05 Feb '09
Choosing and preparing new board members
One of the great challenges for healthy boards is the rotation of board members that is required in many churches. Every time a new board member is introduced to the board, the culture of the board changes. Boards are are intentional in moving in a certain direction may also find that the new member is not in sync and causes frustration for those who were already on the board.
I have suggested that the New Testament lays out a clear job description for board members as well as specific characteristics for the board members themselves. I also believe that boards should operate with a board covenant that spells out how they relate to one another, how they make decisions and the "game rules" for how the board operates.
Who you choose to serve on your board will have a direct impact on the missional effectiveness of your congregation. Yet congregations continue to pay far too little attention to the selection process, effectively sabotaging their future ministry when the wrong people are placed in leadership roles.
What should a selection committee look at when selecting potential board members? First they need to ask whether the individual meets the criteria laid out in the New Testament for church leadership. This includes asking the question as to whether they are really leaders. Non leaders do not belong in a leadership role. Non leaders on boards simply impede the work that a leadership board is meant to have.
Second, does the potential board member understand the ministry philosophy and direction of the church and can they support it? To put someone in leadership who is out of sync with the rest of the board or the staff is literally to throw a wrench in the gears. It is foolish. This means of course that the board actually has a philosophy and direction - essential elements to a healthy board.
Third, can the individual live by the board covenant and are they willing to sign the covenant? If not, they should not be placed on the board.
Fourth, do they understand the biblical role of the senior leadership board of the church - to keep the spiritual temperature high, ensure that people are cared for, release people into ministry, provide directional leadership, ensure biblical teaching and protect the flock?
Church leadership boards often have only the foggiest idea as to what they are actually responsible for and muddle around in minutia when what is needed is attention to the most critical spiritual and directional issues of the congregation.
All of this assumes that those who run the selection process understand these four issues as well. If they do not they will not be able to vet well or communicate up front what is expected. It is often said that the most powerful group in the church is actually the nominating committee since they "guard the gate" or in most cases don't.
If your board needs clarity on any of the issues above, "High Impact Church Boards" is a great place to start. Don't fly blind when choosing and preparing new board members.