I've sat through hundreds of hours of various church meetings, and there is one constant: a church business meeting agenda that controls the conversation.
The most effective meetings have an agenda that creates space for everyone to voice their opinions, keep tangents to a minimum, and give clarity on what goals are going to be achieved.
I have several years of ministry experience, both paid and unpaid, and I can tell you that a church board meeting can be a slog, but it doesn't have to. With a simple mindset shift and some structure, even the worst meetings can become fruitful and beneficial.
Let's start by defining a church business meeting, what should be covered, and put a template in your hands that you can start customizing for your church meetings.
- What Is A Church Business Meeting?
- What Should Be Covered In A Church Business Meeting?
- Church Business Meeting Agenda Template
What Is A Church Business Meeting?
A church meeting can be defined like this:
Any and all meetings where attendees can discuss the mission of the church and the mission of Jesus while making decisions to affect the ways in which the church accomplishes these goals.
Too often we see these meetings as a "necessary evil" but that is a grim interpretation of the situation. An honest moment here: it's just a bad attitude to have. Every meeting can be an opportunity to move the needle forward on the missions of the church and of Jesus.
In fact, with this working definition, we can say whether or not these meetings truly have purpose and value. If they don't, then you have a set clear criteria to justify disbanding or re-purposing these meetings.
Regardless of the type of meeting, there is usually one person who is put in charge of creating the meeting agenda. The Lead Pastor is put in charge of making sure these meetings run smoothly.
What if that isn't your gift, though? Not every leader is an administrator. We need to know what should be covered in these meetings so we can define the goals for each meeting. This will help even those not administerial-minded be the best they can be with the duty placed on them.
Read more about managing your church like a business here.
What Should Be Covered In A Church Business Meeting?
With our new definition in mind, we can begin to talk about what could and should be covered in these meetings. This also means we will need a clearly defined agenda to use for each meeting.
Every agenda should be concerned about:
- The attendees
- An orderly discussion
- The mission of the church
- The mission of Jesus
- Decisions that need to be made
- Goals to be accomplished
If a meeting agenda can accomplish all of this, then every church meeting can have value and push the goals of the church forward.
Each agenda needs to clearly state who should be at the meeting. The people who are coming to the meeting (and the roles they will serve in it) will largely determine what gets discussed, the types of conversation that can be expected, and, to some degree, what politics may be at play (and need to be avoided).
Every meeting needs to have a layout that addresses who will be talking and what they will be talking about.
This is the section that will be customized based on the type of meeting and who will be attending. Getting this order right and making sure each member can share what they need to say will go a long way to ensuring every member feels seen and heard.
A great practice to keep these discussions orderly is to allow a set amount of time per item. This keeps everyone hyper-focused on what they need to say to communicate their points effectively.
From there, you can allow for a set amount of time for others to ask and answer questions. At the end of the time, the group needs to make a decision on the item. If no decision can be made right away or there is a bigger discussion to be had, then set that item as a priority for the next meeting.
One last note here: make sure the items are all connected to the meeting goals, which we will discuss shortly.
The Mission of the Church
At every meeting, the mission of the church needs to be a topic of discussion. It needs to be its own line item for every meeting. People need to be sick of hearing about the mission because this will guarantee the mission becomes internalized within the community.
The Mission of Jesus
The same is true for the mission of Jesus. This needs to be discussed at every meeting. If we cannot internalize the missions of the church and of Jesus, then all church meetings will fall short.
Decisions to Be Made
Each meeting agenda should list all critical decisions that must be made. Keep this to the absolute most important items on the agenda. Truly, there are only a handful of critical decisions that deserve the most attention in each meeting. Don't let your attendees get bogged down with decision overload.
If no other decisions get made, these should be the items that get the most discussion.
Goals to Be Accomplished
Clearly defining the goals of each meeting will go a long way to making sure each meeting stays on track and moves the mission of the church forward.
Throughout the meeting, confirm whether or not goals are being met with each decision made. Let the goals be the litmus test whether or not the meetings are worth it and are staying on track. If an item doesn't push the goals forward, then it can probably be removed entirely.
One note for customization of these agenda templates: it needs to stay on target. If a change only slows down the process, impedes decision making, or alienates members or goals, then it isn't a worthwhile customization.
That being said, the types of decisions that are considered critical may be different from a board meeting to a finance committee meeting to a youth board meeting. Don't hesitate to make an executive decision about what is considered critical when you are the leader. It is your role to keep making sure goals are being met, the mission is being internalized, and that volunteers have a chance to voice their opinions.
If you want to start with a rock-solid template, then here is our master church business meeting agenda just for you!
Church Business Meeting Agenda Template
Here is a free template for you to use and get started leading the best church meetings possible. This agenda has been tested in ministry settings, and I’ve even used it to decrease the amount of time spent in meetings and increase our ability to make decisions that affect our church and ministry goals!
Meet With a Purpose
Hopefully this guide makes even the least administrative-minded leader seem like a superhero for their church! All it takes is the dedication to make sure every meeting is focused on the mission and vision of Jesus. If an agenda helps you do that better, then let's celebrate it and do it well!
For more guidance on church business plans and so much more, we would love for you to check out our website for articles about risk management, church marketing strategies, and the best church management software.