Research and modern business models teach against long or frequent meetings, yet some organizations hang on to the idea that long meetings are necessary and healthy. Staff meetings, departmental meetings, even counseling sessions lasting longer than an hour or two are probably draining the energy out of staff and leadership.

On occasion, such as planning for a year, the meeting should extend to a few hours, but that should be few and far between. So why do churches hold long meetings? Here’s what we have seen in several church settings:

1. The Leader Likes to Talk.
2. The Leader Tries to Address Too Much
3. The Planning Before the Meeting Is Poor.

As a result, three things tend to happen when a church has a culture of long meetings:

People Zone Out After a Few Minutes.

Long meetings do not equal effective meetings. Usually, the idea that a meeting has to be long is a sign there is a lack of planning and organization. People can only give so much energy and it is probably much less than we realize:

Time of meeting % of people paying attention
0-15 minutes 91%
15-30 minutes 84%
30-45 minutes 73%
45+ minutes 64%


Personalities Respond Negatively. 

Long meetings tend to favor the extrovert or those who do not mind engaging with people for an extended time. The extrovert can dominate a meeting because of the need to talk and hours have passed but no work is accomplished. For the introvert, or the more reserved employee, a long meeting can lead to disengagement and a lack of contribution to the discussion.

Effective meetings can reach various personality types. Make sure meetings have a variety of engagement tactics (visual, audible, interactive) and a clear start and stop time to help people remain focused.

More Meetings, Less Productivity.

The more meetings held, the less work time available. The less work time available results in less productivity. Visionary leaders tend to equate more meetings with productivity because they themselves are being productive by sharing vision. However, the employees are responsible for carrying out the actual work and need to be fresh and mobilized into action.

Does your church or business hold long meetings? What is your reason? Let us know!

Pastor Anthony C. Cobbs
Breakthrough Ministry Consulting