176. Seven Habits of Effective Church Boards (Habits 3 & 4)

In blog article 175 I introduced the theme “Habits of Effective Church Boards” and considered the first two: the careful selection and appointment of a competent chairperson and the careful selection and appointment of knowledgeable board members. In this segment we introduce habits three and four.

Habit #3: A Church Board that operates with the understanding that all of its work is spiritual work.

An effective church board understands that all of its work is spiritual work and proceeds as best it can in dependence upon the Holy Spirit’s resources. Its most important work focuses upon discerning the will of God so that the congregation’s mission advances and its complex needs cared for. Discerning God’s will collectively takes patience, perseverance, mutual trust, and careful reflection upon God’s word.

Developing this habit begins with board members individually taking responsibility to cultivate their own spiritual health, keeping their lives attuned with God. Much of what this entails will be summarized in the board’s Code of Conduct. The chairperson will incorporate into the board agenda opportunities for board members to reflect upon their spiritual accountability.

Collectively the church board recognizes that it forms a significant ministry team within the congregation. People in the congregation have discerned the spiritual maturity and giftedness of each board member and for this reason entrusted them with the stewardship of the mission. So as mature spiritual leaders they need to model spiritual community, spiritual discernment,  and spiritual commitment to God’s mission. Worship will be part of every church board meeting, including times of celebration and thanksgiving.

Given this spiritual framework, church boards know that difficult spiritual struggles will come — they are inevitable. It is part of their caring oversight to provide as much protection for the congregation as possible in such times. This also includes protecting the resources God has provided — primarily the people, but also including finances and facilities.

Finally, this spiritual dimension is absolutely necessary for the growth of the congregation. Effective church boards understand the church and study how to nurture its growth. Expanding the Kingdom is God’s agenda and this happens primarily through the growth of local churches.

Habit #4: A Church Board that embraces and requires accountability.

The congregation entrusts the church board to steward all of its resources to advance the mission and vision. It gives the church board the authority to govern (within defined limits) so that its mission and vision becomes reality.

Embracing accountability has several dimensions. On the part of individual church board members it requires them to come to board meetings prayed up, studied up, and ready to contribute to discussions. Personal interests are subjected to the interest of the mission. Confidentiality is respected and practiced.

On the part of the collective church board it is committed to transparent operations and communication frequently with the congregation, seeking input and proposing appropriate direction and policy. Good records are kept of board decisions so that the board knows its mind and gives itself an effective voice. When decisions are made, the board is clear as to whom it is delegating authority and responsibility to implement so that the board can ensure appropriate accountability.

The board assesses its own performance annually, seeking ways to improve its operations and accomplish its mandate to protect, preserve, provision, and advance. It also conducts the annual performance evaluation of the lead pastor and ensures that all staff have an annual performance evaluation. Such evaluations are conducted based upon up-to-date position descriptions and the establishment annually of clear goals aligned with the church’s mission and vision. Edison is said to have commented that “Vision without execution is hallucination.” So the board has to monitor its own progress as well as the progress of staff towards the accomplishment of the vision.

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