What Do Your Multi-Site Meetings "Look" Like?
My first blog post was all about what our meeting rhythm looks like for our student ministry staff across 14 campuses. In that, I discussed our meeting rhythm and how that decision came to be (you can read it here). This time around I'd like to share what the format and structure of the meeting is and how we determine who attends and what will be on the agenda for that meeting.
Due to our team only meeting once a month our meeting ends up being a hybrid of updates, reports, brainstorming, and a few other items that may pop up on the agenda. There are upsides and downsides to this but I feel like some of the downsides are diminished by how we communicate outside of our structured meetings. I'll write about how we communicate and "stay aligned" outside of our monthly gatherings but for now let me get back to the topic at hand, what do our meetings look like?
The first 20-30 minutes are generally spent on giving updates particularly on weekly ministry. This time allows for our team to get a better understanding of how ministry is contextualized across our campuses and to hear about the work that God is doing in and through the lives of students. This time also affords our team the opportunity to give insight and collaborate on any particular situations or problems that are shared thus allowing our team to provide wisdom and insight on it. We then spend some time in prayer for any of the requests that were shared.
From there we move on to giving reports on any pertinent projects or events that are happening in the upcoming 3-9 months from when we are meeting. This includes everything from updates on small group series to mission trip details to multi-site main events and much more. We generally start at the furthest away point on the calendar and work are way back.
For example, it's June so we may start by quickly talking about and giving an update on the vision/game plan for Fall Retreat in October before moving on to our all-campus SGL training in August. Along the way various questions are asked and roles assigned because although those things are months away progress still needs to occur. An additional value of this time is to give insight and provide greater understanding of why we do things the way we do things to any of our newer staff members (which at the rate in which we've been growing, there's been a few new guys and gals as of late)!
This time takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes depending on what needs to be covered, the amount of questions asked, and the quality of jokes that are told. At that point, its time for a break! The keys to any meetings of this length are:
- A well-timed break
- Solid snacks & beverages
- Limited lap-top and phone usage
The first two communicate value & help keep the drive alive throughout the meeting. The third one helps keep everybody focused on the task at hand and the purpose of the meeting. If a document needs to be referenced we print copies for everyone and email it afterward. The only time that phones & laptops are brought out is when we enter into a brainstorming session.
The remainder of our meeting is spent focusing on the next big thing(s) that are approaching. For example, with our meeting in June, we are in the throws of summer and quickly approaching the largest undertaking of our summer, Hope Week. Hope Week is our multi-site, local mission trip in which 350 students and leaders stay at our local college for a week; launching out every morning to serve all across Metro Detroit and gathering back together every night for worship and teaching. All that to say, the last leg of our meeting is spent covering all of the ins-&-outs of Hope Week!
Some would say that the most pressing thing should be the first thing that is talked about, however, we've found that when we start with that then move on to far less pressing things that the meeting is less engaging and the most pertinent information gets pushed out of our minds by the most recent conversations & planning.
Approaching things this way means that we do have to be mindful of leaving plenty of time to properly discuss the most pressing, upcoming matters and be diligent in our communication in between meetings to make sure that everyone is on the same page and that we are moving forward accordingly. How we communicate outside of meetings is another post for another time so for now, what do your meetings "look" like?