I am often asked about church boards. This is a good summary.
By Charles Stone
I just passed my one year anniversary at the church were I serve as lead pastor, West Park Church in London, Ontario, having served my entire ministry in the U.S. prior to my move to Canada. One of my greatest joys has been working with our current elder board. I’ve never worked with a board that has accomplished so much with so much unanimity and harmony. I believe these eight reasons explain why this board works so well together.
- PRAYER: We always begin our meetings with a focus on God’s Word and prayer. And our prayers are not the perfunctory prayer-ettes. We often pray for some time for the needs in the church. This keeps us focused on the shepherding ministry.
- PREPARATION: I meet with the chair and vice-chair a few weeks prior to plan our meetings. We prepare an agenda that we email to the entire team before the meeting. They know what to expect.
- NO TIE BREAKERS: Although I’m an elder, I don’t have a vote on the board. When the board has to approve some significant issue, I give my perspective, but I’m never in a position to be a deciding vote. Most of the decisions the board has made have been unanimous or near unanimous.
- UNITY IN DISAGREEMENT: Our meetings are not filled with all happy talk. We’ve had serious discussions and shared different perspectives on issues. But we agree that when we leave the board room, we speak as one.
- LISTENING PERSPECTIVE: Everyone on the board truly listens to everyone else’s perspectives. When we disagree, we do so with respect having truly listened to each other first.
- BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS: No church is perfect and neither is ours. Before I arrived the board had invested extremely long hours dealing with significant issues the church faced. They have invested much and don’t sit in an ivory tower apart from the day-in and day-out tough stuff in every church. They have ‘paid their dues,’ so to speak, and want what’s best for the church.
- FOCUSED MEETINGS: We meet twice a month and just recently decided to give each meeting a unique slant. Our first meeting of the month deals with tactical matters and the second meeting of the month deals with strategic issues. During the strategic meeting we set aside considerable time to usually discuss only one key issue.
- APPRECIATION: Often I hear different board members share words of appreciation to each other for a member’s unique contributions. I also often thank and appreciate the board members for their service.
It’s a joy serving on a board that works through tough stuff, but does so with grace and intention.
What keys have made your board work well?
Dr. Charles Stone is Lead Pastor at West Park Church in London, Ontario, Canada, and the founder of StoneWell Ministries, a pastor coaching and church consulting ministry. He is the author of four books including, “People Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval Motivated Leadership” (IVP 2014), and his forthcoming book, “Brain-Savvy Leaders: The Science of Significant Ministry” (Abingdon, May 2015).