Church meeting minutes provide the congregation and any legal authority that may be examining them with the opportunity to see how church business is handled. This provides accountability to the congregation that trust the church leadership with its collective funds. The minutes can also prove or help to disprove any allegations of wrongdoing to any potential outside investigations into a church's dealings. Writing effective church meeting minutes involves following a specific format.
Create a template with a word processing software that you can use for any and all church meeting minutes. The format should include the date and time of the meeting, location, intent or what is scheduled to be discussed or decided, and a section to list who is present along with any applicable titles they hold.
Notify the board members and other church members who are scheduled to be in attendance of the meeting's date and time. This can be done via e-mail, regular mail or by posting the notification in a well-traveled section of the church, such as an office or church notice board.
Fill in each section before the meeting begins as much as possible. Record who is in attendance at the start of the meeting.
Announce each decision to be made separately and after it is discussed or decided, record the result in the appropriate section.
Read over the minutes at the end of the meeting and provide an opportunity for questions and clarification. Have whoever is assigned to approve the meeting minutes sign them.
File the minutes away in a location where other church records are kept.
If having electronics such as a computer or other portable electronic device is not possible at a church meeting, take the meeting notes by hand using a legal pad or other notebook. Type up the meetings using a specific format later on. If you are writing the minutes by hand, have another person at the meeting sign them along with yourself and attach the original notes to the typed version. This is necessary to avoid accusations that the typed version is different than the original handwritten version.
Stick to the facts only when recording the meetings. Do not include emotion or your own personal opinion in the notes. For example, if the church board voted to remove part of the proposed budget that would not allow your favourite worship activity to continue, do not write comments like, "The church voted against continuing my favourite program because they hate me." Anything you record in writing or in audio/video format may be under scrutiny for later review by members of the congregation, church leadership or even law enforcement.