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Church Leader Tool: How to Lead an Effective Meeting



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this church leader tool is how to lead

an effective meeting a skill that all

leaders will eventually need and I'm

especially glad to offer this one

because it's by request and I love to

offer tools that folks will actually

need and use so I hope that this will be

a blessing

I should highlight that there's a

handout to go along with this a one-page

printout that you can take into meetings

and use as a resource and I'm gonna

break how to lead an effective meeting

into three parts first the purpose of an

effective meeting second that dynamics

of an effective meeting and third the

detail but before I jump in let's just

offer a little bit of scriptural support

in the form of the golden rule you could

take Matthew 7:12 and say lead every

meeting as you would want meetings you

attend to be led we've all sat through

bad meetings and we've sat through good

ones so think about how you can lead

your meetings as effectively as possible

so let's jump into the purpose of an

effective meeting first it should

advance the mission of the church you

should be able to connect your meeting

with accomplishing the mission of your

particular congregation second there

should be good communication you're

gathered together to get feedback to get

group wisdom to brainstorm I've always

said that all of us are smarter than any

of us so it's to use that communication

forum third it's to plan the ministry of

your church so that things are actually

accomplished that further again your

mission and forth it should be faith

building the people who are part of a

meeting part of a team should feel like

that grows their faith advances their

sense of being used by God so some basic

purposes next let's jump into some of

the dynamics of an effective meeting and

most of these are on a continuum we

float back and forth and really leaving

a good

meeting is kind of an art it's an art we

can learn but it does take some

experience and some awareness to the

dynamics that are going on so one of

those is that you bring your own

personal leadership to a meeting as well

as leading the flow and the

effectiveness of all of those gathered

at the meeting that's a dynamic that's a

play a second one is the social task

oriented people often grow friendships

and grow relationships in a meeting and

also get the task done and you want to

do both not totally social and not

totally task a fourth dynamic is you

want good decisions to be made by the

group as well as being efficient one way

to think about this might be how can you

get the best from the group in the

shortest period of time that way you're

not wasting people's time but also not

rushing through it and not getting the

best from the people who are on the team

yet a fourth dynamic is teamwork that is

how people work together and also the

individual gifts that people bring there

should be a sense of camaraderie and

working together and yet you also when

someone leaves a meeting should feel

like it wasn't good that you were there

that you brought something of yourself

to that meeting another dynamic is to

challenge to go in new places to to

challenge each other with new ideas and

new perspectives and also to be able to

leave a group with some harmony with the

feeling of we came together we may have

been challenged and and win in some new

directions but ultimately I appreciate

the people I was at the meeting with

it's especially important that a group

leave with a common commitment you need

to keep discussing it until everybody

can leave the meeting and say I will

stand behind what the group decided and

then a sixth dynamic is

very important and that's to involve all

equally to make sure that folks that

share too much that maybe dominate the

conversation are a little quieter and

folks who don't as often share are

encouraged to speak out a leader can

easily say to somebody who dominates the

conversation thank you

we've heard from you now how about from

some others and it's also appropriate to

someone who's more quiet to say now

we've heard from some who are more

outspoken how about some of you who have

not yet shared but to lead a meeting is

to get everybody to bring their best to

that meeting and then seventh is you

want to generate multiple ideas when

you're dealing with a problem or

something you want to work on to

brainstorm sometimes we tend to latch on

to the first idea and go down that

direction and that might be the right

answer but it's always better to

generate multiple ideas and to maybe

attack a problem in two or three ways or

to at least draw out the very best

answers before we move on so those are

some dynamics that you want to be aware

of now let's move on to some details of

an effective meeting G these are just

some of the specifics that will help

create an effective meeting first

meeting invitations we live in a busy

world and it would be nice to think that

everybody has it on their calendar and

they're excited about your meeting but

sending out an email or a phone call or

a contact to make sure people are coming

is always effective and consider the

size of your group usually smaller is a

little bit better say four to seven is

ideal when you start to get to 10 or 12

people it's hard to have everyone to

share and if there are that many

stakeholders maybe break it into two

separate tasks and two separate meetings

in order to get the best from everybody

and then second and probably the most

important thing for leaving an effective

meeting is to have a written agenda and

send it out

in advance this does multiple things

first it lets you be well-prepared to

think through what the meeting will

accomplish and that is communicated to

those who receive the agenda lets them

start thinking about the topics that

will be part of the meeting you might

even want to send along a links or

documents that are to be discussed at a

time again to give people time to think

about it you want to make sure that you

include the start and end time and

usually never more than two hours or at

least without a significant break and

you might even in your agenda or for

your personal use script out the time so

that you well use it for the most

important topics speaking of which you

can include the more important topics

toward the beginning maybe not the first

conversation but while people's energy

is still high move important topics to

the beginning of course if it's a church

meeting you want to make sure that you

begin with prayer and I'm a big fan of

ending with the Lord's Prayer and

holding hands communicates the harmony

of the group and most agendas also have

a review of previous decisions and new

directions in which you plan to go and

then I'll also introduce the idea of a

consent agenda which for a busy team

like a church council is often helpful

there is a separate church leader tool

on training for church councils but I'll

tell you that the general idea of a

consent agenda is to have people review

all the documents that are a part of the

meeting and in one vote they can consent

to approve those documents the goal of

that type of meeting is so that only

certain items are brought out for

discussion and so rather than reviewing

items that don't need discussion you

spend time on the three or four items

that need the most care that's called a

consent agenda

so again make sure you have that

advanced written

agenda some other details start on time

that helps communicate to people the

importance and if people are late then

they're gonna miss out so start on time

also use the agenda work your way

through it

let that be your script for what you're

going to accomplish some folks even

bring a clock or make sure that they

have one within their eyesight so that

they can keep on the target of what they

have planned fifth somebody should take

minutes yourself or someone else that

way there is a record of what's been

decided you usually keep track of who's

there

so that if people are late that are kind

of called out in that form and people

know who made what decisions I'm also a

big fan of minutes that block out maybe

even at the top of the minutes decisions

that were made and the person who is

responsible and a deadline I used to

attend a meeting where the minutes

always had that right at the top so you

could quickly look at it and know what

tasks came from that meeting and then of

course minutes should be distributed

especially if they're useful like that

out to the team including of course

people who are not able to be there so

that they're clued in on what was

decided six just a couple of ideas one

of them is the parking lot we've all

been at meetings where there's a good

idea that comes up but does not further

that particular discussion and many

groups call that a parking lot they'll

even take a sheet of paper and write it

on there and say let's just hold that

for another conversation we don't want

to lose the idea let's just put it over

in the parking lot another thing that's

often helpful is to form a task force

there's a separate idea that maybe is

not a particular need of that group but

a good idea form a separate task force

to go and do the research or the work on

a separate idea eight another idea is to

leave some space in your meeting for

conversation brainstorming question and

answers just some free

to think while you have good leaders

together and tackle new ideas number

nine of course you want to limit

distractions especially with technology

I know a number of meetings where folks

just ask please do not use your devices

during this meeting so that everybody's

attention is fully there ringing phones

conversations out in other rooms closed

doors just try and limit your

distractions so you can Welk focus on

what you're doing a lot of folks find a

conference call helpful I've used them

numerous times and they often are much

faster and more structured conversations

because there aren't the little side

conversations and it's great if the

distances are long for folks if there's

somebody away and you want to have them

be part of a meeting there are a number

of free conference call services that

you can use or when there's poor weather

just consider that a conference call

might be a helpful thing to have I'm

also a fan of having collaborative tools

that let teams work together such as

Google Drive which stores documents

online and that way all of a team can

have access to them as an example of

that when I have a team that is

searching for a new staff person we use

Google Drive to make sure that the

documents that we've created a job

description and interview questions and

stuff are available online and that way

everybody can work together another

helpful tool for some groups is to have

a yearly calendar sit down at one of

your meetings and work out things that

you do on a yearly basis and that way

you you can use that to guide the

patterns of that group gathering for

churches an obvious one is worship we

follow the same pattern so a planning

calendar that you can refer back to is

often very helpful that way I've also

been in meetings that ended with an

evaluation just to quick how is this

meeting for everybody that checks in on

some of those Dyne

dynamics that were mentioned and in fact

sometimes it even causes us to review

decisions and to make the best choices

in those so that's a quick easy thing to

do at the end of a meeting of course you

want to decide when your next meeting is

if that's not on a regular basis and you

want to end on time respect people's

time by starting on time and also ending

on time and then last you want to have a

way to follow up on decisions that were

made at the meeting to make sure that

the tasks you wanted to accomplish truly

are accomplished well I hope this has

been helpful church leader tool in how

to lead an effective meeting again

there's a handout which would give you

all of this information in a quick form

and as always if this has been helpful

forward it on to some other folks to

help them so they know how to lead an

effective meeting take care and God

bless