The Efficient Minister: Meetings & Email

This post is part 2 in the Efficient Minister Series. Check out Part 1 as it features an overview on why time matters particiularly for ministry leaders.

Meetings

Some say ‘meetings are a necessary evil.’ While I cannot speak to the totality of that statement, most meetings I attend are not necessary. Communication is necessary, but everything accomplished in a meeting can be done another way: Staff Bonding can take place via a weekly staff luncheon,
Updates on Ministry can be accomplished via an emailed weekly report,
and planning of events can take place via sub-committees and monthly reports.

Now this does not mean that meetings are bad, but it’s rare to be a part of a well-run meeting. If you attend well run meetings, be sure to thank those responsible for these meetings as leading a meeting is more of an art than a science. I speak as someone who has poorly led plenty of meetings.

Tips on Meetings You Attend

  • Never attend a meeting without an agenda. If there is no agenda, then you cannot prepare and will not add as much value. Sometimes simply asking for an agenda allows the meeting leadership to further examine whether or not the meeting is needed.
  • When given the agenda, review the agenda and clarify your role. If it seems that you are only needed for one part or aspect of the meeting, ask to duck out after that piece. There are moments in meetings where the majority of participants are disengaged. During these moments, as the room fills up with hollow eyes, calculate the cost of 15 minutes of disengagement. If there are 12 people in the meeting and 2 people are discussing an item that should have been sub-committed or an offline meeting, 15 minutes of disengagement costs the around $40 if each employee is making around $15 per hour. Add on top of that the cost of having 10 unproductive employees during that time, yikes!
  • The value of sub-committees. Suggest to the meeting leader that sub-committees be utilized if there is a clear need.

[tweetthis]”Could this meeting have been an email?” We’ve all thought it. #tuesday[/tweetthis]

Tips on Leading Meetings

  • Start on time and end early.
  • Start and end in prayer. This gives people focus at the beginning and permission to exit at the end.
  • Always express gratitude in the meeting.
  • Sit in a prominent place. As the leader you should be positioned so you can face those as they enter into the meeting. This allows you to greet them with a smile. It also requires those seeking to leave early to move past your line of site, thus discouraging such behavior.
  • Know the type of meeting you are leading.
    • Our pre-youth night meetings are solely for communication: The topics, the activity, and logistics. We do these meetings standing and they take 15 minutes. The only questions I field are questions, comments or concerns related to the Youth Night. All other questions get redirected to a one on one after the meeting.
    • For the post-Youth Night meeting, we all sit down and have a round table discussion that is moderated by me. I always end the meeting on time or early even if it means cutting items from the agenda.
  • Move the agenda along even if it means cutting people off. Say something like, “It sounds like you have some great thoughts in this area, but we have to move on. Could you make it a point to email me the rest of your thoughts sometime this week?”

Emails

Let’s move on to emails. First, if you have work email on your phone, get rid of it. They say that those who have work email on their phone can work up to an extra 15 hours a week. It’s insane. You are not that important and the emails are not that important. Connect with your family when you are away. This can only be done if there is some disconnect.

[tweetthis]Overwhelmed from your work email? Want your sanity back? Here are our tips.[/tweetthis]

Emails typically contact a request, demand or need. That request, demand or need is put on you to fulfill or offer advice on. Nevertheless, email puts other people’s priorities on your computer screen. So here are some helpful tips so that you can keep those things that are most important at the top of your task list.

  • Do not check email at the start of the day. Take the first few hours to accomplish what you feel God is calling you to do. Put the most important thing first in your day, don’t put it behind checking email.
  • Check email twice a day. Block out 30 – 45 minutes per time and limit yourself only to that time frame. I recommend 10am and 3pm. This allows you to get into a flow or groove throughout the rest of your day. It does the same with email time as often some emails have similar requests.
  • Disable notifications. Some of you have a sound when you receive an email. Some of you have an icon that pops up on your desktop. Disable these notifications. Much of what we do requires that we get into a mental flow as we dream bigger dreams for the community we serve. Constantly checking emails will get you out of your flow and suffocate creativity.
  • If an email has a task that will take less than 5 minutes, complete it then and there. If it requires more than 5 minutes, then look to do the following:
    • Empower: Equip the person to find a solution on their own. Example: My daughter can’t make the Confirmation Retreat. Can you tell me the other retreats in the area? Reply with a few churches she can contact to see if their retreat fits the daughter’s schedule.
    • Delegate: Some needs are best met by you. Some needs, however, can be met by one of your volunteers. Delegating to key volunteers lets the volunteer know their value as you are entrusting more to them. It also gives the volunteer more ownership of the program since they are now serving beyond the tradition means.
    • Deferring: Simply restating that your focus this semester is ________ and that you are not able to take on this project. Pairing this with a suggestion on who might be a good person to contact is always helpful.
    • Schedule it: Mark a time on your calendar to accomplish this task.

Please share this post with another ministry leader who would benefit from having a bit more margin in their ministry life. Comment below or on social media with your best time saving tip or what you would like to see next in the Efficient Ministry series.

One thought on “The Efficient Minister: Meetings & Email

  1. Hi Chris
    I attended your session at the Dallas Ministry Conference on The Efficient Minister. It was very good. I appreciated all the practical suggestions. I was trying to get the notes from the workshop via the text option you mentioned, but it didn’t work out. However, found this blog and think it is just what I was looking for.

    Thanks again!

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