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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

19 Aug '12

The failure of church boards to realistically evaluate the ministries they oversee

Posted by T.J. Addington in church boards
Over several decades of consulting with church boards I have observed that they are often reluctant to realistically evaluate the ministries of their church. 

I think there are several reasons for this. One, it is easy to say that this is ministry and you cannot evaluate God's work like one can in other arenas. Two, "Christian nice" keeps us from wanting us to be critical. Three, there can be significant defensiveness from pastors who equate the evaluation with themselves and resist it. Four, the lack of understanding that it is the board as the senior leadership group of the church that is going to answer to God for their leadership stewardship. In all it adds up to a significant lack of courage.

The result of this is that ineffective programs continue to exist long past their era of fruitfulness, systemic issues that keep the church from moving forward are not addressed and staff issues that need to be addressed are not dealt with. Essentially the board has moved from leadership to the guardian of the comfortable and status quo enjoying the illusion that all is well.

I have watched churches go into a slide of decline in places where other congregations are flourishing and still the board does little or nothing and when it does it is often too late. We ask why companies like General Motors ignored the obvious for so long as their business went into deeper and deeper trouble. I ask why church boards ignore the obvious for so long as their ministries languish or go into decline.

If you are on a board I would encourage you to consider these questions:

1. Are there any issues we know exist in the church that we have been unwilling to address? If so why?

2. Are we as a board able to put any and all issues on the table for discussion as long as there are no personal attacks or hidden agendas? If not, what is keeping us from doing so?

3. If the answers to question 1 is yes and question 2 is no, are you willing to challenge the board - maybe by sharing this blog - to have the courage to look realistically at your ministries and deal with issues that need to be dealt with?

Board members serve the church under Jesus Christ (1 Peter 5) and will give an account to Him for their leadership stewardship. It is a serious undertaking that has eternal consequences for those in our congregations and communities.

If you need a refresher on the role of church leaders, you may want to look at my book High Impact Church Boards. It provides a clear road map for church leaders in their leadership role. Above all, don't live with the illusion that all is well when in fact it is not.