Do you have meeting fatigue?
Do you feel like your church staff meetings are not very productive, and you’d rather be doing just about anything else?
You’re not alone.
In this season, with all the pivots we’ve had to make with COVID, I find we’re having way more meetings than ever before.
That’s natural–there’s a lot to talk about, right?
We’ve had to scratch our plans and go back to the drawing board countless times.
Not only have we had to replan the original plan, but we’ve also had to plan for five+ different “what if” scenarios:
“If we are allowed to have in-person gatherings by December, then we will plan to do x.”
“If COVID numbers go back up, then we will plan to do y.”
“If the county says we can move forward with our event, then we will plan to do x.”
“If the county says we can move forward with our event with limitations. then we will plan to do y.”
Tired of hearing the word “plan?” Me too.
So I’ll stop using that word before I give you traumatizing flashbacks of all the pla…strategizing…you’ve had to do this year.
It’s obvious we need to sit around the meeting table a bit more than we used to.
While we can’t control that, we can control what we will do when we are at that table.
My hope is that the meeting table becomes a place where you eat more greens than turkey, and you leave feeling more energized and not just stuffed.
Here are four tips to help you have better church staff meetings:
Bring on the Drama
Wondering if you read that right?
I wondered the same thing when I first came across this concept in Patrick Lencioni’s book Death by Meeting.
He suggests that a healthy amount of conflict is necessary to keep people engaged.
In the age of Zoom, meeting engagement is key–especially if your preference is people are listening more than they are watching cat videos.
There may be many hot button topics in your church right now, and if you avoid leading with those issues or avoid allowing your team to enter into those controversial conversations, they may tune out.
Lencioni encourages you to pursue them and even stoke the fire with questions that lead your team to engage in challenging conversation around those topics.
After all, why would your team want to spend time cleaning the gutters when they know the house is on fire? Give them a hose, a stake in the game.
Start your meetings with the critical, controversial issues first.
Welcome the drama and seek resolution.
Your team will thank you, feeling that the meeting was worth their time because you’ve talked about what’s on their mind.
Off-Topic is the Topic
We are starving for social stimulation.
Yes, there is a lot to get done. But the extroverts in the room are buzzing with excitement wanting to tell you about the new Netflix show they just started watching.
Rather than spending the whole meeting corralling them, schedule social time into the meeting.
In a socially distanced age, opportunities to shoot the breeze are harder to come by.
Meetings can and should be a place for this.
Your Type-A personalities may wonder why you aren’t just hopping right to it, but don’t let them fool you–they need social love too.
If you schedule social time into the agenda and explain why it's important, it can be a huge hit!
Your extroverts will leave feeling cared for, and your Type-A personalities will feel satisfied knowing that you stuck to the schedule.
To-do or Not To-do
This third tip is like the second. You have to invest more than assign.
Are all your meetings about assigning tasks? Do all your meetings result in massive to-do lists for your team?
It’s time to convert one of your regularly scheduled meetings to one that is purely dedicated to investing in your team.
Here’s some ideas:
- Pick a book to read together and discuss.
- Invite a guest speaker to your meeting.
- Feed your team during the meeting (even if that means door dashing a meal at their home)!
- Invest in their health by doing something active together.
Be sure to convert an existing meeting rather than just adding one.
This might even help you be more productive!
You may come to realize that assigning tasks can quickly be accomplished with a 10-minute phone call or daily check-in rather than a three-hour meeting.
Define Your True North
If you find that your meetings are endless discussions where decisions are never made, it could be that you need to work with your team to create criteria by which decisions are made.
These criteria should be guiding principles, core values, a true north.
It could be that you already have these core values defined, but perhaps they need to be rearticulated in the context of decision making.
Defining these core values will help you identify and eliminate wrong options faster.
Use phrases like:
“Since we are a church that is defined by __________, we are not going to do __________”.
Or, the reverse: “Since we are a church that is defined by __________, we need to be doing __________”.
I hope these tips help you create more engaging meetings and ultimately lead to better productivity within your church.
If you have other tips on ways you’ve been creating effective church staff meetings, we’d love to hear them.
Please share them in the comments below.
Annie Sherwood is an Advisor with Breeze Church Management. She also serves as an Associate Pastor at her church in Santa Cruz, California. Annie is a passionate house plant owner and enjoys exploring the California coast with her fiancé.