For the next couple of days I’m going to be counting down the top 10 posts from 2013 here on Helping Churches Make Vision Real. These are the posts that generated the most traffic, comments, tweets, and Facebook posts. The most popular topics this year had to do with volunteers, giving, leadership, and managing the tension of being an insider-focused or outsider-focused church. We start off with a topic that every leader in every church has had to deal with at some point or another, Church Boards.
If you’ve led in a church for any length of time you can probably tell some stories of experiences you’ve had with dysfunctional Church Boards. Church Boards become dysfunctional for a variety of reasons. But more often than not they become dysfunctional because those involved simply don’t understand their role or what the function of the Board is. What is more, those involved with the Board fail to understand what the church needs from them as a Board at the different stages of growth that the church experiences. Below are the 4 basic stages that a Board goes through as a church experiences growth.
Stage 1: Doers
Early in the life of a church and in smaller churches the Board Members are usually up to their elbows doing ministry. They are usually the ones leading ministries right along side of the Pastor. At this stage the Board is leading with the Church Staff. Church size: 0-250
Stage 2: Approvers
As the church begins to grow and change so does the role of the Board. They move from doing ministry (that’s not to say they’re not involved in ministry, it’s just no longer their primary function) to approving the decisions and direction that the church is taking. Church size: 250-800
Stage 3: Reviewers
Next the Board transitions to no longer approving every decision but rather trust the staff that is in day-to-day leadership roles to lead the church. The board is kept informed and made aware of how things are progressing. The decisions that they are involved with at this stage involve higher-level directional decisions that have a trickle down affect. Church size: 800-2,500
Stage 4: Counselors
Ultimately as the church grows into the 1,000’s the Board then moves into a role where they are taking on a 30,000-foot view and act more as wise counsel to the Staff that are leading the Church. Unable to stay completely informed of the complexities and pace of a large organization they become the keepers to the gate of the mission and vision and in so doing they begin to serve as both the brakes and the gas pedal. They are involved in very few actual organizational decisions at this stage, but those decisions they are involved with affect the entire organization. Church size: 2,500+
Often times churches get stuck and boards become dysfunctional because the board and the staff that relate to the board don’t understand these simple stages and the transitions that need to take place at each stage.
Posted in Leadership