How have you adapted to not having an activities committee?

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russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Thu Jul 28, 2011 9:48 am

kisaac wrote:while the intent was to allow the ward counsel to focus on the members needs, in reality right now the ward council in our ward is focusing on how many paper plates are needed, and who is bringin them....how to shift that focus, and make the learning curve a quick one?


What's needed is a meeting agenda, and leadership to prevent it from being side-tracked. It will most likely fall to the bishop to be heavy-handed on controlling the meeting until everyone falls in line. If the assigned auxiliary wants to hold a meeting to work that out, then they need to call one and not co-opt the ward council meeting.
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nutterb
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Postby nutterb » Thu Jul 28, 2011 9:51 am

Alright, so here's something I'm pitching to my bishop this weekend. You can tell me what you think. Be brutal, if you wish.

Since my bishop has tried several times to call what would be the equivalent of an activities committee chairperson (we've held him off of it so far, but he's been bringing it up again), I'm proposing to him instead to assign an 'Activities Consultant.' The consultant would do the following:

  • Coordinate communication between the activities specialists and committees in each organization (eg, Elders Quorum, Relief Society, etc)
  • With input from the organization activity specialists, recommend individuals in the ward to serve as temporary committees for planning and executing ward activities. A committees should be approved no later than two months prior to the committee's first activity.
  • With input from the organization activity specialists, make recommendations to the ward council about frequency of activities, types of activities, and scheduling of activities. Recommendations should be given to the ward council by October for the following year.
  • Coordinate changes to activity plans and scheduling with the temporary committees and organization activity specialists
  • Keep inventory of activity supplies and ensures that organization activity specialists and temporary committees have access to needed supplies
  • Ensure that temporary committees are recognized for their efforts after each ward activity
  • Advise temporary committees on execution of activities (eg, recruiting enough people to help with set up and clean up)

Notice that the activities consultant does not plan or execute activities directly, but creates the opportunity for those selected for the temporary committees to plan successful activities. I feel that this is more in the spirit of the new guidelines, but still provides the temporary committees with a resource to discuss the common logistical questions (thus, preventing duplication of efforts).

Some other advantages:
  • The ward council does not have to do the calendaring. However, they may make changes to the proposed calendar and/or approve the calendar.
  • The ward council does not brainstorm activities, but they do give approval. They may make changes to activities in order to meet the ward's needs
  • The ward council does not need to spend time naming and appointing temporary committees. They only need to approve recommendations. They may offer alternate names if they feel the recommended members should not be selected.
  • The activities consultant need not be a full-time assignment. Hopefully, this calling can be managed in conjunction with another calling.


One last point of oddity--the activities consultant should report to (but not sit on) the ward council. This should be a position built to serve the ward council and not the bishopric (I hope that makes sense in more than just my head).

If we could get someone who understand the new paradigm for planning activities to fill this role, I'm hoping that they could help the ward council get into a rhythm of how to do this and eventually empower them to do it without the help of a consultant. Essentially, the consultant would just help make a transition a little easier. (unfortunately, this comes with the risk of making the ward council dependent on a consultant).

The executive secretary in my ward has already stated that this feels like rewriting the handbook--and I agree with him. The idea is trying to walk a really fine line between the old and new ways. Admittedly, I'd rather not do it. I'm just wondering if it isn't worth a shot since the bishop keeps wanting to revert to the old way.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:23 am

kisaac wrote: Second, while the intent was to allow the ward counsel to focus on the members needs, in reality right now the ward council in our ward is focusing on how many paper plates are needed, and who is bringin them...


If the topic of paper plates is even mentioned in a ward council meeting, then I think that's a clear indication that the ward council is not focusing on the things that matter most. For most events, the ward council should not have to do much more than decide, for example, that the ward would like to have a Fathers and Sons campout. Then the bishop says something like, "President Jones, would the Elders Quorum take responsibility for this activity? Please work with our executive secretary to come up with a date and report on your planning progress in our next council meeting." All the detailed planning, creation of a temporary committee if necessary, etc., takes place outside of the council meeting.

kisaac wrote: how to shift that focus, and make the learning curve a quick one?


I'd advise the leaders (indeed, the whole ward council) to review the Worldwide Leadership Training from November 2010. In particular, see how the Model Ward Council meeting worked. I know that's only a model, and every ward will be different, but I've found it very helpful. Note that although there were multiple references to activities, it was clear that the detailed planning was occurring outside the ward council meeting.
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russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:36 am

aebrown wrote:"Please work with our executive secretary to come up with a date and report on your planning progress in our next council meeting."
(emphasis added)

IMO, this is where the problem starts - that come the next meeting, the EQ President will suggest some dates and then proceed to try and hand out assignments instead of a high-level progress report. Part of the solution is training the EQ President, but part of it may be to halt the diversion when it starts come the next meeting.
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Postby gregwanderson » Thu Jul 28, 2011 10:34 pm

My brutally blunt reaction is this: The Brethren told us not to have a Ward Activities Committee anymore. They did not tell us to spend a year or so "transitioning" away from our old ways. My brutally honest advice is this: Read chapter 13 of Handbook 2 as if you just joined the church last week. Ignore old traditions and habits in order to figure out what the handbook means.

When the new handbooks were released last year people asked for a list of the changes so that they could quickly figure out what was different. The Brethren frankly told us that wouldn't happen and we simply needed to study the new book without thinking too hard about the old one. Your situation reminds me of this.

I hope my bluntness didn't sting too hard. I'm sure you have a fine ward with fine leadership.

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PNMarkW2
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Postby PNMarkW2 » Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:36 pm

Unless the handbook says "thou shalt not" I believe each Primary President would be free to hold activities as appropriate for their Primary, and under the direction of their Priesthood leaders, they just aren't mandated that they must be held.

I also re-watched the general training that talked about the lack of an activities chair and noted that it was specifically said you could call people to coordinate specific events. So while not an ongoing calling, or a member of the Ward Council, someone (or several someones) could be called specifically to organize say a Pioneer Day picnic, or a holiday diner, then released with a vote of thanks when the activity is complete.

To often we're sheep and only do what we're told, instead of being a sheppard and doing what we can.
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TinMan
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Postby TinMan » Sat Jul 30, 2011 7:21 pm

aebrown wrote:Then the bishop says something like, "President Jones, would the Elders Quorum take responsibility for this activity? Please work with our executive secretary to come up with a date and report on your planning progress in our next council meeting." All the detailed planning, creation of a temporary committee if necessary, etc., takes place outside of the council meeting.
That is exactly the way we handle it, and so far it has been a bit of a learning process for the leaders. At first, they felt like they should chair the committee. But after they have done it once, they are more catching the vision of calling a group/committee and turning it over to them with one of the presidency sitting in just to monitor and report, not take an assignment. I think it will go even better next year once they have all done one.

My biggest problem is the next question that comes after the assignment: "Okay, what is the budget for this activity?" As a bishopric, we now have to keep track of the budget the activities committee used to worry about. It is more work because we give a commttee a budget and really have no control if they go over (don't tell anyone I said that, or they will be even less careful.) Whereas before, the AC chairperson knew that if they went over on the summer BBQ, they were going to have to take it from someplace else. Now, that becomes my worry.

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Postby atticusewig » Sat Jul 30, 2011 8:48 pm

TinMan wrote:My biggest problem is the next question that comes after the assignment: "Okay, what is the budget for this activity?" As a bishopric, we now have to keep track of the budget the activities committee used to worry about. It is more work because we give a commttee a budget and really have no control if they go over (don't tell anyone I said that, or they will be even less careful.) Whereas before, the AC chairperson knew that if they went over on the summer BBQ, they were going to have to take it from someplace else. Now, that becomes my worry.


Just let them know that if they go over budget for the activity, any excess will be taken out of their organization's budget - that should instill some frugality.

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Postby EarloftheWest » Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:18 pm

TinMan wrote:My biggest problem is the next question that comes after the assignment: "Okay, what is the budget for this activity?" As a bishopric, we now have to keep track of the budget the activities committee used to worry about. It is more work because we give a commttee a budget and really have no control if they go over (don't tell anyone I said that, or they will be even less careful.) Whereas before, the AC chairperson knew that if they went over on the summer BBQ, they were going to have to take it from someplace else. Now, that becomes my worry.


We still have an activities line item in our budget. Ward activities come out of the Activities budget.

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Postby jdlessley » Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:47 pm

EarloftheWest wrote:We still have an activities line item in our budget. Ward activities come out of the Activities budget.
Management of the budget was the issue expressed by TinMan rather than were the funds come from or are allocated against.
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