How do you get youth leaders to show up at leader meetings?

How do you get youth leaders to show up at leader meetings?Last Sunday I tweeted that we were having our youth leader meeting. Several people asked for an overview of what we do at our meetings/trainings, so here ya go.

First, I should mention that the purpose of our meetings is not to cover a lot of business items and make decisions — with an adult team of 60-some leaders, that would take forever and isn’t a good use of everyone’s time. Instead, we have a smaller Youth Ministry Executive team of long-term, committed, experienced youth leaders from each major area of our ministry that takes care of business items. That allows us to use the larger leader meetings like last Sunday to encourage, support, equip and unify our team. We found that without these meetings, leaders tend to get tunnel-vision about their specific area of ministry, focused so intensely on their small corner of the larger youth ministry that they sometimes loose sight of the bigger picture. The meetings let us re-group, get to know each other (some leaders don’t known other leaders on our team), hear what God’s doing in the ministry as a whole, and refocus on our ministry’s vision together.

We do the meetings every-other-month because the Exec Team figured it is better to have more people at fewer meetings than it is to have few people at frequent meetings. We provide lunch for the team right after our last Sunday morning service and we try to keep the meetings no longer than an hour and 15 minutes long, hour and a half max.

But even though we try to make it as easy as possible for people to attend, we still usually end up with only about 10 leaders or so at each meeting, which is honestly a bit frustrating and kind of defeats the unity purpose of the meeting. One of our associate pastors told me I should make the meetings an understood expectation from the very beginning of the recruitment stage, which is good input I’ll be using. It’s still difficult to make anything required for volunteers, though, otherwise I’d make the Simply Youth Ministry Conference mandatory for them all.

This is a typical agenda use for these meetings, although last Sunday the discussion went a bit differently than I planned due to some people sharing some pretty significant God-stories and struggles that we talked about instead, which is definitely more important than my agenda.

1. Introductions: Your name, area of ministry, what you like best about serving teenagers. (15 minutes)

2. Share God sightings, encouraging stories, things that excite you about what you see taking place with students. (15 minutes)

3. Share struggles, receive advice (15 minutes)

4. Briefly announce business items/decisions (5 minutes)

5. Training: Important training notes from the Simply Youth Ministry Conference led by 4 leaders who attended the conference (20 minutes)

6. Thank you for serving these teens and the body of Christ! (2 minutes)

7. Pray for the ministry and for teenagers (5 minutes)

How do you all get leaders to show up at your meetings? How often do you meet? What do you try to accomplish with your meetings? Please share in the comments below.

Posted on April 19, 2010

  • I always find free food normally works :-)

    • Yeah, got that. Lunch served at our meetings after church.

  • I meet monthly with my youth staff. It is a required meeting for them to be involved in our ministry, and a meeting we all look forward to. We meet the second Sunday of each month after church for lunch. Half the time is relational, the other half is taking care of ministry business. We enjoy a meal together just getting reconnected with one another and building on the relationships we share. After the meal we spend time in prayer for one another and the ministry, and then dive into the ministry business at hand. Always a good and beneficial time.

  • We have two distinct teams of leaders (small groups and Sunday morning leaders) with some overlap, so we do two separate monthly meetings. To make them easy to attend, I schedule them right before each weekly event (our small groups meet Wednesday night at church and we have a large group gathering on Sunday mornings). I provide food, and keep the meetings to about 45 minutes. I'd say we run about 50% attendance, which I'm pretty good with. However, as our team grows (this is my first year at the church, and we have about 25 leaders), I think I may take your idea, Tim, and go to every other month meetings so that all of our leaders can be together. About how many leaders to you have on your executive team?

    By the way, I dispense most of our important information regarding logistics via email, and I let leaders know that they need to make sure to check their email. This way, most of our meeting time can be used for fun stuff, such as casting vision or receiving feedback from leaders.

    • There are 7 people on our Exec Team. Having an odd number of people is nice because it means votes can't be a tie.

      I'm wondering if maybe having our meetings every other month is too infrequent because it doesn't ft into people's normal grind. Maybe there's too much time in between meetings for it to stay on their radar despite having dates planned out for the whole school year and all the email reminders.

  • Joe Go

    We've got a unique thing going at my church this year that's really worked well. Every first Sunday of the month is a "family service" where communion and baptisms take place in the regular service. Since I know many of my kids don't usually go to service we don't have Sunday school on the first Sunday of each month. This at least allows students to be in one service a month. With that firs Sunday open for me I have a leader's meeting on the first Sunday of each month during the first service (our church has 2 services.) I started this in Sept. and have seen almost %100 attendance from my leaders over the last several months. While I don't like requiring things for volunteers either it was something I threw out to my leaders before the year started as a stated expectation, and they all affirmed it. They especially like it because the meeting is at a time and place that they're already planning to be at. I used to do after church too, but I ran into too many afternoon conflicts with people, especially if they have children of their own.

  • I have a middle school team meeting and a high school team meeting – each once a month. Our attendance is very high at our meetings. We set that as an expectation and commitment when a person signs on. We also just love being together so that helps. We've developed a real family/team atmosphere within our teams. We keep our meetings the same day each month usually (every now and then there has to be a change but that's seldom). We usually begin our meetings with a time of sharing requests and praying together (about a 1/4 of our meeting), evaluate the past month, plan details for the coming month, and start sketching out plans for the events scheduled for the following 2 months. Our meetings are typically 2 hours long. MS Team – about 15 of us. HS Team – about 12 adults and 6 students.

  • Our ministry team meets "most months" and for teachers, which is most of them, they are mandatory. I make this known up front. Our meeting day is a Saturday, from 8:30am-11. We have a light snack, and then dive in…devotion, trophy case (what went well), issues (that we need to address), and I just started dividing the balance of the meeting into "strategic" (big picture, direction, why? etc), "tactical" (how, specifics), and "operational" (curriculum, tools, equipping, etc). Works well.

    Beginning in September, we'll meet every other month, MS group one month, and HS the next. We also do an annual retreat, which is an extended meeting (friday night and most of saturday). We've gone off-site and stayed here, just depends on what else is happening. Either way, it's a great time of team building, reflection and long range planning.

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