Quaker A-Z: I is for Insider Knowledge

If you are addressing a lack of attendance at a gathering or meeting, for example, one reason for the void could be a participant’s confidence in the knowledge that they could bring. It could be that you yourself question the contribution you could make. In this blog, we explore how insider knowledge can impact the functioning of your organisation. 

Ask yourself...

Do you take part as often as you can in meetings for church affairs? Are you familiar enough with our church government to contribute to its disciplined processes? Do you consider difficult questions with an informed mind as well as a generous and loving spirit? Are you prepared to let your insights and personal wishes take their place alongside those of others or be set aside as the meeting seeks the right way forward? If you cannot attend, uphold the meeting prayerfully.

knowledge scrabble tiles spelling out 'what you do matters'
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Feeling disconnected or excluded?

Some of the reasons given for not attending a business meeting (at either Local, Area or Yearly meeting) include not knowing or understanding:
  • what the meeting is about,
  • how such meetings happen and how they link with other meetings reported/mentioned at the end of Sunday’s meeting for worship.
  • how the various groups interact and intersect with membership
  • who has authority over what
  • or – having felt uncertain for any of the above reasons, deciding to leave it all to the people who do understand the above.
So, how can trustees, clerking teams etc. ensure that people feel included and are able to find out what they need to know to take part in the business meeting?

Ensuring inclusion

Hearts and Minds Prepared

Having a page on your website explaining key information or goals can help. Here are some examples:
By sending out explanatory information, with documents, and physical explanations ‘What happens at AM‘ can provide participants additional insider knowledge.  A brief explanation at the beginning of the meeting of what will be covered and supporting documentation in advance builds confidence and enables people to feel included.
For several clients, I use standard paragraphs of blue italic text to explain the Quaker Business Method.  Structures and jargon are included as part of the draft agenda/minutes. These can then be removed before the final minutes are filed. You can download an example of these from our resources page.


Make sure that the address for the meeting house, and any advice on how to get there is included with your invitation and agenda.

If there will be a shared meal – especially if there will be cake – do mention it to entice people to attend!

At the beginning of the meeting, have someone explain how to use Zoom, how people are called to speak, where loos are, and to introduce the clerks, elders etc.
If there are specific items that might require people to leave the meeting, (such as membership), or if you expect people to go to another part of the building explain that too and ideally have someone willing to show them the way.
Give people all the insider knowledge you can. Make them feel welcome and included in the group agenda. 

Reporting and Familiarity

Consider sending out documents to individuals rather than just to clerks can encourage familiarity, or having the available to download from the website – how that works will vary from meeting to meeting.

To encourage people to learn more about the business method, mention any reports received and give a brief summary of anything you feel might be of interest.

Final thought

What do you do to encourage people to learn about our business practices and attend Meetings for Worship for Business?
Wendrie Heywood

Wendrie Heywood

MBS Founder

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