What is the one thing that church employees complain about the most?
That’s right. People hate meetings. Why? Because they are boring and keep us from getting our work done. You know what? Let’s get rid of meetings! Down with all meetings!
Ok, that probably won’t work. Actually, the truth is I don’t hate meetings. (Gasp!)
Well, I hate bad meetings but I actually enjoy good meetings. Our Tuesday morning team meeting is the highlight of my week. It wasn’t always, but over time we’ve learned a few valuable lessons about leading good meetings. In summary, here’s the gist of it: value people and value their time.
Here’s a bit of what we’ve learned...
1. Focus on Relationships
Good teams know and care about each other. This makes all the difference in the world. Often this can be the difference between:
“I could never leave this job, I love the people too much!”
“I can’t wait to work somewhere else.”
Building a high level of trust in a team takes time and effort, which is why we work on it every single week. When it comes to structuring our staff meetings, we start and end with relationships. We start with a relational question that we all have to answer and end by praying for each other.
Over time, this commitment to relationally investing in each other has paid huge dividends in our team morale. And, sharing stories and praying together makes for great meetings.
2. Where's the Tension?
Most of the time, when we’re in a boring meeting, we say things like,
“Why am I here?!?”
We say this because what is being discussed or presented isn’t important or relevant to us. If this is how you feel in meetings, I’m with you!
What is missing in many meeting is tension and drama. It’s a totally different meeting when we’re discussing something that I am passionate about. In our team meetings, we try to include at least one element of debate. This is when people say:
“It’s a good thing I’m here!”
Meetings with tension are good meetings because they matter.
Maybe you’re thinking, “but, won’t everyone get mad and hate each other after the meeting?” In my experience, no. Not, if you’ve done the hard work of building relationships and trust. In fact, they’ll understand and trust each other more.
3. Does Everyone Need to Hear This?
Another reason people might ask “why am I here?” is when they really shouldn’t be here! One thing I consistently ask myself when building a meeting agenda is:
“Does everyone need to hear this?”
If the answer is no, then move that agenda item to side conversations. Everyone will thank you. Also, when a group discussion morphs into two people discussing the details of a decision or action, you as the leader should stop the discussion and ask the two individuals to finish their conversation off-line. Again, everyone will thank you for valuing their time.
4. Set and Keep an End Time
Can I be honest? There is one mistake I continue to make when it comes to executing great and interesting meetings. It’s honoring my team’s time by ending when I said we would. Ugh.
What I’ve learned is that in order to end a meeting on time, I not only have to set an end time for the meeting itself but also an end time for each individual agenda item. I have a tendency to let things get bogged down early on in the meeting and then the meeting inevitably goes long.
When we talk about the length of programming in our student ministry, we always say “leave them wanting more.”
I think this saying applies to meetings as well. It’s far better to leave a few agenda items on the table and end on time. Why? Because it values people and their time.
Let’s wrap this up. Most people hate meetings but all that hate isn’t necessary. All that’s needed is more interesting meetings that value people and value their time. Maybe you just need to add a relational element or a good debate to each meeting. Give it a shot and let us know how it works.
And if you're looking for more resources on leading great church staff meetings, you may be interested in these two articles we've previously published: