That’s a deplorable scenario isn’t it? But uncommon? I’m afraid not.
I have previously posted about when boards are at their best as well as “Three evenings when boards are at their worst.” Here’s the review:
- Boards are at their worst when self-willed people are fighting to get their own way.
- Boards are at their worst when arrogance and self-sufficiency cause us to ignore the counsel of denominational/associational leaders (or consultants).
- Boards are at their worst when pastors are second-guessed as a knee-jerk reaction.
Unfortunately, there are more evenings when boards are at their worst.
- Boards are at their worst when the members lack the kind of honest, trusting relationships that allow them to speak the truth. Patrick Lencioni illustrated this in his “Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” When board members get to know each other well, they trust each other well enough to speak the truth. That’s when a board becomes an effective ministry team.
- Boards are at their worst when time is wasted on: waiting for the last member to show up (and why is it always the same person?), reports (which could be read ahead of time), discussions between sub-groups (which should be held elsewhere), items that could have been delegated (like the baptistery heater) and prayer requests for nice, safe items like other people’s problems (instead of the board member’s problems).
- Boards are at their worst when there’s plenty of time for talk but no time to stop and pray about difficult or heart-rending issues. Prayer is the admission of our dependence.
- Boards are at their worst when minor matters are prioritized and major matters are pushed to the end of the meeting. Big-rock items like mission, vision, values and strategy should come first. Medium-sized items like policies and procedures should come next. Dealing with reports should come last, or not be included at all. It’s usually sufficient to simply answer the questions we have concerning the reports which we’ve read ahead of time. Members who are not able or willing to write, e-mail and read reports ahead of time probably shouldn’t be board members.
- Boards are at their worst when everything they do is reactive and nothing they do is proactive. It takes great energy, resolve and discipline to turn a reactive, always-back-on-their-heels-playing-defense board into a proactive group, but it can be done. Of course crisis must be dealt with. But if all we’re doing is dealing with crisis after crisis, something is very wrong. More than likely, such a church needs more discipling, more training, more careful vetting of volunteers and maybe even a couple more policies.
- Finally, boards are at their worst when the same questions and issues are discussed repeatedly. Some churches really do have too many policies but most of the churches I serve have too few. The big discussion about the Swanson/Jensen wedding can be turned into a policy and give the board time for more prayer at its next meeting.