The Church Representation Rules 2020 do not specify a minimum number of times a PCC must meet during a 12-month period. The PCC must simply meet sufficient times to transact the business it needs to do.
Section 8 of Church Representation Rules 2020 clarifies certain matters around email and postal correspondence with PCC members. It is worth familiarising yourself with this topic.
The way in which PCCs are run should be influenced by commonly understood principles concerning business meetings of organisations. Naturally, there will be a Chairperson (normally the Incumbent) but a Lay Vice Chair will also be elected at the APCM. The PCC secretary has the important job of taking notes and producing minutes of each meeting. Minutes are generally 'public' but when the PCC discusses confidential matters, for obvious reasons, details cannot be included in the publicly available minutes. Where this is the case, the minutes should indicate that the notes of an item have been removed.
Pause for thought
The Rt Revd Mark Tanner is the Bishop of Chester and the Church Times published an article by him on “How to run the perfect PCC”[g]. The following points include much of the article…
Keeping God at the Centre
Theologically, when Christians meet to do business together, this is just as much worship as when they gather in church on a Sunday.
- Stop to pray whenever things get tense or difficult.
- Be sure to begin with prayer for guidance and include a short and appropriate Bible study. Depending on the church tradition, a short service of Holy Communion might be an appropriate way to begin.
- End each meeting by offering thanks and praise to God for all the good things he is doing.
The PCC exists for the parish, not just for the church. Keep an outward focus and work especially hard at this when there are things on the agenda which look inwards at the church. Remember that the Church is primarily a ‘movement’, not an ‘institution’. Our diocesan ‘Direction of Travel’ which focuses upon discipleship, vocation and evangelism (DVE) should be at the heart of each and every matter being addresses by the PCC. The implementation of a prayerfully constructed Mission Action Plan (MAP) is still recommended as a way of focussing energy and available resources to those aspects of parish life which will grow the kingdom.
Time for Listening
Listen to each other, the church, the parish, and to God. This might involve small-group work, and it often involves introducing a topic for consultation several months before a decision is needed, so that people can think and talk about it. Work particularly hard to make sure that a pressured agenda doesn’t silence those who are naturally quiet, and be prepared to compensate for the more assertive and talkative people in the group.
This can be hard to get right, but it is important if you want to build a positive culture. Some people feel that they can speak or act in a PCC meeting in ways that they would never dream of elsewhere. This is not acceptable, but changing it takes strong leadership, and generous support for that leadership. One way to start this is to spend a little time with the PCC agreeing the approaches that matter — such as the importance of listening, respect, prayerfulness, having a missional focus, and taking responsibility — if you are going to do your task well. An Away Day where the PCC spend, say, a Saturday together with an external facilitator exploring the group dynamics of their corporate life or perhaps looking in depth at an important issue is often a way to take internal relationships to a deeper and more meaningful level.
The PCC needs a membership which is representative of the people it is trying to serve. When elections approach. Think together about what kind of roles need representing, and encourage people to stand. If you need someone who understands young people, or the needs of families seeking baptism, let the congregation know that.
It is important that you do what you say you are going to do — and expect others to, as well. Minutes need clear, time-based action points with the names of those who say they are going to do them. During ‘Matters arising’, people can then be asked about what has happened since the last meeting.
From time-to-time it might be a good idea for the PCC to offer an opportunity for self-evaluation. Feedback recorded against a questionnaire similar to the following (developed by CPAS and used here with permission) could enhance both the performance of the PCC and the experience of its members.
PCC meeting evaluation
|1. The purpose of the PCC is clear.||1||2||3||4||5|
|2. The relationship of the PCC to other leadership structures within the church makes sense.||1||2||3||4||5|
|3. We always have an agenda.||1||2||3||4||5|
|4. The agenda arrives in time to be helpful.||1||2||3||4||5|
|5. Our agenda helps with the flow of the meeting, indicates how much time we have for each topic.||1||2||3||4||5|
|6. The venue works well for our meetings.||1||2||3||4||5|
|7. We start on time.||1||2||3||4||5|
|8. We end on time.||1||2||3||4||5|
|9. There is variety in the pace of the meeting.||1||2||3||4||5|
|10. All members participate.||1||2||3||4||5|
|11. It is clear why we are discussing a particular item.||1||2||3||4||5|
|12. We have a code of conduct / ground rules for our meetings.||1||2||3||4||5|
|13. We stay focused on the topic of our discussions.||1||2||3||4||5|
|14. We handle conflict well.||1||2||3||4||5|
|15. Prayer is a helpful part of our meetings.||1||2||3||4||5|
|16. We are courteous / civil in our deliberations.||1||2||3||4||5|
|17. We follow up on our ‘action / to do’ lists.||1||2||3||4||5|
|18. The people we need in order to make effective decisions are present at the meetings.||1||2||3||4||5|
|19. I enjoy being part of the PCC.||1||2||3||4||5|
|20. We reflect our values in the way we meet.||1||2||3||4||5|
|21. What are the strengths of our meetings?|
|22. What do you see as the most significant opportunities to improve our meetings?|
|23. Any other comments?|