Better Meetings: Less Time, More Work Done

Does this sound like your staff meetings? Various people show up and straggle in. As random topics are discussed, the discussion drags on and half the group looks asleep. After it’s over, people leave wondering what decisions have been made. In the end, the meeting seems like a waste of time—or, at least, an inefficient use of time.

Recently our church pastoral staff read Death By Meeting, by Patrick Lencione, and it has revolutionized the way we conduct meetings at our church. We now spend less time in meetings and more time getting things done.

Lencione’s book is an excellent read about how to lead your organization and staff more efficiently and effectively. The key is to hold different types of meetings which have different purposes as well as different people attending.

Because this book is aimed at the corporate world, we adjusted these meetings to better fit our church ministries. Here’s a starting point for you if you want to better organize your teams and help everyone use their time in the most effective way possible.

  1. Check-in meeting
    Frequency: every day
    Time: 5 minutes
    Attendees: department members

    At the beginning of the day, our departments meet for a five-minute meeting where everyone tells each other what they are doing that day. This helps us keep in touch and avoid duplication of effort. It’s supposed to be done standing up so that everyone will keep it short, but we sometimes cheat and sit down. Okay, we cheat all the time and sit down.
  2. Service coordination meeting
    Frequency: 1x per week
    Time: 15 minutes
    Attendees: teaching pastor, venue pastors, worship pastor, tech director

    We discuss the upcoming weekend services, including special events or service elements, technical requirements and which volunteer leaders need to know what. We also do a quick review of the previous week and look ahead a couple weeks to see if there are specials we should be aware of.
  3. Leadership team meeting
    Frequency: 2x per month
    Time: 45 minutes
    Attendees: ministry staff leaders
    This meeting starts with everyone going around and sharing their top priorities they are working on. The rest of the meeting has no agenda. People come with issues to discuss with the team. So far we’ve kept the meeting to 45 minutes — one meeting was only five minutes because there was only one agenda item.
  4. Executive team meeting
    Frequency: 1x per month
    Time: 2 hours
    Attendees: executive team (in our church this is the senior pastor, executive pastor, worship/service/relationship pastors, children’s ministry director and student ministries director)
    The executive team meets to discuss larger-picture issues, do strategic planning and look at long-term direction.
  5. All-staff lunch
    Frequency: 1x per month
    Time: 1 hour
    Attendees: ministry staff leaders
    The entire staff gets together for lunch and to enjoy one another’s company. We also planned to share prayer requests and pray for one another.
  6. Quarterly review
    Frequency: 4x per year
    Time: 1 day
    Attendees: leadership team (same as #3)
    The leadership gets together off-site to have a time of fun and also to review and evaluate what has been happening.

We’re still in the process of refining these meetings but so far the feedback is that everyone is happier and more productive with this new structure and meeting plan.

For more information about or to purchase Death By Meeting, click here.

©2006 Angela Yee

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