By Sam S. Rainer III
I’m weird. I like meetings.
They are an opportunity to interact with people. Being an extrovert, I enjoy the collaboration of teamwork.
Not all meetings are created equal. Church staff meetings can wander into theological briars and get stuck. Discussions about facility requests can circle on a roundabout like Clark Griswold in London. Some church staff probably think the “lead” in lead pastor needs to change to “tangent.” (I’m guilty!)
There are several approaches to staff meetings. Most church staff meet weekly to discuss short-term, operational items in a standing meeting with a set time. My staff meets every Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. to work through weekly items. The agenda is largely the same every week.
Other types of meetings include strategy meetings with key leaders — sometimes called “whiteboard sessions” — which are more open-ended and focused on long-term goals.
One-on-one meetings often cover individual goals.
Ad hoc meetings might draw in a special team to accomplish a unique task.
In this post, I’m referring to the weekly operational staff meetings with a repeating, or standing, agenda. I suggest including the following four agenda items every week.
#1: Prayer. Excluding prayer from ministry meetings is tantamount to driving a vehicle without ever replacing the oil. Eventually, you’re going to wear out.
We ask the church to submit prayer requests weekly. We pray over all of them and sign a card sent to those requesting prayer. We want them to know we’ve prayed for them. We pray for each other. We pray for our community. We pray for the last. The first item on the agenda every week is prayer because it is the most important.
#2: Scripture for the upcoming week. Not every church meeting needs to begin with a devotion. But your weekly staff meeting should include a discussion about the Scripture for the upcoming Sunday. My goal is to have a sermon draft by our Tuesday meeting. I then share with the staff the direction of my sermon. I seek their input and use the feedback to reshape my messages. There is no need to have a separate devotional time; simply use Sunday’s text.
#3: Ministry stories from the previous week. You become what you celebrate. Every week, I encourage the staff to share ministry successes. Learning how God works in another person’s ministry area is an encouragement to everyone. It also helps us connect the dots between God’s work in the church. For example, a child accepting Christ may coincide with her grandmother’s decision to teach a Life Group and her father’s decision to join the worship team.
#4: Thank-you cards to write. Every week, I ask the staff if I can write a note to someone. I also encourage them to write notes to people in their ministry areas. A hand-written note sent through the snail mail is a rarity. They stand out. They make a statement. Check out this previous post I wrote on the power of hand-written notes.
We spend about 5 to 15 minutes in prayer, about 10 minutes discussing the upcoming text, about 5 to 10 minutes sharing ministry stories, and less than 5 minutes discussing thank you cards. Most weeks, these agenda items take about 30 minutes, which leaves an additional 30 minutes for other items.
The time spent on these four agenda items is worth it every week.
Sam S. Rainer III serves as president of Rainer Research, a firm dedicated to providing answers for better church health. He also is the senior pastor at Stevens Street Baptist Church in Cookeville, TN. He writes, speaks and consults on church health issues. You can connect with Sam at @samrainer or at his blog, samrainer.wordpress.com.