10 Marks of a Good Staff Meeting

December 18, 2019

By Chuck Lawless

Over the years, I’ve been in a lot of staff meetings in different organizations. As I think about those meetings, here are the characteristics of meetings I thought were most productive:

1. The leader was a man whose spiritual walk I trusted. I cannot underestimate the power of this truth. When I genuinely trust the leader, I’m ready to listen. On the other hand, I dreaded going to meetings led by someone whose walk with God I questioned.
2. The people gathered were people I knew and loved. That is, the team really was a team. We knew each other’s families. We played together outside of the office. Meetings were fun because we were a team living out a vision.
3. The meetings were prayer-saturated. Prayer was not just a perfunctory beginning and ending task. We seriously prayed for each other, for the organization, for God’s vision and guidance. In some meetings, we prayed more than we discussed.
4. They started and ended on time. The amount of time varied, particularly because of our commitment to prayer – but we knew exactly how much time to set aside. The leader respected our time.
5. We had a clear agenda from the beginning. We had no question as we went to the meeting that we were going to discuss stuff that mattered. If we ever varied from the agenda, the reason for doing so was obvious and necessary.
6. Every person there was enlisted ahead of time to contribute. This aspect I especially appreciated – the leader asked each of us ahead of time to bring something to the table. We thus had time to prepare, and we knew our voice was going to be heard.
7. Discussion was real – not just reports or announcements. Too many staff meetings are quick reports from staff and a monologue from the leader. The best meetings I’ve attended have been decidedly different.
8. The leader reigned in diverting conversations. That’s because we had a plan at the start and a goal to reach.
9. The leader shepherded us more than supervised us. Here’s what I felt after leaving these best meetings: informed, challenged, excited, appreciated, and loved. My leader asked me about me, encouraged me, and made me want to be on the team. A good leader can do that even in a brief meeting.
10. My action steps were clear at the end. Before we left the room, I knew exactly what my next steps were to be. I could write them down and then get started.

What other characteristics of a good meeting would you add?

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17 Comments

  • Mark Armstrong says on

    Thanks for the tips. In my church there is myself and one other staff member, so the dynamics of our meetings are very important. Divide the leadership and divide the church. I guard our unity zealously and strive for team work.

  • Good stuff! Thanks, Chuck!

  • Joseph Omojo Obaje says on

    Very instructive

  • Sharon Boekhoff says on

    I am surprised by Sheena’s comment. Where does it say in the Bible that “the staff member leading the staff should “always” be a man?

    • Guy in the Pew says on

      1 Timothy 2:12

    • Jean Coleman says on

      Staff meetings don’t always involve the pastor/elders. There are other staff meetings, for woman’s groups, for Sunday School, that there is no biblical comment on women in leadership.
      That said, Chuck Lawless did say that this was HIS experience. A sensitivity to the fact that many churches have women in leadership (whether or not as pastor/elder) is appreciated.

  • Sharon Boekhoff says on

    Is this year end 2019? For someone to say that “the staff member leading the staff should ALWAYS be a man”………really……I thought God loved everyone ..male and female….. Have not read the verse in the Bible that says the male is superior and must always lead.

  • This is very good advice! Thanks!

  • You lost me on the very first point. Only “a man”? Really? You don’t even specify this is a church meeting (though my reaction would be the same). Good grief—this 2019!

    • Rick Roberts says on

      Elwood, I hear what your saying (I think you are saying we should be more inclusive in our language and not limit leadership to one gender) but, to be fair, Dr. Lawless is writing from his own experience of staff meetings. Would you want him to invent his past experience to placate your gender specific language qualms? Yes, this is the end of 2019 and yet we still want to rush to berate someone who doesn’t say things that fit our perspective rather than take the necessary time to hear what the person was saying or writing. One would think we as Christians would have gotten farther along. I guess we’re still humans in need of grace. Be at peace and joyful, my brother!

    • If it’s a church, the staff member leading the staff should always be a man.

    • Peter Constable says on

      Elwood, If an experienced pastor says he finds male leadership to be a characteristic of most productive meetings, we should listen and consider how this reflects God’s design for male and female roles. But don’t be sidetracked; this article is about much more than that issue, and I’m thankful for the thoughts.

    • Chuck Lawless says on

      Thanks for your thoughts, Elwood. I certainly didn’t mean to be offensive. I was simply reflecting my experience.

      • Thanks for weighing in Chuck. I could see this one starting to go a little askew. I too enjoy a meeting that starts on time, stays focused, is theme/goal oriented, and most importantly finishes on time…no matter who is leading the meeting. Blessings on you for sharing your experience.