How Church Board Meetings Had A Role In Building Compression Planning®

Dear Compression Planning Friend,

Have you ever been to a church board meeting?

After graduating from St. Thomas College in Minnesota I worked for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. My job was calling on church boards to sell them religious education programs.

One program was for parents to prepare their children for First Holy Communion. We moved the program from 15 or so parishes to about 100 parishes in one year.

Because of our success I was asked to also develop learning proposals where I was a total flop. So bad I eventually got fired which I deserved.

How does all this fit with Compression Planning®?

In order to sell religious education programs to the parishes I had to attend their board meetings. Most of the churches were Catholic but I went to other denominations as well.

Because I represented the diocese my boss wanted me to arrive early so I could press the flesh, shake hands, schmooze, and meet the people.

The leaders handling the meetings tended to put me last on the agenda or towards the end so I could hear all the wonderful things their church was doing. Of course, this meant I sat though 8 months worth of church board meetings, sometimes 3 and 4 nights per week. It wasn’t rare for those meetings to start at 7:00pm and last until 11:00pm.

Some of the meetings were OK but most of them were deadly dull. Endless reports. People falling asleep. Boring. A form of purgatory for sure.

Several board members talked and talked and talked. Some meetings didn’t have agendas. Frequently the board secretary read minutes of previous meetings, which I thought was a horrendous waste of time.

What did I know? I was 23 years old and fresh out of college.

I’d sit there and study those sessions and think…

  • How could they be so bad?
  • How could they be improved?
  • How could the rooms be laid out so people wouldn’t have to look at the back of each other’s heads?

I’d see people pass out papers and ask for motions covering the contents before everyone had a copy much less had a chance to read the material.

I’d wonder why such papers weren’t sent out before the meeting so the board members could have time to study them and come prepared.

How did Compression Planning® come from those meetings?

I believe the seeds of Compression Planning were planted in all those evenings waiting to give my sales pitch.

One day I went to a meeting for a convention planning group and a man gave a report of his committee. Their job was to line up a “goodie bag” of the things they would give the convention attendees.

You’ve received such bags at regional, national gatherings.

  • A pen from a bank.
  • Bottle cap from a Pepsi bottler.
  • Nail clippers from a hair styling saloon.
  • A six inch ruler.
  • A notepad in a little holder.
  • A shoehorn.
  • A small mirror.
  • A magnet.

Some items were useful. Others were what they call in many industries “trash and trinkets.”

The head of the committee was proud of his team’s work. He took at least 40 minutes to show us each item in his ditty bag.

For example, he held up the six-inch ruler and told us

  • Where it came from.
  • The fact it was inches on one side, and
  • Metric on the other side.
  • It came in 5 various colors.

It was decades ago and I still see him explaining the miracle of the sponge’s absorbency and that the name of the conference would be embossed with the donors’ name. The sponge could be used to clean tires and who knows how many others uses.

People were squirming like Two-year-olds who had drunk one too many glasses of juice. They desperately wanted to get out of that meeting.

I didn’t know what to do. I intuitively knew I didn’t want to be in “goodie bag” explanation type meetings. What a painful way to grow old young.

Thank goodness I got fired. No more church board meetings 3 or 4 nights a week.

I frequently get asked how I started Compression Planning®. Now you know one of the building blocks that formed the process.

In your next BrainTrain I’ll explain how my first Chamber of Commerce project gave me a PH.D in organizational insanity.

Stay tuned,


One Response to How Church Board Meetings Had A Role In Building Compression Planning®

  1. Jim McNellis February 12, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    Jerry, Brother #3/4

    I thought I knew all about my next-next younger brother, but you keep educating me. No wonder your business has been successful for so many years. You really do not want to go back to “the good old days.”

    Jim, Brother #1/4

Leave a Reply