categories: time management
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November 17th, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

29 comments (+ Add)


If you’ve been around churches for any time at all, chances are you’ve been a part of some inefficient, ineffective, and downright painful meetings.

This week, I’ll share some tips I’ve learned the hard way about how to lead effective meetings.

My first and biggest recommendation is this: Work to keep your meetings small and communication from meetings large.

Too many ministries make the mistake of including too many people in too many meetings. The purpose of the meeting should determine the size of the meeting.

If the purpose of the meeting is to make decisions, keep the meeting as small as possible. Our Directional Leadership Team (the group that runs the church) consists of five people including me. Many have suggested that we make the group larger. I simply won’t budge.

(I also like odd numbers. To me, 3 or 5 is better than 4. For some reason, relationships seem to gel better in odd numbers.)

If you have a board or elders, I would work to keep the group no larger than 12. In my opinion, 9 is better than 12, 7 is better than 9. (We have 11.)

This doesn’t mean you don’t seek tons of outside input. What you’re doing is building a cohesive team that can move quickly.

More to come.



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  1. Nov 17, 2008 at 6:03 am

    Looking forward to this week of posts Craig. Several years ago someone gave me a format for meetings (John Maxwell’s) and that was ok for structure but this is practical advice. Sometimes conducting the meeting & knowing what to include is my biggest struggle.

    On the side: look forward to meeting you at Granger on Thursday. :)

  2. Nov 17, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Craig, I totally agree. It seems the smaller the church the more people involved in the meetings. When I came to the church I pastor there were 92 members and my first deacon meeting had 24 people in it! A great book n the subject is Death by Meeting.

  3. Nov 17, 2008 at 7:23 am

    Meetings must matter; if they don’t… don’t have them. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on meetings.

    “Death By Meeting” by Patrick Lencioni is a great book to read and a great reminder about meetings!

  4. Nov 17, 2008 at 7:49 am


  5. Nov 17, 2008 at 8:38 am

    I completely agree about both the size of the meeting and the importance of having an odd number. I also second the other recommendations about Lencioni’s “Death by Meeting.” Required reading.

  6. Nov 17, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Another great example of how LESS is MORE!!! Wouldn’t you agree? Clutter is Chaos! One synonym to the word Chaos in my Thesaurus is “Holy Mess”…hmmmm…LOL!

  7. Nov 17, 2008 at 8:45 am

    I feel we have mastered this up at northwest! We have one meeting a week, and then we really only do that sometimes! ;)

    Everything still gets done… Probably even more effectively!

  8. Nov 17, 2008 at 10:03 am

    This is huge. To many people in meetings means nothing gets done. Also, I can’t stand when no one is in charge of the meeting and no one has an agenda of items.
    How you run meetings probably says a lot about how your church is run front the top down.

  9. Nov 17, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Craig, I completely agree with you. I a youth pastor, and have been in a full time leadership role for coming in on 7 years now, and I have to say that the more and more I lead teams, and groups, I realize that I need to include smaller groups of people for planning purposes. It’s harder to cast vision to large groups. I prefer to get a small group 3-5 people on board with my vision before I launch it to the 13, before we launch it to the 100. I am looking forward to this week’s posts! Keep em coming!

  10. 11GT Moody
    Nov 17, 2008 at 11:23 am

    I have a mentor that is a master at leading meetings. His staff meets for 30 minutes weekly and makes million(s) dollar decisions. I, on the other hand, am not great at efficient meetings. He has taught me to always have an agenda and stick to it. He also taught me to use a timer. Agenda items automatically get 5 minutes unless otherwise predetermined. I use an iPhone timer and at 5 minutes the buzzer sounds. It keeps us tight and the discussion on track. We don’t stop the discussion, just get it resolved.

  11. Nov 17, 2008 at 11:25 am

    we have 3 people that make the major decisions. I probably need more, but having come out of a elder run and board led situation i am a bit hesitant. I prob need 2 more but how do i select 2 for the inner circle?
    Pastor Jack

  12. Nov 17, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Your last sentence makes sense. Sometimes it seems that if the team is too large, it takes a long time to get everyone together first, then trying to decide the direction of the church or ministry. Life comes fast so if you’re not ready to make a move, it may pass you by. Great talking points!!

  13. Nov 17, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    my 3 cents on this topic…

    I have noticed that the most effective meetings manage to be both on point and still invite discussion that works toward effective solutions. When a meeting is too agenda and time-driven, morale and ownership suffers. When it is too discussion-oriented, few items get covered effectively or efficiently and everyone feels that their time has been wasted.

    It seems that meetings with more than one decision-maker need to have either an inherent hierarchy or a meeting-specific order of authority (chain of command)clearly communicated to all those in attendance.

    A meeting is only over when action items have been distributed and accountability structures are in place with a clearly communicated set of expectations and timelines from the primary leader. Without that you have only gathered for conversation and not actually had a “meeting” (defined as a “coming together of people and or resources to accomplish a defined and concise objective or set of objectives”).

    Any other definitions out there for “meeting”?

  14. 16Anonymous
    Nov 17, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    This is out of context of the post, but I wanted to let you know how powerful the sermon was, and how strongly God is speaking in this series to me. I pray that you PLEASE continue to challenge us this way every week like you have in this series. This is my 8th year at the church and it’s incredible to see you more passionate now then ever. I’m taking your challenge and zeroing out my accounts to give away. I have too much security in money and no trust in God in this area. I can’t wait to see how he squeezes me in the upcoming days/weeks. Thank you for being the instrument that God is using to kick me in the face!

  15. Nov 17, 2008 at 1:45 pm


    I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on meetings. I am in one of those middle roles, where I lead a team of volunteers, but am also under leadership from a pastor as well as our elder board. i am anxious to hear how i can improve our volunteer training meetings as well as what I need to focus on getting out of our weekly staff meetings. Thanks for taking the time to write and share the wisdom you have gained over the years you have had in ministry. It really helps us young guys to see some opportunities for growth and places where we can minister more effectively.

  16. Nov 17, 2008 at 8:40 pm


    What is the difference between your lead team and board?

  17. Nov 17, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    My experience over the last couple of years confirms that a Leader Team of 5 to 7 is plenty. It’s key to prayerfully have the right people. For all the reasons you’ve mentioned Craig. Building a team that is built for decision and speed is key. God is moving and so should His church. Practical Atheist is kicking my tail.

  18. Nov 18, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Craig, I feel the same way about meetings, big is not better.

    How do you feel about the longevity of the members of these type of teams. Meaning do you think it’s important to keep these type of team static for as long as possible or should some of the members rotate?

  19. Nov 18, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Hi Craig, Yes this is a great post! Death by meeting is an excellent book!! In our church we have an eldership and they have a 3 year term. This has served us well and we also have a management team that advises the Eldership on financial issues, and then we make decisions based on good information.
    Craig, I really am enjoying your Swerve postings. Thanks for being available to the Body. Eugene

  20. Nov 22, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    [...] #1 Meetings - Work to keep your meetings small and communication from meetings large. [...]

  21. Nov 25, 2008 at 2:17 am

    [...] odd post, especially for thanksgiving week. it was inspired in part by swerve’s recent posts: here, here, here and here. Patrick Lencioni is also worth a mention. good [...]

  22. Nov 26, 2008 at 7:54 am

    [...] Meeting Size and Communication [...]

  23. Dec 2, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    I agree I used to have 9 members in my decision team. Recent we changed to 7 and I can tell the team is more functional. Even though I am leading a Haitian Congregation we worship in a different language I think the smaller group idea can be use to any culture. Thanks for the advice

  24. Aug 14, 2011 at 7:12 am

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