Recently, many of my younger friends (and even my own daughter) have started their first youth ministry position. All this “new” got me thinking about some ministry basics that I take for granted that is not second nature to rookie leaders. I’m not referring to the type of material that I wrote in “Your First Two Years In Youth Ministry”…but, actually more basic, practical stuff.
I’ll occasionally post something here that I’ll call MIN101 (I’d call it YM101, but there’s more than youth ministry stuff that will “crossover” to general ministry).
Working in the church full-time for 25+ years has given me an incredible amount of experience with meetings. I developed a love/hate relationship with them, but I’ll save you saga and pass on a few tips for meeting etiquette.
Here’s 10 meeting tips for you’re not running the meeting:
1. Be early or on time: seems like a no-brainer but it’s amazing how many people show up late. Being late is not only selfish, it sends a message that you’re time is more important than others.
One of my major pet-peeves is people arriving late with a coffee or soda. That action definitely sends the wrong message (“my drink was more important than your time”).
2. Apologize: If you’re late (and it will happen) make sure you sincerely apologize, recognize that you know you blew it, and make your best efforts to ensure it doesn’t become a habit.
3. Pay attention: Few things are as frustrating to a meeting-leader is a meeting with people who aren’t paying attention. I’m fully aware that you can do two (or more) things at once, but when you’re checking email, texting and day-dreaming, it reflects poorly on your teamwork. Team players stay engaged.
4. Take notes: I can’t believe how many times I had to tell interns or young leaders to bring something to write on (or type on). You may think you’ll remember, and you probably will…but I’ll feel a lot more confident in your role in the meeting if I see you taking notes.
5. Participate: Be engaged. Throw out ideas when asked. Give feedback when the opportunity arises. Meeting leaders want to hear from you. If they didn’t want you to engage, they could have just done the meeting over email.
6. Push back: Part of engaging is showing up with your opinion. If I’m leading a meeting I don’t want you to agree with everything. I want your honest opinion and I want you to challenge me (in a gracious, tender, “I’m a rookie and I’m just wondering” type of attitude). Don’t be afraid to share your opinion, just don’t pout/whine/complain if the leader doesn’t agree.
7. Show initiative: I love leaders who express initiative! Even when they do something wrong, I love initiative. Leaders don’t want to have to coax, beg, and/or manipulate you to do something. Leaders love it when someone steps up and says, “I’ll take a crack at that”… “I’ll do it”… “I’d love to have the opportunity to do that.”
8. Clarify expectations: If you expressed initiative and/or had something delegated to you, make sure you heard the leader correctly. When is it due? What format? Who did you involved in the process? Etc… Don’t be high maintenance and turn your clarifying questions into another meeting, but make it quick.
9. Sit up: I’m constantly amazed at the poor non verbal communication displayed in meetings. I know it’s not intentional, but it’s so easy to send the “I’m bored out of my mind” message when you’re slouched, picking your split ends, or looking elsewhere. You may be bored, but learn to fake-it.
10. Affirm someone: Get in the habit of leaving a meeting and affirming someone. It might be the leader of the meeting, it might be someone who weighed-in with honesty, and/or it might be the person who shared vulnerably. Meetings are an opportunity to notice something good and comment on it.
Experience will eventually provide you with all that you need to survive in ministry. My prayer is that my experience can save you from some pain and help you be more effective.
Question: What’s an 11th meeting basic that I missed? Share it here.