By Mark DeVries
If you are like most youth ministers, you hate meetings. And therefore, as often as possible, you avoid them like the plague. For years, when it came time to ridicule “meetings,” I was the first in line. But then I stumbled upon a fascinating study that turned my attitude about meetings upside down. In this a study of winning streaks and losing streaks (in sports teams and in businesses), the author discovered, …losing companies are twice as likely as the winning companies to have reduced the number of management meetings in the preceding two years…Losers, compared with winners, are nearly four times as likely to keep information in the hands of a small group that operates in secrecy behind closed doors, shutting everyone else out. (Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Confidence, p. 99).
The bottom line? Thriving organizations have meetings. It is easy to have a non-productive, absolute-waste-of-time meeting. Just try these steps:
* Make the agenda always loose and free-flowing, never written down.
* Make sure everyone understands that questioning an idea will earn the label of mean-spirited and hyper-critical.
* Make a tradition of having everyone at the table “report,” even if it means repeating what everyone in the group already knows
* Leave the most important topics to the end of the meeting
* Mix up dozens of long-range and immediate issues in every meeting, always leaving the most important ones until the end.
Many ministries remain chronically stuck because they fail to access the right combination of meetings. In his marvelous book-length parable, Patrick Lencioni suggests that thriving organizations need three distinctly different kinds of meetings:
Weekly Stand up Meetings (5 minutes)–Standing up ensures brevity; meeting weekly ensures accountability. Ordinarily, it is not possible to pull a team of volunteers together weekly, but an every weekly check-in over the phone or through email has a way of keeping the team clearly encouraged and on the same track.
Monthly Tactical Meetings (1-1.5 hours)–These are the meetings that keep the team focused on its immediate concerns, clarifying and troubleshooting the tasks that require the sharing of information and coordination of effort.
Annual Strategic Meeting (2-8 Hours)–This is the one meeting most often omitted from the calendar. But it is the one (and only) meetings that actually leverages ministries forward. Exclusively focused on long-term priorities, these meetings take out the battering ram against the gnarly issues that are keeping the ministry from moving forward. In this meeting, the team keeps banging away until something cracks.
If we hope to push through the obstacles that have been resistant to our normal strategies, we will need more than a patchwork collection of ideas implemented in unpredictable episodes by passionate people working in isolation. We will need the power of a team pulling together in a unified, crystal clear direction. And to get a team to succeed in the game of high-leverage transformation almost always requires time together…in meetings.
Mark DeVries is the founder and president of Youth Ministry Architects vwww.ymarchitects.com, a youth ministry consulting team that assists churches in building sustainable, deep-impact youth ministry…one church at a time.
This article “Meeting for Effective Youth, Ladies & Men Ministry” by Mark DeVries was excerpted from: www.ymarchitects.com website. December 2010. It may be used for study & research purposes only.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”