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.”

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.  


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.

• 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:


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.”


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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