By Mark Dance
Is it fair to say that ministry staff rarely consider staff meetings the pinnacle of their week? I’ve 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 ensure your staff meetings don’t stink.
1. Send an Agenda in Advance.
Most people like to know where they’re going, so give them a roadmap that’ll set the direction and limits of your time together. Your schedule affects your pace.
When geese fly together in their trademark “V” formation, they remind us how beautiful and efficient teamwork can be. Scientists say this formation adds at least 71% to the birds’ 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.
2. Begin and End on Time.
Pastors can wreck the tone of meetings on the frontend by either coming in late or openly rebuking latecomers. How you begin and end affects both the pace and tone of the meeting.
You carry a certain amount of influence into every staff meeting you lead or attend, so you should be one of the first ones to show up. Use this pre-meeting time to set a positive, relational tone as others arrive.
Of course, there’ll inevitably be legitimate reasons to be late that are beyond your control, but if it becomes the norm, you’re cultivating a culture of disrespect. Another way to stink up a meeting is to openly rebuke the latecomers instead of waiting to talk to them privately.
3. Manage Interruptions Intentionally.
Most pastors are focused and driven, which makes meeting interruptions difficult for us. Some interruptions are appropriate, like a restroom break or a time-sensitive emergency. I like it when a humorous comment brings much-needed laughter into the room.
Serial interrupters who stink up staff meetings include the forgetter who constantly has “oh yeah” moments, the storyteller whose stories are neither short nor relevant, the sarcastic whisperer, and the locker room bullhorn. Who else can you add to that list? Which one are you?
Most of these people don’t hijack staff meetings intentionally, so give them the benefit of the doubt on their 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’re meeting your expectations or need a course correction.
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, commend them in front of the staff as well as the church. The Bible tells us “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.
I prefer to have a prayer time at the beginning of staff meetings instead of at the end when everyone is antsy to leave. This is when you will do most of the rejoicing and weeping together (Romans 12:15).
Don’t just break out the cupcakes on rare occasions. Party with the angels as often as possible.
6. Let Your Administrative Assistant Help You.
Your administrative assistant can keep you out of the weeds, which keeps the pace and tone of the meeting on track. Most pastors are better with relational skills than with organizational skills, which demonstrates the interdependent nature of the body of Christ.
I believe it’s within our reach to keep staff meetings—or any meeting—from stinking. I’d love to hear your ideas and feedback in the comments section.
MARK DANCE (@markdance) serves as director of Lifeway Pastors. He speaks at churches, conferences, and retreats–often with his wife Janet. Mark has contributed to several books and offers weekly encouragement at MarkDance.net.