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
- 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
by Meeting, Patrick Lencioni suggests that thriving organizations need
three distinctly different kinds of meetings:
1) Daily Stand up Meetings (5 minutes)–Standing up
ensures brevity; meeting daily ensures accountability. Ordinarily, it is not possible
to pull a team of volunteers together daily, but an everyday check-in over the
phone or through email has a way of keeping the team clearly encouraged and on
the same track.
2) Weekly 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.
3) Monthly Strategic Meetings (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 again the
gnarly issues that are keeping the youth ministry from moving forward. In these
meetings, month after month, the team keeps banging away until something
cracks. My next column will focus exclusively on these kinds of meetings.
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 www.ymarchitects.com, a
youth ministry consulting team that assists churches in building sustainable,
deep-impact youth ministry…one church at a time.