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.

Institutional Intelligence is the capacity to work effectively within organizations.