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Mastering the Art of Weekly Check-Ins: A Recipe for Building Strong Ministry Teams

By now, you know that you should not do ministry by yourself. Always work on a team. Discover and develop apprentices. If you work alone, you’ll stop short. If you work with others, you’ll go far. You get it.


But what does that actually look like? You’ve got a team…and now you must stay connected to them consistently. Enter…the weekly check-in.



People often wonder how many direct reports they should have on their teams. You should only have as many direct reports as you have the capacity to meet with weekly.

Why should you meet weekly? Here are two reasons.

  1. To deepen the relationship of trust. People are much more likely to work hard when they are connected to their team leader. You’d like to think every team member is perfectly autonomous and will give maximum effort despite the “closeness” of the team. But that’s not how it works in real life. We are hardwired for community. The weekly check-in allows leaders to get to know their teammates deeply and holistically–both their personal and professional highs and lows.

  2. To develop real-time goals. Managers often have a yearly goal-planning session with their direct reports. Then, they never assess team members’ success in meeting those goals. Maybe the goals set a few months ago are no longer relevant, and new goals must be set. Weekly meetings allow team members to set real-time goals to meet the evolving needs of their ministry teams.


Hopefully, you now understand why behind weekly check-ins with your direct reports. But how should you conduct the meeting? Here are the four Ps for a productive weekly check-in!


Personal–Always start by asking your team members a holistically driven question. Ask a specific and direct question about heart, body, mind, or spirit. “How was your fishing trip last week? Did Jackson's football team win on Friday? How's Kari's (wife) occupational therapy going?” This shows you care for them and amplifies trust. This will give your direct report more personal responsibility for the trajectory of your conversation.


Professional–Ask questions like: How are you doing on your goals? What roadblocks are in your way? Is there any way I can I help? What victories can we celebrate? This will allow time for real-time reflection on the work.

Plan–I love this part of the weekly check-in. Don’t dictate the plan to your direct report. Let them share their plan with you. Ask questions like: What is your plan this week to make progress on your goals? Are there places where the plan feels fuzzy or unclear? Is there anything we need to bring to our team meeting this week? I’d love to help brainstorm on the plan… These are the accountability questions that drive the team members to “own” their areas of ministry.


Pray–Yes, you are a Jesus person. Prayer is powerful. Prayer also draws us closer to Jesus…and to each other. Incorporate prayers of gratitude both for personal and professional “wins.” Ask Jesus for help in areas where team members feel stuck personally or professionally. Ask Jesus for the discipline to put agreed-upon ministry plans into action.


Make your weekly check-ins personal, professional, productive, and prayerful for one another. Also, life happens, and sometimes you won’t be able to meet. That’s okay. This entire conversation is covered with the grace of Jesus. Make those “missed meetings” the exception rather than the norm.


Finally, how long should the weekly check-in be? It depends. Likely, the check-in runs between 30 minutes and one hour. I meet with my direct reports every Monday morning before our executive staff meeting. This also alerts me to any issues we need to discuss at our meeting that afternoon.


Overall, I pray your relationships of love and trust with your team members deepen. I pray they know you care about them as people…not just as “cogs” in your ministry wheels…or as “pawns” on your kingdom checkerboard. They are precious sons and daughters of King Jesus, worthy of deep, nurtured connections.


See how you can become connected at Uniteleadership.org

 
 

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Great advice Tim. I learned the value of weekly meetings from a boss about 20 years ago. He even kept a chart to track the weekly meetings and posted the chart outside his office. If leaders allows themselves to be held accountable the attitude will spread through the organization. When we got to the “how are you doing against your goals,” we liked to use data to guide the conversation. We never prayed, but seems like a must in a ministry context. The weekly 1:1 meetings work and it’s great to see them encouraged in the ministry context.

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