How To Conduct Effective Brainstorming Meetings With Your Church Staff


In addition to regularly scheduled meetings, every now and then, your church or ministry team may need to have a brainstorming session about a project, a new ministry, or how to meet a specific goal. This is a time when your church staff can get out of their normal routine and do some blue sky thinking. It’s helpful every so often to look up and see where you have been and dream and pray about where you are going next.

If you conduct these meetings the same way as your regular weekly staff meetings, you probably aren't getting as much as you can out of them. Here are 10 tips for successful brainstorming meetings.

1. Send out the topic or guidelines several days before the meeting.

Give your church staff a chance to prepare, so that when you sit down to meet, no one is taken off guard by what is being talked about. When they know what will be discussed, your team can come with valuable ideas to add. This will help make the most of the time you have together. 

2. Pray.

Before beginning, take a moment and pray as a church team. It doesn’t have to be a long time, but pausing to pray first gives everyone a chance to breathe, focus in together, and ask God to guide the meeting.

3. Cast vision.

What is the end goal of your brainstorming topic? Reaching more of your community? Increasing attendance of your weekend service? Helping your congregation become more mission-minded? Whatever your goal is, make that known up front to everyone in the meeting. 

4. Invest in big sticky notes.

You can use a white board or chalk board, but huge sticky notes allow you to keep all of your ideas and refer back to them at any point in the future. You can also hang more than one or two on the wall so you have more space to write. Hint: If you use a white board or a chalk board, take pictures of your notes before you erase them!

5. Set rules.

Before you start, make sure everyone is on the same page with guidelines for the meeting. One person talks at a time. Every idea is valuable. Respect each other. Even if they seem obvious, set some guidelines for how this meeting will run. 

6. No computers.

This may be a personal preference, but the most successful brainstorming meetings I’ve been a part of are "no screen” meetings. Leave your computer behind and turn your phone on silent. This way you can’t get distracted by emails or texts. The more distractions that can be eliminated, the better your team will be able to focus on the goal and what is being discussed. You can elect one person to take notes if it will be helpful for your team.

7. Plan breaks.

These types of meetings might last two hours depending on how many people are present and what you are trying to accomplish. Make sure that you are planning several 5-10 minute bathroom and coffee breaks for your team (bonus if you provide snacks!). Your conversation will be more beneficial if your team gets a brain break every so often.

8. Know when it’s time to reign in discussion or when you’re starting to beat a dead horse.

If no progress is being made, tensions are starting to rise, or you’ve strayed away from the end goal, bring your team back to center. Nothing will kill productive brainstorming like silence, frustration, or rabbit trails.

9. End on time.

Respect your team’s time, watch the clock, and end on time. If you start to realize that you will not be able to end on time, acknowledge that you are going over time, apologize, set a time to reconvene, then wrap everything up as quickly as possible. 

10. Next steps.

You might not know what your next steps are by the end of your time together, but in the following day or two, email out notes from your time together and potential next steps. Especially if you do go sans laptops, now your team will all be on the same page and have all the same info. One of the worst things that can happen after a brainstorming meeting is nothing. In order for change to occur, steps have to be taken. This might require a short follow up meeting to talk specifically about who is owning what part and what practical things you can do now. Assign the action steps and deadlines, or your meeting will have been for nothing.

Happy brainstorming!

What other tips do you have for effective church staff brainstorming?

If you liked this, you'll also like Free Download: The Comprehensive Checklist For Staff Meetings That Work.