If you're in leadership, chances are you've attended a few meetings. And chances are you've led a few meetings. And chances are when I say the word "meeting" you curled up into a ball. Because for so many of us, meetings can end up being a time-consuming, joy-sucking labor. And sadly, many of them are. This aversion to meetings led Al Pittampalli to write Read This Before Our Next Meeting, which spurned a revolution in meetings, something he calls The Modern Meeting Standard. Many of his principles carry over to spiritual leadership, so here are 7 ways to redeem meetings.
1. Have an agenda with a set start and end time - Nothing robs a meeting of joy like a meeting without a plan, or without a definite end time. If you want to redeem your meetings, making them profitable, effective, and worth having, know what you're going to talk about before you walk in. And with that, start the meeting on time. Participants are busy, so respect their time, they made coming to your meeting a priority. In the same vein, end on time. Nothing is worse than a meeting that goes on and on. When it's time to end, end. Leave unfinished business for next time, if it's worth bringing up again.
2. Don't Always Meet - Sometimes, meetings happen out of habit. They don't have to. If it could be resolved through an email, memo, or phone call, do that. When you do meet, make the most of it. But don't feel like you have to meet because it's "Meetings Monday" - If you can share it with an email, go for it.
3. Have an Action Plan - Ever felt like you left a meeting wondering what you're supposed to do? Me too. Lots of times. If you want to redeem your meetings, make sure you have clear, specific action steps to take as a result of the meeting. If what you're talking about won't lead to clear action steps, see #2 and send an email instead.
4. Make them Fun - If meetings are supposed to be a time to develop synergy, get people on board with decisions, and help advance the mission, they should be fun. I love meetings where there's laughter, where there's breaks in conversation to talk about our weekends and personal lives, and where we're able to take our work seriously but not ourselves. As a leader, you're the one who sets the culture.
5. Listen - When you're gathering with people for a meeting, it can be so easy to make conversation one-sided. But when you get people together, you need to let them have an opportunity to have their opinion, their perspective, and their insight heard. And when I say heard, I mean where you as a leader actually hear what they're saying. Nothing disconnects people from a meeting like feeling their contributions are irrelevant or unwanted.
6. Keep Conversation Going - The meeting time is limited, but you can have plenty of opportunity to build in your team members between meetings. Have informal conversations, text messages, and one-on-ones to build on the momentum, decisions, and action plans from your meeting. These quick conversations allow you to develop chemistry and rapport with your team as well, which I believe is the missing element of many church ministry staffs (check out Dream Teams for more on this).
7. Saturate Meetings in Prayer - The missing link from everything we read about conducting meetings from secular writing is prayer. And as spiritual leaders, we cannot simply take prayer and turn it into an obligatory "prayer request time" at the beginning of a meeting. We need prayer to saturate what we're doing in meetings, clinging to and depending on the Spirit to give us wisdom to make the right decision, to stay unified, and to pursue God's purposes for the ministry.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.