Leading Healthy Meetings

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Patrick’s Best Practices

Over 17 years of pastoring along with working in non-ministry fields as well as consulting, I've sat through a lot of meetings!  The following are best practices that I've seen work well.  They are not "The 10 Commandments of Leading Meetings" nor are they "The 10 Steps of Leading a Meeting".  It's my list of what seems to make sense and work the best.  These reflect our leadership culture here at BEFC.  I hope you find it helpful.  Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.

There’s a difference between Small Group meetings (Biblical Community) and Ministry Team meetings (Biblical Productivity).  The following statements pertain to Ministry Team Meetings.

The leader sets the tone.

  • The leader should prepare an Agenda and send it to your team a week ahead.
  • Work issues toward Action Points.

o   Ever spend a couple hours in a meeting and left with nothing accomplished?

o   End every meeting with a clear review of the Task List and Who is responsible for each one. 

  • The Chairman’s job is not to take the most Tasks but to make sure others complete their tasks.  Hold people accountable.  Make sure the next meeting shows their progress.  Helping your team succeed is the Chairman’s job.

Manage the TIME:  Nothing good ever came out of any meeting after 3 hours.  Decide ahead of time when the meeting will end.  Agree to that time at the beginning of the meeting and stick to it. 

  •           Pastoral Team meetings: 3 hour max
  •           Staff meetings: 1.5 hours
  •          Men’s ministry leadership team: 1 hour
  •          Your ministry?
  •          No storytelling without permission.  (It simply takes too much time.)

People Problems:  Leadership teams have to deal with people issues.  How can you address an issue pertaining to a person who is not present?

  • Throw away anonymous input.  Even prayer requests!
  • Name “people”.  Don’t allow “People are saying” or “People won’t like that”. 

o   In most cases, “people” is just 1 or 2 people.  You can address them.  You can’t address “people”.  It leaves you with a vague, powerless feeling.  When an emotion is crippling ministry team progress, stop and ask why.

  • Talk to people, not about them.

o   When is it OK to talk about a person who isn’t there? 

§  Quickly decide how your team can help them (we can give a $200 scholarship…)

§  Who will go talk to them?  Delegate it so it can be addressed face to face.

  • Keep your Relational Math straight.  Your ministry team has a responsibility to people, but you are not responsible for people. (2s & 4s)

Q – What can you go home and talk about with your partner?  Kids?  Friends?

  • Talk about this as a team and decide.  Assumptions can cause problems.
  • Respect privacy, but no secrets ever!  Privacy shows respect.  Secrecy is unhealthy.

 "Speaking the TRUTH in LOVE, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”  (Ephesians 4:15)

  •         Name Elephants by asking direct questions.  Elephants crush productivity.  Once you name the elephant, it’s not an elephant anymore.  It’s just an issue to address.  A healthy team can even ask, “Are you the best person to head that up?”  Elephants in the room are there because people are afraid to hurt other people’s feelings. 
  •         Say 100% of what needs to be said.  We’ll say 90% of what needs to be said but dance around the part that might cause conflict or hurt someone’s feelings.  “Speak the truth in love.”  MN Nice doesn’t speak the truth. 
  •         No secrets.  Don’t come to a meeting with a hidden, personal agenda.  If you have a beef, let your team know beforehand that you’d like to discuss it.

Watch the Altimeter.  Each team has an altitude they should fly at.  Good governance does not micromanage.  If your team shouldn’t be spending time on certain details, don’t!  Delegate and trust.

Team over Individual.  The authority is in the team, not the individual.  For example, Elder Board, not Mr. Elder. 

  •         Individuals only carry what authority is temporarily delegated them by the team. 
  •         Make decisions by simple majority.  Unanimity sounds good, but ultimately silences dissent and creates unrest. 
  •         The “Meeting after the meeting” is a sign that people didn’t say what they should have during the actual meeting.  Avoid these.
  •         Don’t allow Sidebar conversations during the meeting.  Passing notes, whispering, etc is childish and creates distrust.  Don’t discuss a group issue with your friend during a great potty break.
  •         Disagree during the meeting, then support afterwards.  That’s team.  Never undermine your team later in a private conversation. 
  •         Once the meeting ends, ya’ll speak with One Voice.  Don’t say, “Well, I thought we should turn left, but the team decided to turn right!”  You say that during the meeting.  Afterward, you tell your friend and your Spouse, “We decided to turn right.” 
  •         Agreement can be a bigger problem than disagreement!  If you don’t agree, then don’t agree!  (The Abilene Paradox)

Have written expectations.  Literally put them on the table every meeting.

  • For Pastoral Team Meetings: BEFC Constitution and bylaws, Our Commitment to Reconciliation, Our Ministry Sandbox.

Be personally healthy.  Unhealthy leadership (Escaping or Attacking) has a huge impact on the people you lead.  Help your team avoid escaping and attacking too.

  • Leaders who avoid conflict create followers who lie and grumble.
  • Leaders who attack conflict create followers who fear and misrepresent.
  • Leaders who engage people Biblically when conflict comes create followers who engage people Biblically when conflict comes.

 

 

 

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