seems like ideas are neither wanted nor appreciated. I think a lot of the people who are accused of being the most negative are the ones who had their ideas shot down but are trying to get the committee to consider anything they offer or even tell them why their idea was so bad.

    • bill campbell says on

      i have been involved in monthly church “business meetings for more than 35 years . i have experienced both routine financial reports as well as deep doctrinal discussions and individual member disputes i do support the need for continued meetings whether monthly or quarterly does not concern me what does is a quote from an old elder that has stuck with me through life ” the church is the highest tribunal on earth” the Gospel steps advice given by the scriptures for members who have conflicts between one another to “take it to the church ” leads me to believe that the business meeting should inspire the church members to look to no other authority other than the majority consensuses and advice of the body of the church. it is the pastor who sets the tone of these meetings which can be a very useful tool in teaching especially young converts to rely on the church system of government rather than the ” law of the unjust ” to settle their problems. i am afraid if we begin to abandon this time proven method of church discipline that we risk losing the importance of church in all aspects of our every day life. many churches teach that your personal life and your church life are separate we should strive to teach that there is no other life other than being a member of that one body in particular. . church business meetings can be a great vehicle for teaching if governed by a spiritual pastor .

    • Jim, tell us more about this “lack of the presence of God” that you mention. Is God any less present today? Is this a result of, as you say; God’s followers are not as spiritually transformed? How are you measuring all this? Are you assuming a cause? Seems pretty subjective.
      I think God is as active in the world as ever. One might also say that since there is less social pressure to conform to a set of “fundamentals” God’s children are free to express the Spirits genuine activity in their lives in equally genuine, albeit non-traditional ways. It is also true that we are also more socially free to rebel from the institution that held so many in tight dogmatic boxes. This surely takes both positive and negative forms. IMHO the country and the world is NOT going to hell in a handbasket. We are slowly seeking universal human rights and dignity and creating the Kingdom of God here on earth. The Trumps of this world are just loud because they feel threatened.

  • Our church has always had meetings as needed rather than monthly. As a result only business is discussed. To date our longest business meeting lasted only seven minutes.

  • Our has always had meetings as needed rather than monthly. As a result on business is discussed. To date our longest business meeting lasted only seven minutes.

  • Nathan Rose says on

    Thom, do you have any suggestions for leading a church away from monthly business meetings?

    • Nathan –

      The answer to major change in a church is not simple. If you can wait until June, I have a new book coming out on leading your church to change. I think it will answer your question in detail. If you remind me then, I will send you a complimentary signed copy.

      • Nathan Rose says on

        Wow! Absolutely. Thanks so much!

      • Todd Goulet says on

        Nathan – we actually rebranded our monthly business meeting and call it our “Church Council”. We use this time for ministry leads to provide an update/report/questions. We have a specific agenda for the ministry leads in each area of the Church to provide a report if available. If there are no agenda items, we don’t meet. Toilet paper discussions do no happen, those go to the trustees.

      • T. Michael Owens says on

        We, as a family, made the decision to do quarterly “Family Meetings” to discuss the State of The Church” in which we covered every aspect of the Ministry (business) of the Church, evaluating ourselves in every function within the Ministry ( from giving to witnessing to growth.

        The concept of being a Family Meeting has eliminated the negativity and power struggles.

      • Definitely interested in this book. Will you post or email when available?

      • Eli de Leon says on

        I am definitely interested to have one of this book Pastor Thom. Our church need this book today.

    • David Bronson says on

      Haha, you beat me to it, man.

    • Nathan, I did this early on at my new church. I thought it would be tricky because in truth the monthly meeting is enshrined into our constitution. I gave the church a reason for change-namely, the meeting hindered spiritual momentum because we held it in liu of Sunday night service. The only question that was raised was 1) what if something comes up. Answer was obvious; we have a special called meeting. One lady said something about the constitution but no one listened to her or responded. It was a unanimous vote to “try out quarterly meetings”. We have been trying them out for 15 months. No one has complained.

    • W. Hamil says on

      Also makes easier for clergy to take over and keep congregation in the dark.

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