Three Tips for Better Staff Meetings

Church Revitalization Podcast – Episode 96

Do most of your staff meetings feel like they could have been an email? The sad reality is most church meetings are too long, too report-driven, and just plain boring! Bad meetings are not unique to churches. But your church’s staff meetings don’t have to be bad or boring. 

Today we’re sharing three tips for better staff meetings. Develop these three habits, and your church will thrive, and you will stop dreading staff meetings.

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Hold Accountable for Assimilation

Don’t fall for the trap of thinking that guest follow-up is a series of individual tasks. Connecting new people into the life of your church is one the most robust systems into which your church staff should be investing their energy.

Therefore, assimilation is everyone’s problem. In your staff meetings, make it a habit to talk about guests, newcomers, and what’s next in their follow-up process. The odds are good that at least one staff member encountered the newcomer (or someone in their ministry did). The insight from that one ministry is helpful to the rest of the team. If you’re a large church and you regularly see dozens of guests each week, you might not be able to speak about individuals in-depth. Instead, focus on the steps in your assimilation process and analyze if people are moving through it in the way you expect. Look for weaknesses in the process.

Remember, an assimilation system isn’t about the system; it’s about the people. When people are new, you don’t know where they are in their spiritual journey. Investing in a newcomer will pay spiritual dividends in their life and the life of your church. By keeping newcomers in focus in your staff meetings, you reinforce the value of hospitality you want your team to display at every weekend worship service.

Re-orient Staff Meetings Around Your Discipleship Pathway

The vast majority of staff meetings focus on allowing ministries to report on past or upcoming events, challenges, and happenings. While it’s valuable for the whole team to have a broad awareness of what’s going on in various areas, this reporting aspect of staff meetings is the primary driver behind why people feel like most meetings could be emails. After all, if all you need to do is relay information, the meeting really could be an email.

To shift the paradigm, orient your meetings around your church’s discipleship pathway. Remember that discipleship is not one thing your church does; it’s supposed to be the only thing your church does! In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” This clear mandate is for every believer and every church: your job is to make and mature disciples. 

In a discipleship pathway, we describe how the church leads people in that process of becoming a disciple, growing as a disciple, and replicating disciples. Biblical principles universally apply, but in our Strategic Envisioning process, we help churches build a custom Discipleship Pathway faithful to Scripture and effective in your context. 

Assuming your church has a Discipleship Pathway in place (we recognize this is a significant assumption!), re-orienting your staff meetings around the pathway encourages cross-functional collaboration. For example, the Senior’s ministry, the Student ministry, and the Groups ministry all impact a “Grow” step. Instead of merely reporting, a staff meeting oriented around the Discipleship Pathway would stimulate discussion around the interplay of various ministries as they work together to impact discipleship

This one subtle change can make a seismic difference in the quality of your staff meetings.

Create a Weekly Strategic Focus

Like any job, staff members can fall victim to the tyranny of the urgent. There is always another Sunday to plan, sermon to write, and curriculum to prepare. But real progress comes from rising above the Sunday-to-Sunday hamster wheel and thinking strategically about what’s happening on the horizon. The role of the senior leader is to define a weekly strategic focus that empowers the team to think longer-term and make small degrees of improvement that accumulate over time.

Put simply, what’s the most important thing for the team to focus on this week? As you look back on the challenges of the past year (or five), do you find that the same few issues crop up again and again? You may have a strategic challenge you have ignored and allowed to fester. Is there an opportunity on the horizon your church could leverage? In conjunction with the governing board, the senior leader should keep these large-scale issues in view and know how to align the staff to address them when the time comes.

There is a famous quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery that says, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” To that end, a weekly strategic focus empowers staff to remember the endgame and not just their “job.” 

Staff meetings don’t have to be a drag, and you should never leave the meeting feeling like it could have been an email. Your staff deserves to leave the weekly meetings empowered with clarity about why their ministry matters and how the whole church works together to impact eternity.

BONUS: Get a free Team Discussion Guide in the video description on YouTube.

Scott Ball is the Vice President and a Lead Guide with The Malphurs Group. He lives in East Tennessee with his wife and two children. (Email Scott).

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