Why I Love Meetings

That’s something you rarely hear: “I love meetings.” But I genuinely do. At least, I love the ones at the church where I’m a pastor. And especially, I love the ones we’re having lately. 

Let me explain.

At the beginning of September, I introduced and implemented a new plan for church staff meetings. The structure we had used for our staff meetings had served us well for a decade, but it was starting to show signs of strain. Our team had doubled over the past 10 years: the old structure was designed to equip and unify a small team. It was, simply, less effective with a larger team.

It’s not that our team is huge – we’re only 11 paid staff. But I wanted something that not only served well this size of team, but that could be scaled quickly if we doubled, or tripled, and so on.

So a few of us took a couple months to re-envision and redesign how we meet.

First, we clarified why we meet. This remained what it has always been: to strengthen and deepen our team unity and to extend and empower our impact, individually and together.

Then we overhauled. Some of this involved tweaks. Some of it involved complete paradigm shifts.

What follows is a description of the new system. I share it in the hope that it might benefit you, and that you might share with the readers of this blog ideas you’ve found helpful.

  •  Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, 8:30-9:00 AM, we have a staff prayer time that is open to anyone in our church. We pray for our congregation, our community, and our church’s ministries. All staff are strongly urged to attend.
  • Every Tuesday morning, 9:00-9:15 AM, we have a 10-15 minute Stand Up Meeting. This is an exchange of administrative information that everyone needs to know. All staff are required to attend.
  • Every Tuesday morning, 9:15-10:00 AM, we have a 45-50 minute Step Up Meeting. This is a high-energy, interactive session to engage us with one of the core values of our church. Step Ups are “insight-rich, task-light,” meaning that they are primarily designed to inspire, enrich and equip staff, not burden them with more things to do. All staff are required to attend.
  • Every Tuesday morning, 10:00-11:00 AM, we have a one hour Pastors Meeting. This is a free exchange of ideas and a discussion of issues. These are very frank, sometimes tense, usually energizing, always clarifying meetings. All pastors are required to attend, and sometimes other parties are invited in as well.
  • Every Tuesday afternoon, 1:00-2:00 AM, we have a one hour Strategy Session. This is an intensive interactive session designed to engage a staff person or a ministry team in identifying and solving one problem in their ministry – a communication gap, or a volunteer shortage, or a fuzzy vision, and the like. Strategy sessions are “insight-rich, task-heavy,” meaning that they are primarily designed, not just to inspire, enrich and equip staff, but to give them a plan to be implemented immediately. Each staff is required to attend as scheduled, which adds up to at least 4 sessions for each staff each year.
  •  Every Thursday, I leave two 1-hour blocks open in my schedule (with some exceptions) for One-on-One Sessions. These are for any staff to book (or drop in if no one else has booked the time) to talk about anything – they choose the agenda: hanging out, catching up, counselling, coaching, confession, whatever.

We’re only 3 weeks into this, but so far I like what I’m seeing: fresh energy, clarity and creativity. Even though it takes me a lot more time to prepare these sessions – especially the Step Up Meetings and Strategy Sessions – I find the challenge deeply invigorating.

In my next two posts, I’ll provide working samples of both a Step Up Meeting and Strategy Session.

I welcome your feedback. What have you found most effective in building unity and effectiveness in a team?