One of the most important leadership teams in a church is the church board. The board acts as a keeper of the church’s vision. They are the accountability team for the senior pastor, they approve the church budget, monitor its spiritual health and help to create church policy. Serving as a board member requires leadership ability, decision making skills, and the ability resolve conflict. Why then do so many churches pay so little attention to how they elect these important lead?
In many churches, it’s the governing documents that control the way the board members are elected. Policy and tradition often hold more importance in the election process than qualification and ability. Church constitutions, some written years, maybe even decades ago, spell out who is eligible to be elected, how many members the board has and in some cases, what segment of the church population its board members should come from. Many times these requirements are dictated by governmental mandate and not what is in the best interest of the church.
Another significant problem is that the senior pastor is often shut out of the process. The individual who is charged with working most closely with this senior leadership team has little or no say in the election process. He/she is expected to work closely with this ministry team without any formal input into it’s composition.
How can a church insure that it elects the right members to it’s church board?
Redefine the Process:
Policy and tradition can be huge hurdles to overcome in the election of a church board. Bringing change is difficult under normal circumstances and can be ever more so when we attempt to rewrite guiding documents. People become comfortable with the status quo resist changes to it.
Changing the way board members are elected doesn’t necessarily require a change to the church constitution. Rewriting the constitution may ultimately be the best choice, but that process can be tedious and time consuming. There are steps that church leaders can take without messing with the constitution.
Creating policy documents that amplify the governing documents can help clarify the qualities and qualifications we seek in board members. Policies relating to how we nominate board members and Board job descriptions can be useful tools in the board selection process.
Creating policies are an excellent way to get the senior pastor involved in the selection process. These documents also help those charged with electing the board to know that a candidate has what it takes to be a part of this critical ministry team.
The senior pastor and current board must take the lead in creating an effective nominating process that produces qualified board members who’s calling and giftings match the needs of the church.
Look for Leaders, Not Representatives:
Many churches choose its board members to represent various segments of the church population. They believe having elected members that represent the church’s demographic make up insures that everyone gets represented.
Electing church board members that represent certain segments or demographics of the congregation appeals to our sense of democracy. We feel good that there is equal representation from all parts of the congregation. It may make us feel good, but is it the best model for effective ministry?
When board members are elected as representatives of certain segments of the church’s population they tend to become lobbyists for that constituency When tough decisions need to be made it can be difficult for a representative to put aside the interests of the constituency and vote for what’s best for the entire congregation.
Electing leaders rather than representatives can help to create a more effective board. Leaders serve the interests of the entire congregation not just a small segment. By electing leaders at large, the board can be free from worry about every minority opinion or taking an opinion poll before every important vote.
Communicate the Change
People become comfortable with the way things are and unless they can see a reason for change, they will resist it. Leaders have to clearly communicate the need for change, the process for change, and the ultimate benefit to them.
When a change to the way that the church board is elected is contemplated, clear communication with the stakeholders is a must. Church leaders must articulate the need for the proposed changes and the ultimate benefit to the church. They must be transparent with the process and open to questions and concerns from the congregation.
Communicating the desired change from the pulpit, in meetings, and one-on-one will help make the change smoother.
Leading a church is hard work. Electing the right church board is an important step toward having the right people in the right place on the church’s leadership team. The right team is essential to a church’s development.
Today’s Question: Is your church intentional about electing your church board?