Think about the last meeting you attended. How did you feel when you arrived? How did you feel when you left? Let’s be honest - church leaders spend a lot of time in meetings: meetings about facilities, meetings about ministry, meetings about mission, meetings about policy, and even meetings about meetings. Meetings tend to get a bad rap – but that’s because we often associate meetings with inefficiency, boredom, and conflict.
So what’s the answer? How do we save the church from boring ineffective meetings? Do we just stop meeting altogether? In a few cases yes- meeting just because it’s scheduled on the calendar doesn’t do anyone any good. But gathering invested leaders for collaboration and ministry planning is an essential part of being the church, working together and doing God’s work through authentic community. How we lead those gatherings is what makes the difference and moves our meetings from monotonous to motivating.
Key #1- Be Prepared-
Time is a valuable resource- one of the most precious gifts people can give. As you think of who is coming to your next meeting, add up the total value of the time individuals are willing to give you to be at your meeting. Just calling the meeting and showing up isn’t enough to ensure you’re getting all you can out of the time people have given you. Preparation is the key to an effective meeting. Run through this checklist before your next meeting to be sure you’re honoring the gift of everyone’s time:
Prework/prereading. When people come to the meeting, expect them to be prepared. Anything that can be read or studied beforehand should be sent ahead of time. Don’t waste people’s time reading and studying during the meeting.
Agenda. What business do you need to get done? What decisions do you need to make? What input do you need from the team? If all you have is information, send it in an e-mail and respect everyone’s time. Send your agenda out ahead of time so everyone understands why it’s important for them to come to the meeting and they are able to mentally prepare for the topics at hand.
Timing. Set a start and end time and estimate how long each discussion on your agenda will last. Don’t overload your agenda with more than you can possibly get done. If you discover you have more to talk about than you have time to talk, set another meeting at a later date to complete your discussion. Honor people’s time with a strict start and finish time.
Environment. What is the best environment for your meeting? What does your environment say about the tone of the meeting? Is it formal with tables and chairs? Is it more casual and in a living room setting? Do you need a screen, white board, or chart paper? How much interaction do you want the group to have? The environment speaks before you do. Make sure it’s sending the right message.
Supplies. Have everything individuals will need in order to be attentive and take notes. Provide the group with pens, a printed agenda, note cards, post-it notes, or whatever tools are helpful.
Key #2- Move-
As you’re planning your agenda, think about how you can get your group to physically move if you’re in for a long meeting. Plan a break for coffee and restroom, ask the large group to pair up for a pair/share exercise, or facilitate a collaborative discussion where people write their thoughts on sticky notes and bring them up to a board for sorting and organizing. Find ways for people to get up and move from time to time to keep their bodies engaged.
Not only does movement boost brainpower and thinking skills, it also allows people to physically move to a new space, which sometimes allows them to see the problem/situation from a new perspective.
Key #3- Start with Love-
Begin your meeting with fun, interactive starters and questions that allow people to share their lives with each other. When you start with love and seek to build trust, you’ll find that the business at hand goes much more smoothly and efficiently. Trust is the foundation of a motivating meeting. When team members trust each other and the facilitator, there is less conflict and more synergy. Wondering where to start? Begin with some simple questions that help you get to know each other.
What would you do over this week? What would you repeat? What would you like to forget?
If you could have had a superpower for an hour today, when could you have used it and what power would you have requested?
Get out your phone and find a picture that represents a place you wish you could be right now and share with the group.
What would it look like if you gave your meetings a makeover? How much more effective would your church and ministry be if people left motivated? If you’re looking for more ways to make your meetings motivational, check out Anne’s book, “Ministry Meeting Starters” for ways to help center and focus your team on the mission of the church with rich, interactive experiences.