Getting Past the Clearing House

The third layer of approval process for weary proposals and leaders You have been asked to put together a team to launch a new ministry. The idea has been on the agenda for some time and there is even money set aside in the budget for this new initiative.  Everyone you talk to about the idea is  enthusiastic and wants to be part of the project.  As the time to launch approaches you get a call from the board chair suggesting that you postpone the launch until the Board has had a chance to review and approve this new ministry. [bq_left]When boards take the position that they have to be the clearing house for everything the church does, they in fact become the bottle neck to growth.[/bq_left] “Hold on a minute”, you respond, “It was at the boards suggestion we began this process, and besides they approved the money needed in the budget.  The next Board meeting isn’t for another month what am I going to tell the volunteers who are ready to go now?” If you have been in ministry any length of time it’s likely you have had this kind of experience – everything is ready to go, but your hands are tied because the board has to have final approval. When boards take the position that they have to be the clearing house for everything the church does, they in fact become the bottle neck to growth. This need for final approval is driven by fear. Fear that if allowed to run unshackled, the pastor and/or lay leaders will create mayhem in the church. This approach,...

Good Governance is NOT an Option

“All nonprofit boards have one thing in common. They do not work.” ~ Peter Drucker I’m not sure I would be quite so pessimistic as Drucker when it comes to assessing the  effectiveness of nonprofit boards; however, I have observed enough ineffective boards to agree at the very least there is some major work to be done.  Sadly, Christian organizations and churches are not exempt and in fact are often the worst offenders. It is out of a deep concern for those Christian organizations and especially the Church that I embark on this series of blogs.  My hope is to that by doing so I might stir some board member or potential board member to examining their role and how the board they serve on might fulfill their responsibilities more effectively. John Carver, often considered the father of the “Good Governance Movement” said this of the state of governance: “Because governance has rarely been the subject of rational design, boards persistently fall into trivia, short-term myopia, meddling in the staff work and other failings. They do so even when composed of intelligent, experienced, caring members. In North America, we have far beyond 5 million governing boards, each relying on the inadequate job design we have all inherited.” My own personal experience of board dysfunction came when I was invited to serve on the Board of a local Christian Bible School and Seminary.  While I had in the past been part of a board, first as a pastor of a church and then on the board of a National Christian Organization, neither of those experiences prepared me for the journey...