The Myth of the Cottage Meeting

Ever heard of a "cottage meeting" at Five Oaks? It's what we call a gathering where people can come and ask questions and give feedback about a proposal that the congregation will vote on (e.g., a change in the by-laws or a capital campaign). Great idea, right?

Something hit me the other day. For the second time in a few months, I heard of someone saying that they wish we had had Cottage Meetings regarding a decision made by the leadership. My first thought, if I may  be frank, was, "You'vegottobekiddingme!" But then I had an epiphany. People who never attend a Cottage Meeting probably don't know how many people attend our cottage meetings. You want to know? In the last three or so years, several cottage meetings combined, I can think of only five people who have attended. Five distinct members total. I'm not kidding. Five. Maybe a few more than that have come, but that's all I can think of. We've had meetings where no one showed up except the leaders. Now you know.

The other reason I had that reaction is because on this particular issue in question I went with the unanimous recommendation from the Board and Elders to about five or six ministry teams, totally about 75 people, for feedback and input before we pulled the trigger. No Cottage Meeting; lots of input.

At the congregational meeting I'll be talking about a great opportunity for anyone in the church to come to a series of meetings for input into our next strategic planning cycle. We'll build it around meetings with several ministry teams, but anyone will be able to attend one of these input meeting. The last time we did this we probably had input and evaluation from about 75 people and it helped us form the 3-year plan that's wrapping up this ministry year.

I'm not sure Cottage Meetings are helpful except that we can say, "Hey, we offered a Cottage Meeting." And maybe that's enough for most folks. But I'd really like to get feedback, questions, input and new, creative ideas we can use.

One more thing: I'm done with Cottage Meetings. I will continue to go for feedback and input to those who have invested in ministry, to our ministry teams, and I'll invite others to drop in if they'd like. Please get the word out so I don't have to ever hear again the lament that we should have had a Cottage Meeting.