Wednesday, July 10, 2019

LESSON 21 – Back Off the Ledge of Dysfunctional Mayhem

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. John Vawter is our guest blogger this week for the fourth of five lessons in "Part 6: Boardroom Time-Wasters, Trouble-Makers, and Truth-Tellers.”

LESSON 21 OF 40 – Back Off the Ledge of Dysfunctional Mayhem
When dysfunction reigns, healthy board members head for the door.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 21, the authors note that not all church board members are healthy, mature, and mutually cooperative. This is sad news—but it is reality.

Nevertheless, gracious and candid confrontation on the part of the senior pastor and the board chair can solve the problem of dysfunction, either through resignations of unrepentant board members or genuine repentance. Obviously, the latter is the most desirable.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 21, pages 112-116:
It is a blessing when the senior pastor and board chair can agree on the “problem children” on the board.  
• It is an even greater blessing when the senior pastor and board chair are truth tellers who solve personnel issues with the grace of God…but they do solve the problems.
• It can be painful, but addressing the problems of immature board members is beneficial and healthier for the church in the long run.
Francis Schaeffer said, “The spirit of the age always finds its way into the church.” The mean-spiritedness and the lack of healthy introspection in our society have found their way into the church boardroom in some instances. 

The issue of listening to, hearing, and obeying the voice of the Spirit of God begins with our being willing to “be quick to listen” in listening to one another, honoring others as more important than ourselves, and being quick to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  

Someone has wisely said that genuine listening is: paying attention until we understand, asking questions to help us understand, and making sure the person knows we are listening to him/her.

Too often church board members are chosen without any sense of Biblical standards, any commitment to good board behavior, and/or any stated commitment to being a respectful, Christian, mature and edifying member.  Asking board members to sign a covenant and commitment to God-honoring behavior before they join the board—and annually—will help to solve the problem of dysfunctional boards and dysfunctional board members.

It is not easy and it is not fun; indeed, it can be hard and it can be painful. But, for the senior pastor and the board chair to address dysfunctional behavior and insist on mature Christian behavior, helps both the board and the church have Christ-honoring ministry into the future.


Dr. John Vawter is a board member/coach with Timothy Connection and a consultant/speaker with Church Assistance Ministry. He has been in ministry since graduating from the University of Oregon.  He served for 10 years with CRU, including helping start the ministry in England and being the Northwest Area Director. He has pastored churches in Minnesota and Arizona and has been president of Western Seminary and Phoenix Seminary. 

John has taught D.Min. courses on pastoral leadership in seven seminaries and has also served as interim pastor at seven churches. He speaks regularly at conferences on the subject of male friendship based on the book he co-authored, Achieving High Performance Friendship: A Book for Men. He also speaks on addiction in the pastor’s home based on his book, Hit by a Ton of Bricks: You’re Not Alone When Your Child’s on Drugs.

Editor’s Note: John is also a “golf ball hawker” and is the author of the hilarious Kindle book, Anything for a Golf Ball: The Art of Finding Lost Golf Balls. He donates many of the thousands of balls he’s found to local high schools. His “hobby” was featured in this newspaper article in 2017.

• There must be a commitment to candor and a willingness to confront dysfunctional behavior on the board—even if it is only one board member.
• Much dysfunctional behavior is precluded by asking every member to sign an annual statement committing themselves to God-honoring behavior and honest discussions about the lack of it.
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, Lesson 21, Back Off the Ledge of Dysfunctional Mayhem.”
• Inspire your board members to enrich their governance competencies at the ECFA Governance in Excellence Forums (eight cities, Fall 2019). 

On July 17, 2019, watch for the commentary by Tim Lucas on Lesson 22, “Big Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand. Church boards have a natural gravitational pull toward issues that should be reserved for the church staff.”


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

1 comment:

  1. Great work man i would like to congratulate you on this effort GNLD