That's right, I'm just gonna go right out there and say I think church meetings suck. Meetings siphon the life out of me. Meetings draw out the energy out of a group of people who'd much rather be doing something fun together, and never seem to find the time to do it. Meetings "Hoover" every bit of free time a pastor, staff member, or lay church leader has to rest, enjoy a hobby, invest in the life of a friend, or allow a friend to invest in their life. Meetings completely drain me of energy so I can't get my own stuff done on time or sometimes at all.
To be fair, I don't hate all church meetings. Only the ones that could have been done through a "reply all" email exchange and meetings that get little to nothing truly accomplished as a result of the meeting.
To effectively battle sucky church meetings, I have found two tools that are very helpful, which I wanted to pass along to you today. I can guarantee that any small group leadership meeting you must have will be far more productive and will not suck if you employ both of them...
1. The 3 W's
Years ago, my ministry hired a business consultant who is also a Vineyard pastor in the San Diego area. Ron Ford said that all ministry meetings held at TOUCH Outreach (the ministry I oversee) should not end without 3 W's being nailed down for every single item on the agenda.
WHO will do WHAT by WHEN.
Folks, this was a huge revelation for me and my staff. Our greatest gripe was that we always had amazing ideas born out of synergy at meetings, and nothing became of them... because we never nailed down who would do what by when.
When we implemented this feature into each agenda item and agreed to meet again to discover who did what by when and what those results were, meetings became fun and no longer sucked. Whomever was facilitating the meeting wrote down who would do what by when and there was broad accountability to show up to the next meeting with the task completed successfully.
2. Topic and Time Strategy
Years ago, a mentor named Jim Egli (yet another Vineyard pastor!) taught me an organizational tool for time use that was so cool I must share it with you right now...
1. Begin the meeting by asking each person to share what they need to talk about at the meeting. Give them 1 minute to summarize it and hold them to it. As people state the topics, jot them down as the facilitator.
2. After everyone has spoken, look for overlap. Sometimes three people want to talk about various aspects of the same thing. Combine these with agreement from the meeting participants.
3. Look at your watch. Determine the total number of minutes left for your meeting and with your participants, decide how many minutes can be devoted to each topic. Write that down by each item.
4. Ask someone in the group to be the timekeeper and give you a 2 minute warning as the time deadline approaches for each item.
5. At 2 minute warning, nail down who will do what by when for whatever decisions you've made thus far, and quickly schedule another meeting to discuss it if it wasn't fully covered.
6. The more you do this, the faster things will be discussed and sometimes there's extra minutes. These can be given to other topics (rollover minutes) or given to everyone as a gift for highly productive participation.
The reason I share all this meeting stuff is that last night, the core team for my lifegroup met. We've been off for the month of August, and September's close so we wanted to make plans for the next six weeks. We meet once a month, by the way, and plan for a month and a half, which is a great overlap strategy... and I am not the leader of the group, just a core team member.
The meeting last night was excellent. Why? We nailed down what we were going to do with our Bible application time in upcoming meetings and who would do it. We determined that some members of our group could host an Alpha table in hopes of starting a new Lifegroup in January. The icing on the cake was when Dan, who is a core team member and not a formal leader or apprentice, said we needed to add 3-4 new core team members, delegate to them, and then multiply the group because it was too large.
I just sat there and smiled. This meeting didn't suck.