I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “The people on the board are great but we never seem to get anything done.” It’s easy in a smaller church when some people have been on the board a long time and most boards/committees meet once a month, for time to fly by and have accomplished nothing new or exciting in the ministry of the church. Life just trudges on... same old stuff comes and goes. Either through personal or shared experience I've learned the following about small church boards.
- Members can be closed to new ideas, change, or evolving. (Stuck in a rut.)
- Members say they want change but they don’t want to do anything differently. "We've always done that." (I think that’s a popular definition of insanity.)
- Members participate in a ‘general consensus’ instead of a vote and issues are often informally tabled 3, 4, and 5 times because the consensus is a little too general.
- There’s such a concern about money that they lose focus of the ministry.
- Board members are not trained and are unsure of their purpose and unfamiliar with their bylaws.
- The board misunderstands the difference between a corporate leader and the pastor as a shepherd leader.
- The board does not plan annually but flies by the seat of its pants.
- Members don't use work groups and experience frustration and burn-out.
Some people say leaders are born and others say they’re made but the reality is that every board or committee needs at least one person who will push the talk to the action phase. In response to some of the issues listed above I recommend the following:
- Annually have board training and planning. Just do it!
- Stop looking for general consensus and vote.
- Allow topics/issues to be tabled only once.
- Never say 'no' to a new ministry or idea unless you seriously can't afford it, there's nobody to lead it, or it goes against the mission of the church. Try it!
- Remember that it's not your church, it's God's. You focus on Him and let Him focus on the money.
Jesus didn't stay in the same town and do the same things over and over again with the same people. He went here and there and was about His father's work. A board meets to act on issues and focus the church to be about His father's work as well. What is on the agenda is what is discussed and it either gets a vote or is tabled. That's why agenda approval occurs at the beginning of the meeting. This keeps the meeting going and doesn't allow for unwarranted or off-track discussion.
Sheep, if left alone, wander. That's why they need a shepherd. There are also under-shepherds and/or sheep dogs, aka board or church leadership. They help keep the sheep focused and moving in the direction the shepherd walks. Don't just let them wander around the hillside unsure of where they're going or what they're doing.