The book Meetings That Work by Alexander Strauch is not large. In fact, you could probably read it in under an hour. But don't be fooled by the size. This book contains a big message. It was written by the man who wrote what I consider to be the definitive work on church elders. That book is called: Biblical Eldership. This much smaller book only addresses one area of eldership- the area of meetings.
Elders do spend significant time in meetings, so it stands to reason that we want to make the most of that time. Strauch's tips for effective meetings begin with some brief thoughts about why elders' meetings are so important. Some reasons include: caring for the spiritual health of the congregation, building character on the part of the elders, developing leadership skills, enhancing morale and accountability, and training future elders.
Once the importance of meetings has been established, Strauch takes the major portion of this book to provide tips on how to make meetings better. Interestingly, the major part of that section is concerned with the character and participation of the elders themselves. If the elders are acting with Christ-like character toward each other, the meeting will be more effective.
Next, Strauch provides some priorities for meetings. These priorities are people, prayer, and the Word of God. If there is a weakness in this book it is that Strauch doesn't provide much guidance regarding that final priority- growth in our knowledge of God that can be accomplished during the meeting of the elders.
As the end of the book approaches, the highly practical tips for participating in meetings are provided. One piece of counsel that I appreciated had to do with the agenda. Strauch highlights the importance of the agenda with these words: "Adequate time spent in preparing an agenda, talking it over with others, thinking it through carefully, prioritizing items, and eliminating needless items guarantees a more productive meeting." One tip for the agenda is to send it out to all participants in advance and let people edit it. Another useful hint was to differentiate between major discussion time and quick items of business. One other piece of advice that stuck with me was that the agenda can list "future business" at the bottom so that the current meetings does not become too overloaded.
We have all heard the maxim that "good things come in small packages." This book is an illustration of that saying. Though it is small, it provides some very good and useful advice.