If you are wired for leadership then it's safe to assume that you don't have a problem finding things to do! Now add family, hobbies, and worship to the mix, and you are begging for more hours in the day. With members of a team all on the go, weeks can go by without crossing one another's path. Glancing backwards, a team can see all that they have accomplished together in their ministry that they never thought possible. Unfortunately, looking forward it's hard to have that positive outlook when disarrayed schedules are clouding that team vision. This scenario definitely hinders the goal-setting and planning process. It places significant stress on the team who will become frustrated when they can't get the time needed with others to work out situations; it can even isolate members out of desperation to meet impending deadlines.
Every so often your team needs a break. A break to get away from the distractions and focus solely on their mission; we call this the 'lock them in the room' method! There is something to be said about having all distractions cut out, and allowing the team to invest their whole mind and heart on the goals and planning of their ministry's future. No leaving to pick up the kids, no answering email, no checking social media or text...even if, "It's only for ten minutes and then I'll be right back."
Teams can meet on short term objectives through the conventional monthly meetings. However, every so often, usually about once or twice per year, a more intensive meeting is required to hammer out not just a yes or no decision, but layered and detail intensive planning and budgeting.
This is sacred time on every member's calendar! Time is sacred so schedule this meeting in advance ensuring people are not overbooked and can make this a priority. In the same breath, you are taking up your staff's sacred time. If you have several volunteers in attendance, think of the least intrusive time so as to avoid time away from their work or family. A good balance of appropriate scheduling and dedication from team members will allow everyone to be in attendance and make for a more efficient meeting.
How will this big annual meeting benefit the team? This is the time to evaluate everything since you have all members present and, in some cases, each department/region represented. Socially, these larger scale meetings are also a time for off-site and commuting staff to get some face-to-face time. Also, the entire team, from leaders to support staff, is around the same table, giving the 'think tank' more diversity and viewpoints.
What's on the agenda? A solid agenda would look like this: celebrate successes, identify opportunities for improvements, reaffirm or adjust the priorities for the next year, and create solutions that will bring improvements to your organization. People need to buy into your strategy and any changes; everyone should leave understanding the organization's aim and how their role impacts the whole group's success.
Find neutral turf. Going off-site, at least an hour away, is a good idea for these annual meetings. By changing the environment to something away from home, you eliminate many distractions and allow the whole group to only focus on the meeting topics. If you are a multi campus organization, having a meeting on neutral turf eliminates any animosities between regions, or resentment of always having larger meetings at the 'headquarters' or 'executive board room'. Neutral locations allow everyone to be at the same level, giving team players more confidence to express ideas and opinions.
Where will you hold this meeting? Already mentioned was a distant and neutral location, but that doesn't mean it has to be an expensive location. A lot of leaders unfortunately think off-site equals over-budget, and that is not the case! There are several realistic options including meeting at out-of-town churches in your denomination, or conference and retreat centers. Taking your team for a day conference or overnight retreat can be both affordable and beneficial.
Getting your team under a neutral roof allows everyone to stay attentive, and for you and your team to achieve mission goals and successfully move forward with ministry benchmarks.