A Problem In Participatory/Organic Church — Someone Repeatedly Talking Too Much

One potential problem in participatory church is one person taking too much time by repeatedly talking too much and drawing attention to herself/himself.  This can be a major distraction in a meeting and can hinder what God wants to do.

talking too much

A participatory church meeting is not a place for people to show what they know. It’s a place for people to be fair and let others share. (“Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” –1 Corinthians 8:1)

A successful participatory church meeting requires that some people lovingly hold back their desire to talk, so that other people can feel free to share what God puts on their heart. The Importance of Sharing, from the AlcoholRehab website, puts it this way:

“This type of communication is called sharing for a reason. It means giving other people the opportunity to speak. Some individuals may be really struggling and really feel the need to share. They might not get this opportunity if some members are using up too much time at the meetings.”

How can the problem of one person talking too much be solved (or prevented)?

In the early days of The Salvation Army they allowed anybody to testify during their corps (church) meetings.  The way they handled someone talking too much was what they called “singing them down.”  Someone present would start a song and as everybody joined in, the person talking too much would get the idea and quietly sit down.

Here are some other ways:

1) Bathe the meeting in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to be so present that people have a difficult time overriding His plan for the meeting.

2) If a person begins to regularly take too much time in the meeting, talk to her/him alone and explain the need for everybody to self-limit their talking so others can share.  Ask her/him to only share one time per meeting.  Some people get mad when you do this, but that shows that their heart isn’t right.  Other people agree to cooperate, but this a few weeks later slip back into the same pattern.  In that case you may need to talk to them several times.

3) If someone talks a third or fourth time in a meeting, one of the leaders can stand up and say:  “Thanks for what you are sharing, however, we want to give everybody an opportunity to share today and some people haven’t shared yet.  Who else has something on your heart for today?

4) Leadership needs to stay sensitive to the flowing of the Holy Spirit and ask God for discernment to know when to intervene and when to let things go.  Leadership should not impose their own will on the meeting, but lovingly and in a non-authoritarian way,  seek to keep the meeting from being led out of God’s will by anyone present.

(I posted a link to this on an Unprogrammed Quaker site and someone posted this about how their meeting deals with the problem:  “In our meeting, the ministry and worship committee from time to time makes a general announcement about discerning when to give vocal ministry [when to speak in the meeting].  If this doesn’t have an effect, I imagine eldering [a face to face talk with leadership] would be called for.)

(Another person commented on my link on the Quaker site:  “I chuckled when I read this because it reminded me of a comment someone new to Quakerism said to me after a meeting in which someone made some rambling remarks. The newby said, ‘If I were God, I would have never told that guy to say that!'”)

Read more in my book, Beyond Church — An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible available at Amazon.


About Steve Simms

I like to look and think outside the box. In college I encountered Jesus Christ and I have been passionate about trying to get to know Him better ever since. My wife and I long to see the power and passion of the first Christ-followers come to life in our time. I have written a book about our experiences in non-traditional church, called, "Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible--Ekklesia." If you need encouragement, search for: Elephants Encouraging The Room and/or check out my Amazon author page. Thank you!
This entry was posted in Friends meeting, Friends' worship, guidelines, open church, open mic, order of worship, participatory culture, Quaker meetings, Quaker worship, Quakerism, Quakers, Salvation Army, Salvation Army church, simple church, steps to, testifying, testimonies, testimonies in church, testimony, unprogrammed church, unprogrammed meeting and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Problem In Participatory/Organic Church — Someone Repeatedly Talking Too Much

  1. Bill Samuel says:

    Sometimes a person sharing too much of the time has a need to be heard which could be met in another way. Instead of going quickly to telling the person not to talk so much, a first step might be for a leader to meet with the person with the primary purpose of letting the person have time to share in that more intimate setting. This would be particularly true with respect to an emotionally distraught person.

    This may be of little help where it’s a person used to dominating situations, but even there it would be better for a leader to try through questions to get the person to realize the dynamic rather than jumping quickly to telling the person what not to do. The idea is to first help the person to understand that the dynamics need to change, ideally as a discovery which the leader more facilitates than tells the person what should be. You want the person to change behavior through their own felt need to do that rather than as an acquiescence to what the leader/group wants of him/her which is likely to involve some resentment. Try to make them a partner rather than the problem. You might note that some people seem to be having trouble getting the opportunity to share as they need, and ask them what they think could change in the dynamics of the group to address that.

  2. Some great advice here. Thanks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s