Is it fair to say that ministry staff rarely consider staff meetings the pinnacle of their week? I have personally led a lot of boring staff meetings, but I’ve also led a few that advanced the vision of our church and the unity of our staff. Here are six ways to help insure your staff meetings don’t stink.
1. Send an Agenda in Advance
Most people like to know where things are headed, so give them a roadmap that will set the direction and limits of your time together. Your schedule affects your pace.
An insane number of geese love my new home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. They have overpopulated our parks and neighborhoods to the point of becoming a messy nuisance. When they fly together however, their “V” formation is a beautiful portrait of teamwork. Scientists say this formation adds at least 71% to the flight range because of decreased wind resistance.
Bringing your staff into an efficient formation takes effort and intentionality. Each minister has a unique agenda which needs to align and complement the whole ministry. Get out in front of that formation with an agenda that reflects your church’s vision statement. Our staff meeting agenda at my last church followed our vision statement to “Worship, Grow, and Go.” Each meeting started with worship, then discipleship, then missions.
2. Start and End on Time
Lead and/or executive pastors can trainwreck the tone of the staff meeting on the front end by either coming in late or openly rebuking late-comers. How you start and end affects both the pace and tone of the meeting.
If you are in charge of that staff and/or meeting, you should be one of the first ones to show up. Use this pre-meeting time to set a positive, relational tone as they come in. Of course there will inevitably be legitimate reasons to be late that are beyond your control, but if you make it the norm, you are disrespecting your staff.
Another way to disrespect your staff is to openly rebuke latecomers. That stinks. Instead, deal with serial latecomers firmly and privately.
3. Manage Interruptions Intentionally
Most lead pastors are focused and driven, which makes meeting interruptions difficult for us. Some interruptions are important to the success of your meeting: a restroom break, an immediate schedule conflict that needs to be resolved, or a humorous comment which brings laughter into the room.
Serial interrupters who stink up staff meetings: the forgetter who constantly has “oh yeah” moments; the storyteller whose stories are neither short nor relevant; the sarcastic whisperer; the locker-room bullhorn. Who else can you add to that list? Which one are you?
Most of these people do not hijack staff meetings intentionally, so give them the benefit of the doubt on motive and correct them gently in private.
4. Follow-Up Privately with Action Items
Someone smart once said, “Do not expect what you will not inspect.” Evaluate performance regularly, instead of just annually or even quarterly. Your staff deserves to know whether they are meeting your expectations or need a course correction. Every shepherd needs a shepherd.
If your staff is too large to personally follow-up with each person, make sure to follow-up with each supervisor.
5. Celebrate Wins as They Happen
When someone achieves an important goal, make a point to commend them in front of the staff as well as the church. The Bible tells us that “there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Staff meetings won’t always have high-five moments, but when they do, leverage them fully.
Our staff started having prayer time at the beginning of staff meeting instead of the end when the Lord convicted me of its importance. This is when we did most of our rejoicing and weeping together (Romans 12:15).
Don’t just break out the cupcakes when someone resigns. Party with the angels as often as possible!
6. Let Your Administrative Assistant Help You
There are times when you will only want ministry staff present, which is understandable. However, in the course of regular weekly staff meetings, you could easily be distracted by the details of the agenda or the ownership of the assignments. Your AA can keep you out of the weeds, which keeps the pace and tone of the meeting on track.
I believe it is within our reach to make staff meetings more than merely bearable. I would love to hear your ideas and feedback in our comments section.