By Mark R. Jordan
Make the most of every ministry meeting and keep every team on mission. Slash through the administrative red tape of cumbersome committees. Join the ranks of many congregations that are boldly transforming their committees into effective and energizing ministry teams!
Ministry teams can be sources of joy, fellowship, ministry, and cooperation in the accomplishment of the overarching mission of the church. Achieving this takes focused planning and advance preparation. Every effective team needs a chance to huddle together before executing an effective play on the field of ministry.
Here are ten strategies that can be utilized to make the most of every ministry team meeting. At the same time, these strategies will keep the entire team focused on its mission and the great mission of the church body.
1. Have a great reason for every team meeting
Every team must have a rock solid reason for meeting. Without a clear and specific purpose, groups will wander, chase rabbits, and waste time discussing the unnecessary. Even worse, a team without clear direction will stick its ministry nose where it doesn’t belong and overlap or interfere with the ministries of other teams in the congregation.
Some teams can meet quarterly rather than monthly. Other teams could function well on a semiannual basis. The nature and work of the particular team in question will determine the frequency of the meetings.
2. Aggressively advertise the team meeting in advance
Without good attendance by the members of the team, even the most effectively planned team meeting will never get off the ground. Members of the team need at least two reminders of an upcoming meeting. With most of the team present or accounted for, you’re on your way to making the meeting a positive and productive experience for everyone.
3. Begin and end with prayer
Zechariah 4:6 underscores the need to establish a strong spiritual tone in any undertaking from the very beginning. No team has any business attempting to tackle any of the Lord’s business without first having a conversation with the Lord of the church. It is important that the meeting be opened and closed with prayer.
Encourage members to share prayer concerns with the other members of the team, for the church, and the work of the ministry team.
4. Stick to a written agenda
Never have a team meeting without a written agenda. A written agenda keeps the team on track and the team members focused on the items listed. One of the important and helpful aspects of an agenda is that if new business or new issues are brought to the meeting, they can be added to the official agenda of the next meeting.
5. Take minutes at every meeting
Minutes can make or break a team’s effectiveness. It is important for the team leader and the rest of the team to be able to examine and study what has or what has not taken place in previous meetings. The minutes from the previous meeting should be reviewed and (if necessary) approved by a vote before the present meeting begins. This refreshes everyone’s memory as to actions the group has already taken and any items that need to be handled.
6. Start on time and end on time – every time!
Start every team meeting on time – every time! The only way to train the members of the team to show up on time is always to start on time. If you’re the team leader, plan on arriving at least 10 minutes before the meeting is scheduled to begin.
Keep the meeting within a 60 to 90 minute format. If the meeting lasts more than an hour and a half, people’s attention will wander, nerves will get strained, and, even worse, folks will get sleepy or giddy – maybe both. Team effectiveness languishes after the 90-minute mark.
7. Schedule the next team meeting
The best time to schedule the next team meeting is while everyone is together for the current meeting. This allows everyone to look at the calendar together and plan the next meeting time and date when it will work best for the group as a whole.
8. Assign and delegate
Don’t ever assume that the most critical ministry of the team is done during the meeting. Most of the critical work takes place after the meeting is adjourned. The effective team makes assignments for individual members or subgroups of the team to follow-up on the decisions made during the meeting. The subgroup can then report on the status and results of their work at the next meeting of the entire team.
9. Allow no ambushes Team ministry is not a place to play Cowboys and Indians – nobody likes to be ambushed. If new business is unexpectedly introduced during a meeting and it’s obvious that no preliminary work has been done, place this “surprise” on the next meeting’s agenda. Remember strategy #4: Stick to a written agenda. That gives the team leader and the other members of the team some time to consider the implications of the newly proposed ministries. For urgent matters, schedule another meeting as soon as possible when people are better prepared to decide and/or act.
10. Every player gets a playbook
Every team member should have an indexed notebook with pertinent information on the work of the team. Tabbed sections should include team procedures, minutes from previous meetings, team budget, a telephone/e-mail roster for team members, and a section for prayer concerns. It would be helpful to have a copy of the church calendar for the next year or at least for the next six months. Members of the team should bring this information with them to every meeting. This keeps everyone up-to-date and informed.
Put these ten meeting strategies to work with your team. They will help you accomplish great things for God’s glory and for the advancement of his kingdom.