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I believe that the special characteristics of church boards virtually guarantee they will be the boards with the most problems. And it seems you agree. The most frequent search term that brings people to my blog, sad to say, is some variant of “dysfunctional church board.” Yes, it is true.  The single most viewed post I’ve written is The unique challenges of church boards.

For those interested in the top three search terms, the second most frequent is something like “private life christian leader” which takes them to The private life of a Christian leader. And the third most frequent search term is usually worded as “how do i discern if i am called to ministry,” which brings people to my post Discerning your call.

If you have a dysfunctional church board, there is hope. I gave a number of suggestions in that post, but now I have a new one. Last year I delivered the CCCC’s Serving as a Board Member seminar in 14 cities across Canada, and then in November CCCC recorded it before a live audience in a television studio. After that, my part was over and while I was on sabbatical the CCCC staff took over the project to see it through to completion. Now that I’m back in the office, I have watched the finished product, and I have to say I’m very pleased with it. Serving as a Board Member is available as a 2-DVD set with a link to download and make as many participant workbooks as you need. In a few weeks of sales CCCC has already sold 40% more than we budgeted for this DVD for the whole year. One denominational district office watched one copy and then bought 40 more copies to give to their churches! I hope and pray each church board is richly blessed by it. The seminar is very practical and deals with the issues head-on. It follows the lifecycle of a board member from the first approach to be a board candidate through to the final board meeting. It has 8 modules:

  • Module 1 Readiness to Serve
    • the personal aspects of board service (~11 mins)
  • Module 2 How Being a Director Affects You
    • duties of a director and protection from liability (~22 mins)
  • Module 3 Know the Board’s Issues
    • how to get up to speed and special issues for church boards (~12 mins)
  • Module 4 Special Aspects of Charity Leadership
    • everything you need to know (and not a bit more!) about charity regulation (~18 mins)
  • Module 5 Board Meetings
    • how they work and the “rules of the game” (~25 mins)
  • Module 6 Governance
    • the principles of good governance and the questions you should be asking (~20 mins)
  • Module 7 Board Deliberations
    • how to have honest, open debates and still all be friends (~15 mins)
  • Module 8 Relationships and Coming Off the Board
    • New relationships with staff and church members, and letting go gracefully (~15 mins)

You can easily use the DVDs for board development showing a module at a time over several board meetings. If you want better performance from your board members, and better quality board meetings with less dysfunction, I encourage you to check it out.

Thoughts on Serving as a Board Member

  1. Larry Perkins

    Hi John:
    We have met briefly a while back. Thank you for drawing attention to the significant issues that churches face because of dysfunctional boards.
    In my website I seek to deal with many of the issues that are specific to church boards, although they reflect many similarities with other non-profit boards.
    I chose to focus on the development and mentoring of church board chairs because I think they often are the forgotten people/leaders in the equation. Without their initiative, insight and passion church board reform will not occur.

    Larry Perkins, Ph.D.
    Professor of Biblical Studies
    Northwest Baptist Seminary/ACTS.

    1. John PelloweJohn Pellowe Post author

      Thanks Larry. I remember you well. It was you who told me about the (then) recent change in admission rules for DMin programs, and from that I qualified to get into a DMin program a few years earlier than I thought I could. Thanks from the now Dr. John.

      Your website looks helpful for church boards and is a good contribution to ministry leadership. I really appreciate your post #83 on respect, which is in line with my Loving Leadership post and one soon to follow on Loving Teamship. I think you are helping define what is Christian about a Christian ministry board!


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