Wednesday, August 21, 2019

LESSON 27 – Defending Risks Everywhere Is Not a Strategic Plan

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 Middlebrook is our guest blogger this week for the first of four lessons in "Part 8: Boardroom Worst Practices.”

LESSON 27 OF 40 – 
Defending Risks Everywhere Is Not a Strategic Plan
You must discuss the risk elephant in the boardroom.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 27, the authors speak to the board’s hesitancy to address risk management policies. While most boards have no problem deciding term limits, discussing operations, or delivering committee reports, risk management policies often go left untouched. 

Tragically, “the one predictable thing in any [church] is crisis.” Has your church board adequately prepared a crisis management plan with appropriate policies and procedures? 

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 27, pages 146-150:
• “Most boards do not regularly focus on risks because the topic is generally not on the board’s agenda.”
• Without prioritizing risks, “major risks receive too little attention and the minor risks get too much attention.”
• “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.”  

In our law practice, we frequently interact with churches and pastors that struggle with how to organize, plan, and develop risk management policies. Sadly, some of those churches suffer severe consequences that could have been avoided or mitigated had the board properly enacted pro-active policies. Dan Busby and John Pearson hit it out of the park by bringing this inconvenient, yet necessary, topic to the forefront. As “failing to plan is planning to fail,” the authors speak from a wealth of experience. I was elated to see the authors provide valuable wisdom in Lesson 27 to help more churches side-step the dangers associated with these common risks.  


DAVID MIDDLEBROOK, a founder of the Church Lawyers, is an internationally recognized nonprofit and faith-based legal expert. He works as a client advisor on a wide range of legal issues including nonprofit corporate structure and governance, employment and volunteer policies, intellectual property, and compensation practices. He serves as outside general counsel to nonprofit organizations, and many others use his services as special nonprofit corporate counsel. David is a sought-after speaker on legal subjects affecting religious nonprofit organizations and is an award-winning author. 

• Make a list of risk policies that your board has tip-toed around. It could include policies for cyber security, lawsuits, sexual misconduct, an employee handbook, or children’s worker guidelines. 
• Consult with your church’s legal counsel to advise your board on the risks that churches commonly face. 
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, Lesson 27, “Defending Risks Everywhere Is Not a Strategic Plan.” 
• Inspire your board members to enrich their governance competencies at the ECFA Excellence in Governance Forums (eight cities, Fall 2019).


On August 28, 2019, watch for the commentary by Eric Wakeling on Lesson 28, “Where Two or Three Are Gathered on Social Media… Conflicts of interest always sound more questionable on the internet and social media.”


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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