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.”   

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. 


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.  

• 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?”


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.”


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

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