Wednesday, March 20, 2019

LESSON 5 – Do Unwritten Board Policies Really Exist?

Welcome to Lessons From the Church Boardroom—The Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we'll feature a guest blogger’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Denise Craig is our guest blogger this week for the first of three lessons in "Part 2: Boardroom Tools and Templates.”


LESSON 5 OF 40 – Do Unwritten Board Policies Really Exist?
Can’t find that 10-year-old policy? You need a BPM.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 5, the authors note that a Board Policies Manual can serve boards and their organizations well by keeping policies organized, up-to-date, and easily accessible. It can also help onboard new board members while answering most of their questions in a single document.
 
 
MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 5, pages 24-30:
• “While many churches have written policies covering a wide range of topics, they’re often filed away incoherently in the archives and no one can find them when needed.” 
• The process:
     Step 1: Commit to the Concept
     Step 2: Develop the Board Policies Manual
     Step 3: Integrate the Board Policies Manual
• “A BPM will help your board negotiate an emergency leadership transition, frame the strategic planning process, and give direction and boundaries in dozens of other important policy issues.”

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
Because of the pace of our lives and ministry, it can be easy to say, “We don’t have time to create a Board Policies Manual.” However, we probably spend more time searching for things in various places, whether it is a policy folder on our server, board minutes from long ago or even paper archives long-since filed away. The time involved to create a Board Policies Manual is time well-invested. 

Keeping the policies current in one location will help the board and staff function better together, with clear expectations for all. It also helps promote continuity in policies, rather than conflict. Having the policy manual close at hand, as a reference tool, ensures similar situations are handled with the same care and attention over time. 

Having the forethought to think through and document what the board will do in the event of an emergency can really help ease the stress level of those involved when they have clear guidance to reference. It causes a board to be more productive when they aren’t constantly reinventing the wheel. It keeps leaders, both seasoned and new, on the same page and guards the unity.  

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY DENISE CRAIG:



DENISE CRAIG is the Executive Pastor at Abba’s House and she is a Certified Church Administrator. Denise also serves as Board President of The Church Network (TCN) and is on the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) Church Board of Reference, on the Editorial Advisory Panel for Church Executive Magazine, and on the Executive Board and the Personnel Committee of the Hamilton County Baptist Association. She enjoys worshipping in the Abba’s House Choir with the rest of her family—her wonderful husband of more than 25 years, Jay, and their three children.

TO-DO TODAY: 
• Gather your existing policies in one location.
• Recruit a team to champion the Board Policies Manual project and see it through to the end.
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, “Lesson 5 – Do Unwritten Board Policies Really Exist?
• Download a Board Policies Manual template, courtesy of Bob Andringa and The Andringa Group. Click here.
• View this short video conversation between Dan Busby and John Pearson with more insights on the value of a Board Policies Manual:










NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On March 27, 2019, watch for the commentary by Glenn Wood on Lesson 6, "Enhance Harmony by Clarifying Your Participant Hat Expectations. Understand the three board hats: Governance, Volunteer, and Participant.”

ORDER THE BOOK TODAY!


BULK ORDERS: Click here.  For more resources and to download the book's Table of Contents, visit the book's webpage.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

LESSON 4 – What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Welcome to Lessons From the Church Boardroom—The Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we'll feature a guest blogger’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Bobby Schuller is our guest blogger this week for the fourth of four lessons in "Part 1: The Powerful Impact of Highly Engaged Boards.”


LESSON 4 OF 40 – What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Prepare your board now for the possibility of future accusations and investigations. 

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 4, the authors encourage boards to start planning now for unanticipated problems. As churches know all too well, Jesus does not promise smooth sailing here and now. Although we do not have a choice as to whether or not adversity will strike, we can decide whether or not to prepare in advance. That is the one element of control we do possess.

In addition, boards should adopt a bias towards action. In practice, this means being proactive rather than reactive. This begins with fostering a culture that values honesty and accountability. Boards must not sweep problems under the rug. A healthy board will proactively engage. The authors encourage boards to listen, evaluate, investigate, and above all—practice the time-tested Christian principles of peacemaking and truth telling.   

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 4, pages 17-22:
The authors advise that “Outside help can be essential to a proper investigation and possibly even required by law.” So many ministries, schools and nonprofits have gotten into trouble for failing to act on credible tips. Take for example, Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics which allegedly failed to confront and investigate Larry Nassar. 

Boards should not be afraid to reach out for assistance. As Busby and Pearson counsel, “This allows civil authorities to come alongside the church to enforce the laws of the land, while the church addresses the spiritual issues.”   

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
As I read this lesson, two quotes came to mind. The first is attributed to Benjamin Franklin who opined that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” There are so many examples of once vibrant ministries being destroyed by preventable behavior or actions. The warning signs were obvious, the smoke was visible, and yet no one acted. This is a travesty because it is always easier to prevent problems rather than treat them after the fact. My board makes it a regular practice to scan for threats and issues on the horizon. This is an invaluable exercise that helps to avoid problems down the road.  

The second quote is from Mike Tyson, who quipped that “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” So often we draw up contingency plans, put them in tidy binders and promptly forget about them. Response plans must be implemented, updated and refreshed periodically. Having a plan on file is only effective if you live it out. Are you talking with your HR staff, legal advisor, and insurance broker? These folks know the latest developments—and can keep you informed. Don’t wait until the crisis strikes to pull that binder off the shelf.  

At the end of the day, Busby and Pearson offer this sage advice: “don’t stress out.”  The Lord is in control, and has called you to serve. Just do the next right thing and keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. You are doing a great job, and the Lord will bless your paths. 

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY BOBBY SCHULLER:


REV. BOBBY SCHULLER is the lead pastor of Shepherd’s Grove Church in Irvine, Calif., and The Hour of Power television ministry broadcast around the world. Bobby is a graduate of Oral Roberts University and Fuller Theological Seminary. He is passionate about equipping leaders and reaching the unchurched with a positive, Christ-centered message. Bobby lives in Orange County with his wife, Hannah, and their two children, Haven and Cohen.  

TO-DO TODAY: 
• Review and update your child protection and sexual misconduct policies. If you do not have these policies in place, then get started on writing and implementing them immediately.
• Seek out and proactively cultivate working relationships with attorneys, consultants, and other subject matter experts who will be up-to-speed and ready to assist when problems or investigations arise. The moment of crisis is the worst time to begin the process of gathering resources.  
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, “Lesson 4 – What Could Possibly Go Wrong?”





NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On March 20, 2019, watch for the commentary by Denise Craig on Lesson 5, "Do Unwritten Board Policies Really Exist? Can’t find that 10-year-old policy? You need a BPM.”

ORDER THE BOOK TODAY!


BULK ORDERS: Click here.  For more resources and to download the book's Table of Contents, visit the book's webpage.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

LESSON 3 – Guarding Your Pastor’s Soul

Welcome to Lessons From the Church Boardroom—The Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we'll feature a guest blogger’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Dave Stone is our guest blogger this week for the third of four lessons in "Part 1: The Powerful Impact of Highly Engaged Boards.”


LESSON 3 OF 40 – Guarding Your Pastor’s Soul
Senior pastor moral failures are devastating to churches. Wise boards invest time—up front—to ensure the pastor’s soul is not neglected.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: Lesson 3 is both a warning and an encouragement for boards to do their part in paving the way for healthy leadership that is characterized by humility, integrity, and purity. Boards must be willing to lean in rather than staying at arm’s length.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 3, pages 10-16:
• External factors (health, vacation time, exercise, diet) are easier to discern than the spiritual walk or inner being of the pastor. 
It was powerful for me to read that “the lack of humility rates as the number one warning signal.” WOW!  Pastors, we must regularly ask ourselves—are we in the ministry for ourselves or for Jesus Christ?
• It’s easier for pastors to be vulnerable about their own weaknesses when they know that the board has their backs. Boards do this by making Jesus the board’s priority—not controlling the leader as the priority. 

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
We are living in a day and time when pastors receive more criticism and also more applause than ever before. Preaching allows people to see pastors when they are at the top of their game each week. It hides the way they may speak to their spouse, or treat those outside of the church. And the more success or growth the organization or church experiences—the easier it is for pastors to start believing their own headlines. The board’s job is to hold high the value of humility.

It can be a fine line—because you will need to encourage the pastor’s good work while at the same time being mindful that the Lord is the One who is responsible for any “success.” While the board can’t ensure that the pastor’s behavior and attitude will always be “beyond reproach,” the board can look for warning signs and lovingly encourage changes early on. 

Your role is to encourage healthy leadership and relationships, and to prevent a meltdown that will damage the pastor, the pastor’s family, and the bride of Christ. While the board can’t do everything, they can do something. 

I’m grateful for a Chairman of the Board who meets with me monthly just to check in and see how things are going with my marriage, my kids, my health, and my schedule. A deep friendship has formed which allows us to have those conversations which go beneath the surface and beyond the affairs of the church.

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY DAVE STONE:


For the past 30 years, Dave Stone has been on staff and preaching at the Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky. Since 2006 he has served as the Senior Pastor, entrusted with both the joy and responsibility of preaching to over 25,000 each weekend. Dave and his wife, Beth, have three adult children and three grandchildren. Dave is a popular speaker for nonprofit fund raisers and President’s weekends. Besides his Savior and his family, one of the greatest blessings in his life is the godly Elder board at his church.

TO-DO TODAY: 
• Every month or so, have a board member lean in with the leader and ask where their greatest stress is—and then ask how the board could diminish that. 
Do something as a board that communicates your willingness to invest in the pastor’s marriage. (Ideas: something as simple as occasional gift cards to their favorite restaurant; or perhaps a conference budget that must be used every other year—for a retreat or conference that they will attend TOGETHER.) 
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, Lesson 3 – Guarding Your Pastor’s Soul."




NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On March 13, 2019, watch for the commentary by Bobby Schuller on Lesson 4, "What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Prepare your board now for the possibility of future accusations and investigations.”

ORDER THE BOOK TODAY!


BULK ORDERS: Click here.  For more resources and to download the book's Table of Contents, visit the book's webpage.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

LESSON 2 – Ask the Gold Standard Question

Welcome to Lessons From the Church Boardroom—The Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we'll feature a guest blogger’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Jeff Jenness is our guest blogger this week for the second of four lessons in "Part 1: The Powerful Impact of Highly Engaged Boards.”


LESSON 2 OF 40 – Ask the Gold Standard Question
A “pruning moment” can improve your board meetings.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 2, the authors note that there are key, distinguishing characteristics between church board meetings that are highly productive and those that are not. Often the difference seems to be that productive meetings have engaged board members. This chapter highlights responses the authors have asked of board members; both those who feel productive and those with unsatisfactory experiences. 

But we’re not left there. Dan and John share with us “pruning” exercises that can take our board meetings from routine to highly effective. The desired result is not to feel better about our serving, but to function with an “eternity mindset” that elevates the board’s impact.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 2, pages 6-9: 
• Dr. Henry Cloud: “What do we do here that is sick and not getting well?” While candid, that question can help us look at our board experience through fresh eyes.
• Four ingredients of memorable board meetings: 
     1) Deep joy! 
     2) Listen to the Spirit 
     3) Energetic discussions   
     4) Solidarity and unity
• “Pruning moment” = clarity and owning the vision vs. accepting average (page 8)

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
Those reading this book likely have served on multiple boards and will recognize it is indeed the highly effective boards—when necessary—have undertaken needed pruning action. John 15:1-2, which the authors lift up for us in this lesson, underscores this.

When we take time to truly think about the privilege of serving—and that our actions as board members have eternal implications—it changes our perspective. This makes it much easier to consider necessary pruning. Pruning and re-ordering enables us to focus on what matters most and allows time for robust interchange that can move the group toward joyful unity in fulfilling the vision.

Consider having your entire church board read this book together and discuss how your time spent in board meetings might be improved through some “pruning moments.” With the Lord’s blessing it may just change the entire ministry trajectory of your congregation. 

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY JEFF JENNESS:


Jeff Jenness has served as president of Servant Solutions for 26 years. Servant Solutions provides retirement and financial planning to ministers, missionaries, lay workers and faculty/staff for Christian higher education. As president, Jeff is responsible for the strategic direction of the organization’s ministry. He currently serves on the Steering Committee for the Church Alliance and has served on the Board of Directors for the Church Benefits Association.

Prior to his leadership at Servant Solutions Jeff worked in the banking industry as Senior Vice President of Commercial Lending for a large Midwestern regional bank. He also founded a local community bank and today serves several nonprofit boards and ministries as well as for-profit boards. He and his wife, Debbie, live near Indianapolis, Ind., and have three grown children and two grandchildren. 

TO-DO TODAY: 
Discuss together: What does a great board meeting look and feel like?
Self-evaluate: Conduct a short evaluation at the end of each meeting.
Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, “Lesson 2 – Ask the Gold Standard Question.”





NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On March 6, 2019, watch for the commentary by Dave Stone on Lesson 3, "Guarding Your Pastor’s Soul. Senior pastor moral failures are devastating to churches. Wise boards invest time—up front—to ensure the pastor’s soul is not neglected.”

ORDER THE BOOK TODAY!

BULK ORDERS: Click here.  For more resources and to download the book's Table of Contents, visit the book's webpage.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

LESSON 1 – Wanted: Lifelong Learners

Welcome to Lessons From the Church Boardroom—The Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we'll feature a guest blogger’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Art Rhodes is our guest blogger this week for the first of four lessons in "Part 1: The Powerful Impact of Highly Engaged Boards.”


LESSON 1 OF 40 – Wanted: Lifelong Learners
Would you trust a surgeon who stopped learning?

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 1, the authors note that you must have some foundational knowledge to serve on a church board. But that is not enough! In an ever-changing world, the learning must never stop.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 1, pages 2-5: 
• “If you want to lead, you have to learn. If you want to continue to lead, you must continue to learn.” (John Maxwell)
“Highly engaged board chairs and board members know that when they say yes to board service, they must continually increase their knowledge and competencies to fulfill this sacred calling.” 
• “Lifelong learners seek the heart of God in prayer and discernment, and they do research to gain knowledge for effective service.”

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
In this complex and litigious time, church board leadership is more critical than ever. While we want to prayerfully seek God’s direction in the selection of leaders, making sure that those leaders have the tools and training they need to faithfully serve our local church is vitally important. Too often, we select leaders and then just hope and pray that they serve us well.

Isn’t it interesting that doctors, lawyers, accountants, and other professionals are required to have continuing education to maintain their status, but we do not see the need for continuous learning for those that take care of the vital work of the Lord in our church? Many church board members do not recognize the legal responsibility that they take on when they assume this important position. It is only after they have been named in a lawsuit or when a tax lien has been placed against their personal assets that the responsibility truly hits home.

If our local church is going to grow and prosper, our leaders must be knowledgeable about the responsibilities they have assumed. That knowledge must be reinforced by continuous learning and development. As laws change, especially those related to tax matters, church boards must stay current. If not, the experience could be difficult. While knowledge and experience are both important, basic knowledge, along with continuous learning, will keep us away from some damaging and harmful experiences. 

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY ARTHUR D. (ART) RHODES:



Arthur D. (Art) Rhodes is President/CEO of the Church of God Benefits Board, Inc. and the Church Loan Fund, Inc. in Cleveland, Tenn. Previously, Art served in Washington as Chief of Staff to Rep. Mike Parker (R-4th Miss.). He also served as counsel for the Mississippi Dept. of Public Welfare and was in private law practice, specializing in construction litigation. 

Art maintains a keen interest in politics, having served as an election observer in the contested Florida presidential election in November 2000 and as a member of the RNC’s Legal Strike Force during the election cycles over the past two decades. He is a graduate of Millsaps College and the University of Mississippi School of Law. Art and his wife, Angie, make their home in Cleveland, Tenn., and have two children, Katelyn and Taylor.

TO-DO TODAY: 
• Are there basic qualifications for being a church board member? If not, consider developing a few qualifiers that follow your church polity and procedures.
• At your next church board meeting, invite a local nonprofit executive to share nonprofit best practices that might also be helpful in your church.
 Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the four-page chapter, “Lesson 1 – Wanted: Lifelong Learners."






NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On Feb. 27, 2019, watch for the commentary by Jeff Jenness on Lesson 2, "Ask the Gold Standard Question. A ‘pruning moment’ can improve your board meetings.”
  
ORDER THE BOOK TODAY!

BULK ORDERS: Click here.  For more resources and to download the book's Table of Contents, visit the book's webpage.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Welcome to Lessons From the Church Boardroom - The Blog



JOIN US! Welcome to Lessons From the Church Boardroom—The Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Church Boardroom. Each Wednesday, beginning on Feb. 20, 2019, we'll feature a guest blogger’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Stay tuned for:
   • Lesson 1 – Wanted: Lifelong Learners (Art Rhodes)
   • Lesson 2 – Ask the Gold Standard Question (Jeff Jenness)
   • Lesson 3 – Guarding Your Pastor’s Soul (Dave Stone)
   • Lesson 4 – What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (Bobby Schuller)
   • Lesson 5 – Do Unwritten Board Policies Really Exist? (Denise Craig)





LESSONS FROM THE CHURCH BOARDROOM:
 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance, by Dan Busby and John Pearson, is the perfect book for your church board members. How do you inspire board members in God-honoring governance? Feature a “10 Minutes for Governance” segment at every board meeting and discuss one of the 40 short chapters (just four to five pages each). 

In 10 memorable categories, you’ll appreciate lessons on: 
   • The Powerful Impact of Highly Engaged Boards
   • Boardroom Tools and Templates
   • Nominees for the Church Boardroom Hall of Fame
   • Epiphanies in the Boardroom
   • Boardroom Bloopers
   • Boardroom Time-Wasters, Trouble-Makers, and Truth-Tellers
   • Boardroom Best Practices
   • Boardroom Worst Practices 
   • Building a 24/7 Board Culture
   • Boards That Lead

ORDER TODAY!

For more governance resources, including Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: 40 Insights for Better Board Meetings (Second Edition), visit ECFAPress