What Would Jesus Say Today?
In Revelation 2-3, Jesus spoke to seven local congregations. To six of them, he gave commendations, telling them what they were doing well. To five of them, he gave words of correction—encouraging them to make needed adjustments. If Jesus were to address your congregation, or the church-at-large in your area, what aspects of the church do you think he would commend, and what area(s) do you think he would say needed to be changed?
We took up an exercise in our regional evangelical ministerial group a couple of years ago: reading through Revelation 2-3 and looking at a different church each month. From that exercise, we determined that because Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), most of the things He commended and most of the areas that He said needed attention and change were the same now as they were back then.
- Some have left their first love and need to repent and do their first works.
- Some have not denied the faith and are holding fast to His name.
- He knows our works, love, service, faith, patience, and our works that are not complete before God.
- Hold fast to that which we already have until He comes.
- He has set an open door before us.
- He knows if we are keeping His Word or are lukewarm.
- We are to repent and be zealous!
- Don’t be arrogant in your own self-assessment (“We have need of nothing”).
What is the best way to lead staff meetings; especially with full and part-time staff, or even volunteer staff? What should the staff be expected to prepare for the meeting? How are agendas best established? How often should you have meetings to cover church business as opposed to providing training? Who should attend staff meetings? Do you have different levels of meetings? Pastoral staff only or all staff attending?
Pastor John Grunewald—Bonn, Germany
Good question and one we are better equipped to answer today than in previous years.
Today the entire ministry functions with Teams. The reasons for this are at least threefold:
- We believe it is one of the best places for discipleship process to happen in a consistent way (Eph. 4:12).
- In these teams we can “mine the wisdom” of every individual (Eph. 4:16).
- The communication is greatly improved throughout the church and ministry.
We don’t use the word “staff” anymore since everyone fits into a team. And every team member knows they have to think, give input, answer questions, etc.
What and Who
We have what we call an Executive Leader Team Meeting (ELT) which covers the entire ministry (church, training centers, support and financial/legal). These are full-time, paid leaders. Meeting frequency = 1x/week.
Each of these team leaders has their own meetings. Frequency depends on schedule and availability of their team, but often enough to not hinder progress.
We also have a church leaders meeting, which consists of team leaders from the church (some full-time paid, and some volunteer people). Meeting frequency = 2x/month. Meeting frequency is important if we are going to accomplish what we need to, so we encourage all teams to evaluate their team meetings to see if they are often enough to be effective.
I am the team leader and meeting leader for both the ELT and church team meetings.
Every Team has a team meeting. The only difference is that some don’t need Executive summaries of their areas of responsibilities like we have in the ELT meeting. They might cover some agenda items and do some brain storming. Every team leader reports back to their team leader on their meeting in writing. All this information makes its way back to either the ELT or church leaders meeting.
In a Team report, it will list who is in the Team and any points of discussion and action items. This way we always know who is in a team and what they are involved in. We have worked at creating a culture of being able to move people up or horizontally if we see a place they are needed more. Every team recruits and trains. We also have quarterly leaders training.
Every meeting has three documents: Agenda, Action Items, and Minutes.
The Agenda starts with any Action Items from the previous week.
Then each Team leader gives a 3-5 minute summary of their area … enough to give the pulse of their area (this comes from the information collected from the teams under them). These are part of the expectations for each leader, for every meeting. Any team member can ask questions for clarification, etc.
Then we move to Priority Items for the ministry—things we cover every time we meet. For instance, we are searching for a building so that is discussed every time.
Then on to Agenda Items. These are to be sent in in advance so they are on the Agenda which gets sent out to all meeting participants one day before the meeting. Agenda items are anything from a leader’s area of responsibility that might require more discussion time. The discipline is to keep these items out of the Executive summaries and in Agenda items.
Action Items are noted along the way and consist of who will do the AI and when it is to be done, with any specifics.
Then, if I have something particular I want to teach, exhort, or ask questions about, we finish the meeting with this. This is a great time to get the team thinking and any coaching I can involve in this is helpful.
Paid and Volunteer
We do not differentiate between “paid” and “volunteer” when it comes to meeting expectations. The only difference is that we work around volunteer’s schedules.
Ever since we have redone our team meeting formats to fit what I wrote above, we are getting more accomplished. People are more involved, have more ownership, and they are growing. But we all learned together on how to do this best and to adjust when necessary. We haven’t perfected this and there is still the challenge of getting all this working in every team throughout the ministry.
Pastor John White—Decatur, AL
In the beginning, when we first started the church, it was small and I had no paid staff. We had volunteer staff meetings once per month to train, impart vision and inform of any relevant information. We did this for several years. As the church grew, so did our volunteer staff and it got to the point that the meetings were too large to accomplish what I wanted. Therefore, I started meeting with the department heads instead of the entire staff. In turn, the department heads would meet with the people in their departments. I now meet with my paid staff and then they meet with the volunteers in their department.
Once per year I meet with the entire staff—volunteers and paid staff, as well. We usually do this over a catered meal and it is a time of fun and fellowship as well as impartation. This is also a time I relate my appreciation and public reconnection to all, but especially to those who have gone above and beyond our expectations. It is a great way to promote unity and excitement in our volunteers and let them know that they are appreciated and important to the success of this ministry.
As I added paid staff, I started meeting with them once per week. We discuss the progress of projects and happenings in the church, as well as ideas, plans, and problems. Meeting like this once per week doesn’t allow anything to slip by or be overlooked.
Without meeting regularly with the workers in the church, I do not see how a ministry can stay atop of things. As we strive for excellence, we cannot assume the job will be accomplished. Communication is a major key to success in any ministry, and staff meetings are a great vehicle to accomplish that.
Dr. Dan Beller—Tulsa
OK An Annual Appreciation Dinner for all employees is excellent for expressing appreciation from the Sr. Pastor and maintaining good morale. The dinner should be a a nice place with good food and pleasant atmosphere. Specific recognition should be given for all areas of accomplishment. The program should be designed to promote excellence in all areas of service.
A Christmas Dinner for the Church Board and Pastoral Staff is an excellent way to promote unity and fellowship among the main leaders of the church. Along with the food and fellowship, the Sr. Pastor can give an expression of appreciation for these leaders. This dinner can be in the Sr. Pastor’s home, with everyone bringing in food, or at a restaurant. An informal time of playing games can also promote unity and fun.
A Weekly Pastoral Staff Meeting is imperative for coordination and unity in the total program of the church. Perhaps the best time is on Tuesday morning, because Monday may be a time of recuperation from the busy events of worship and classes on Sunday. Some Pastors choose to close the church offices on Monday and let everybody take off the same day. A designated and revolving “pastor on duty” can cover emergencies. This plan usually works well providing the congregation is well informed that the church is closed on Mondays.
The agenda for these weekly meetings should include breakfast items for everyone to enjoy during an informal time of fellowship. There should also be reports from the pastors. These reports should include a written report on specific forms and an oral report for discussion and coordination with the total church calendar. Every meeting should include a time of inspiration and training by the Sr. Pastor.
It was my experience, while pastoring Evangelistic Temple in Tulsa, OK, that the weekly staff meeting was most important for staff morale and for unity and harmony in the entire program of the church.
Another main key for me was to use a Dictaphone continually for memos and communicating with my administrative secretary. A good secretary or administrative assistant is vital to covering all the necessary areas.
These ingredients of a weekly staff meeting, using a Dictaphone, and having an excellent secretary, helped me to cover all areas of the church programs even though we had over 100 employees and a total of six services on Sunday.
Pastor John Lowe—Warsaw, IN
We have basically two levels of staff meetings. The first is for full-time staff and office management. They are given several areas of ministry of helps to oversee.
We ask them to submit on Monday anything they wish to discuss, people problems and answers, equipment needs, etc. If it is not written down, it does not exist. We will not discuss it until it is important enough to be written down (or it is a critical issue that demands immediate attention; of course, then we will address it). This includes their departments they are over, money needs, training, events, etc. We then bring up the issue as listed and then discuss solutions and delegate the required job to the correct person, or empower them to make sure they are secure in the approach they have chosen.
Secondly, we have had monthly—and during other years, bi–monthly—volunteer staff meetings. We call these the MOH (Ministry of Helps) meetings.
These are conducted about the same, with the exception of going over the calendar for the timeframe until the next meeting. We do this in case there are changes that impact the church or areas of ministry, such as concerts, a conference, or something being dropped from the schedule or added to it. Each department leader is expected then to take the steps to insure the adjustments are done so the ministry and flow as smooth as possible. If they run into issues, then the person working the area contacts the dept. head if there is no firm decision of action. Dept. head then contacts the full-time staff person to find direction. If there is no direction or someone is unsure what to do or how to handle it, then it is brought to the staff meeting and addressed.
We suggest training be continuous in some fashion; talking in the class or at the event. Some training is before an event, such as VBS, etc. Some are quarterly or annually, depending on the needs, new people, or new flows of ministry. If department heads change, then we review the department to insure it was being run correctly.
I would love to have an MOH dept. head in which their only responsibility is to assist the department leaders and conduct or oversee ongoing training, in order to redevelop new leaders and departments.
Note: This year we are trying to do quarterly MOH meetings, as we have had the leaders in place for some time. We hope over the years they have felt empowered enough to make decisions and to answer and resolve issues. If not, they can submit them to the full-time staff person overseeing their dept. and then we can get feedback to them asap. We hope this eliminates meetings and saves time.
Pastor Mark Garver—Madison, AL
I think a lot of the answers to these very important questions have to be in relation to the size of your church and the number of staff versus the number of volunteer leaders in a church. As a Pastor who pioneered my church, I started with only volunteers, so we began to train them. We started with monthly meetings on a non-church night. We had a meal (something easy), and then I taught on leadership and addressed any issues that we might be having while also celebrating recent victories. I still do this every month with all volunteer leaders and staff. I require everyone who is a volunteer leader over an area in the church, such as head usher, nursery leader, bookstore, altar care, etc., to attend this monthly meeting. I also require all staff, full-time and part-time employees, to attend. It has helped the cohesiveness of our church and leadership team and is a great time for us as Pastors to spend a few extra minutes with the backbone of our church.
As we grew, I also began to have weekly staff meetings. At first, everyone who worked at the church was required to attend. We did this every Monday to discuss what went right and wrong in that week’s services. We went around the table and made sure everyone knew what was going on, and we used the time to plan. As the church has grown, our staff meetings are now just for salaried employees (management). I do it virtually the same way; we go over their “to do” list, discuss problems, toss around ideas, plan, etc. What they bring to the meeting is all information necessary to discuss anything on their current “to do” list. These meetings are limited to one hour and they are every Monday at 1 PM. From these meetings, the staff then holds meetings with their employees or one on one with their volunteer leaders. I still meet regularly with my two associate pastors, office manager, and production manager; sometimes these meetings are unplanned and sometimes they are scheduled.
No matter the size of your church or staff, I think it is very important to communicate the vision and what is going on in the church with staff and volunteers. I think it is also important to share leadership principals with them regularly and keep them built up and excited about leading. By doing these things you will have everyone going the same direction, the leadership team will be in unity, and you will lose less of your leaders.
Pastor Joel Ziolkowski—Custer, SD
I would say that I try never to surprise the staff. I have learned that I need them to say what they really think and not just go along with the group. When they do that, I get much better advice. I try to let them know that what they have to say is very important, and when I use their insight, I let them know. It builds their confidence.
It is very important to have fun, and I like to have a relaxed setting along with drinks that people like and sometimes food. I also keep the meeting moving and on task so we don’t waste people’s time.
Pastor Thom Fields—Kennewick, WA
I personally never differentiate staff based solely upon full-time, part-time, or volunteers. We work hard to instill the reality that all of us are answering the call of God. Some of my greatest influencers hold volunteer positions! We look at the roles and goals to determine which specific level of leadership a particular individual fits into and that determines how we lead them, which in turn, determines which meetings they’ll be attending and how those various meeting are going to be conducted.
Some meetings are what we might call “Equipping Meetings” and others would be “Developmental Meetings.” Equipping occurs within a larger leadership community. This is where we teach and train for the purpose of getting “the job” done. Skills are transferred and the agenda of the church is accomplished. It’s “Transactional.” Developmental meetings go deeper. Here, we begin to intentionally invest in the individual’s life and their personal growth. Now it reaches beyond the church’s agenda and begins to address their personal agenda as well. They actually become bigger, better, and stronger because of your investment. These are “Transformational.”
We might create what we would call an “Eagle’s nest environment.” Small, hand-picked groups of our best leaders. These groups range in all shapes and sizes. You could get a great leadership book, for example, and go through it book-club style. Write out study questions, teach a little, and have other leaders come in to teach. We attempt to increase our staff’s capacity for growth, hunger for growth, and energy towards growth.
As far as who is expected to attend staff training and leadership meetings really depends upon the size of the church. Smaller churches may incorporate a few top volunteer leaders in all of their staff and leadership meetings. Larger churches would expect mainly their paid staff to attend. However, regardless of the size of the church, keeping staff and leadership meetings exciting and effective is a task that must be handled intentionally and with great awareness. Once you’ve decided who is coming to which meetings and the purpose of each of those meetings, scheduling becomes vital. You want to stay in-touch with staff without overwhelming them and leaving them little or no time to do anything else besides attending meetings. The following schedule works great for a lot of churches:
Week One: All staff
- Leadership lesson (more inspiring, senior pastor)
- Celebrate Birthdays Dirty bird/Good bird award
- Standard kinds of meetings (different levels)
- Pastoral leadership group talking about ministry stuff
- Intense leadership development
Week Four: Tactical Meetings Meet in the War Room
- Work on calendar, schedules, facility, all the complex stuff you have to figure out for the coming month.
Mix up the meetings and stay creative. Make them stay on purpose and focused upon getting specific tasks done with as little time wasted as possible. We don’t recommend spending time sharing too many “leadership nuggets”—that doesn’t do anything. It’s just better to take a couple of hours and really dig in and get something major accomplished.
Pastor Stan Saunders—Chillicothe, MO
We have a pastoral staff meeting weekly on Tuesday mornings. We meet for 1.5 to 2 hours. In the meeting we discuss everything from church business to sermon topics. We do much trouble-shooting and brain-storming about the future. Sometimes we even have heated discussions. When we leave the meeting, everyone agrees to be unified behind the decision made. Often, my ideas are shot down by the group. Everyone has liberty to speak his/her opinion.
I have all of my pastoral staff in the meeting, plus my administrative assistant to take notes and deal with calendar issues. Our part-time staff are expected to be at every meeting they are able to attend. My wife, Michelle, and I meet individually with our pastors. We spend 30 minutes with each of them weekly to discuss their areas apart from the combined meeting. My door is open to each of them always. Often, they stop by to run something by me throughout the week. I stop by their offices often to do the same. We operate with a real team mentality. We are here to help each other.
I keep no secrets from the church staff. We are a staff-led church with financial accountability to a financial advisory board. My staff needs to know almost everything I know, in order to help me lead the congregation. They are my family.
I try to bring some kind of training to each session. Some weeks I spend a majority of the time with a training lesson. Staff meetings are a cross between a small group meeting and a business meeting. We end each meeting in a time of prayer.