Pastors often say to me, “I hate meetings.” When I ask why, they say, “They’re painful,” “They’re a waste of time,” “They’re too long,” or “We rarely accomplish anything.” Maybe you have felt the same way.
I have both sat in meetings and led meetings for a long
time. When I first started leading meetings, I quickly discovered
that the meeting was not the problem; I was the problem,
along with how I led the meeting. So I adapted! When I became
the senior pastor of a multi-church, I quickly realized the
value and importance of productive staff meetings. Over the
years, I learned that church personnel—full-time, part-time,
or volunteer—were the ones most scarred by bad staff meetings,
and I vowed to change this.
So, what have I learned? Here are the five Ws I try to
Who should be included in regular staff meetings? I suggest
you include all pastoral staff members. This includes
all full-time conference-paid pastors, part-time church-paid
pastors, and volunteer pastors. I think it is also important to
include the church secretary/administrative assistant. You
might consider ending the meeting in an “Executive Session”
(just the pastoral staff) in which you can address any sensitive
and confidential issues. As for other auxiliary staff, such
as worship leaders, the treasurer, or the custodian/groundskeeper,
they can be invited to attend part of the staff meeting,
or you can meet with them as needed.
What kind of things should go on the agenda? First, have
an agenda prepared ahead of time. This helps develop a
culture of planning and thinking ahead. Each staff member
should submit his/her items ahead of the meeting. This gives
you an opportunity to have pre-conversations as needed and
will help you to determine if the item is ready for the agenda.
This also helps you plan the length of the meeting.
Begin the meeting with prayer. Prayer sets the tone for
the meeting and prioritizes it as a high value for your staff.
Pray for the church, its members, and the staff. Every meeting
should include vision casting. Effective church staff meetings
are rooted in the mission of the church. The leader must define
reality—“where we are”—and then talk about where the
church is going and how to get from “here” to “there.” This is
critical to movement.
Next, listen to reports from staff members. These reports
are not just important information—they are critical for the
progress of the church and for accountability.
Then you can cover issues like calendars, schedules, upcoming
programs and events, etc.
Once a month, I also spend some time on leadership training.
Leaders must grow in order to maximize the gifts God has
given them. I find that doing leadership training stretches me
and helps my staff to grow.
When should staff meetings be held? How long should
staff meetings run?
Effective meetings can make a huge difference in the
leadership and life of the church. Staff meetings should be
regularly scheduled, weekly if possible. This allows a culture
of caring, communication, and accountability to develop.
The meetings should have a fixed and predetermined length.
Nothing discourages staff members more than when a meeting
goes longer than planned. Efficient staff members will already
have plans for after the meeting. Don’t impose upon that time.
People tend to become restless if they don’t know when a meeting
will end. Meetings should start and finish on time. I’ve found
that most agendas can be covered in 60-90 minutes.
Each church facility will dictate the best location; it might be
the pastor’s office or a committee room. I suggest that once a
quarter, you meet off-site. This is an excellent time for leadership
development. I also like to have an annual staff retreat.
I find that regular meetings together help the staff to develop
strong bonds as we move together to accomplish the
mission God has given us. I also believe that staff meetings
serve as an excellent mechanism for communication and accountability.
They can also serve as encouragement as you are
reminded that you are not alone in this endeavor.
I hope these suggestions will help you to have productive
and enjoyable staff meetings which honor God and those who
Ron Aguilera is executive secretary for the Illinois Conference. This
article first appeared in Best Practices, May 2015. It has been
lightly edited for Elder’s Digest. Reprinted by permission.