May 03, 2016

Make Meetings Great Again!

Written By Cary Schmidt

Ministry involves a lot of meetings. We meet for church, for fellowship, for planning, for relationships, for outreach, for discipleship. We meet with church family, with staff, with guests. We meet for lots of reasons and in lots of contexts.

How are your meetings? Do people want to attend? Are they well done? Well planned? Well executed? Well received? Are they successful? Do they engage people? Do they take ministry forward? Do they help people grow spiritually?

A second-rate meeting (whether a church service or a staff meeting) will inevitably produce second-rate ministry. Meetings are “what we do.” Most effective ministry takes place, in one way or another, in a meeting.

This post is a proposal that we “make meetings great again!” This is essentially that our team uses as a check-list for an effective meeting. It came from training with our staff at EBC. This list represents our goal to “make meetings great again!”

1. Plan a Great Meeting

Get Together—Assemble the team responsible for the meeting (well in advance, weeks or months.)

Brainstorm the Meeting—what should happen to make it effective, what could happen to make it great?

Develop a Plan—create a list of categories or responsibilities such as: promotion, materials, technical support, food, hosting, facility prep., clean up, etc.

Create an Action List—list all the items that need to happen for each area of oversight.

Cleanly Delegate Responsibilities. Make sure the team knows who is responsible for every aspect of the meeting, and that everybody is committed to owning their particular responsibilities.

Set a Follow-Up Meeting—get the team together a week later and evaluate every area, every task. Mark progress, answer questions, solve problems, assess forward momentum. Do this all over again, and again as you get closer to the meeting.

As a Leader, Evaluate and Assess Progress. You must monitor “are we staying on track?” If not, you must act and provide solutions to getting on track.

Make it Better. All of our meetings should be excellent. They should be excellent in planning, delegation, preparation, execution, follow through. People ought to attend these meetings and see preparation, competence, and excellence.

2. Prepare for a Great Meeting

Who Needs to Come?—invite them, confirm them, remind them.

What’s the Purpose?—plan the agenda and time schedule.

What’s the Information?—write the handout, prepare the information, proof read it carefully, have others proof read it.

Is There Food?—Plan the costs, shop for it, enlist help with it.

What’s the Location?—communicate location and information.

3. Create a Great Environment

Set Up the Space—tables, chairs, table cloths, trash, podium, sound, decor., etc.

Clear Out the Clutter—nothing should be in this space that doesn’t belong there and serve a purpose for being there. Just to be clear—put away extra chairs, easels, toys, vacuums, junk, trash, extension chords, old papers, clutter. The space should be as neat and orderly as it can be for our facility and resources.

Music—always, always, always, always, always have music playing at least twenty minutes before any service or meeting.

Lights—turn on all the lights. Don’t light part of a room. Always light the space. (unless you’re having a film night.)

Temperature—Every human being is the equipvalent of a 100 watt light bulb in terms of heat, so err to the cooler side. Consider how the room will feel with all the bodies that are coming into it.

Air Movement—even in winter, it’s important for a room to always have air circulating. Still rooms get stifling and stuffy very quickly, and stuffy meetings are sheer misery. Nothing will kill a service faster than dead air.

Technical Support—line up sound, recording, and projection help. That should all be set up and checked at least twenty minutes before the meeting begins. No checking mics right before the meeting starts. No last minute preparation.

Ushers, Servers, Help—do we need help for this meeting? Enlist them and help them know how they can facilitate the meeting.

Childcare—do we need to provide child care for this meeting?

Review the Environment—before the meeting, stop and look around for a moment. Feel the whole environment. Walk through it. Look at the entry. Are things out of place? Are things missing? Develop an intuitive sense of environment—when there’s no light, no music, no air circulation—you should feel it and fix it. Ask yourself what’s wrong with this environment? How can it be better?

4. Conduct a Great Meeting

Details and Disruptions—Are there details happening during the meeting that need to be covered? How can we minimize disruptions?

Materials—Hand out materials only when you are ready to go through it. This way people follow you through the meeting rather than reading ahead.

Thanks—Thank people. Always thank great people for giving their time and sacrificing from their day to be a part of your meeting.

Prayer and Time—Always start and end with prayer. Always be as concise as possible. Always be conscious of time.

Lead—Look at people and speak up. Lift your head and project your voice.

Speak as a Leader—Speak with clarity. Enunciate and project without mumbling. Even if you have a sound system, speak up with clarity and project your voice beyond yourself.

Smile—if you look stoic the meeting will be stoic.

Passion—If you care about the cause, then your leadership vision and energy will communicate that.

Know Your Stuff—if you have to wonder what you are supposed to say, you didn’t prepare.

Prepare  Your Words—always have an agenda, list, etc, of things you need to cover.

5. Follow Up a Great Meeting

Greet People—shake hands and thank people for coming.

Clean Up—think through the clean up and tear down. The space should be left ready for the next meeting.

Put Away—all equipment, etc. should be put back away.

Thank People—write thank you notes to those who helped and those who attended.

Think Follow Up—what response have you asked for? What calls need to be made? How will you communicate with people who weren’t there?

Tickler File—after the meeting, make a list of improvements that you want to see happen next time. Make a file of all the things that went well, things that need to change, and store it in a place where you can recall it when you need to.

Additional Questions to Consider:

—Do we need greeters, ushers, smiling people to welcome people as they arrive?

—Can we assemble packets to hand out rather than leave things to be picked up?

—Can we personalize anything? Name tags? Names on folders?

—Can we decorate? Balloons? Banners? Color?

—Can we use a projector/slides?/title slide? (Always do this if possible.)

—Can we serve light refreshments?—cookies and lemonade or coffee are easy and always a win!

In Conclusion:

How can you make your ministry meetings great again?

If we would apply this list, every church service, every class, and every staff meeting would take a big step forward in effectiveness. May I implore you to not be content “doing ministry poorly.” May we forever say goodbye to “poor planning” “last minute thinking” and to our “tolerance of mediocrity.”

It doesn’t take money or expensive resources to be well prepared, create a clean environment, and host an engaging, meaningful meeting. Start where you are, with what you have, and do your very best with what God has given to you. He honors faithful stewardship. If we aren’t doing our best with the little that we have, why should we ever expect God to give increase?

What meetings will you be leading this week? How can this list help you make that meeting better? Should you have a staff meeting with your paid or volunteer teams and talk through this list? I hope this checklist will help you and your team to make those meetings better.

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)