Create Meetings that Teachers Actually Want to Attend, Part 1

For almost 18 years as a Minister of Education I led weekly leadership meetings.  Each week between 90-95% of my adult teachers came and participated.  I couldn’t have been more proud of them!  It was hard work to be ready every Sunday afternoon for our hour-long leadership meeting, but it paid huge dividends for the church as we experienced phenomenal growth in our Sunday School.  I saw our Sunday School grow from 44 initial members to over 2400 members in just 10 years.  I don’t think we’d have gotten there without solid training each week.

If you’re thinking that your teachers wouldn’t attend a weekly leadership meeting, you might be surprised.  Teachers will attend a meeting as long as it benefits them and sharpens their understanding of Scripture, teaches them practical leadership principles, and saves them time in preparation.  Try a monthly meeting if you think weekly meetings are too big a bite to take…just do something, though!

As you think about providing ongoing training for your teachers, here are 10 quick tips that may save your life (5 on this post, and 5 more on my next post), and give them meetings they’ll come back to time after time!

Tip #1 – Start and End on Time.  Nothing will drive teachers away faster than when you don’t start and end the meetings on time.  Even though all your teachers may not be in their seats at the top of the hour, start anyway and train them to come on time.  Don’t unintentionally send a message that you don’t appreciate those leaders who arrive early; they’ll wonder why they took the time to come on time, but they aren’t rewarded for it.  In a similar way, be sure to end the meetings on time.  People are busy and have other things to do with their lives,  and besides, their workplace meetings end on time…why can’t the meetings at church be just as professional??

Tip #2 – Arrive one hour early.  If you want to have excellent leadership meetings, remember that excellence is in the details.  It’s hard to arrive just minutes before your meeting and have everything set up and ready to go…”Murphy” will almost always show up and create havoc.  By arriving early, you can take care of those details that will create an environment your teachers will really appreciate.  You can make sure the room is set up properly, check all your A/V connections, place handouts and pens on tables, and make sure the room temperature is comfortable.  Plus you can have a few minutes to breathe and get relaxed and focused before your first teacher arrives.

Tip #3 – Follow the 48 hour rule.  If you’re going to commit to quality meetings, make sure that all handouts and resources are gathered and ready 48  hours prior to your meeting date.  Yes, you can run around the day before, or even the day of your meeting, but you’ll struggle to provide consistency and excellence.  By imposing a deadline of 48 hours, you’ll be able to relax the day of the meeting knowing that you’ve thought of everything and you’ve got it under control.

Tip #4 – Send a teaser to your teachers. Some time during the week, send your leaders and email that previews the items you’re going to cover at your leadership meeting.  Don’t tell them everything you’re going to do, but show them a sneak preview and leave them wanting more.  Do this every time you’ve got a meeting coming up.

Tip #5 – Set a regular time and date.  Ever find a tv show you really like, get into a routine of watching it, and then discover that the network has moved it?  That’s no fun, and it’s often downright frustrating!  When you decide to have regular meetings with your leaders, set a specific day and time and stick with it. ..teachers must be confident they can find your meeting.   Your teachers need to know that even if they don’t see a reminder from you about the meeting, they know when and where you’ll be meeting.  Consider having your meeting on the same day every week, or the same Sunday or Wednesday of the month (i.e. first Sunday, third Wednesday, etc).

In my next post I will share the final 5 tips to create meetings that teachers actually want to attend.  If you have some successful practices that have caused your teachers to get excited about attending regular training, let me know what you’ve done so we can share that with the world!

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