MB Seminary provides leadership development and ministry training through MinistryLift so leaders and churches can increase their capacity to love God more deeply and serve others more effectively. MinistryLift builds capacity through workshops, training videos, and a variety of ministry resources. Learn more about MinistryLift here

3 Ways to Stop Wasting Time During Board Meetings

  • 5 April 2018
  • Keith Reed

Man checking watch during meetingTime may be a church board’s most valuable commodity. There are limited opportunities for a board to gather together and when the collective hours of each person are considered, we realize just how high the stakes are to use this time wisely. 

You are likely aware of the ways that time can be poorly used during church board meetings. We know that time is sucked up when rabbit trails are blazed and when irrelevant questions are asked. We understand the inefficiencies of starting late and having members “contribute” when they haven’t prepared. But there are other ways that boards waste time even though they may seem like essential elements. Here are three ways your board can stop wasting time during your meetings: 

Use Your Agenda as a Tripwire  

Your board’s agenda is a powerful way to manage your meeting time. Make sure to sequence the most important items first. All too often, critical elements are listed at the end when time is running out and the board’s capacity to reach a decision has already expired. 

In his book called Governance and Ministry, Dan Hotchkiss recommends asking two questions before a meeting begins: “When will we go home?” and “What will we accomplish before we go?” This strategy will force your chairperson to set a deadline and work backwards when the agenda is being created. When this is done, you’ll find that the unimportant items will be left to the end which is where they rightly belong. Hotchkiss explains that the goal is not to end on time, but to use your time well. A properly prepared agenda will help you stick to your priorities and be faithful to what’s critical. 

You may find it helpful to include time limits for each agenda item. Doing so will give your chairperson the permission to stop the discussion and ask if the board is ready to reach a decision. Larry Perkins explains, that this tripwire will empower the chair to decide if and when additional time will be granted instead of having one discussion dominate the entire meeting (refer to his recommendations on agenda preparation and management). 

Eliminate Verbal Reports  

Reporting is a necessary function of church board life. But reporting is always focused on the past whereas board leadership should be primarily concerned about the future (I credit Larry Perkins for making this excellent point).  

Learning to Play: Rediscovering the Discipline of Recreation

  • 23 March 2018
  • Randy Wollf

women laughing while swingingWhen I first read Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, I was a little shocked that play and recreation made it onto Peter Scazzero’s list of spiritual disciplines. Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how essential these activities are to our well-being. True recreation leads to the “re-creation” of our bodies, minds, and spirits, which allows us to worship God more deeply and serve Him more effectively.

Psychologists describe play as any activity that is voluntary, flexible, and enjoyable.

With four children in our family, I have read hundreds of children’s books over the years. One stands out as having some important lessons about play and recreation: The King’s Stilts by Dr. Seuss (I’ll share a condensed version, but you can hear the whole story here).

Once upon a time, a king and his people lived on a beautiful island in the middle of the ocean. The people lived happy lives and only had one concern: the tide. You see, the island was a sunken island and the high tides could easily wash away the people. Fortunately, the inhabitants had planted trees around the perimeter of the island. These trees, with their tightly interwoven roots, kept the tidal waters at bay. The only problem was that a certain type of bird loved to eat the roots that served as a protective wall around the island.

The king knew what he had to do. He personally trained an army of cats to chase away the root-eating birds. Every day, the king would wake up early to take care of his royal duties. He would then marshal his cat troops, train them, and set them loose to protect the island.

As you can imagine, the king’s work was exhausting. However, there was something that the king did at the end of every day that filled him with energy. He would go to his closet and pull out a pair of red stilts.

The king loved his red stilts. He would excitedly climb on them and run around the kingdom with a child-like abandon. After his play time, the king felt refreshed, energized, and ready for another busy day at the office.

Five Ways to Break Free From Entrenched Ways of Thinking

  • 14 March 2018
  • Randy Wollf

Fish jumping out of a bowlIt’s easy for us to get stuck in ruts when it comes to our thought patterns. One of the best ways to break out of those ruts is to expose ourselves to divergent ideas, even ideas that appear radical or may seem impossible. When we reflect meaningfully on new ideas, they can create dissonance in our lives. We begin to realize that perhaps our current ways of thinking are inadequate, and we need to deepen or expand them. This growth process can be painful, but the reward is a greater openness to new possibilities and an increased capacity to seize related opportunities.

Here are some practical ways that we can break free from entrenched ways of thinking:

Read, Listen and Watch Widely

Today, we have instant access to a wealth of information. I can read a blog, download an e-book, listen to a podcast, and watch a YouTube video in a very short amount of time. Of course, not everything on the internet is helpful. We must be discerning about the information we digest. We also need to take the necessary time to reflect meaningfully on the ideas that seem important. How might these ideas help me grow in my relationship with God? How can they help me serve Him more effectively? How might they help me address a current challenge or opportunity? How might they position me to better live out God’s calling on my life? Deep application of important ideas takes time and intentional effort (here's a past blog on how to read with discernment).  

Engage in Training

Last month, I had the privilege of attending a Renovated Parenting Conference put on by MinistryLift. I came away with many ideas—some were new while others were excellent reminders. After each teaching session, we had an opportunity to work through questions in table groups. It was a great way of extending and personalizing the content. Taking time out of our busy schedule to attend a training event can help us think in better ways about what is important to us.