Transforming Church Team Blog
resourcing leaders…reenvisioning the future

Where Have All the Leaders Gone: Developing the Board Profile

Scott Kronlund, Senior Consultant

Scott Kronlund, Senior Consultant

As Paul asked the question, he glanced out the window.  The sun had long since set and the streets had grown quiet.  The clock moved awfully slowly: 11:14…11:15…11:16….

 

“I know,” said Joan, “why don’t we ask Jim to serve?  I think he owns the dry cleaner’s shop around the corner.  We could always use a business guy on the board.  Who knows?  Maybe he’d even be willing to be the treasurer….”

 

“Sounds good to me,” endorsed Joe.  “You know, Sally just popped into my mind.  She’s pretty new to the church, but certainly has a lot of spunk and enthusiasm.  This would be a great way to get her involved.”

 

“Hallelujah!  I think we’re finally done.  Any objections to the list?”

 

Before the words could even get out of Paul’s mouth, the rest of the group was already on their feet, donning their coats, and heading for the door.

 

“OK, then, I’ll type up the list and get it ready for Sunday.  Thanks everybody….”, his voice trailing off down the hallway.  “This is one job that I hope I never get saddled with again,” he muttered to himself as he turned out the lights and headed for his car….

 

As church leaders, I’m sure that many of you have found yourself in this very situation.  It’s certainly not very rewarding.  Where are the leaders going to come from? And, how can we be sure that we’ve got the right people in the right places?  Oh, well; at least all of the positions are filled.  But there should be a better way. 

 

Before discussing the important elements of the lay leader selection process, I think that it is essential to begin with the governing board itself.  In other words, as the board works to carry out the mission of the church while also providing stewardship over the church’s valuable resources, what spiritual gifts, strengths, and talents/skills will be required within the board itself?  Once this board “profile” as been established, then we can begin to consider who, specifically, we would want to invite to join the board.  Let’s briefly look at each of these three components of the board profile:

 

Since a church is a Spiritual “enterprise”, the profile must begin with Spiritual Gifts.  There may be some obvious “candidates” that come to mind such as the gifts of leadership, administration, and wisdom to name a few.  But, what about the gifts of mercy, faith, knowledge, and discernment? Should these be included?  Are there others that you might like to include in your board profile?  One resource that I have found to be quite valuable in this process is Network by Bruce Bugbee and Don Cousins.  Not only does Network provide a detailed description of each spiritual gift as articulated in Scripture, but it also includes all of the necessary assessment tools which can be used as part of the leader selection process.

 

The next part of the profile is all about strengths.  According to Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton in their book Now, Discover Your Strengths, the highest performing organizations (and individuals) are those that operate in their “strength zone” the vast majority of the time.  In other words, we have our best chance of experiencing “consistent, near-perfect performance” when we’re capitalizing on what we’re already good at.  (Instead, we have a tendency to spend too much valuable time remediating our weaknesses rather than perfecting our strengths.)  So, should a board be “strategic”, “analytical”, and “futuristic” in its thinking?  Should “achiever” and “arranger” also be a consideration?  To answer questions like these, I would refer you to the text for a detailed discussion of the theory and practice of the growing “strengths movement.”

 

Finally, where does talent and skills fit in?  Clearly, governing boards also have “business” to conduct and will need appropriate expertise to carry out its work.  For instance, from a fiduciary perspective, all governing boards have a duty to guard the financial resources of the church and conduct its business in an ethical and legal manner.  So, some desired expertise may include certified public accounting, financial planning/programming, bank/credit union management, business law, executive leadership in a nonprofit entity, and/or private sector management. A similar list may be required when considering the implementation of the church’s strategic plan.

 

Now that you’ve established the desired profile of your governing board as a whole, you’re ready to consider the recruitment of individuals who are best suited to serve on your board.  We’ll discuss leadership recruitment at a later time.  In the meantime, feel free to share any experiences that you’ve had in developing profiles for your various leadership teams.  Blessings!  Scott

 

 

 

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