Leading teams requires meetings. Hopefully not too many of them, but you can’t organize movement and growth of a team of people without regular time together to accomplish unity in vision, clarity of strategy, and rehearsal of tactics that will work.
TEAM MEETINGS MUST UNIFY YOUR TEAM ON IT’S VISION
Visionary leaders see clearly where they are going and constantly remind their team, with very simple words and word pictures what that vision is (i.e. a vision statement). If the vision of your team is a bit mirky for the team leader, then you can expect that the vision will be muddy for the rest of your team. By contrast if the team leader has a very clear vision that they talk about all of the time, then they can expect that even if the vision is a bit cloudy their team is still onboard. The Great Commission is a classic example of how Jesus encapsulated his Kingdom vision into a memorable vision statement that has obviously changed the world ever since:
And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ -Matthew 28:18-2-0
Student ministry is about “introducing students to Jesus and helping them grow in their faith.” That is an example of a simple mission statement that drives my ministry. And I talk about it all of the time. The implications of a clear mission statement like that is that my team knows we have work to do… to meet students, build relationships with them, take opportunities to share the Gospel with them in the context of friendship, and then to build them up in leadership as they commit their life to Jesus to reach their school and their city. The vision drives all of the team’s activity.
GOOD TEAM MEETINGS ARE CLEAR ON VISION & VALUES
Your team won’t go anywhere if the vision is muddy. I’ve observed over the years that a good visionary team leader understands the relationship between vision and values. Vision states regularly the utmost essentials for your team. And values remind your team of timeless priorities that are bigger than the individuals on the team. If you want to grow in your ability to cast vision and unify your team around vision, I’d encourage you to read my post, “Vision – Values Cycle Tool: 5 Steps to Staying on Mission.”
GOOD TEAM MEETNGS CLARIFY YOUR TEAM’S STRATEGY
Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there; they cause change. They motivate and inspire others to go in the right direction and they, along with everyone else, sacrifice to get there. – John Kotter
How do we get there? This is the question your team members are quietly asking, all of the time. They may be clear on the vision, but they need a team leader who is dreaming, praying, and studying the best path to get there. Vision typically doesn’t change very often… maybe every 5 years or so, but strategy can actually change often. Maybe each semester you revisit what your strategy should be to introduce students to Jesus and help them grow in their faith.
If your team is principle driven (this comes from the vision-values cycle I mentioned above), then you can experiment with strategy based upon the students you are pursuing, what schools they go to, where they hang out, what their habits are… essentially what you think is actually going to work. Not what has worked for some other team, but what is going to work for your team. Often I think it is really wise to involve key students in this process because they will give you intel and ideas that you don’t have about what will actually work. But don’t be distracted by this either, because you as the team have to keep the principles/values first and then come up with strategy. If your strategy drifts away from your vision, then change your strategy, not your vision.
RELATED POST: Vision Statements | A Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures
TEAM MEETINGS REHEARSE YOUR TEAM’S TACTICS
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. – Sun Tzu
I know two students who are currently learning lines for their school musical. Learning hundreds of lines requires tons of time and focused energy, and it usually requires another person to read the other cast member’s lines. It is a team effort. Much like learning your role for a theater production, learning your tole as a team member involves practice. In student ministry some of the tactics you need to regularly rehearse and practice are (just to name a few):
- How do we build relationships with non-believing students?
- How do we introduce the Gospel to young people in a safe and fun environment?
- What are the ways we are going to use small groups to help students grow in Christ and minister to one another? I’d recommend for small groups the book I just published, The Personality of Jesus: How to Introduce Young People to Jesus Christ and Help them Grow in their Faith)
- What training are our leaders going to get to learn how to give a great talk or lead a Bible study?
- How often do we as a team need to meet to plan out our week/semester/year to pursue excellence in ministry?
- How might we use some scenarios in our training to help leaders learn how to provide counsel to students on common issues we see in the students we are working with?
- How are we going to empower parents and work alongside them in discipling their students?
TEAM MEETINGS HAVE AN OUTLINE THAT WILL GET RESULTS
I recently read a very helpful article about teamwork by Daniel Harkavy called, “7 Steps to Improve Your Meetings — and Your Team’s Effectivenes.” Below I’m sharing an abridged version of Harkavy’s list that I’ve tweeked from my own experience to help me be more effective at leading student ministry team meetings. Hopefully by trying some of these suggestions you’ll notice immediate a change in attitudes among your team and will have improved teamwork.
Team Meeting Outline
- Share with the team what my desired outcome is for this meeting (1. Spiritual input, 2. Prayer for students & schools, 3. Planning: upcoming activities and set up when leaders will pursue relationships with students throughout the week, 4. Administrative details to cover.)
- Have one person take detailed notes and email everyone else the details of the meeting.
- Make sure everyone participates… call out names of teammates are not engaging in the conversation.
- Each team member gives an update on progress in relationships with students, prayer requests, areas where support is needed in their effort to be effective with students.
- Ask a question or two that invites debate and productive dialogue on an important aspect of our vision or mission statement.
- At end of meeting have each team member:
- State an action step (what they’ll do).
- Indicate a deadline (when they’ll deliver on their action step)
- Clarify in their own words what they feel needs to be communicated to a person or the whole team (this gives the rest of the group an opportunity clarify if they have missed something crucial that needs to be done or communicated).
- Each team member schedules (before the meeting is over) a 1:1 follow up with any other team member who they need to talk with to work together toward achieving their action steps for the week.
DO SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR TEAM MEETINGS
- Before your next meeting, jot down how you are going to facilitate your meeting using these 7 steps. After the meeting evaluate how this structure helped effect the attitudes of your team members and effectiveness of your meeting. Take note of how teamwork has been improved.
- Evaluate: Is your team unified in their vision? What can you do to bring more crystal clear clarity?
- Evaluate: Is your team’s strategy clear and understood by everyone? What can you do to agree on a simple strategy that will work to accomplish your vision?
- Evaluate: Are your team’s tactics clear and do you rehearse/practice them? What can you do in your next team meeting or training gathering to practice some of the key skills you want your leaders to have with students?