November 8, 2012

The 10 Commandments of Meetings for Pastors


We pastors have a lot of meetings. A lot.

I should’ve included “How to lead meetings” in my list of things I wish seminary had taught me. Meetings end up eating the majority of many of my ministry days. Whether I’m meeting with current small group leaders, potential coaches, ministry team members, or random church members, I’m in meetings hours and hours each week.

I love people, which means that I don’t hate meetings. But I also value my time and theirs, and don’t want to waste my days and my life in pointless meetings. Throughout the seven years or so I’ve been a pastor, I’ve learned a few things about meetings that may help save you some headaches.

10 Meeting Rules Every Pastor Should Live By

1. Always bring a notepad.

If you come without something to write on, it shows that you don’t really care about that meeting. If it were more important, you’d have something to jot notes down on.

2. Buying someone a cup of coffee makes them more likely to agree to lead a small group.

Call this a bit of manipulation if you want, but it works.

3. Always be on time.

I used to try to be early to every meeting, but I found that 10 extra minutes here or there was adding up. And that 10 extra minutes here or there that I recaptured helped me get caught up on email, make that phone call I hadn’t yet, or put the finishing touches on a project and made those few minutes valuable to me. Be on time, and don’t shoot to be super early.

4. Make the sale in person.

If you’re going to recruit someone to lead a small group or assume some key role, don’t do it over email. Don’t do it over the phone or by text message. Make the ask in person.

5. Make meetings count.

People’s time is valuable ... yours included. If you’re going to meet with someone, plan on recruiting them for something. Or pitching an idea their way. Or invest in them spiritually. Or something. Make a decision at every meeting you lead. Never walk out of a meeting with your only takeaway being “Let’s meet again and decide ____.”

6. Don’t go into a meeting blindly.

If you can help it, always know what you’re walking in to. Get a general understanding before you meet with someone.

7. Never meet alone.

Either bring along a leader you’re investing in and/or meet with multiple leaders at once. Relationships are key to leadership, and when you have more than one person at the table, relationships can be fostered.

8. Keep a to-do list handy at all times.

Don’t use napkins or the backs of receipts. You’ll lose them. Use a to-do list on your phone. I like Wunderlist and Things.

9. Check your email before you leave the house in the morning.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shown up for an 8:00 a.m. meeting only to realize that they emailed me the night before to tell me they couldn’t meet.

10. Shut it down.

I’ve got to shut things down when I get home. When I began in ministry, it consumed my life and my family. I’m getting better at shutting off, but I’m still a work-in-progress. Meetings and people are important, but so is your family, and so is your personal time. If you don’t recharge, you’ll have nothing to give in meetings.

Do you ever feel like your life is just one meeting after another?

CC Image • faungg on Flickr

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Mark Grace
Thanks, Ben. Great post on the nuts and bolts of church meetings! I've often been struck by the contradictory views that church types have about meetings. Most people attending churches are aching for some kind of human connection but church meetings are somehow seen as bad things. People seem to make the assumption that a church meeting is not
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always about our meeting with God and one another. Church meetings are the laboratory in which we explore how the gospel is going to be applied to our life together. One idea that I have found helpful is to preach about how church committee meetings are different- how they are both a test of our commitment to living in love together and how they are bound to stretch us. So having ground rules that spell that out for every group that meets. The point is not to prevent people from being human or from making human mistakes in church meetings. The ground rules have to aim at inviting one another to anticipate our humanity, to practice love and grace when it shows up in church meetings and to set up the following question WHEN (not if) meetings get bogged down, tensions rise or impasses occur: "What can we learn from this situation about following Jesus as individuals and as a team entrusted with a specific task?"
2 years3 months ago · ( 0 )

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