The end of summer and the beginning of the school year means one thing at my church: the return of staff meetings. It’s not that we don’t have them over summer, we just have a lot less of them. This is one of the many reasons I love summer.
Staff meetings, in my opinion, are one of the many ways that the Fall has corrupted life on God’s good earth. Just to give you a picture, this is how I feel during probably 90% of staff meetings. (Let it be known that I make up statistics at random.)
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know they’re important. I know they’re part of ministry so that everybody knows what’s going on in each other’s departments, can be praying for each other, working together, but let’s be honest, there are times when you’re just sitting there thinking, “Lord, if I still believed in the Rapture, I wish it would happen right now so this would be over.” When you’re in a peripheral ministry like college or high school, a majority of what gets discussed can seem:
- Boring. (Honestly, I have no dog in the parking lot discussion. We meet off-campus most of the time.)
- Not directly relevant to my ministry. (None of my students have kids in the children’s choir.)
- Like something we just talked about and didn’t come to a conclusion about last time. (This is almost every subject.)
Again, this is probably worse for young types in the ministry like myself because we tend to be in less central roles, therefore we’re more likely to be at the edge of these things. Also, we’re impatient.
Because freaking out and yelling at the rest of staff usually isn’t the best option, here are a few things you might try to do during conversations that can help you get through.
Grow up – Seriously, grow up. Don’t be such a narcissistic idiot. I suck at this, but things that I find boring, often-times really matter. For instance, thinking about parking-lots and their use is an issue of how to be a good neighbor to the homes and businesses around our church, and how we welcome new-comers. A lot of your college students got saved in children’s choir and the Lord cares about these little ones. This actually matters, even if I can’t see it right now, and I’m not directly involved in it. It’s easy to forget I am only 26–what do I know?
Pray- When you don’t care about something because it’s not directly relevant to your ministry, you should pray about it. It’s hard to not care about something you’re praying about. It’s like people who whine about church but have never spent a minute on their knees for it. I think one of the only reasons I’m still with it unlike some of my friends from youth group is that, while we both saw the flaws, an older, wiser friend or two challenged me to pray about the things that bugged me. God used that birth a love and concern for the church that I would have not had otherwise. Pray about these things and see what the Spirit does in your heart and in that ministry.
Contribute- This one should come after growing up and praying. But seriously, if one of your main issues is that your staff seems to talk about the same things over and over without resolving anything, prayerfully consider contributing to the conversation. You have no idea what God can do through a humble voice that is willing to speak to the issue rather than just complain in the back that it’s never solved. God may have placed you where He placed you for this very situation.
Or not. Sometimes you have to just shut-up and pray and trust that the Lord is sorting it out without you.
I write these reflections, not as someone who as attained, but as someone who is struggling along the way. My prayer is that we would learn to be constantly redeeming the time, and making the most out of every opportunity, (Eph. 5:16)–even in staff meetings.
our staff meetings may not always be the most exciting (though, many of them actually are pretty great), but they are generally pretty useful and that’s mostly because our leadership never allows them to be about those things. if there needs to be a parking lot or children’s choir discussion (we don’t really have children’s choir, but you used the example), those happen in the appropriate departmental meetings. we really try to only talk about things that affect everyone and bring the staff together. if it’s not developmental for the whole staff or information that the entire staff needs, it generally doesn’t make it into an all-staff meeting.
leaders have a responsibility to not waste their people’s time. i’ve been in churches (and other organizations as well) that led the boring, non-important, non-relvant type meetings that you described and it communicates something to the staff… it communicates that their time is not valued. when that is communicated on a regular basis, people become resentful.
i would add to your “contribute” section, “be the change.” ask if you can lead a staff meeting or help plan them. see what you can do to try and bring more intentionality to your staff meetings. one thing we’ve done is to say “the first week of the month is for updates and information… the second one is for development…. the third one is for ministry for each other and the forth one is for creating a sense of family.” (or something like that.) by defining the values and purpose of each meeting, we’ve created guidelines for how the content of those meetings will be created. if you were able to bring some more intentionality to your staff meetings and alleviate the boredom, the whole staff would want to take you to lunch and buy you a double-double.
Those are great points and suggestions. Actually, our own staff meetings have actually been gaining in similar focus as well.
Just to be clear, my church’s staff meetings aren’t as bad as all that. The all-staff ones never last more than an hour a week. The program ones are usually decently focused as well. I just hate meetings. I’m kind of ridiculous.
Got nothing to do with your age, Derek. Meetings are boring and useless without conflict and healthy disagreement about important issues. If you want to make a report, send me an email. I now give meeting leaders (sometimes anonymously) the gift of the book, Death by Meeting. Every meeting leader should live by it.
Nah, like I said, a lot of it is just my stuff. Still, I’ll probably read that book in the future. I’ve heard good things.
Just curious, was it written by a Presbyterian?
Death By Meeting is worth the read.