Many of us were never trained in our formal education, internships, or perhaps even our associate roles how to lead a great ministry team meeting. This was something that became apparent to me as I stepped into lead a burgeoning team of strong leaders at my church. What follows here are hard knocks and necessary considerations, I believe, for a great ministry meeting.
The first thing you have to ask before you lead a meeting is, “How will I steward the time to challenge my team in faith, life, ministry, practice, tactics, and continued growth?”
My core principal is that leading a good meeting is a lot like good teaching. See your meeting space as an interactive classroom. Pastor, think like the teacher you are and lead your team meeting like a great teacher.
A clear agenda for all involved should be dispersed prior the meeting. Just like any classroom, a clear outline of goals and measures is vital. If you aren’t setting expectations for your meeting you fail to create expectation for the meeting. Show the value of the meeting each week in your preparation.
I prefer to use a shared Google Doc with my team; we meet on Tuesday mornings. By Monday afternoon I’ve completed our agenda for the upcoming meeting and team members know to look at it before day’s end Monday. They can see clearly what parts of the meeting they are assigned, they can see each topic of discussion, and they feel prepared instead of walking in unsure as to why we are even meeting. Never let anyone walk in blind and mitigate surprises as much as possible by having a clear plan for your team meeting.
Incorporate different aspects to your meeting, but make certain they are informed by your cores reasons and goals for meeting. For instance, my team knows to expect four segments to our team meeting: Devotion, Discipline/Care, Direction, and Development.
Devotion – Back in 2012 we started with a brief team member-led devotion each meeting from the Psalms. We started in Psalm 1 and we just hit 89 last week. It is refreshing to start a meeting briefly considering, counseling, and praying together out of the Scriptures. It keeps us honest, it grounds us, and I wouldn’t start my team meeting any other way. Ora et labora. Pray and work.
Discipline/Care – Each week we have a portion of our meeting where we pray and talk through the cases of church members who are facing trials of various kinds, be they in formal church discipline or another situation where the church can provide care.
Direction – After a five-minute break, we jump into our operational goals for the week and our strategic goals beyond this week. We discuss action items and next steps.
Development – We end our meetings with a time to grow together in grace, knowledge, and ministry skill. We may read an article, a book chapter, listen to a lecture, encourage a specific team member, etc. We mix it up.
The above are WHAT we will do every meeting because these four things are, in a sense, the WHY of our meetings and what makes them valuable and “can’t miss” on a weekly basis.
Consider different learning styles and lead/teach to them as much as possible. Most specifically, contextualize to YOUR team’s learning styles. Study your team members and know them well. Group interaction is a high value for our team, so the more we can have guided discussion toward process and practice, the better for us. I’ve even tried to limit electronic distractions by putting our agenda on one central screen during the meeting and asking the team to put away devices. In addition, I’m trying to learn how to use a white board more effectively for portions of the meeting where I want special focus and corporate brainstorming. Like a good teacher, engage every learning style.
Keep the momentum of your meeting going. Learn to recognize when you’re in a rut and lead the way out of the ditch. Guard against tangents and be strong but loving in suggesting this may be something to be discussed outside the team meeting. Then move on. Know your team and where the potential for tangents may lie with an agenda item. Train your team to constantly ask before bringing up a new topic: “is this relevant/helpful/beneficial to the entire team at this point in time?” Pray and prepare to lead/teach momentum and flow as best you can.
And lastly, I’ve learned that meetings that go much over an hour have diminishing return. And I break that rule every week with my two-hour long weekly meeting. There’s just no other time in the to gather together these thirteen people together for focused discussion. Just like you would in a long class, seed in natural and expected breaks if your meeting is going to run over an hour. I set our break each week at the end of our discussion on the discipline and care of members. We take five for coffee, tea, or restroom and then come back ready to talk about our directional items. This has changed the game and helped us prevent meeting fatigue.
Reprinted with permission of The Village Church, Denton, TX.