We've all been there. If you're like me, you hope to never go back. Dinner is roasting in the oven at home. There's a bowl of pretzels on the kitchen table. You forgot to take out the trash. As you sit in the planning meeting discussing paint colors and minuscule aspects of the upcoming Christmas production, your mind is a million miles away. In fact, your mind is melting. It's actually turned into a big glob of mush.
Team meetings are a vital part of leadership. However, without a purposeful structure and a pre-determined agenda meetings can easily turn into drawn-out discussions of details and rabbit trails. As a leader with a team of volunteers, it's vital that you make meetings worthy investments of their time. To do this, we must be proactive as we lead each meeting and resist the urge to chase details that can be addressed in other settings. Pastor Mark H. Senter describes a leader's purpose when he says that meetings are a golden opportunity to encourage those we lead. In the Leadership Handbook of Management and Administration, he provides four methods of volunteer support we should consider when conducting team meetings.
- Teach/Train - Leaders should begin each meeting by setting the tone with intentional training. In this process, volunteers are taught according to the overall direction of the church.
- Evaluate/Develop - One of the most underrated aspects of leadership is accountability. Leaders should be free to present paths of development and encourage improvement where and when it is needed.
- Direct/Tell - With a pre-determined agenda and vision, leaders are better able to direct the course of a meeting and gently direct their volunteers to that end.
- Affirm/Empower - Empowerment has to do with removing obstacles. Leaders affirm their volunteers when they understand their unique needs. We empower people when we remove unnecessary obstacles and release them to operate according to their God-given callings.
Senter continues to write, "The wise leader realizes God has provided the local church with all of the spiritual gifts necessary to function in a healthy manner. All the leader needs to do is support the members of the body, help them discover their areas of giftedness, and strengthen (or rekindle) their passion for ministry." When we take full advantage of the people already in our circle of influence and ensure that their contribution is properly valued, volunteers will be more engaged in team meetings and apt to speak up when the need is present.
To foster a spirit of communication, to ensure strategy is implemented, and to folllow-up on the progress of goals, church leaders and ministry directors should have monthly meetings with their leadership teams. When planning your next team meeting, consider the following practical points.
Leaders should always repeat the team’s mission statement at the beginning of every meeting. This helps all leaders stay focused and it reminds everyone of the team’s overall purpose.
Productivity Begins With a Pre-Determined Plan
It's been said that leaders who fail to plan plan to fail. This is true in all aspects of ministry. Growth doesn't just happen. Without a vision and the fortitude to see that vision fulfilled, our ministries will be directed by the unnecessary. At meetings, there are two things that have the potential to monopolize the discussion of strategy and vision: IOD’s (Issues of the Day) and the church calendar. Interestingly, these are two things that can be evaluated before a monthly meeting begins. Leaders must allow space for people to share progress or problems. However, if smaller problems are solved beforehand more time can be given to the discussion of strategy and vision-implementation.
Meetings that are issue-driven will never be forward-focused.
Further, if ministry leaders submit dates or a monthly report to their department director before the meeting begins, less time will be spent analyzing the details of weekly events.
Before you walk into a meeting with volunteers, be sure to write down an agenda. This gives your thoughts direction. You may also consider typing that agenda on a handout to pass-out to those present.
An Example of a Structured Ministry Meeting (50 mins—1 hour, 15 mins)
- Open with prayer.
- The team leader or pastor begins by addressing the group and offering feedback, training, or motivation. (15-20 mins)
- Team leader leads discussion of various pre-determined topics. (10-15 mins)
- Team members openly discuss past events and future plans. Leaders should direct questions to team members concerning how to have effective events. Leaders should establish program goals. (15-20 mins)
- A calendar of events for the next three months is planned and settled. (10-15 mins)
- Meeting concludes with a time of prayer after overall church goals are repeated.
Whether it's the planning of large church-wide programs or a routine weekly meet-up, do your best to ensure that volunteers don't think about whether or not they took their trash out. When team meetings are productive, the kingdom moves forward, everybody gets excited about being involved, and the dinner gets burned in the oven at home. Leadership - it's a wonderful life!
Comment below and tell us how you keep your team meetings productive.
Leadership Handbook of Management & Administration. James D. Berkley, ed. Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI. 1994. Pgs 338-340.