The Enliven! Blog

Helping Harness Human Capacity

Can A Church’s Annual Report Dance?

February is when many churches have their “annual meetings”. These meetings include the passing of the annual budget and the receiving of reports from the various groups in the church. Often these reports are captured in the “annual report book”, which includes write ups by pastoral staff and various committees and groups, such as deacons, missions, Christian education, worship. Also often included represented are organizations the church supports financially, such as schools and colleges, mission organizations, relief organizations, local missions.

I confess that I have to make it a discipline to read through all these reports, (unless I happen to be the author of one of them!) Perhaps others feel the same. Some of these reports have a similar tone or content each year. It can be a challenge to give the respect due this important annual story of the church.

A good question to use to stimulate creativity in addressing any problem is “does it have to be that way?” Another smart question is “What if..”. Applying those questions to the situation where the significant work of the church gets short shrift from members, one could ask “Does the annual reporting process have to be dull, even plodding?” And… “What if a way were found to bring the reporting to life, to make it dance?”

Let me suggest one way to bring life to reporting. I have often heard the phrase “worship and work are one”. That can mean that our work should be one aspect of how we serve God. I think, in the case of the annual reporting process, there could be an even closer connection. What if one were to treat the Annual Report Book as a prompt to prayer and praise? What if the reporting process was to take the form of an actual worship service? Each report would be represented by a person. Each person would bring a symbol representing their report to the front of the church. The pastor might bring a Bible; the Sunday School class which is focusing on peace justice might bring a dove; the deacons might bring a shawl; the relief agency representative might bring a bag of grain, etc.

After the person has brought their symbol to the front, they would be allowed a tweet length verbal statement (or perhaps double tweet for the pastor!). After each report there would be an appropriate prayer and or worship song. The prayer might be formulaic, such as a call and response between worship leader and congregation, e.g. “Lord, for the gift of (name the item being reported on), we give you thanks and praise.” The songs could be chosen to reflect the activity described in the report. Scriptures could also be woven into the service, as well as visuals.

Various additional enrichments to the service could be conceived. Some “lesser known” parts of the work of the church might deserve the opportunity for a story to be told. I am reminded of a mysterious snippet of a story I heard one year from the trustees, who noticed that a certain task at the church was completed without being assigned. And certainly this type of worship service celebrating the work of God through the ministries of the church would go well with a potluck.

The annual meeting and report are important parts of the work of the church. Perhaps the suggestion above would be one way, and surely there are others, to make the annual report dance!

1 Comment »

  1. Dan Nighswander said,

    February 8, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

    These are good suggestions, and timely. Thanks for sharing your creativity and passion.

Leave a Comment