Meetings

31 08 2011

Many times people working in ministry dread meetings.  We do not want to engage in the minutia of a meeting but would rather be out on the front lines engaging in ministry.  Although ideal, that is not the case in 21st century professional ministry.  Meetings are a necessary.  But do they have to be a necessary evil.

A few years ago I read Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni.  He addresses the issue of bad meetings through a fable where he compares meetings to movies.  He asks the question why movies can be so engaging whereas movies can be so boring.  A good question to ask.  Unfortunately, I do not completely agree with his conclusions.  He concludes that a good movie is made of drama which he directly ties to a good meeting.  He believes that good meetings need drama.  I have been a part of meetings where this resulted in manufactured drama.

I actually enjoy meetings.  You could even say, I look forward to meetings.  But these are good meetings (which can be few and hard to find).  I like to lead meetings that are creative and discussion based.  I always believe that the discussion is more important than the decision.  Of course decisions are essential, but the journey to get there is more important for me.  I like to see meetings that allow for true discussion with everything laid on the table.  I like to see meetings where emotional ties to events or ministries are checked at the door and discussion concerning effectiveness is permitted.  This is the type of meeting that is not driven by worshiping sacred cows but instead slaughters them on the altar of forward thinking ministry.  I truly see the Spirit moving in these types of meetings.

I attended a meeting recently that was a couple hours long but I could not determine what the point was.  We talked about what we were doing in our own SILOS but we never engaged in any real life discussions.  We did not allow room for vision or dream.  Instead we pushed through the meeting to get done what was on the agenda.  But what was the point?  What was the driving moment behind the meeting to determine why we met?  Unfortunately, I could not answer that question at the end.

Instead of just being critical, I’d like to offer some suggestions concerning meetings.

  1. Have a reason to meet.  Nothing is worse than meeting for the meeting’s sake.  Now, that doesn’t mean cancel for weeks or months on end because you don’t have a reason to meet.  There probably are reasons to meet which you are just ignoring them.  But regardless, meet when you need to meet and be free to cancel if there are not needs that need to be discussed.
  2. Be open to discussion.  Usually the meeting that bears the most fruit is the one with the most discussion.  Be willing to lay ideas and emotions on the table (altar) so that true progress can happen.  If a program needs to be buried, bury it.  If something new needs to be birthed, birth it.  Allow for ample discussion so that all parties are heard.
  3. Provide time for creativity.  Nothing is worse than a boring, non-creative meeting.  Allow for fun.  Allow for creativity.  Creativity begets more creativity.  Discussions need to be opened ended with questions like “What if…” and all ideas need to be accepted and talked about (regardless how ridiculous).  Even though something appears ridiculous in a meeting, it can turn into something life-changing.
  4. Create a united front.  Even if everyone does not agree with the decision, the leadership must create a united front.  They must be able to stand together in agreement with the decision.  This does not mean that consensus has been achieved, but it does mean that leadership is in agreement.  One person is not making the decision.  Decisions are made as a team.
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