As leaders, whether we like it or not, “doing church” requires regular meetings with our team. Meetings are important for several reasons:
- Communication. When it comes to the details, everyone needs to be on the same page.
- Vision. Your team needs to be reminded of the WHY behind your small group program.
- Accountability. Meeting together allows the question, “How am I doing?” to be asked.
- Community. Your leaders need to be reminded that they aren’t alone, because they are part of a leadership community.
- Sharing Stories. Encourage one another by talking about the good things God is doing.
- Answering questions. Nothing runs on automatic, especially a small group ministry. Meeting together gives space to talk about concerns, issues, and problems.
Most of the time, people aren’t excited about meetings. With a little bit of work, you can make them valuable—even to the point of creating feelings of anticipation within your team.
Make every meeting a place where people want to be; here are some ideas for making that happen:
Know where you are taking your team
Where do you want your team to go over the next year? Whether people need to learn a new skill or work on character development, start thinking of ways you can help your team members grow. Only you as the leader can lead. For me, I begin by praying, gathering input from people, and planning ahead for the following year, starting in October—well before I roll everything out in January. I assign the year a theme that largely defines the overarching shape and direction of weekly team meetings. For some examples of previous themes, visit SmallGroups.net/theme.
Know what you want to accomplish
For leadership meetings at all levels, I use a framework that includes three components: devotional (spiritual, heart, vision), celebrational (team, individuals, rhythms), and practical (housekeeping, news, reminders, upcoming events).
We always start with God’s Word. Our devotion time keeps our hearts in line and sets the tone for our meetings. Team members play an active role in planning and leading our meetings. For instance, each member takes a week and creates a devotional based on his or her perspective of our annual theme. Devotionals can also include teachings related to our vision—or anything the Lord lays on our hearts. Our devotions are flexible in order to let the Lord lead.
After our devotional time we move into celebration and acknowledgment. We recognize personal and group accomplishments—maybe a successful conference or a goal reached. We celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries to affirm each member’s importance. We also set a rhythm around regular annual events or seasons.
Know why you are gathering
Your reason for gathering will help you answer many other questions. Is the meeting’s purpose worth what it costs in time and dollars? Does everything in the meeting keep the team focused on the main thing—due north? Does everything add value to what you are trying to accomplish?
Nobody wants just another meeting, but a meeting with purpose is a game changer! Your meeting agenda can vary between highly structured to very loose, depending on your personality and your God-given wiring. But regardless of your personality type, stay flexible. If you gravitate toward structure, be open for the agenda to change. If you gravitate toward a looser style, don’t “cop out” on preparation or blame God if the meeting doesn’t go well.
Don’t get hung up on doing things a certain way every time. Read the mood of the team and adapt as needed. Are you coming off a major church push, or are you in the dog days of summer? Is a team member on a high or going through a low? Practice the art of adjusting to the need of the moment.
Overall, leaders determine the effectiveness of team meetings. Do your people dread meetings because they’re filled with disputes or tend to drag on and on—and on? Or do your people anticipate them because they know they’ll leave encouraged and informed? It’s up to you.