One of the key indicators of a board health the quality of relationships between board members. As you read this list of poor interpersonal relationships, ask yourself if any of them apply to your church board. If yes, it is imperative that you find a way to resolve the issues because these never just stay on the board but spill out onto the congregation as a whole. Ask me, I have worked with many such situations.
- Poor interpersonal relationships between members (whether a few or many)
- Factions on a board that are unable to come to consensus
- Unresolved conflict and an inability to resolve that conflict because board members will not submit to one another
- The pastor is seen as an employee of the board rather than as a full member of the board. When a pastor is treated like an employee you have set yourself up for factions, us them and poor relationships
- The inability to deal with certain subjects because one or more board members block the discussion
- There is a powerbroker on the board who uses their influence to get their way and refuses to be accountable to the board as a whole
- A significant amount of directional clarity. It is hard to get clarity when any of the above behaviors are present
- There are personal agendas or hidden agendas that one can sense but are not named
- A lack of concern for one another
- The Fruit of the Spirit is not evident in relationships and discussions
- Board members make up their own rules and operate independently even though that violates basic board practices
- You cannot hold a board member who is causing issues on the board because either the board will not hold them accountable or they refuse to be accountable
Recently, in a discussion with a friend about issues like this on a board they serve on, I said, "your church is at significant risk and if the board cannot get their act together I would resign rather than be complicit in a leadership situation that your board cannot or will not deal with.
What is interesting to me is that in many churches where such behavior resides at the board level, they insist that the same behavior cannot be resident in the congregation as a whole and even use church discipline to enforce their way. How can a board that cannot police itself have the conviction that they can enforce right conduct in a congregation? What right does a board have to tell a congregant to humbly submit to their will when the board cannot submit to the will of the board? It is hypocrisy, and it is sinful and it will hurt the very people that they are charged with protecting.
Sometimes the congregation needs to be protected from the very board that is charged with guiding them.
These are spiritual issues and they demand reformation. There is no Church called TOV when these behaviors are present. TOV or goodness, starts with the leaders of a church. Many people and many congregations have been hurt when the board itself becomes the largest violator of TOV or goodness. Unfortunately it is not a rare occurrence.
Here is an interesting question to consider. If the average parishioner knew what transpired in your board room, would they be motivated to stay or leave? To love Jesus more or less? To be confident in the leadership or less?
You can fool a congregation for a time, but not forever. I plead with any who are in this situation to get help for your board.
I am available to meet with church boards and dialogue with them on the challenges they face and possible solutions. With zoom technology, this can be done easily at low cost to you. If interested, you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.