There’s really nothing fundamentally different between December 31 and January 1, but for some reason I still get a sense that something good and new lies ahead.

Church leadership teams similarly feel a sense of newness at the start of a new year. In many churches, the start of a calendar year is also the start of a new budget—the deficit of last year is gone, and for at least one day, we are “on budget.”

New members often begin their seasons of service at the start of a new year, and some previous leaders rotate out. Preaching calendars get a fresh start when the page turns on the calendar.

The time you take to walk through these questions may be the best hour you spend together all year.

So this time of year provides a natural opportunity to both look back in remembrance and look forward in anticipation.

As author John Maxwell has often said, “Experience is not the best teacher; evaluated experience is the best teacher.” Consider these ideas for a meaningful and productive time of reflection, evaluation and hope as you and your leadership team turn the calendar’s page:

Looking back

  • Talk about the founding of your church. What do you know about the founders, charter members and their vision? Have you stayed true to that vision? Why or why not?
  • In the past year, what are some of the blessings you’ve seen and experienced within your congregation? Where have you seen God at work? How have you grown?
  • What are some of the struggles you’ve faced, and what have you learned from those struggles? Where have you seen God at work? How have you grown?

Looking forward

  • What are your dreams for the church’s future and for your individual futures? (Don’t debate these, just share them. Each team member will likely have different dreams. As long as they don’t contradict the vision, let them dream.)
  • How might some of these dreams be implemented in the coming year? How can you better share the gospel with those lost in sin?
  • Do you have any new members on your leadership team? Spend time learning about one another’s strengths, weaknesses, skills and attributes. Explore how your team dynamics are changing.
  • Talk about the upcoming preaching calendar. How might you, as leaders, reinforce the teaching?
  • Pray together for every staff member and leadership team member specifically, and ask God for clarity and unity.

The hour or so you take to walk through these questions in your December or January meeting may be the best hour you spend together all year.

This is adapted from a series of articles (“Something to Talk About”) intended to help facilitate conversations about significant issues that often are not discussed by pastors, boards and church leadership teams.