I am always surprised when Church boards deny that they need help when all the signs point to the obvious. Here are some symptoms of board dysfunction that should get our attention. They are not yellow flags but red flags that the board is sick and needs help. I have encountered boards that were literally on life support but did not know it or acknowledge it.
- Board members dread board meetings
- Meetings are filled with dialogue that seems to go nowhere
- There are elephants in the room that no-one wants to name
- There is tension between the senior leader and the board
- There is tension between the board and staff over authority and responsibility
- The church is in decline
- There are unresolved issues between board members
- The board is divided over important directional issues resulting in a stalemate
- There is little vision for the future
- The board spends its time managing the status quo or trying to manage its own dysfunction
- There is no board covenant that defines board member's behaviors or if one exists the board is unable to hold one another accountable
- There are issues that exist that the board is unable to talk about
- Board members do not want to serve another term
- There is little prayer as a board
- Pride and agendas prevail over humility and the seeking of God's will for the board and church
- Senior leader, board and staff are not on the same page
- The board resists help even though all signs point to a need for it to get help so they can become healthy
Why would a board that suffers from some of many of these dysfunctions resist getting help? It takes courage to get help while fear keeps us from doing to. The result is that the church suffers (dysfunctional boards cannot lead healthy ministries), the board remains stuck in its ditch, good leaders eventually bail and God is not glorified.
As under-shepherds of Jesus who is the head of the church, we will one day give an account for our leadership according to Peter. If all the signs point to a need for help - get it - because healthy boards are a joy to be a part of and healthy churches are always led by healthy leaders. There may be some whitewater to navigate but a good board coach can help you navigate the rapids and land in calm water on the other side.
If this is your board, choose the courageous route and get help!