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Working with Boards, Elders and Committees

Working with Boards, Elders and Committees“Boards, Elders and Committees” are groups of people entrusted with overseeing /running an organisation like a church or making decisions about aspects of that organisation. Some groups are elected while others can join the “core group,” or the “committee.” Some volunteer organisations haven’t taken the legal steps to form a nonprofit corporation, so there may not be a legal board of directors, elders, etc. Nonetheless, these terms are a convenient way of identifying these leadership groups. These groups are a part of all ministry organisations and so it is important to learn to work with them.

Introduction:

  • Choose to have a positive, pro-active, growing relationship with these groups.
  • Anticipate the benefits of sharing leadership with these groups.
  • Realise the importance of strategic alliances within these groups.
  • Understand that rationality only plays a small role in the decision making process in the local church.

Take time to set the platform for meetings

  • Listen to God in prayer.
    • The management of ministry that is going to be multiplied and transmitted through faithful volunteer leaders starts with the leader listening to God. Our ministry is larger than rational life; we are in a struggle for the very eternal life of human beings on earth.
  • Enlarge your conception of God.
    • Our problems are diminished when we expand our notion of God’s size. J.B. Phillips, “Your God is too small”
  • Learn to wait on the Lord and do what He asks.
    • God wants us to ask Him for things that are far greater than we can imagine.
  • Project a vision that is worthy of embracing.
    • Start by gaining an understanding of God’s larger concerns.
  • Ask in faith, not wavering.
    • Stay in God’s presence long enough to receive clear direction.

Don’t go into meetings unprepared.

  • Know the overall vision.
    • Think through the issues so that you know your mind on the overall vision but be open to receive specific input on the implementation of that vision.
  • Understand that God grants guidance through a team
    • The leader/pastor is a primary vision caster, but not the sole vision caster. God empowers us through a team of wisdom-bearing people.
  • Shape the written agenda
  • Discern between:
    • Single decisions (“management trivia”)
    • Policy precedents (these serve as a guide to how other decision are made)
  • Clarify nature of agenda items
    • Items providing information
    • Items requiring input
    • Items requiring action
  • Use understandable/adoptable statements that are goal centered in the written agenda. Possible agenda formation structure:
    • Small church – pastor and maybe one other
    • Large church – formal agenda-setting committee
  • Keep the meeting to an appropriate length
    • Rule of thumb: A better meeting is a short meeting.
    • 3 hours should be a maximum
    • Should include a time of prayer and a break

Understand the types of people on your board. In any political environment there are several types of people relating to you as a leader:

Working with Boards1

  • Each of these types of people can either….
    • Agree with you
    • Disagree with you
  • Identify your:
    • Allies
    • Fellow travellers
    • Antagonists (adversaries)

Recognise that trust and agreement cannot be cleanly separated. Raising the level of trust makes people more open to agreement.

  • Appreciate the value of disagreement.
    • A healthy dose of antithetical thinking prevents “group think” rushing blindly into ill fate.
    • Cultivate trust by treating people with dignity in spite of their stance on issues.
  • Use strategic alliances and pre-meeting contacts.
    • Spend time with key members in advance of the meetings.
    • Use stronger members as sounding boards
    • Try “thinking aloud and recording what you say before making contact”
    • Provide forums for disagreement outside meetings
  • Find a common vision to work toward.
    • Start with agreement on a common problem definition.
    • Establish consensus as to the priority of problems.
    • Consider possible solutions
    • Move beyond problem-solving to vision-pursuing.
  • Build ownership of ideas through exposure to resources.
    • Use reading materials, recordings, and conferences to stimulate creativity and to widen horizons.
    • Recognize the fun factor in building team trust. Provide excursionary activities to cultivate relationships.
  • Build trust through showing genuine concern for individuals.
    • Take your agenda beyond the meeting to the agenda for success in the life of your members.
    • Understand that members cannot be expected to support you in the meeting, to advance the cause of Christ, when they are not experiencing the tangible benefits of the gospel in their own lives.
    • Realize that the crisis in our meeting rooms is fundamentally a crisis of hope and faith.
    • Find a vision of hope that gives point to the work of others.

Colin Noyes is the Director of ResourceZone International. He has thirty-five years of ministry experience as a pastor, college lecturer and consultant/coach to consultants, denominational leaders and local church pastors. He can be reached at info@resourcezoneinternational.com

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Colin Noyes

Colin Noyes is a Brisbane (Australia) based coach and consultant with extensive experience in the areas of organisational health and growth, change management, leadership development, recruiting/staff development and coaching. Read more

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