In my years of working with church boards and teaching best practices, I have discovered a number of things that boards should not do. If you lead or serve on a church board, ask yourself if you are doing any of the following.
Church boards should not:
- Manage staff beyond the senior leader. All staff should report to the senior leader and the board's responsibility is the senior leader only.
- Require unanimity on decisions. This allows any board member to hold the board hostage.
- Avoid conflict of ideas. Conflict of ideas is a good thing and it helps the board get to the best decisions.
- Manage the present at the expense of the future. There must be a significant future component to board meetings. Leadership is more about where you are going than managing the status quo.
- Ignore the spiritual. Boards can easily get trapped into the business of the church rather than the spiritual work the church has been called to do. Remember the words of Jesus. "Without me you can do nothing." Don't ignore Him.
- Fail to have a board covenant. Board covenants lay out the ground rules for how the board will operate, make decisions, work with one another and a way to hold one another accountable. Operate without a board covenant at your own risk.
- Fail to use an agenda. Meeting without a plan wastes a great deal of time. Have an agenda and keep your time parameters.
- Fail to guard the gate to board service. Your board is only as good as the people you choose to put on it. Don't be careless about who you let into the boardroom.
- Cave to loud voices. Boards can be easily dissuaded by loud voices in the congregation. Rather than respond in fear and back off, the responsibility of a board is to move the congregation forward regardless of a few loud voices.
- Fail to police board members who don't operate by your board covenant. Board that cannot police themselves become ineffective and that impacts the whole church.
- Lack transparency in their communications. Whatever you say to the congregation must be true, not spin. Being honest and upfront builds credibility.
- Allow a person of influence on the board or in the church hold informal veto power over board decisions. Yes, it happens. Don't let it happen in your church.
- Fail to have a common job description for all board members that spells out their roles. If you don't have a job description, each member will make their own up which leads to confusion.
- Make the same decision multiple times. Make decisions and move on. Don't make partial decisions and need to come back to the same issue again.
- Neglect personal relationships or fail to build a strong unified team. God calls the congregation to unity and it starts with the board. Neglect it there and it will not be found in the congregation.