Introduce them to Robert–or at least his rules.
As I mentioned yesterday, thousands of teaching and ruling elders have converged on Greenville for our denomination’s 41st General Assembly. Much of the assembly will be given to hearing reports from the various ministries and committees of our denomination. But even more of our plenary time will involve deliberation on the overtures I also mentioned in yesterday’s post. But when you put 1500 or more men in a room–men whose penchant for…ahem…verbosity is well-attested–something has to keep the room from erupting into a raucous cacophony.
You are probably familiar with the phrase “parliamentary procedure,” but it’s Robert’s Rules from which that procedure takes its cues. Kevin DeYoung offers a brief introduction to them here.
Without Robert’s this week the Assembly would devolve into meaningless chatter. To get things done, motions will have to be made, which will need to be seconded in order to verify some respect for the motion. Amendments will be offered to refine the initial motion which can either be accepted or rejected. Some motions will need to be tabled for later consideration or committed to a committee for further study. Sometimes deliberation of a motion can persist for so long that someone needs to call the question thereby ending debate and putting the motion to a vote. Finally someone will need to put the whole assembly to rest and move for adjournment.
The whole procedure may seem so very….well, procedural. But imagine the futility of trying to give patient consideration to matters of consequence without a set of guidelines for careful, respectful, and orderly deliberation.