Wednesday, May 8, 2019

LESSON 12 – Looking for Consensus but Finding Division

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. David Fletcher is our guest blogger this week for the second of four lessons in "Part 4: Epiphanies in the Boardroom.”

LESSON 12 OF 40 – Looking for Consensus but Finding Division
Finding consensus on challenging issues requires deft handling and a flexible approach by the board chair. 

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 12, there are several keys for reaching consensus on agenda items. This glorifies God by making God-honoring decisions in a peaceful, thoughtful, fair, and open manner. 

This process takes some work. To consistently achieve consensus, a focus on five “right” things is required: right purpose, right people, right board chair, right agenda, and right approach.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 12, pages 65-70:
From the storyline, I found this section that illustrates a wise approach: 
• “The board chair could have moved to a vote and the issue would have passed. But he discerned it would be wiser to table the motion until the next meeting. Over the next month, the board chair met with Roger several times to discuss Roger’s misgivings. By the time the board met again, Roger had reached a comfort level with the property acquisition and the issue passed unanimously. The results—the board moved to a stunning level of congeniality and even consensus, thanks to the grace-giving way the board chair handled this significant decision.” 

Often a board feels a false sense of urgency to make a decision. We see this in the Bible. The Gibeonites pretended to be weary travelers from a faraway land. Joshua and the leaders of Israel were fooled because they rushed into a decision and “failed to ask the Lord’s advice” (Joshua 9:14).

Why rush? Why not pray a little more? Have that extra discussion with the one not ready to vote. Perhaps that person has good insight into the issue! Perhaps that person needs to work through his or her concerns.

I have been a part of over 800 board meetings. At one, the board wanted to bring on a new member, except that three people had reservations about the candidate. The chair wanted to vote. One person said, “When there is dissension in the room, and it’s about a new board member, we can’t vote. We must wait.” The chair listened and the board waited—and they came to a good decision at the next meeting.


David Fletcher was an executive pastor for 35 years and is the founder of, a global site for helping churches of all sizes with leadership and management issues.

• Focus your board on the right purpose, right people, right board chair, right agenda, and right approach.
• When needed, slow down and table an issue. Work between meetings to gain consensus on the issue, then vote on it at the next meeting.
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, “Lesson 12 – Looking for Consensus but Finding Division.”



On May 15, 2019, watch for the commentary by Phill Martin on Lesson 13, "Caution! Understand the Governance Pendulum Principle. You have limited time to act when the pendulum oscillates in a positive direction.”


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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