We’ve all worked for that person who used meetings as social gatherings, pulpits, and pep rallies rather than for more productive reasons. We leave thinking the leader could have summed up these hour-long life drains in a well-worded email. Maybe you have led some of those meetings, but what if there was a better way?
If members leave your meetings thinking an email would have sufficed, you didn’t engage them.John who wrote, “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” (2 John 1:12-13 ESV) There is value in face-to-face conversation that is simply not possible in an email. A party foul takes place, however, when these meetings become one-sided. If members leave your meetings thinking an email would have sufficed, you did not engage them. You talked more than you listened. You communicated to them, “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8, blasphemy added). As schedules become increasingly crowded, church members are going to be less inclined to participate. Repeated failures to engage will lead to ministries stalling out while you sit in an empty room disgruntled by the lack of participation.
How to Engage Everyone!
How can you increase involvement in your meetings? Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:11-12 that God “gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…” (ESV). The key is ENGAGEMENT!
Communicate the Value of Others
The church was always established to function as a body made up of many parts, each doing his or her part for the welfare of the whole (check out the rest of Ephesians 4). When I first started out in ministry, I thought I was God’s gift to the saints, I mean, that is what Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:11, right? Well, maybe that’s selective reading. God empowered you to empower others. Stop doing all the talking. Stop doing all the doing. You probably love doing it all, but share the love. Put some trust in other people (2 Tim. 2:2). Everyone needs a purpose for being in the room. If they don’t have a purpose, give them one, otherwise you are wasting their time. Having clearly defined roles helps to keep your meetings (and your ministry) on point.
Collaborate Before Your Meetings
This may not come as a surprise, but you may be meeting more often than you need to be. There are so many tools available to you for free to help you collaborate with your team in the in-between times of meeting at church. For example, you can use tools like Google Hangouts for quick “face-to-face” meetings online to touch base with your team. Google Docs allows each of your team members to contribute to a Microsoft Word-like document online. You’ll be able to editing view live as each member is typing. Google Docs will also identify who made each contribution. This is perfect when developing long range plans. What if instead of having a meeting just to assign roles, you did this completely online. Give each person a clear role (step 1) and a collaboration space online through Google Hangout and Google Docs. When you actually do meet face-to-face, each of your team mates will have a role and something to contribute to the conversation.
Encourage! Encourage! Encourage!
Positive reinforcement is a powerful thing. If your team members aren’t used to being allowed to contribute, it may take some time to coax it out of them. When someone shares an idea, make sure they know you appreciate their input. Tell them what you like about it and thank them for sharing. Write it down! Taking notes shows respect. Make it a big deal because IT IS! This is how a body is supposed to function, each member working properly together to make the whole body grow (Eph. 4:16).
What are other ways leaders can engage their team members and improve their leadership? If you found this helpful, share it.
Header image modified from image by Viktor Hanacek
Sam Totman offers more than 10 years of youth ministry experience. He earned his Master of Divinity in Christian Education from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (North Carolina, 2005) and is currently working on his dissertation for his Ed.D. at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with an emphasis on Technology Integration in Ministry.