Men today have numerous demands on their time. Brothers leaving every Chapter meeting should feel that their investment in time attending the meeting was worthwhile in helping them grow spiritually while bonding with other men. Service projects should also convey a feeling of being a worthwhile investment of time. The success of a Brotherhood Chapter should be measured against the stated mission of the Brotherhood of bringing men and boys to Christ, and into a deeper relationship with Him. Another key element of any successful Chapter is a solid commitment of the four elected Chapter officers. The topics below discuss some of the key points in running a successful Chapter.
The following recommendations have been adapted from “Ten Characteristics of Successful Chapters” developed as a guideline for Brotherhood Chapter Leaders to help them maximize the effectiveness of their regular Chapter meetings.
- Interesting well planned meetings should be held at least twice a month with a major spiritual component. Meetings must start and stop on time and should be 1:15 maximum.
- The Chapter Director should make key assignments for each meeting well in advance, rotating the duties, so that all Brothers participate in the leadership of the meetings. This helps instill a sense of ownership and well being for the Chapter. The responsibility for study facilitator, food, calling or e-mailing meeting reminders should be shared so that the burden of running the meeting doesn’t fall on one brother (usually the Chapter Director). All should share in the ownership of each meeting and should always be striving for an interesting and meaningful meeting.
- The agenda for each meeting should be consistent.
- The Chapter Director or meeting facilitator should start and close each Chapter meeting using the services found in the Brotherhood Devotional Handbook.
- A hot meal should be a key part of every meeting preceded by a thanksgiving prayer.
- Guests and new members should be introduced and recognized.
- Announcements and status reports of events and service projects should be kept short and to the point. Planning of such events should take place at a planning meeting outside the regular meeting
- Active prayer (confidential) list should be maintained, along with active prayer support for members in need.
- A study and discussion of scripture or other related spiritually oriented material that will lead men into a deeper relationship with Our Lord should be used for the majority of the meeting. It should be presented in a way that leads to a good discussion for those present. Men need to leave each meeting feeling that they have learned something that will help them grow spiritually.
- The atmosphere during the meeting should encourage participation in confidential discussions, sharing ones current life or faith challenges, promoting bonding. and fellowship.
- A summary or minutes for each meeting should be sent to all Chapter members so those not able to attend are kept up-to-date on what’s happening and receive the latest prayer list. It should also include information on the next and encourage each member to prepare in advance.
- Planning meetings for the Chapter should be held separately of the regular meetings. The frequency depends on the activity of the chapter, but quarterly or semi-annually seems appropriate for most Chapters. The meetings should be attended by Chapter officers, committee chairs and project leaders.
- The meetings should focus on planning and organizing events and service projects not related to the study activities of the regular meetings.
- Events and service projects should be things that further the mission of the Brotherhood and appeal to the men of the parish. To the extent possible, the projects should strive to be a combination of service and social so that they build the relationships within the Chapter while doing worthwhile service work.
The Rector and all other male clergy should be active Chapter members and regularly attend both regular and planning meetings as their schedules permit. For regular meetings, clergy should not be expected to play a leadership role since the Brotherhood is a lay led ministry, but rather be treated as one of the Brothers.
For planning meetings, the clergy should participate as advisors to the Chapter leadership in identifying the needs of individuals, the parish, the community and the diocese. They can also provided useful guidance in developing ways of addressing these needs.
All organizations experience turnover of membership. Active recruitment of new members is key to the health of any Chapter. An active program of one-on-one recruiting where current members actively invite men and youth from the church to participate in meetings and activities should be encouraged.
Ongoing service projects, identified with the Brotherhood, that will attract other men (not Brotherhood members), to participate. Have at least one service project that is aimed at helping persons with needs. Planning for service projects should be done outside of the regular meetings, and a status report is given during the chapter meeting.