Wednesday, September 25, 2019

LESSON 32 – Loose Lips Sink the Boardroom Ship

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. Prior to his homegoing last March, Dr. Don Walter wrote the guest blog for this week—the second of six lessons in "Part 9: Building a 24/7 Board Culture.”

LESSON 32 OF 40 – Loose Lips Sink the Boardroom Ship
What happens in the boardroom must stay in the boardroom.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 32, the authors urge board members to keep their lips sealed regarding boardroom decisions and discussions—regardless of the subject matter. Loose lips can destroy a church and its public reputation.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 32, pages 173-177:
The authors suggest how to address loose-lipped board members:
• “Extend grace for the first offense. If the matter can be settled in a private meeting—and the offending board member admits the indiscretion and commits to never repeat the offense—perhaps the matter need not be brought to the attention of the full board.”
• “Follow the two strikes rule. In baseball, batters get three strikes before they are out. When a board member leaks confidential information and it has been addressed with the member, the second offense should be the end of the line. Be sure that your bylaws or Board Policies Manual addresses the process for asking a board member to resign for violating your board’s confidentiality policy.” 

In this age where there is ample misinformation floating out in cyberspace, it is not necessary to add to the data flow. Once the information is out, there is no way to reel it in. There are many issues and opportunities that your board will need to process internally. Your board does not need the pressure of outsiders to “help” the processing aspect. If a loose-lipped member of your board releases information—either good or bad—it can do irreparable harm to your church. 

It should also be noted that your policies on confidentiality also apply to your pastors and the church staff. Nothing destroys the effectiveness of any board policy more deeply than seeing that policy violated by pastors and/or the staff.

As your church board continues to trust God for His protection and blessing on the church’s ministries, continue to inspire and call your board members to the highest standards of Christ-centered governance. Help your board members to see the holy connection between their fiduciary responsibilities and the importance of maintaining a God-honoring culture of integrity and effectiveness.


Prior to his homegoing on March 26, 2019, DR. DON WALTER served as the director of Pensions and Benefits USA for the Church of the Nazarene in Kansas City, Missouri. He began his service in the Pensions and Benefits office in 1983 and was elected to the director position in 1994. As director, he represented the Church of the Nazarene in two benefit organizations—the Church Alliance and the Church Benefits Association.

Prior to coming to the Pensions and Benefits office, he served pastorates in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. He was a native of Iowa and a graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University, Nazarene Theological Seminary, and Webster University. Don was honored with the doctor of divinity degree by Nazarene Bible College in 2006. He also served as adjunct instructor at MidAmerica Nazarene University and taught classes in values and Biblical perspectives. Don noted that “some of my most satisfying work was with these students.”

• Review your board policies. Do you have a confidentiality statement that the board signs annually?
• If you don’t yet have a Board Policies Manual, read Lesson 5.
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, Lesson 32, “Loose Lips Sink the Boardroom Ship.”
• Inspire your board members to enrich their governance competencies at the ECFA Excellence in Governance Forums (eight cities, Fall 2019).

On October 2, 2019, watch for the commentary by Jeff Salladin on Lesson 33, “Good Is the Enemy of Great. When great board experiences end, they should be lamented.”


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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