Guests at Board Meetings
Congregational boards do not do their work alone. They usually have several committees that do deeper dives into finance, personnel and other areas for which the board had fiduciary responsibility. The chairs of these committees often make reports at board meetings so that the board can make an informed decision.
There may be times when members of a congregation may want to speak to an upcoming (or past) decision by the board. Ideally, they ask to be added to the agenda ahead of time.
Invited or expected guests should be scheduled near the beginning of the board meeting when possible and given an amount of time that is allocated for their report or other information.
Unexpected guests who wish to speak to the board may be given a specific amount of time to share their concerns if there is time available at the discretion of the board.
As the elected fiduciary of the congregation, board motions, discussion and decisions should be limited to board members. Sometimes guests may want to be part of the discussion, but board meeting discussions should be limited to board members.Guests can make themselves available for additional information or an opinion if asked.
If a board finds that guests are interfering with or inappropriately participating in board discussions, they may arrange the room so that only board members are sitting at the table, and with guests are seated away from the table. This reinforces who is actually supposed to be part of the discussion.
If the guests are part of an ongoing conflict involving guests that is disrupting board business, it may be helpful to schedule a separate listening session or restorative process.