Here's some advice for those looking for ways to improve session meetings, based on the one I attended last night:
1. Begin with a devotion.
2. Lead the elders in reading a selected passage of scripture.
3. Divide the session into small groups and walk the groups through the process of applying the practice of lectio divina to the passage.
4. Spend a few minutes in silence to allow time for prayer and reflection.
5. Open the business portion of the meeting with prayer.
6. Use a consent agenda for items that don't need explanation or debate.
7. Spend as much time highlighting mission and outreach efforts as on program and administration issues.
8. Invite questions and discussion on issues before the session.
9. Wrap it all up in 45 minutes with the reminder of how blessed the church is despite the challenges the economy is presenting and the struggle to continue the church's "dollar for dollar" policy that requires the budget to provide the same amount of money for mission and outreach as for administration and internal programming.
10. Conclude with a prayer ring.
The result? I left feeling spritually renewed and energized rather than frustrated and anxious as I have in the past at other churches. What a blessing!