How is Your Governance System Working?
First Community Church has a typical Session or Board. There are 13 Elders who meet once/month for a Session meeting that usually goes until midnight, and they often come home feeling frustrated about the lack of productive work done there. They wonder whether all those issues they discuss are the best use of time, but someone has to make the decisions, from major ministry issues to $100 purchasing decisions. They never seem to be unified on ministry issues, so they discuss the same things over and over and then eventually make split decisions that no one is completely satisfied with (and somehow, they’re not sure how, the congregation seems to know that, as well). And the pastor — well, he doesn’t seem to know how to lead the Elders or the meeting very well. He realizes this, of course, and he is also frustrated by that and by the feeling that he is in a more or less adversarial relationship with these men. There is some trust with a couple of them, but that’s about all. And he is suspecting that he is entering burnout.
Once or twice a month the Elders must attend a meeting of the ministry committee they are assigned to. Twice a month they lead their small groups, and then they are supposed to be calling and meeting with their “shepherding flock” of 30 families. They are feeling fairly guilty that they aren’t doing a good job at that. It’s not that they don’t want to or don’t try. It just seems like most of their flock aren’t responsive to their shepherding, and they wonder whether they really know how to shepherd well. Many also have another ministry they really have a heart for, and they try hard to participate in that regularly. Oh, and in addition, they are supposed to attend every “important” church event in order to show their support. The Elders are spiritually and physically tired of giving away to others constantly. But they assume they have to suck it up, because there’s no one to shepherd THEM. Some have burned out and dropped out by becoming “inactive Elders.” That’s a time when they go back to being regular church members and their experience isn’t used in ministry. A couple of them have actually left the church to go somewhere where the people don’t yet know they can lead or serve.
Read the rest of this story in the article Turning your Board into a Great Strategic Asset.
Does your organization exhibit any of these governance issues?
• Are you serving together in deep relationship or holding business meetings?
• Lack of clarity of the roles of the Board and the Staff?
• Is the Board responsible for program or policy? What exactly are the definitions of those?
• Is the CEO or Pastor responsible for results or is the Board or are both?
• How much detail should be Board get into?
• Is there a difference between the role of the Board as a whole and the roles of the individuals on the Board as they serve in roles within the organization?
• Are your meetings too long?
• Does the CEO or Pastor feel supported and energized by his or her interaction with the Board or in conflict and frustrated?
We can help you modify your approach to leading and managing the organization, correct these issues, and accomplish results like these:
1. Clarify the roles of the Board, the CEO or Pastor, the Board members (Elders, Deacons, etc. in a church), and the individual Staff members
2. Clearly separate the overlap in the roles of the Board, CEO and Staff, in order to avoid duplication and free everyone up to execute well
3. Focus the Board more on specifying and measuring results and the CEO on the means (how to) of getting those results
4. Shorten Board meetings
5. Free up the Board members and the CEO to do what they do best
6. Create a partnership and true relational community among Board members and CEO. Learn to do “you mission and relationship” together
7. Can include implementation of Policy Governance™ if you determine that this is right for you. We would start with a model policy manual and work together to modify it to fit your organization.
You might want to begin with an Organizational Survey to assess where you are in a range of church leadership issues. Or you might want to begin with a discussion and an on-site assessment.