"Effective!" Is that how you would describe your meetings? Do you even have leaders meetings or believe they are a waste of time? It is difficult to imagine how a leader can effectively communicate to the home church – verbally and by modeling – excitement and direction for evangelism and discipleship without healthy leaders meetings that evaluate the success and direction of the group. Here is a brief guide on how leaders meetings can help a home church "stay the course."
First, let’s briefly consider some potential barriers to good leaders meetings:
- Leaderless leaders meetings – these meetings need a "chairperson" – usually your recognized senior leader.
- Focus on tyranny of the urgent and most recent (or chronic) crisis.
- Immaturity on the leadership team (see the Leadership Class notes on the web). Walking on egg-shells around issues with a group of people who are supposed to be the most mature of the group is antithetical to leading the group and a killer to leaders meetings.
- Infrequent meetings – then there is too much to cover when you do get together.
- No collection of possible agenda items ahead of time.
- Lack of consensus of the mission of the home church.
- Lack of consensus on the present "health" of the home church.
- Not using the meeting to train would-be leaders.
1. Leaders meetings need someone to "chair" the meeting.
Their role includes collecting possible agenda items (soliciting these a few days ahead of time helps peoples’ prep), deciding which items will be discussed and which won’t be, and prioritizing those to be discussed first. Soliciting from the others clearly communicates that their views are important to the meeting but also is an excellent training tool to encourage leaders and sit-in trainees to think about the group (Heb. 10:24). The chairperson also helps move the meeting along to make certain it doesn’t get unnecessarily bogged down. Often they determine either that a decision can’t be reached and should be discussed again at the next meeting, or they might make a decision if consensus was unable to be reached but a decision needed to be made. Usually, the chairperson is the senior leader of the leadership team.
2. What is the mission of the home church?
Evangelism and discipleship (hope so)? If so, it is logical that discussions on outreach, follow-up, discipleship and leadership training should occupy the majority of time spent in a leaders meeting. How do you do this with so much sin, conflicts, events, etc. going on which need to be managed? As Nike used to say, "Just do it". If you try to get rid of the painful issues and event planning first, you’ll never get to what you know if most important. You must consciously do what is most important first and then leave a little time at the end of the meeting to deal with one or two of the more pressing matters. In our group, we typically do all of the event planning logistics outside of this meeting. Handle the others via telephone or email communications (this is not to say try to resolve the actual problem that way, but the advice/decision process that must go on between the leaders).
An excellent tool for staying focused on evangelism is the decision continuum document (ask your home group consultant for how to maximize this tool).
The Ministry Chart format provides an excellent framework to insure follow-up and discipleship needs are being served. It also makes it easy to view the various options for planting your group as you develop your plant plans. A white-board or flip-chart works well in a leaders meeting to accomplish this. If you are uncertain how to utilize this time-honored tool, again, ask your home group consultant.
3. Spiritual maturity in leaders meeting is foundational if there is to be unity of purpose.
Leaders meetings are exciting if leaders and trainees receive input and admonition with a desire to grow and to ‘be useful to the Master for every good work’ (2 Tim. 2:20-21) – in other words - receive correction maturely. "Spiritual maturity" is a relative quality, and God will use input in leaders meetings to mature us. Yet, there needs to be evidence of maturity in this respect before inviting a trainee to sit-in the meetings. The Christian Ministry 3 teaching on this subject helps to define what it should look like to receive admonition appropriately (Week 4)
4. The frequency of the leaders meeting will help determine how focused you can be on what's most important. (#2)
It depends in part on the age range of your home church – if you are primarily single or married without children, you can probably meet more frequently than leadership teams that are primarily with married couples and children. At least monthly leaders meetings will keep issues well in hand and forward progress on evangelism, follow-up, and discipleship maintained. Two hours is usually enough time to accomplish most of what is needed. Many groups find it helpful to link this meeting with a night where you are going to be out anyway – EG. if cell group starts at 8:00 PM, start leaders meeting at 6 at or close to where cell is, order pizza or subs so people don’t have to stop to eat first. Spending 15 or 20 minutes eating and fellowshipping first reconnects one another before getting to the agenda.
5. Prior collection of agenda items is covered in #1.
It is not a "have to" but it does facilitate getting more accomplished in the shortest time, as well as insuring people are thinking about and giving input into the meeting agenda.
6. Leadership teams need to be in agreement on the mission of the home church.
If they aren't, the group will go nowhere, conflicts will be more likely, or total disengagement will occur because of no sense of purpose. How could Phil. 2: 2 be a reality without a clear understanding of your group’s mission? (make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose). Linking the mission of your group to the mission of the church is logical and certainly biblical!
Keeping a group conscious of and focused on its mission is essential to the home group, and not always easy to maintain. Communicating this to your workers regularly in quarterly workers meetings and cell groups is equally necessary. This can be done explicitly by discussing the mission, or implicitly by talking about how the group is doing in those arenas (reporting numerical growth over the past year, spiritual commitments made by individuals, etc.). In a discussion format, have the workers talk about the link between your structures (CT, home group, cell, parties, C&C, playgroups, etc.) and the mission. This revives their sense of purpose and helps maintain their outward focus. It also minimizes legalistic involvement in these structures when they remind themselves how God is using them to do His work.
7. Leaders meetings are agonizing if there isn’t consensus on the overall health of the group.
Stated another way, instrumental to effective meetings is regularly committing time to evaluating the health of the group. There is no simple way to describe how to do this; working with your home group consultant will help, but the leadership team’s discernment on this must be developed. Tools that have proven helpful (although this is far from exclusive) include:
- Overall Group evaluation
- See the paper Home Church Evaluation for an excellent tool.
- Evangelism health
- Home Church chart from the Dwell database – particularly the "Home Group Comprehensive Attendance Individual by Month" – your consultant can provide this. Obviously, you want to see that first-timers are regularly coming to meetings.
- Decision Continuum chart where all workers include people they are reaching out to – good for use in cell groups and/or personal discipleship.
- People talking about time spent with non-Christians, spiritual conversations, etc.
- Follow-up health
- The comprehensive chart mentioned in Evangelism health tracks "returning new" statistics and calculates your follow-up ratios. The "returning new" charts should be steadily going up. This is the only area a home church can grow. A first-timer is that only once, and you can’t get more old members during the cycle of your group. Therefore good follow-up of first timers is absolutely necessary for home church growth.
- Nothing replaces talking about the new people, Christians and non, that have been to the group lately and who is investing in them (usually the person who brought them). These papers are instrumental to understanding and leading home group follow-up:
- The Ministry Chart is a tool proven effective for seeing that people are being invested in, and its development and revisions should lead to discussions about the sanctification and ministry of your workers.
- Leadership development is necessary to plant a group and should be a regular topic of discussion in leaders meetings.
When your leadership team basically agrees on the health of the group it often leads to unified discussion on direction for the group.
8. Your leaders meetings should train one another and sit-in trainees how to lead.
Don’t just make decisions without talking about how to make them, what factors should be considered (ask for these, don’t just lecture), how the issue fits into the priorities of the group, what biblical principles are at play with the discussion, etc. In other words, you should be helping one another develop wisdom so that all are better able to make solid decisions in the future even when you aren’t there, when the next leadership team has been planted with their group. Does this reduce how much you accomplish in this meeting? Yes, absolutely. You can accomplish much more by flopping the issue on the table, argue briefly about each others’ opinion, and then the Senior Leader just decide. The shortfalls of this are obvious, and there are times as mentioned above, that the Sr. Leader needs to make a decision in the absence of consensus so that the issue can be resolved. However, multiplication of groups requires multiplication of leaders who understand the biblical and relational principles that are foundational to directing a home group.
Hopefully, these elements will contribute to solid leaders meetings in your home group ministry. Your home church consultant is an excellent source of guidance for developing healthy leaders meeting dynamics. Take and re-take the Leadership Class!! God will grow your understanding of leadership through experience and sanctification. The topics and issues discussed in this class will have greater application for you as your experience in leadership develops.
EXAMPLE OF ONE HOME GROUP'S "CHECKLIST" FOR LEADER'S MEETINGS:
|Any new people? Who will follow them up?|
|Any group unity issues?|
|Any schedule issues?|
|Next Lead Worker meeting?|
|Next Workers meeting?|
|Next Monthly party? Flyer?|
|How’s evangelism doing? People to encourage?|
|Any new Study Group candidates? People ready to take classes? Servant Team nominations?|
|Other agenda items:|