Church leadership meetings should happen as often as needed, but never more often than necessary. The specifics of that will change depending on many factors, including church size, location, frequency of services and ministries, polity, and more. But here’s how my church works it out in our very active, suburban church of about 150 in typical Sunday attendance:
The primary leaders of ministries meet at least weekly (pastoral staff, worship team, youth leaders, and so on).
In our church, we’re able to meet with pastoral staff and weekly ministry leaders during normal business hours at the church building. But we’ve gone through seasons when we’ve had to meet off-site and off-hours to adapt to volunteers with limited schedules.
For many years, we met off-site during lunch because one or more of the volunteer staff had a punch-the-clock job several miles from the church, so the rest of us went where they were.
The general rule is those with easier schedules adapt for those with harder ones.
Oversight committees (deacon boards, and the like) meet at least monthly.
This seldom happens 12 times a year, but it needs to be a minimum of 10 or 11 times a year if we want the oversight of finances and schedules to be up-to-date.
These meetings can take place at almost any time and place, depending on the schedules of the committee members. Currently, our preschool board meets at the church for lunch, while our church deacon board meets at a deacon’s house on a weekday evening.
The first thing we do after a change in leadership is to coordinate a regular time and place for meetings that works for everyone with the least amount of disruption possible. If it’s too hard to meet, the meetings won’t happen.
Teams that plan annual or semi-annual events (like a Christmas pageant or food drive) meet quarterly, then monthly for the last quarter before the event happens, and weekly during the final month.
It’s tempting not to meet for six months or more for events that only happen annually. But if you do a post-event assessment, a half-year “start thinking about ideas” meeting, then a “let’s get this going” meeting at three to four months out, it ends up being quarterly.
An "all hands on deck" meeting with every church ministry leader (staff, deacons, ministry helpers, and potential leaders) happen semi-annually.
At these meetings we have an open, far-ranging discussion of leadership principles, communication needs, and anything else that will enhance the coordination of all the ministries.
One of the primary challenges in churches, no matter how big or small they are, is something called ministry silos. This is the tendency for each ministry to be so narrowly focused on their area of concern that they forget how their ministry fits with other ministries and impacts the church as a whole. A semi-annual meeting with everyone is a great reminder of who’s on the team and how it all fits together.
The vision meeting with primary leaders (staff, deacons, and spouses) is annual.
When we do this, it’s usually a half-day Saturday event. And it’s not just to cast the pastor’s latest dreams and ideas. It’s also a chance for the pastor to listen to the needs, visions, and ideas of everyone who serves and leads. There are great ideas bubbling up in every church, but if we don’t give them a context to be heard they’ll die out instead of being utilized.
Adapt for Your Context and Season
There might be more meetings during a season when the church is undergoing big changes (negative or positive), and there might be a slower season when one or two meetings might be skipped.
But even if the meetings are short (which they should be when things are running well), regular meetings for communication and coordination should never be abandoned. Regular face-to-face communication is essential for the health of a church.
The bottom line is this: the most important thing about church leadership meetings isn't how often they happen, but how effective they are.
Karl Vaters is pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in California. He's been a small church pastor for more than 30 years and is the author of The Grasshopper Myth.
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