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Are Meetings Killing Your Ministry?

Individuals assume the role of pastor to take spiritual care of people. That’s why the majority of a pastor’s time should be spent engaging with people. Whether it’s over coffee, at lunch, in one-on-one sessions, or through social media, the point of your work is people. The point is NOT to sit in meetings. So the question we ask today: Are meetings killing your ministry?

You were called into ministry to pastor and lead people. The most important thing you can do is engage people. That is your number-one goal. I have found both in working with ministries and working as a full-time staff member in a church that—like so many organizations today—churches and ministries hold a lot of meetings. And many times, these meetings are not very successful or productive. The goal needs to be: Reduce or eliminate meeting time and instead spend that time focused on engaging people.

Don’t let your valuable time slip away.

Meetings are the worst kind of interruptions. Why? Because leaders must invest a lot of preparation time to lead great meetings.

Unfortunately, most leaders do not have a lot of time to prepare. That lack of preparation means they do not have a defined and streamlined agenda to keep the meeting focused and moving forward. As a result, meetings tend to be haphazard and devoid of definitive action.

Perhaps the biggest time killer of all is the way meetings procreate. One meeting leads to another meeting that leads to another meeting. And on and on and on…If you think about it, meetings are extremely expensive. For example: When you invite 10 people to an hour-long meeting, that really means 10 hours are being gobbled up—not just one hour. That’s 10 hours of productivity, salary, resources, and time devoted to a single meeting.

6 Tips for Holding Effective Meetings

While you can’t eliminate meetings altogether, you can work to make your meeting time more valuable and effective. Here are six ways to have a great meeting:

Limit the number of people you invite.

You want to keep meetings as small as possible. Ideally, there should be fewer than eight people per meeting. Fewer than eight gives everyone a chance to voice their opinions while still allowing you to keep the meeting moving in the right direction. Too many voices can cause a meeting to quickly derail and lose its focus.

Have a detailed agenda.

It’s important that you send the agenda out to all the attendees two days in advance. This will allow your attendees to review the agenda and prepare on their own ahead of time. It also gives them time to compose any thoughts they may want to share. Sending the agenda ahead of time can also help you delete items that may not be necessary based on attendee feedback.

Always start on time.

I once worked under a very effective leader who was notorious for locking the door. If a meeting was scheduled to start at 9 a.m., he would lock the door at 9 a.m. If you were late, you did not enter the meeting. Needless to say, everyone learned very quickly to arrive on time. Advocate your people showing up five minutes before the meeting as a habit.

Set a timer.

Literally put out a timer. Whether on your iPhone, an alarm clock, a watch, or even a baking timer, make sure a time limit is set. If the meeting is set for 30 minutes, set the timer for 30 minutes. If it’s scheduled for an hour, set the timer for an hour. When that timer goes off, the meeting is done. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Everybody should agree the meeting ends when the timer sounds.

Begin the meeting by defining a problem.

If you can, hold the meeting at the site of the problem. For example: If the problem is you are not engaging guests well on Sunday mornings, go to the place or the site where the experience of the guest begins. Have the meeting at that location. That way you can see and address the problem in a more tangible manner.

Be decisive.

Make sure you end the meeting with a solution. Map out action steps and assign responsibilities to bring the solution to reality. Make a decision. By making a decision, you create momentum to make other decisions, and the organization accelerates in the right direction.

Follow these tips to make your meeting time more efficient and effective. Besides optimizing your meeting time, make sure as pastors and leaders you work to: (1) limit the amount of meetings you hold; and (2) increase the amount of time you spend engaging people. Remember, reaching people is your ultimate mission. Do not allow meetings to kill your ministry.