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Effective Church Staff Meetings
By Ron Aguilera
One of the things I often hear from pastors is, “I hate meetings.” When I ask them why, some of the answers include, “They’re painful,” or, “They’re a waste of time,” or, “They’re too long,’ or, “We rarely accomplish anything.” Maybe you have felt the same way.
I have both sat in meetings and led meetings for a long time. When I first started leading meetings, I quickly discovered the problem was not the meeting, but me, and the way the meeting was led. So, I adapted! When I became the senior pastor of a multi-church, I quickly realized the value and importance of productive staff meetings. Over the years, I found church staff persons, whether full-time, part-time, or volunteer, were among the most scarred by bad staff meetings, and I vowed to change this.
So, what have I learned? Here are the Five W’s I try to apply:
One: Who? Who should be included in regular staff meetings?
I suggest you include all pastoral staff members. This includes all full-time Conference-paid pastors, part time church-paid pastors, and volunteer pastors. I think it is also important to include the church secretary/administrative assistant. You might consider ending the meeting in “Executive Session” (just the pastoral staff) in which you can address any sensitive and confidential issues.
As for other auxiliary staff, such as worship leader, treasurer, or custodian/grounds keeper, they can be invited to come to part of staff meeting, or you can meet with them as needed.
Two: What? What kind of things should go on the agenda?
First, have an agenda prepared ahead of time. This helps develop a culture of planning and thinking ahead. Each staff member should submit his/her items ahead of the meeting. This gives you an opportunity to have any pre-conversations needed, and to determine if the item is ready for the agenda. This also helps you plan the length of the meeting.
First: Begin the meeting with prayer. Prayer sets the tone for the meeting, and stresses this as a high value for your staff. You can pray for the church, its members, and the staff.
Second: Every meeting should include vision casting. Effective church staff meetings are rooted on the mission of the church. The leader must define reality, “Where we are,” and then talk about where we are going, and how to get from “here” to “there.” This is critical to movement.
Three: Reports from staff members. This is not only important information, but critical for the progress of the church, and for accountability.
Four: Other issues like calendar, schedules, upcoming programs or events, etc.
Five: Once a month, I also love to spend some time on leadership training. Leaders must grow in order to maximize the gifts God has given them. I find doing leadership training stretches me and grows the staff.
Three: When? When should staff meeting be held? How long should staff meeting run?
Effective meetings can make a huge difference in the leadership and life of the church. Staff meetings should be regularly scheduled, weekly if possible. This helps a culture of caring, communication, and accountability to develop.
The meetings should have a fixed and predetermined length. Nothing discourages a staff member more than going longer than planned. Efficient staff members will already have plans after the meeting. Don’t impose upon that time. People tend to become restless if they don’t know when a meeting will end. The meetings should start on time and finish on time. I suggest you keep it about an hour to an hour and a half.
Four: Where?
Each church facility will dictate the best location. It might be the pastor’s office, or a committee room. I suggest that once a quarter, you meet off-site. This is an excellent time for some leadership development. I also like the once a year staff retreat.
Five: Why?
I find that regular meetings together help the staff to develop strong bonds as we move together to accomplish the mission God has given us. I also believe the staff meeting serves as an excellent mechanism for communication and accountability. It can also serves as encouragement as you are reminded that you are not alone in this endeavor.
I hope these suggestions will help you have a productive and enjoyable staff meeting, which honors God, and honors those who serve him.
Ron Aguilera is executive secretary of administration for the Illinois Conference