Meetings can be an incredible tool to push the mission of your church forward. A well-executed approach to meetings will ensure people focus on the right ideas and issues. However, meetings can drift to places where they actually slow down the mission. Some common problems that I’ve seen creep into churches with too many unfocused meetings are:
- Rather than focusing on the right issues, they become the place for people to wander from issue to issue.
- The wrong people can be in the room for the issues at hand … or the right people are sitting through endless conversations about issues that don’t require their input.
- The inspiration of your team can be tapped out as people sit in useless meetings.
- Meetings can be never ending, meaning that the people who can last the longest get their way in the organization.
Every meeting should be a place where decisions are made. There needs to be inherent tension in the meeting as people are presented with options that they choose from. The worst type of meeting is “informational” where no decisions are made and people are simply brought up to date on what’s happening in the church. Avoid meetings that are purely informational. Here are six tactics for keeping your team informed without calling a meeting:
- Regular Email // Write a regular email that is fun and helpful and people will read it. I promise. Make sure that when you send the email it’s packed with information that they will actually want to read. Send it regularly and it will cut out the need to pull together your team to keep them informed. Make sure each email follows the V.I.P. approach:
- Vision // Remind people why you are doing what you do as a church.
- Information // Make your emails the way people get the data they need about ministry. If it’s helpful … they will open it!
- Personal // Don’t write it like you are addressing a mass of people … write it like it’s being sent directly to a friend.
- Project Management Software // There are many tools that teams can use to track tasks, goals and projects. Some of these solutions are online and designed to be used with teams. Project management software provides a great way for teams to stay up to date on what’s happening without needing to pull everyone together. My favorite tool on this front is Basecamp. It’s not free but it is an easy-to-use tool and scales well as the demands of your team increase.
- Voice Memo // Another way to connect that’s even more personal is to send a voice memo. You can email them to people and they will hear directly from you. Your smartphone has a voice recorder app installed in it, which makes it easy to record something for your team. You could also use an automated phone service like Phonevite to send the voice memo to people in your community.
- Private Facebook Group // Almost everyone is on Facebook … rather than fighting it, use it! Invite people to a private discussion group within Facebook where you can post photos, updates on what’s coming up and discussions about what’s happening in your church. Our Family Ministry team communicates with our volunteers through a private Facebook group. It’s a great way to celebrate “wins” and upcoming events at our church.
- Open Project Documents // Something as simple as a shared Google Doc can be a great place to track what a team is doing. The spreadsheets feature allows you to set notifications, so if information is changed on a range of cells you’ll be sent an email. This is great when you are asking multiple people to pull together disparate pieces of a project.
- Instant Messaging // For quick check-ins with your team, use an instant message service like Google Hangouts. They allow you to get quick updates on what’s happening and provide the shortest feedback loop possible. A relative newcomer that combines the best of instant messaging and threaded discussions is called Slack. I’ve bumped into a number of teams that swear by it and see it dramatically reducing their dependence on email or meetings. (Sounds like winning combo!)