Pastors often say to me, “I hate meetings.” When I ask why, they say, “They’re painful,” “They’re a waste of time,” “They’re too long,” or “We rarely accomplish anything.” Maybe you have felt the same way.

I have both sat in meetings and led meetings for a long time. When I first started leading meetings, I quickly discovered that the meeting was not the problem; I was the problem, along with how I led the meeting. So I adapted! When I became the senior pastor of a multi-church, I quickly realized the value and importance of productive staff meetings. Over the years, I learned that church personnel—full-time, part-time, or volunteer—were the ones most scarred by bad staff meetings, and I vowed to change this.

So, what have I learned? Here are the five Ws I try to apply:


Who should be included in regular staff meetings? I suggest you include all pastoral staff members. This includes all full-time conference-paid pastors, part-time church-paid pastors, and volunteer pastors. I think it is also important to include the church secretary/administrative assistant. You might consider ending the meeting in an “Executive Session” (just the pastoral staff) in which you can address any sensitive and confidential issues. As for other auxiliary staff, such as worship leaders, the treasurer, or the custodian/groundskeeper, they can be invited to attend part of the staff meeting, or you can meet with them as needed.


What kind of things should go on the agenda? First, have an agenda prepared ahead of time. This helps develop a culture of planning and thinking ahead. Each staff member should submit his/her items ahead of the meeting. This gives you an opportunity to have pre-conversations as needed and will help you to determine if the item is ready for the agenda. This also helps you plan the length of the meeting.

Begin the meeting with prayer. Prayer sets the tone for the meeting and prioritizes it as a high value for your staff. Pray for the church, its members, and the staff. Every meeting should include vision casting. Effective church staff meetings are rooted in the mission of the church. The leader must define reality—“where we are”—and then talk about where the church is going and how to get from “here” to “there.” This is critical to movement.

Next, listen to reports from staff members. These reports are not just important information—they are critical for the progress of the church and for accountability.

Then you can cover issues like calendars, schedules, upcoming programs and events, etc.

Once a month, I also spend some time on leadership training. Leaders must grow in order to maximize the gifts God has given them. I find that doing leadership training stretches me and helps my staff to grow.


When should staff meetings be held? How long should staff meetings run?

Effective meetings can make a huge difference in the leadership and life of the church. Staff meetings should be regularly scheduled, weekly if possible. This allows a culture of caring, communication, and accountability to develop.

The meetings should have a fixed and predetermined length. Nothing discourages staff members more than when a meeting goes longer than planned. Efficient staff members will already have plans for after the meeting. Don’t impose upon that time. People tend to become restless if they don’t know when a meeting will end. Meetings should start and finish on time. I’ve found that most agendas can be covered in 60-90 minutes.


Each church facility will dictate the best location; it might be the pastor’s office or a committee room. I suggest that once a quarter, you meet off-site. This is an excellent time for leadership development. I also like to have an annual staff retreat.


I find that regular meetings together help the staff to develop strong bonds as we move together to accomplish the mission God has given us. I also believe that staff meetings serve as an excellent mechanism for communication and accountability. They can also serve as encouragement as you are reminded that you are not alone in this endeavor.

I hope these suggestions will help you to have productive and enjoyable staff meetings which honor God and those who serve Him.

Ron Aguilera is executive secretary for the Illinois Conference. This article first appeared in Best Practices, May 2015. It has been lightly edited for Elder’s Digest. Reprinted by permission.