Operation Respect: Running faithful, effective meetings

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Operation Respect
What if every meeting was considered to be THE tool for “setting a conversational pathway toward alignment and vision?”

Before you roll your eyes at what seems like an unattainable goal, you should know that meetings don’t have to be boring, or worse, a waste of time.   They don’t have to be power struggles or places where a few people run the show while everyone else bides their time.  And they don’t have to be a mind-numbing, re-hashing of the past.

Before you give another minute of your life away to a de-humanizing meeting,  you and others on your team can take advantage of a new tool available for free to make meetings effective, efficient and energizing.  This includes Congregational Council and Semi-annual Congregation Meetings.

Check out this month’s 10-Minute Toolbox where Pastor Sue Briner offers three keys to shifting your next congregational meeting into a meaningful experience that furthers the vision and mission.  Join her to learn how to:

  • meet to grow
  • make safe spaces for discussion and decision making
  • use interactive conversation practices to engage the best thinking of the whole group

Share this webinar at your congregational council meeting and use the discussion questions to move your meetings in the right direction.

Lead by setting the bar high.  Imagine a congregation where people actually look forward to being part of meetings with a purposeful, respectful culture.

I call this Operation Respect, because the mutual trust you engender when meetings respect time, all voices and the real purpose (joining God in mission in the world) is ultimately about respect.  With all the changes in our world, people are not interested in being part of anything they see as a waste of time.  When we allow meetings to drag on endlessly,  we are sending a message to people that we don’t value their time.  Congregations that make an intentional effort to be inclusive of different gifts and perspectives on their leadership teams but at the same time do not create a safe space for diverse conversations, have missed the point.  Respecting everyone at the table as a full participant takes intentionality.

In addition to what you learn in the webinar,the following 10 tips for a respectful meeting are a giant step in the right direction at every meeting you lead.

  1. Always start the meeting on time, regardless of people who are late.  Do not review the contents of the meeting with the people who are late for the part they missed.
  2. Reduce the length of committee or team meetings to one hour maximum (with the exception of Congregational Council meetings).  Anything longer is a strategic conversation or working team.
  3. Include shared learning and prayer in every meeting.  Expect people to want to grow in faith and leadership capacity if they come to the meeting.  Invest in people as they invest in the meeting.
  4. End the meeting early or on the agreed-upon time, even if the agenda is not finished.  People will be more positive about participating as a result.
  5. Invite fewer people to the meeting-productivity goes down with increasing numbers of participants.
  6. The meeting leader should enforce only one person speaking at a time, and to the point.
  7. Don’t allow individuals to hijack or dominate meetings by frequent and endless conversation. It’s the responsibility of the meeting leader to control this.  Interrupt people who either repeat what they have said, or repeat what someone else has already covered. These are time wasters.
  8. No laptops or phones are allowed to be active in meetings. Allowing people to be interrupted or diverting their attention lowers the value of the meeting.  Don’t tolerate meeting participants working on other things during the meeting.
  9. Ask each meeting participant to prepare for the meeting in advance in response to a meeting question that will be dealt with in the future, not a rehash of the past.
  10. At the beginning of the meeting, ensure that the desired outcome(s) are stated clearly. Limit the action items of your meeting to no more than three.  Table any discussion that is not relevant to the agenda.

Leaders need to care enough about God’s mission and those at the table to take steps, even drastic steps, to shift the culture of meetings to be life giving.  Imagine freeing people to serve and love like Jesus rather than holding them captive in meetings.

*Footnote:  A Congregational Retreat is different than a 6 hour meeting at church on a Saturday.  A retreat includes retreating!  This would include overnight, away from the church campus, spiritual renewal, team building, learning together, good fun AND shared work.

Additional resources are available with this month’s toolbox. Click the toolbox icon below to register and gain access to these resources.