Youth pastors often dislike and/or lack an appreciation for church staff meetings. They can be seen as boring, unproductive, artificial, annoying, a waste of time, and a joke. Youth pastors tend to either: disengage (fall asleep or play on their cell phone/laptop) or become angry and cynical when staff meetings fail to live up to their desires.
All-church staff meetings are important, regardless of the type of leadership youth pastors sit under or how unproductive the meetings are. Youth pastors cannot blow off church staff meetings (mentally or physically). Think about it…all-church staff meetings provide a time that other staff (from janitorial, to administration, to the other pastors) get to see the face of the youth ministry and hear about what God is doing in the youth ministry department.
I get it. It can be frustrating to sit in staff meetings sometimes, especially when there is tension in the room, when you question the productivity level of the meeting, and when you are annoyed by someone at the table (or maybe you are annoying someone at the table, but this is HIGHLY unlikely). You may have considered finding an excuse so that you don’t have to be there. Maybe the ONLY time you could find to have that coffee meeting just so happened to be right in the middle of the meeting. How convenient.
You know what? Your youth need you to be there. Your staff needs you to be there. If you don’t attend and engage, you only reinforce the “solo youth ministry department” stereotype. I hear youth pastors complain about feeling alone and needing support more than I hear about boring staff meetings. Could the two be connected indirectly? Consider engaging in the meeting as a part of God’s sanctification process for you and as a way to build a support system (for yourself and your ministry, but also for your students).
What to Do During an All-Church Staff Meeting to Avoid Falling Asleep:
– Bring your notebook, pencil, and Bible. Do not bring any thing that will distract you during the meeting: EX: Laptop, iPAD, kids, cat or dog, and cell phone. If you have to bring your laptop turn, off the wifi. Take notes on what people are saying.
– Shut up and smile. This is a hard task for a youth pastor to master, but it is necessary. When it is your turn to listen, just bite your tongue and listen. Listen with your ears, eyes, mouth, and body. Be positive. Believe the best about everyone speaking. Negativity in a staff meeting is not productive. If you have some issues or “beef” with the leadership, schedule an appointment with the leaders who can change things and talk privately. If you feel it is important that your contradictory opinion be known in the meeting, your criticism should be constructive and presented with an open mind and spirit. Include proof that you have been listening and that you respect everyone’s ideas in your appeals.
– Probe other staff members. Show that you care for the other church staff. Ask questions about their ministry and life (and CARE about the answers, don’t just pretend!). Having solid relationships with other staff members will make your youth ministry job easier, especially when you need someone in your corner or a quick ministry favor.
– Criticize well. Use the Oreo technique. First provide a positive comment (top black layer) followed by a critique (the white stuffing), ending with another praise (the bottom black layer). For example, “Pastor Tom, I appreciate your passion, but I don’t feel it is wise to ask the high school seniors to volunteer at the Men’s breakfast the morning after their senior prom. Pastor Tom, you sure have a heart to recruit great volunteers.”
– Communicate why children/students matter. It is your mission to always communicate to everyone why they need to care for the children and students of the church. Get the staff to remember the students are the church, right now!
– Fight and stand up for the children/students of the church. Unfortunately, youth pastors are often the sole advocates for the students of the church. So advocate well and get excited about why you get to do this every day! If you have to be like Jesus, feel free to rebuke the adults who are hindering the children and students that are running, courageously, to Jesus (Luke 18:15-17 and Mark 10:13-16)
– Keep the meeting on track. Don’t make sarcastic comments that derail the meeting (trust me, I know). Constantly remind the staff to get back on track. Little side comments may be fun in the moment, but they kill the productivity in the room. Also before the prayer section that marks the beginning of staff meeting, ask the person running the meeting when the meeting will end. Keep him/her accountable to the end time.
– Drink caffeine before the meeting. Caffinate yourself before going into the meeting-Coke, Mountain Dew, and Coffee. I have found that coffee has a faster caffeine effect in ministry settings. If you don’t drink coffee, you might want to start.
– Feel free to use the restroom and take your time…but not TOO much time. Don’t abuse this privilege. An average youth pastor bathroom break is 4-6 minutes. You don’t want the staff to be concerned that you may have a “stomach bug,” which may mean they pray for you at the end of the meeting, which may take more time…..
– Tell 2-3 stories about how God is moving in the youth ministry department. When it is your turn to talk, talk only about the successful God moments that transpired in your youth ministry that week. Be focused, passionate, and convincing. Engage the older staff members. If they cry, bonus! Sharing passionate stories shows the staff you really care about kids. Share your concerns only when they need to be addressed by the church. Don’t waste time griping about that annoying parent who keeps trying to sabotage your ministry unless talking about it in the meeting is going to change something.