Pastors’ Forum: Staff Meeting Best Practices
We asked a group of pastors for their best ideas for staff meetings. What follows is an adaptation of the email exchange that ensued.
- Each staff person shares evidences of God’s grace in the past week in the church and in their lives.
- We signed up the pastoral staff team to study CCEF’s online “Dynamics of Biblical Change” course together as a way to develop a common language for pastoral care and to assist each other in sanctification.
- We intersperse intense conversations with lighter questions like, “Who is the most famous person you have met?” and “What is the strangest conversation you had with someone this past week?”
Paul Rees is the senior pastor of Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Vocational ministry is hard on our spiritual lives due to overexposure to church problems, the temptation to use the disciplines of Bible study, worship, and prayer in a utilitarian way, and the stress of the schedule.
We use staff meetings, in part, as times for the ministry of the Word, prayer, and spiritual encouragement in order to encourage progressive sanctification among the staff members.
Dennis Newkirk is the senior pastor of Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma.
Great! So, on Monday, at staff meeting, I am supposed to ask my staff, “What is the best staff meeting idea that I have ever had?” And other than one of them saying, “When you cancel it,” I have to endure a long, awkward silence. Hope you guys have some good ideas, because if you do, the staff here will be sending you Starbucks gift cards.
Bob Johnson is the senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Roseville, Michigan.
Brother, I’m on the floor laughing because that would definitely by my staff’s reaction—“When you cancel it!”
Who enjoys staff meetings? I guess that’s what makes the question ultimately useful, huh?
Well, here’s my one idea. I think it was a good idea based on reactions, and it’s definitely not original to me:
From time to time, I pick one staff member from the team. All the other staff share one or two specific things they appreciate about that person. It can be light or serious, but it’s usually something spiritually encouraging. It starts off a little awkward because people feel funny sitting in a room with everyone talking about them. But by the end, not only is the individual encouraged, but the entire room is, because we get to hear of God’s Spirit and grace at work among us. Then we spend time giving thanks in prayer for our colleague.
Thus endeth any potential wisdom on staff meetings from this brother!
Thabiti Anyabwile is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands.
I too enjoy missing a good staff meeting.
However, one thing we have done that I enjoy is reading books together. We read and discuss about a chapter a week. I find the discussions very helpful.
We also read a chapter of the Bible. Right now we are reading 1 Corinthians and I am starting to preach on the same book. Reading and discussing the text with other staff pastors and assistants lets me hear people’s thoughts, questions, and reflections on the text and the congregation. This is a great blessing as I prepare to teach.
Ryan Fullerton is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.
Reading through a book at the beginning of each meeting has proven beneficial. We’re currently going through Paul Tripp’s meditations on Psalm 51. Also, we open our staff meetings up to everyone to share during the first 30 minutes, speaking about our devotional lives as well as matters such as building concerns and calendaring.
However, nothing beats cancelling the meeting on the morning of.
Mike Lumpkin is the senior pastor of University Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
I read aloud a few entries from George Whitefield’s journals after opening prayer, and ask staff members to comment on them as they pertain to the Christian life and our ministries. Previously I’ve read some of Samuel Rutherford’s and Jack Miller’s letters. We have found this to be good fodder for discussion as we begin the meetings on a devotional note.
John Folmar is the senior pastor of United Christian Church of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
I don’t lead our staff meetings. Our administrative pastor does. That was the model when I came to Desert Springs Church, and after seven years I have seen a lot of benefits to this arrangement. Granted, many church staffs are not large enough to have an administrative pastor, and, thus, may not have a good alternative to the preaching pastor. But in staffs where there is a gifted, godly, and wise administrative (associate) pastor, it might be best for the preaching (lead/senior) pastor to support the leadership of his brother and co-laborer.
It’s good for the lead pastor to sit in meetings in a secondary role. It teaches us to practice deference and quietness, gives us more time for observation and reflection, and enables us to jump in with a fitting reminder or exhortation as needed. I am certain that I would not have said half of the helpful things that I have said in staff meetings were I leading. I would not have seen the need for it.
Ryan Kelly is pastor for preaching at Desert Springs Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
When I came to Brainerd two years ago, our staff meeting was a 2.5 hour business meeting. I decided to change the focus by reading the Word together and holding the staff accountable to memorize Scripture. So I devoted the first hour to quoting Scripture out loud in the group. The staff have responded well to the change. Sometimes we spend our entire meeting in the sanctuary praying.
Robby Gallaty is the senior pastor of Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
I've only been at it for 5 months, but here is what has been helpful so far:
- Opening each meeting by praying through our membership directory. This is helping the staff think more and more like shepherds.
- Reading a book together and discussing it. It’s been helpful for building a common vision and for bringing disagreements to the surface.
- Eating lunch together once a month with both ministry and administrative staff and using that time to teach and build vision.
I think everyone likes it when we cancel. But so far they also appreciate the opportunity to discuss things and be heard.
Michael Lawrence is the senior pastor of Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon.
Our staff meetings are once a week and last an hour. We try to use other, less formal times to check in with one another and dig deeper. At the weekly staff meeting we have three goals:
First, we pray. We always pray for church members and often pray for one another.
Second, we coordinate. This is the time to pull out the church calendar and make sure we are functioning as a team and not as isolated individuals. This is very important because we can be doing our own thing and forget how we affect or need others.
Finally, we read something together. It may be a short devotional. It may be something related to current events. The purpose is to get our minds off ourselves and even off of the work in our church and to think about what God is doing elsewhere.
Aaron Menikoff is the senior pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Sandy Springs, Georgia.
The best staff meetings we have had were times when everyone contributed to valuable, ministry-shaping conversation. I have tried to cultivate this by having all the staff slowly read a book together over a period of many months.
Since I’m teaching in so many other contexts, using a book allows an outside author to teach, leaving me to facilitate the conversation and learn along with everyone else.
I provide a list of books, all of which contain resources that I know will benefit us, and then let the staff pick which books to read. This allows them to have a say. These discussions have been a rich time of growth that have influenced each of their ministries in ways far beyond what my direct leading could have accomplished.
Eric Bancroft is the senior pastor of Castleview Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Our primary focus in staff meetings is staff development and encouragement. We do take care of calendar items and such, but we spend time praying for the needs of the congregation and one another at the very beginning. We conclude our staff meetings with a devotional book study in which each staff member takes turns facilitating a discussion on one chapter. Right now we are reading A Praying Life by Paul Miller.
Like Ryan Kelly, I have chosen not to lead our staff meetings. We have an administrative pastor who is able to put some thought into planning the meetings for maximum benefit to all. He selects a theme for each meeting and asks various questions related to that theme. Each staff member in turn answers the question(s), and the staff is greatly encouraged by learning about one another from the answers given.
Since these activities make our staff meetings longer, we only meet every other week.
Juan Sanchez is preaching pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas.
One of the best things we do at Lakeview is call off staff meeting every five to six weeks and go as a staff to do personal evangelism on the Auburn University campus.
Al Jackson is the senior pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, Alabama.