I often hear volunteers and staff alike bemoaning meetings. I never know quite how to respond. To be honest, I like most meetings. I am definitely one of those “people persons” who is happy to get together with others to share, brainstorm, strategize…team collaboration is my idea of fun!
Notice anything about the kind of meetings I enjoy? You probably aren’t surprised that a meeting where I can contribute my thoughts and ideas and where I can hear the thoughts and ideas of others is the meeting I’ll be sure not to miss. No need to send me an email reminder or set a ringtone alert on my phone. I won’t forget, and I won’t be late!
Years ago I heard Bill Hybels speak of folks he encountered regularly who were unhappy in their jobs, people who found little or no joy in going to work each day. He told stories about how those same people shared with him that serving in a ministry through Willow Creek was the highlight of their week. Perhaps–similar to those folks of which Hybels spoke–your team groans about meetings because their marketplace meetings leave them bored out of their minds.
When you get right down to it, meetings are necessary. It’s helpful to get the team face-to-face when there are important decisions to be made, perplexing problems that elude the easy fix, or ministry successes that beg a celebration. Meetings can be a great place to identify emerging leaders and spot unfulfilled volunteers. They can serve you well. So… how do you get your team to respond with enthusiasm when it’s time to call a meeting?
Don’t call a meeting. Schedule a conversation instead.
A blog by Tony Golsby-Smith caught my attention a few months ago. Mr. Golsby-Smith makes a good point that too many business meetings are data-laden, issue-avoiding, unproductive, and generally stifle imagination and creativity. The end result is that people cringe at the term “meeting,” which can wreak havoc with your ability to draw a team together for creative, fulfilling ministry.
What makes a conversation different? According to Mr. Golsby-Smith…
- A conversation is informal. As the great German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer said, you only have a conversation when you don’t know the outcome at the beginning.
- A conversation is a creative process. A conversation is not about walking through an agenda. It is a journey that takes people through the full range of thinking, not just a problem at hand.
- A conversation is democratic. In a conversation, no single person holds forth while everyone else nods sleepily.
Read the post in its entirety at http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/02/hold_conversations_not_meeting.html and discover some great ideas for creating conversations that will transform your team into eager, impassioned, engaged volunteer ministers!