Church life is full of meetings, and no doubt you've experienced the satisfaction of a well-conducted, efficient meeting that makes an impact. Likewise, you may also have been a part of meetings that leave people confused and aimless.
Like good project management, being organized and prepared will go a long way toward taking your meetings to the next level. Honing the "art of the meeting" can foster results and impact people for Christ.
We've provided helpful, practical advice about how to get the most out of committees. This article aims to build on that foundation, so take a few minutes to review those first steps!
Open with prayer
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it bears repeating. God's grace keeps the church doors open. Through corporate prayer, God invites us into a remarkable, Spirit-fueled fellowship. It's good for your ministry, good for your church and good for the church staff to pray together before setting into the rest of the work.
Have a leader
Having a designated leader or first-among-equals at each meeting keeps everyone on track and the business moving. Whether it's the lead pastor or the ministry head or whether you rotate who runs the meetings each week, without the drive of someone focused on the set objectives it's harder to get there.
When to set the agenda
Requiring an agenda is a good idea, but when do you create it, and who does it? Here are a couple of good ways: try setting aside the last 10 minutes of each regular meeting to set the agenda for the next week. This keeps the previous week's issues from being dropped and removes a task from someone else for the coming week. The designated meeting leader can also take time the day or week before to write the agenda and email it to participants ahead of time. This sets expectations and allows anyone to send a note if something has been left off the agenda.
Action items, due dates and accountability
Most meetings inevitably end with a (usually long) list of tasks and action items to accomplish. It's easy to let these slip through the cracks. Here are a few ways to make sure that doesn't happen.
- Write down action items. It's surprisingly easy to discuss what should be done, but never put it on paper. Do yourself and your team a favor, and write all tasks, from the least to the greatest!
- Make assignments. When Steve Jobs was running Apple, he made sure that every action item at every meeting had a DRI, or a "Directly Responsible Individual." That person's name would go next to the task on the meeting minutes or the next week's agenda, so questions, comments or concerns could go to the right person. This also provides a helpful level of accountability.
- Assign due dates. Without due dates, the least-pleasant tasks likely won't get done. If you meet weekly, try setting the due date as the day before the next meeting. Add a note on the next week's agenda to follow up on that task with the appropriate DRI.
When to recap and follow up
Before your meeting ends, take five minutes or less and recap what has been decided and action steps that have been noted. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and avoids confusion the next time you meet.
At the beginning of your next meeting (after prayer, of course), one of the most helpful things to do is to follow up on the previous week's' decisions and tasks. Do the decisions still make sense? Does anyone have any lingering questions or concerns? Were the tasks completed, and the due dates reasonable?
Meet to live, don't live to meet
Meetings can be incredibly useful communication tools, but it's easy to get into a rut. Whatever you do and however you run your meetings, make sure the meetings are helpful, necessary and positive. If you find you're meeting because "you always meet," check with your team and see if it can't be postponed! Sometimes it's great to meet for fellowship's sake or for brainstorming. But, remember, church meetings exist to help you serve the people and cause of the church and aren't an end in and of themselves.
— Jon Watson, e-Marketing Specialist, United Methodist Communications. Jon is the one on the right, but his son, William, often ghostwrites. His wife, Beka recently gave birth to a very smiley baby girl named Kathryn. Watson has worked several years in marketing, and at least 1 ½ years as a pastor. He enjoys a good pipe and "good music" which is an objective term meaning "anything Jon listens to."