No Healthy Churches Without Effective Church Boards
An interesting discussion recently with what some denominations call a “transition pastor.” His expertise and experience is quite straightforward: he steps into churches – at their invitation or at the request of the denominational office – to provide pastoral leadership and presence between pastors . . . that is, between more permanent appointments. He is typically in the role for 1 – 2 years. And I asked him if he often sees or witnesses a significant level of conflict in these churches. And his response is that it is virtually 100% of the time that the congregation needs a transitional pastor because they have residual conflict that has not been adequately address or resolved.
So, of course, I asked: what do you do? What will it take to bring about some measure of congregational health – with a resolution of the conflict? I was a little taken back by his response. It is very simple, he said: the problem is always with the Elders board; and the solution is to work with and work towards a board that is functioning effectively.
This is likely true for all non-profits, of course; but I was struck by his insistence that this is particularly true for a congregation. And this suggests that wise pastoral leadership includes working towards the effective functioning of a board – working towards a board that is committed to best practices in governance and in their working relationship with the pastoral leadership team. And, I would add: this means and can only mean an effective and capable board chair. Actually, that might be the pivotal question: is there an effective board chair? If not, that is where we have to begin.