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Chapter 13:
Planning and Conducting a Public Meeting

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Chapter 12 Table of Contents
Picking a Time
Making a Reservation
Publicizing Your Meeting
Giving Directions
Making Name Badges
Planning and Conducting Registration
Collecting information from application forms
Creating an Agenda
Arranging Seating
Following Your Agenda

You have been appointed by the church board to conduct a planning session for a series of community Bible studies to be held during the coming year. This chapter will walk you through the various steps you will need to take to make this a successful meeting. Some of the specifics are real and others are fictional. For example there really is a Hoss's Steak and Seafood House and the food really is reasonable and delicious.

The sample meeting discussed in this chapter will be fairly small, low key, and low budget. However, someday, you may be planning and conducting a regional conference of several hundred participants. Learn on a small meeting and then you'll be better prepared for a larger one.

Picking a Time
Since it has already been decided that the Community Bible Study will be held the fourth Thursday of every month, it makes sense to hold your planning meeting on a Thursday. The church board has recommended that the Bible studies be held from Noon till 1:00 P.M. in a brown bag-lunch environment.

A bag lunch will be okay for the eventual Bible studies but you want this first planning meeting to be a little nicer. So you decide to have it a local restaurant.

Making a Reservation
Food makes your planning a little more complicated, with such things as menu, and price to be considered. Hoss's Steak and Seafood House sounds good. The menu ranges from an all-you-can eat food bar for under $6 to prime steaks and lobster. Hoss's is centrally located, close to the Gettysburg exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. You've eaten there many times and you know the food is good. [Try to avoid making a meeting reservation at a restaurant you've never visited.]

First hurdle crossed: you've picked the location; it'll be at Hoss's.

Second hurdle: make the reservation. The person who takes your reservation assures you your group will have a private room for about 50 people. She asks for your name and you say Jane Doe. She asks for the type of affair and you say a "planning meeting". She writes in the reservation book: Jane Doe, planning meeting. You hang up, pretty pleased with yourself. Everything's all set for the meeting. Right? Read on!

On the day of the meeting, your baby sitter is late in arriving and you are fifteen minutes late in getting to Hoss's.

When the first person arrives for the meeting, this dialog takes place.

"I'm here for the Community Bible Study Luncheon."

The hostess looks in the reservation book and says, "Oh, are you with Jane Doe's group?"

"I don't know any Jane Doe. I'm here for the Community Bible Study."

"It says here Jane Doe's having a planning meeting at Noon. Is that your group?"

"I don't know anything about Jane Doe's meeting. I thought I was coming to the Community Bible Study Luncheon. Maybe I have the wrong place or the wrong day. Good-bye."

This scenario is fictional but a similar thing happened to me at Hoss's. [I stayed for lunch until the mix-up was fixed up.

Follow these steps in making a reservation for your meeting:

1. Know the name of your meeting. If the meeting doesn't have a name, give it one. You must give a meeting name when you make a reservation.

2. Make sure the reservation clerk records this name in the reservation book. It's okay to give your name but make sure the clerk writes it down.

3. If the reservation doesn't ask for a meeting name, offer one. Sometimes reservations are taken by people who are not skilled in public relations.

This identical meeting name should be used from this point on regarding this meeting: in the church bulletin, on posters or flyers, and on the restaurant/hotel marquee or meeting board.

Publicizing Your Meeting
Go to Chapter 10: Church Publicity and Public Awareness for detailed information on how to publicize your meeting with little or no cost.

Giving Directions
Preparing written directions may be a gift or it may be an acquired skill. If you're not sure you have either, follow these steps for preparing directions:

  1. Drive the travel route from the main traffic artery to your meeting place in your car. Use your trip odometer to make note of the mileage between various landmarks.

  2. As you drive the route, make special note of the marked route numbers. Strangers will appreciate route numbers rather than street signs and landmarks. Of course, if there are no route numbers, give whatever information will be helpful.
  3. How many times have you diligently followed directions to a meeting place with left and right turns at landmarks, only to realize the whole thing was following a marked route number?!

  4. If you are giving directions in an urban area, give tips on the street layout. Example: The north-south streets are alphabetized and the east-west streets are numbered.

  5. If your directions include an exit that leads onto a dual highway with North/South or East/West lanes, be sure to include which direction to take. There is nothing more disconcerting than to be told to "Take the Route 15 exit" [without being told if it's Rt. 15 North [to Harrisburg] or Rt. 15 South [to Gettysburg]. If a traveler gets onto a limited access highway but going the wrong way, your directions may go beyond confusing and create a potential accident.

  6. An ideal set of directions has both narrative descriptions and a map. My personal preference is narrative descriptions; never omit that. Here's a sample narrative on how to get to Hoss's from Harrisburg:

Author's note: I have never clocked that route on my trip odometer so I estimated the distances.

For additional information on making name badges, printing an agenda, and managing registration data, go to Chapter 7: Basics of Desktop Publishing.

Making Name Badges or Tent-card Style Place Cards
Name badges are an absolute must if there is a good chance that attendees at your meeting will not know each other. Such badges can run from the do-it-yourself Hello, My Name Is type to computer-generated ones laser-printed on colored card stock, printed in color ink, encased in plastic windows and spring-clipped to the lapel. There is a right and a wrong way to do both kinds. We'll look at some guidelines.

The ideal procedure for any name badges is to make them up before the registration starts. If you are having self registration, array the badges in alphabetical order.

[Tent-style Place Cards may be made from folded card stock and handwritten with standard broad-tip markers. However, Avery also makes tent cards for computer generation.

Computer-generated; laser or ink-jet printer

  1. The Avery label company provides a wide range of name badges and tent cards. Many productivity computer programs provide a drop-down menu of Avery numbers. Select the product number on the Avery box and your software will automatically format your badge or tent card in terms of size.

  2. Hello, My Name Is [Peel and stick, with space to write a name]

  3. Follow these rules for laying out the content of your badge:

Here is an example of the content of Jane Doe's badge:

 Jane Doe
Christian Life Assembly

If you are planning an alumni event, the badge should include years attended for everyone and maiden name for the ladies.

Planning and Conducting Registration
Collecting information from application forms
These guidelines take precedence over what people may write on applications when attending a workshop or seminar. Over the years, I have conducted dozens of meetings and workshops requiring filling out and mailing in a pre-registration form. The contents run from ludicrous to sad.

Example: Applicants from the same church may show the following information when filling out forms which ask for home church:

Church of the Nazarene
Crossroads Church of the Nazarene
First Church of the Nazarene
Lewisburg Church of the Nazarene

In each case, church should be entered as Crossroads Church of the Nazarene, it's official name.

After registration information has been entered in a data base, sort each involved field in alphabetical order. This will enable you to quickly identify and correct errors and inconsistencies. This is especially important when the data will be displayed in a list of meeting participants and used to generate name tags and printed lists of participants. If you don't know the official name of a church or organization, find out.

Omit Titles
In a list of names or on an agenda, omit all titles such as Miss, Mrs., Ms., Mr., and Dr. If you wish to show a doctorate, it should appear in its proper form after the name. Exception:


Name badges or agenda listings

Jane Doe, D.D. [doctor of divinity]
John Doe, Ph.D. [doctor of philosophy]
James Doe, Th.D. [doctor of theology]
Joanne Doe, M.A. [master of arts]

Mailing address:

Dr. Jane Doe
Dr. John Doe
Mr. James Doe
Miss / Mrs. / Miss [as indicated on the registration form] Joanne Doe

A title is used with a full name when it is part of a mailing address. A title may be used with a surname only in a second reference but do not use Miss or Mrs. unless you know for a fact that the woman does not prefer Ms. As a general rule, a woman who prefers Miss or Mrs. will be less annoyed by Ms. than will be the case when the converse is true.

More about Mailing Addresses.
A rural address should be written Route x, Box xx or Rt. x, Box xx. R.D.[rural delivery] and R.F.D. [rural free delivery] are obsolete. Use the U.S. Postal Service two-letter abbreviations for a state's name. However, use conventional abbreviations when the name of the state is not part of a mailing address.


Box 473
Harrisburg PA 17105

He has a post office box in Harrisburg, Pa.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) no longer requests that mail addresses be typed in solid caps without punctuation. Type your addresses in normal upper/lower case with normal punctuation.

Creating an Agenda
Most formal meetings should have an agenda. Don't avoid it because you don't have a lot to say. People like to know what to expect and who's involved. Here's an example of an agenda for the Community Bible Study planning session, expanded into a one-day meeting:


[Lines marked with an asterisk [*] may be omitted from the agenda but should be included in a publicity flyer or poster]

Planning Session for the
Community Bible Study

Wednesday, March 10, 2012
9:00 a.m.
Hoss's Steak and Seafood House
*1234 Gettysburg Pike
Mechanicsburg, 17055

Jane Doe, Chair


Registration and Coffee -- 8:00 ­ 8:55

Rev. Paul J. Wislocky, Senior Pastor,
Christian Life Assembly, Millville

Morning Break 10:30 ­ 10:45

Lunch from the menu 12:30 ­ 1:30

Afternoon Break 2:30 ­ 2:45

Benediction: Pastor Wislocky 5:00

Arranging Seating
For additional information on using projection devices during your meeting, go to Chapter 6: Using Audio-Visual Equipment

When you have an opportunity to control the seating arrangements, follow these guidelines:

1. If interactive discussion of a fairly small group will be the primary activity of the meeting, place the chairs in a circle.

Use a semicircle if a projection device, chalkboard, or flip chart will be used.

2. If a larger group of participants will be seated in movable [stacking or folding] chairs, have the front of the room be along a long wall, the left/right of the room be along the short walls.

Example for 45 chairs.


............. .[You]

2. If the participants will be seated at tables, follow Rule 2 above but have the tables in a horseshoe, with the open side toward the front of the room.

If interactive discussion will be the primary activity of the meeting, place the tables in a hollow square or rectangle, with a small opening for the chairperson to enter.

When tables are used and there is a good chance that participants will not know each other's names, it's a good idea to provide tent cards with names.

Following Your Agenda
Sometimes there will be extenuating circumstance that prevent you from sticking to the printed agenda, but make a sincere effort to do so.

Start on time
Take breaks and lunch on time
Resume activity on time
Adjourn on time

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