This is the second year I’ve served as an elder on our church session, which is similar to a board of directors in many ways. As you might expect, I bring my laptop, iPad and iPhone to our monthly meetings, and prefer to have all meeting documents in electronic rather than printed form. While some boards (including school boards) use licensed software programs like BoardDocs to go paperless, our session has pursued free options for making meeting minutes and other meeting documentation available for members. Over time we’ve migrated from using email attachments to now using a free DropBox account. Here’s how it works.

Because we frequently have 15 to 20 different documents as part of a monthly “meeting packet,” it can be unwieldy to rely on email alone to distribute these documents as email attachments. That had been our primary method of digital document distribution until this month’s meeting, when we fully transitioned to a DropBox-based method of document sharing. Our church administrative assistant put all our meeting documents into a single folder on her computer, in MS Word format, which she shared via DropBox. She shared the link to that shared DropBox folder with all session members, and then we were able to pull up each document prior to and during the meeting on laptops as well as tablets. It’s wonderful that DropBox and modern web browsers support direct viewing of MS Word files, so they don’t have be opened in another application to read them! You can see in the screenshot above that our agenda had been updated just 2 hours prior to our meeting tonight, but other documents were older. It’s great that when you keep the file names consistent, DropBox will show users/visitors the latest/most updated version of a document.

A year ago as I recall, only one or two other members of our session would usually bring a digital device like a laptop or tablet to a meeting. Tonight I counted, and we had 13 different laptops and tablets with 17 total meeting attendees. This is the evolution of BYOD (“bring your own device”) for our church session!

Just as many schools are adjusting policies and procedures to allow students to bring their own devices to class, churches and other organizations need to as well. Have you seen another free document sharing method besides DropBox work well for boards and other meetings recently? I’d love to learn how other organizations are addressing these challenges as well as opportunities to increasingly “go paperless” with meeting handouts!

If you are interested, you can follow my Christian blog, “Eyes Right,” on eyesright.speedofcreativity.org and on Twitter @eyesrightblog.

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  • secarter

    WOW. This is just another of your terrific work. I cannot wait to share with another Presbyterian elder who is also a teacher.

  • Matt Grose

    After looking at BoardBook ($2000/year), my school board is moving to a combination of Dropbox and Notability, an iPad app. Obviously not as technology-agnostic and does funnel you to a device, but the features of Notability (ie markup, recording, searching) were really appealing to my board. Great application at church!

  • Mapnmop

    I hadn’t thought much about BYOD for church. Interesting. I guess I-Cloud and Drop Box are the most effective paperless means for sharing documents with everyone. Maybe if you have a shared network, you could put documents on that drive (at our school we have a ‘staff share’ drive, so that we can post things on there as well as having to e-mail out). It’s only effective if the teachers go to it though, where as with e-mail it comes to them.

  • Sarah Richerson

    Hi Wesley! My name is Sarah Richerson and I’m an EDM 510 student at the University of South Alabama. I’m assigned your blog to comment on this week. In my EDM class I am learning about how technology is used in the classroom, but this excites me to see how it is used in church meetings as well. I’m on a committee at church and although it’s a small committee, using technology like Dropbox could be beneficial. This is definitely the future for meetings, even in churches, because as our children learn to use technology in their schoolwork, they will expect to be able to use it in the rest of their lives.

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