November 14, 2022

3 Ways To Make Your Church Board More Effective

3 ways to make your church board more effective

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Ask the average pastor for a list of greatest frustrations and the church board will likely be near the top.

Many feel their board is stuck in traditional thinking, untrusting, and more of a restraint than an actual resource. At the same time, the typical board is responsible for holding the lead pastor accountable, has budgetary approval at the highest level, and has much influence over the church’s direction.

The Harvard Business Review once highlighted research revealing specific areas in which non-profit boards struggle to be effective. Although these statistics were released several years ago, the findings directly relate to the state of many churches today:

Board members fail to understand mission and strategy.

27% of non-profit board members said that their “fellow board members lack a strong understanding of the organization’s mission and strategy.” If your church’s board members don’t fully comprehend why you exist and how you operate, they’re going to regularly make off-target suggestions and become frustrated when their misguided expectations are unrealized.

Lead pastors must spend time educating their board members on their ministry mission and strategy. The vast majority of board members have very little ministry experience. To expect them to just “get it” is simply naive.

Lead pastors must spend time educating their board members on their ministry mission and strategy. To expect them to just “get it” is simply naive. Click To Tweet

Pastors: When was the last time you really mapped out your mission and strategy to the board? What are you doing to develop their ministry-mindset?

Giving is overemphasized with board members.

Among non-profits that require board members to fundraise, 90% of members said that task is at least as important as other duties. While church boards rarely come with an expectation of fundraising, many churches do place an overemphasis on individual giving when selecting board members.

Board members must be chosen based on their character and wisdom. When giving becomes overemphasized at the board level, a few issues arise: Financial matters overtake meeting agendas, board membership begins to feel more about status than serving, and younger (less affluent) church leaders are not given influence or development.

Pastors: Are you surrounding yourself with people of wisdom or people of wealth?

Boards lack a succession plan for their senior leader.

69% of non-profit boards do not have a succession plan for their senior leader. I’m concerned this number would be even higher among churches. The truth is, your church is going to be around longer than you will. Is your board prepared to continue leading without you? In the event of an emergency, your board needs to know who the interim pastor would be, as well as several individuals you would recommend as your replacement.

Pastors, your church is going to be around longer than you will. Is your board prepared to continue leading without you? Click To Tweet

Pastors: If something were to suddenly make you unable to lead, would your board know how to navigate through that transition?

It’s true that church boards can be a cause of frustration. Yet much of that frustration could be eliminated if lead pastors took more responsibility for their boards...

Help them truly understand your mission and strategy.

Lead the church to select board members based on character and wisdom.

And set up the board to lead successfully in your absence.

Doing so will allow you to work with your church board rather than in spite of it.

How to Get Your Church Governance Unstuck


Church boards don’t have to be dysfunctional, but more often than not, pastors reach out to us because they are...

At this free webinar, Tony Morgan, Amy Anderson, and special guests help you identify the governance issues that may be holding your church back.

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

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