31 Tips for 2016 – #13

Unknown-1Here is Tip #13 for Ministry Leaders in 2016…

Less meetings. More conversations.

I wish I had figured this one sooner. My first ministry context had me sitting in on the Board of Trustees, Church Council, Board of Christian Education, Missions Committee and Music Committee. The meetings were as unnecessarily and painfully long as they were unproductive. I’ll never forget the evening when I rushed through yet another supper and headed for the door on a warm sunny evening. With my hand on the door knob my son grabs my leg and says, “Please, daddy, not another meeting!” I put down my brief case and picked up the phone to tell my vice-chairman they can carry on without me. We changed the culture going forward and I rode bikes more with my son… and enjoyed more conversations over pie and coffee. Win, win!

Hopefully you are in a far more streamlined and centralized structure that empowers both staff and lay-leadership (If not, call me and we’ll go down that road together!). Either way, the practical and momentum building truth of the matter is this… you can get more done in a conversation with one than you can in a meeting with many. 

If you are in a context where committee meetings are common, make it a priority to call a meeting to declare that meetings will become uncommon. I get that some of the business of being in ministry requires a meeting, a quorum and the requisite motion/second and “all in favor say, I.” However, I would wager that there are actually very few things that require a vote of the majority. Strive to make such meetings part of a purposed, monthly or even quarterly strategy.

In the meantime, let’s chat about the power of conversation…

  • Conversations focus. They are most often with one or maybe two individuals for a specific purpose. There is far less chance of someone “taking the floor” with a monologue that everyone knows is going nowhere.
  • Conversations empower. Empowered, energized people in conversation will get more done than meetings full of obligated, bored, I mean, board members.
  • Conversations deepen. Great teams are built on trusting relationships. And, trusting relationships thrive in environments where conversation is fluid and transparent.
  • Conversations invite. Just as a culture of formality and committee kills momentum and crushes creativity… conversations create momentum and inspire creativity. You can readily invite others who are passionate and gifted in a given area to enter into the conversation, whether or not they are elected to any “official” committee. It’s quite liberating!

Informal staff and team meetings over coffee are one thing, and so are creative & collaborative group sessions. But meeting just so you can say you met, or so everyone can be heard, where we all know little to nothing actually gets accomplished, is a waste of God-given time and talent. Stop it. Go rides bikes with your kids and talk about it with someone who can partner with you to get-it-done tomorrow.

In short, never call a meeting over something you can chat about. “All in favor say, “I.”

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