Friday, March 27, 2015

Church boards who live with their heads in the sand

More frequently than I like I receive calls from a church board member who gives me a litany of issues that are taking place in their church. All too often, as well, when I ask what the board has done about it the answer is "nothing." And they they will often say, "Can you help?"

I love to help churches but it astonishes me that boards often do not address known issues which are hurting their congregations. Let me give you some examples:

  • A loss of staff over time because of a dysfunctional senior leader
  • Toxicity on the staff because of an insecure senior leader
  • A recalcitrant board member who does not allow the group to move forward
  • A spiritual malaise in the church (which usually reflects a spiritual malaise on the board)
  • Lack of clarity for ministry which usually means things don't go anywhere
  • Bad decisions being made by senior leaders and the board does not have the courage to speak out
  • Group think where differing opinions are not allowed or valued
  • The poor treatment or firing of staff who don't agree with a senior leader
  • A gradual but steady decline in attendance
  • Lack of new people coming to Jesus
  • I could list many more
In one case, people have been leaving a church for years because of the loudness of the music and despite the fact that the congregation has multiple services and therefore could address the issues. The leaders have never addressed it and allow the exodus to happen - or tell congregants to stay outside the worship venue until the music is over. Really? It is not only ignoring a real issue but is very disempowering to those who cannot deal with the volume. But evidently they do not have the courage to address an ongoing and real issue.

Here is my challenge to board members - don't allow known issues to go unaddressed. They are elephants and elephants hurt the church. If there is an issue, name it, talk about it and don't pretend it does not exist. It does and it matters. It takes just one board member who has the courage to speak up to at least put the issue on the table. often, once they do, others who are uncomfortable will do the same.

Often when boards do not act on known issues, congregants do: with their giving and their leaving. One might say, "you should not do that." But here is the truth: When congregants cannot get the attention of their leaders (staff or board) because they will not listen you leave them no choice. And they will act. Often by the time the board wakes up to smell the coffee it is too late and ultimately it is the inaction of the board that is responsible for what happened. Most congregants will not fight a battle but they will act personally.

Posted from Panama City, Panama

All of T.J. Addington's books including his latest, Deep Influence,  are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 per book discount on orders of ten or more.

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