Here are three thoughts for making staff meetings work better for your team:
1. Know that the larger your church gets, the smaller your staff meetings must become.
At first, all new or smaller churches are like start-up companies in someone’s garage. The problem is Apple would have never become the organization it is today by staying at that stage.
Each stage of church growth creates a new platform of loss.
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What I mean by that, is that in the first year or smaller years you need everyone sacrificing together: ministry staff, administrative staff, interns, and volunteers. You’re all in the mix together. The hard thing to do once you’ve established that “one for all and all for one” mentality is to begin to bring stratification to your staff. Yet, without that continual process, you’ll become ineffective.
Build into your process the expectation that staff relationships will change every six months. Whatever system exists today, it will have to be held loosely. Create a culture among your staff that expects this change and you’ll be fine. Hold your current staff structure too closely, and you could inhibit their growth and yours.
In the new church or early years, hold staff meetings with every warm body in the room. When you have 2-3 ministry staff, begin meetings separately and retain all decision making activity for that meeting. Hold a separate meeting with all of your administrative staff and ministry staff for lunch and prayer. Keep that meeting to one hour. Eventually you’ll have to eliminate lunch if you want to get any praying and sharing done.
2. Move staff meetings to the middle of the week.
In so doing you’ll avoid two problems. First, your staff will be fresh and ready to make good decisions. Second, it will be too late to pull off anything from that upcoming Sunday. It will force you to purge your staff of “leading by crisis.”
I tell Senior Pastors that I coach that what you have to understand is that just because you get results, doesn’t mean Monday staff meetings work. What was happening when I held staff meetings on Mondays is that I was managing the church by staff meetings rather than leading through leaders and departments. As a leader, you must empower your team.
For instance, we’d gather on Mondays and I’d say, “So, how’s everything going?” A staff member would raise an urgent problem that needed to be solved and then we’d devote our whole staff meeting to solving that problem and developing an action plan. Everything would be fine for another week and then at our next staff meeting someone would present another problem, we’d solve it, put together an action plan and then be off for another week.
Despite my well-crafted agenda and inclination to do otherwise, Monday leant itself to managing by crisis. The problem is, in a new church, that’s all you have… one seemingly monumental crisis after another.
There’s one other reason why I needed to move staff meetings to Wednesdays: I’m at my worst on Mondays. I’m worn out from Sundays and my mind is reluctant to re-engage for another week until Tuesday morning, at the earliest. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to be at my best on two occasions. One is Sunday morning. The other is before and with the staff. In the early days, I would use staff meetings as an occasion to unload. A big mistake.
If you need to unload…do it personally with a staff member you trust, never in front of your staff. They need you to chart the course, and if every time you meet you are griping about something, don’t complain when they start doing the same. Staff meetings are not support groups for the overly stressed Senior Pastor.
The closer you hold staff meetings to Sunday, in my mind, the less fresh you’ll be. Without knowing it, you’ll begin using staff meetings as a platform for blowing off steam or looking for affirmation. Staff meetings are the wrong places to do both of those things.
3. Finally, choose carefully how you share with non-pastoral employees.
Know that as you add administrative staff from within the church that you will still be that “stereotype” they see from the platform every Sunday. Let your guard down among ministry staff with whom you share a certain similarity in job description to you, not administrative staff who do not understand your unique burdens.
As a Senior Pastor, what are some of the changes you’ve made to make meetings work for your team?