When planning a meeting or event, ask yourself three questions:

1. Is this an event that will require an in-person meeting?

2. Are my meeting objectives task-based or relationship-based?

3. How complex are my objectives?

Why do I suggest these three questions? There is the rationale behind in-person meetings that makes me adhere to two principles:

  • Attract online in order to engage locally.
  • Automate recurring transactions without compromising human interaction.

For the first time in church history church leaders are attempting to understand what it means to serve five generations of people in our churches. Even though there has been a shift to online communication which appeals to the younger generation, we cannot ignore the Clint Eastwood generation who prefer handouts and in-person meetings.

In addition, we need to be more inclusive of introverts and extroverts. Extroverts are social and naturally gravitate toward groups, while introverts need their own space. Like Starbucks, we need to find a “third place” where people can engage with each other outside of their homes and places of work.

As Priya Parker writes, in The Art of Gathering – How We Meet and Why It Matters: “Gathering consumes our daily lives and shapes our world.”

For more than 80 years, Alcoholics Anonymous has been helping alcoholics recover. The program of recovery is based on the simple principle of sharing with others.

Relationship-based goals are more effective when accomplished in-person. People should receive difficult feedback in person. A challenging group conversation should also take place in-person, to avoid side-bar conversations.

Zoom fatigue is a real problem. In-person meeting participants are more likely to engage in conversation. For this reason, food events and coffee after the service continue to be popular. Leaders need to realize that in-person meetings increase engagement and participation by encouraging people to be fully present.

Leaders of churches deal with the emotional complexity as well as spiritual needs of their congregants. Although a lot has changed in the last two year, if discussions require navigating interpersonal and other complexities, or careful balancing of competing priorities, it is better to do this in person.

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