Wednesday, August 14, 2019

LESSON 26 – Before the Board Meeting

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. Bill Hoyt is our guest blogger this week for the fourth of four lessons in "Part 7: Boardroom Best Practices.”

LESSON 26 OF 40 – Before the Board Meeting
Collaborate, then wisely plan the meeting agenda.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: The chapter’s helpful take-away comes in two parts. First, thoughtful pre-planning helps boost meeting productivity. Second, agendas, the product of thoughtful planning, are best prepared when pastor and board chair prepare them collaboratively. 

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 26, pages 138-143:
Three insights struck me as I read the lesson. The first was a “palm to forehead” while uttering “Duh!” We must “allow for reconnection.” While obvious to many, not so for “let’s get on with it” activists like me! 

The second, “Provide time for heavy lifting,” was an “I knew that. When did I forget it?” experience for me. Planning ahead and allotting ample time for the more important and complex agenda items is just plain wise.

The third insight that struck me was “Pray for the board meeting.” We usually remember to pray at the board meeting—but preparing for it in prayer is at least as important as praying at the meeting. 

Two thoughts occurred to me while reflecting on this lesson. The first is a cautionary tale and the second, hopefully, a word of encouragement. 

Here’s my word of caution. While either board chair or pastor preparing an agenda in isolation is less than optimum, there are two scenarios that, in my experience, are even more deadly. When two or three power brokers meet before the meeting and plan their private agenda that overrides the “official” agenda, there is “trouble in River City!” 

The corollary to that is when two or three power brokers meet in the parking lot after the board meeting and make plans that override both the agenda and board decisions of the recently adjourned meeting.

Some might argue that a meeting disciplined by a carefully planned agenda, prepared collaboratively in advance of the meeting is confining and controlling. The opposite is true. Agendas prepared with the chapter’s seven principles in mind, create a context where relationships are nurtured, items are allotted the time their importance warrants, and differences of perspective and ideas can be fully processed. 


BILL HOYT served as pastor in three local churches and 15 years in a denominational leadership role on the regional level. He is currently President of NexStep Coaching. NexStep provides assessment and follow-up coaching for churches, denominational entities, schools, mission organizations, and secular, for-profit companies. In addition, he provides executive coaching for an international clientele of ministry and business leaders. 

• If you are not already planning agendas in a collaborative manner, get together with your counterpart (pastor, board member or CEO). Read this chapter together and agree on how you will implement the seven principles.
• Challenge all board members to pray for each board meeting frequently prior to your meeting. You might want to suggest specific prayer items based on the upcoming agenda.
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, Lesson 26, “Before the Board Meeting.”
• Inspire your board members to enrich their governance competencies at the ECFA Excellence in Governance Forums (eight cities, Fall 2019).


On August 21, 2019, watch for the commentary by David Middlebrook on Lesson 27, “Defending Risks Everywhere Is Not a Strategic Plan. You must discuss the risk elephant in the boardroom.”


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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