Agendas – a road map for discernment

Why we have agendas for meetings

Church business agendas are not like a grocery shopping list. I use shopping lists to remind me what I need to buy. I rush up and down the aisles ticking them off. Usually I don’t notice other people unless it is to ask them to move out my way so that I can keep moving along with my jobs. Of course I do this in the nicest possible way. Thankfully church meetings never have this character.

Agendas are not a job list to get through as fast as humanly possible. Church meeting agendas are road maps to the destination called discernment. When followed they will lead us to the point where we can celebrate that we have discerned the will of Christ for his church in this time and place.

The road map to discernment will hold before us the final destination. It will take us to the resources that we need to get there. It will set out a sure and trusted route to take us along the right path.

What should be in an agenda?

Agendas will be full of spaces where prayer, Scripture, the people around us and the Holy Spirit can influence us.

Build your agenda with an eye to how you can grow the quality of your community life, hear one another well and respond well to what you hear.

Therefore agendas focus on process as much as task.

How to know when your agenda has worked.

Like all good road trips there is one question that is always asked. Are we there yet?

There are many signs that we have arrived at the point of faithful discernment. These are the wins that come from using consensus based discernment.

  • experiencing God’s presence with us in the meeting
  • feeling a sense of community among the group
  • achievement / movement on an issue and looking forward
  • growth as disciples of Jesus Christ.
  • confidence that we have arrived at the right place
  • energy and commitment towards doing what has been decided
  • spiritual renewal

The wins from an agenda that is focused on consensus building are in the quality of the fellowship that it creates among the participants, and their ability to implement the decisions that they have reached. Consensus based discernment helps us to be the church as God intends us to be.

Tell us what you include in your planning for in your church meetings. How do you know that you have nailed it?

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Author: Terence

I am a Minister of the Uniting Church in Australia. My current ministries focus on consultancy and teaching about consensus based decision-making, mediation, governance training and professional supervision for Ministers. I am co-author of the book "The Church Guide For Making Decisions Together". I live on the beautiful Far South Coast of NSW from where I undertake ministry across the globe. Contact me at

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