Nailing Down a Board

Bob FranquizLeadership

I think choosing a board of directors is one of the most important and underestimated roles in any church.  In our church, we follow a staff-led model, but the board of directors can provide incredible wisdom, insight, and godly counsel if a Pastor chooses wisely.  So I’ve decided to list 11 considerations  in selecting a quality board of directors: 

#1 – Are they where you want to be?  – Many times, people are chosen to be on boards because they’ve been around the church for a while or they were part of your "sending" church.  But the real question we should be asking ourselves is, "Where has their decision making taken them?"  I think it is a good idea to have other Senior Pastors on your board because they understand the Pastor’s perspective.  Also, if they are ‘a few steps ahead of you’ in size, number of staff, and years in ministry, they can be an invaluable asset to you by sharing their experiences. 

#2 – Are they diverse? – Don’t have all of the same type of person of your board.  If you have all highly visionary people that aren’t interested in details, everyone is going to want to take the mountain, but no one is going to ask "How are going to pay for it?"  By the same token, don’t get all ‘Bean counters’ on your board who don’t care what you’re doing as long as you’re financially strong.  Get people who see life from a different perspective.  Find specialists.  For example, on our board we have 2 senior Pastors (Other than myself), a CPA, a mission’s Pastor with an American Airlines management background, and a Communications expert who is a technical genius. 

#3 – Would you hire them?  If you wouldn’t have these men on your staff then they don’t belong on your board.  I would do anything to have ANY one of our board members join our staff because they are such strong leaders and are so effective in what they do.  If you wouldn’t hire them, you should never even dream of adding them to your board because they will influence all of the major decisions you will make as a church.      

#4 – Don’t hire them! – Don’t have your staff on your board!  I think it makes sense to have your administrative Pastor or executive Pastor on the board, but other than that, be careful.  Things can get weird really fast.  I think there’s something healthy about the staff being the staff and the board being separate and impartial.  If you have ministry leaders on the board, there could be a pull for resources to go in a certain direction that could be misconstrued as favoritism. 

#5 – Tell them it’s not a life sentence, but don’t offer parole! – I asked our board members to commit for 1 year almost 5 years ago, but I never bring it up!  I love these guys and I want them to stay on our board forever.  But I always have the 1 year commitment if I want to make a change.   

#6 – Don’t put your wife on the board! – A lot of church planters do that and I don’t like it personally.  It can make the relationship weird.  While your wife is someone you can trust implicitly, a husband should try to shield his wife from some of the ugly stuff that goes on in church.  Plus, it puts your wife in a position of being something other than your wife!  (By the way, I’d say this for all members of your family not being on your board)  Let her find the areas of ministry she feels gifted in and let her serve along side of you in those areas and let her be the wife God has called her to be.  But don’t make her your assistant Pastor, let her be herself.   

#7 – Do you trust them? – Are these men that have made wise decisions in their lives, ministries, and/or businesses?  Just because someone is a successful businessman doesn’t mean they have the spiritual maturity to handle the responsibility of being on a church board.  If God called you home to glory, they would be entrusted to find a replacement for you.  Do you feel they are up to the challenge or does the thought of that make you want to lose your lunch?    

#8 – Do they trust you? – This is just as important as you trusting them.  If your board doesn’t trust you, it is going to be very difficult for you to go in the direction you feel God calling you because you are going to have to do a lot of explaining for every little thing you want done.  Every time my board has questioned decisions I have wanted to make, it has never been an issue of distrust, but of concern.  What I have noticed is that as time has gone on, the questions have become fewer because the trust has continued to grow.

#9 – Do they understand your vision? – The guys of your board may serve on other church boards (All of my board members serve on the board of other churches as well), so I continually recast the vision of our vision at every meeting so we are clear as to why staff, time, and resources are being allocated in the way they are.  This avoids misunderstandings and leads to greater unity. 

#10 – Say ‘no’ to the ‘yes’ men – I’m happy to report that we don’t have any ‘yes’ men on our board.  These men are all strong leaders that all have strong opinions, but they feel called to support me and offer their wisdom for the benefit of our church.  I like it when our board challenges a decision I want to make, but it is always done in a way where I don’t feel like we’re on opposite teams.  Instead, they share concerns in a way that says, "I’m with you, but is this the best way to get this done?"   

#11 – You’ve just been elected President! – I believe the Senior Pastor should be the President of the board.  Some churches don’t even allow the Pastors to be ON the board.  That’s a time bomb waiting to happen.  If you’re planting a church, set up your government in a Biblical way where you as the leader are able to lead your church.    

Any thoughts on this issue?