As a pastor or Head Elder sometimes it can become the routine of just “winging it” when it comes to another monthly board meeting. Yes I know the feeling. We get so caught up with Bible studies, visits, sorting out problems, preparing sermons, answering phone calls, e-mails, planning for Sabbath and then also throw in the odd wedding and funeral as well as the rest that ministry can bring. Sometimes the Board meeting can be the last thing on the to do list that we end up dealing with it at the last minute.
But have you ever stopped to think about the fact that the church board meeting may be one of the most important events in the pastors calendar? Yes that’s right, the church board meeting has the potential to lead your church in a powerful way and not just be “another board meeting”. In actual fact it is the engine room of your church and the whole church either rises or falls on its effectiveness and as such as chair of the board that falls back on you.
So what can you do to create empowering board meetings where the leaders of your church leave inspired, challenged, empowered and excited to come rather than giving you ‘the time they have to leave’ before you start because they fear another long drawn out meeting? Here are a few ideas;
Prayer is foundational to any empowering Board meeting as it not only opens up access to the most important member, Christ the head of the church, It also bonds people in the meeting and it creates a connection. Before meetings of any kind I will always offer it up in prayer through the preceding days as I plan, prepare and ready myself for this time. That way you are placing the meeting in His hands rather than just in yours as the chair. At the meeting spend time asking and sharing prayer requests both personally and those known of amongst the church family and instead of the “rush and pray” method we may adopt so we can get onto the agenda items, stop. Be still and know that He is God! There is something about the power of prayer that changes and transforms hearts and it must be central to an empowering and effective board meeting.
• Be early
If you are the chair of the Board I like to try and be there at least 20 – 30 minutes before the meeting is scheduled to begin. Why do I do this? Because – 1. It allows you to set the tone of the meeting rather than anyone else. 2. It allows you to set-up the room/ready the location how you want it. 3. You can pray over each chair/board member who is about to attend. 4. There is nothing better and more empowering to the leader than to see his leader waiting and ready to go with the meeting and starting on time gives a positive vibe right from the beginning.
• Begin with worship
At every board meeting I always spend time in the word, sharing, thinking on and praying through the scriptures. This is an important time as you build the foundation and set the tone for the rest of the meeting and there is nothing more empowering than spending time with God in The Word and in prayer.
• Make it Empowering
Many board meetings are led with an authoritarian and power driven approach, and in some regards that is because that is how we have always done it. Usually the pastor and church clerk sit up the front at a table while the board are seated in a row or rows in front of them like school pupils ready to be told what to do. When you observe this model, it is based more on a power driven model than empowering leadership. I have always sought to break out of this mould and build a team of leaders rather than just followers. This does take time and you need to realise that change can sometimes also hurt. It may not be something you can change overnight but as you lead the church forward you can set up this dynamic by gently and slowly building their understanding and importance of Empowering leadership, team work and togetherness. I have often used tables and placed in such a way that they make a circle/square as I believe it is important for every person at the meeting to see one another’s faces. This also creates a sense of unity while allowing you as a leader to lead with them rather than be seen as above them. By building a sense of team you invite more interaction and involvement from those present and empower them to lead and make decisions.
• Intentionally Plan the Agenda
An empowering meeting takes intentional prayer and planning and that also includes the agenda, plan the agenda with vision and purpose in mind. How much of the agenda is administration, how much is vision, and how much is outreach? These are the crucial questions I must answer myself in order to create a meeting that is Christ centred, Kingdom minded and Leadership empowering. Intentionally plan meetings so that the administration doesn’t overtake the ministry and outreach of the church. Make the important items the vision achieving items rather than the administration items that can be repetitious. These are also usually at the beginning in order to get them out of the way (this may lead to clutter and limit the time for the most important items) I have also found it to be powerful as I prayerfully consider each item on the agenda while I am compiling it, asking the Lords will to be done.
• Communicate ahead
It is also a great idea to send out the agenda with any support materials at least a week before the meeting, encouraging the leader to prayerfully consider the items and ask any questions before the meeting if needed. This is for greater input and keeps the meeting on track as the items have already been thought through. I have also found that it shows the leaders on your board that you trust them and that you are also organised, placing an importance on the Board meeting and their leadership within the team and church.
• Resourcing your team
spend time empowering your leaders through resourcing. This might include some sort of training, reading a book or article, watching a short video, you get the gist. Be intentional about resourcing and in return you will be intentionally empowering as you invest and resource the leaders in your team.
• Be Creative
Be creative with the agenda. Play spin the bottle in the ministry report times, use post it notes to get each board to write an affirmative comment for other board members. Stop and pray about any particular item, get the board members to pretend they are first time visitors and walk around the church observing the signage, grounds, entry, notice boards, toilets, seating etc then come back and share their findings. Prayer walk the church, encourage members of the board to go in union around the church and pray for each room and the coming activities. If you are talking about evangelism and community service sit outside where you can see, smell, hear the community around you. Whatever the main topic/agenda item/theme for the night is – be creative around it. This will not only make the meeting memorable but also enjoyable and empowering while also achieving what you are there to do
be sure to affirm those on the board when they comment, make a speech or share from their heart. This is empowering leadership as it makes them feel included and valuable. It is also a good time to do this either before or after the meeting again as you are building up their value while also building your credibility tank.
• Let the Spirit Move
Sometimes in meetings we can tend to rush things along with the mentality of wanting to ‘get out of there’ as quick as possible, but sometimes this is not necessarily the best thing. I remember one board meeting I led when I felt the Holy Spirit guide me after the time of worship to just stop everything and pray. What I did was instead of going with the agenda (and yes it was a long agenda) we stopped and had a season of prayer for about 45 minutes. This included teams of 2 or 3 going from room to room around the church facility including the foyer and car park. They just spent time praying for that ministry area, the leaders of the ministry and the people who would come through that area the church facility and asked for the Lords’ will to be done in their lives, for spiritual revival and for opportunities. It was such an amazing experience as we came back to join together again as a board, no longer was there a worry about how long the agenda was but our minds and lives were focused on and in Christ. And would you believe that we managed to complete the agenda within 45 minutes and so the meeting that began at 7pm finished at about 8:30pm. That was a powerful experience!
• Treat your Board Like a Small Group
Yes you heard it right! The most important people in your church that you need to invest in are your leaders so treat them like a small group. Pray with and for them individually, visit them, train them, take them out for dinner, socialise and do life together. Model empowering leadership as Jesus did and you can only do that by spending time with them. It is when they know, feel and understand your love and care for them that they will then feel empowered to lead and not just follow. Try it! Yes it can be time consuming but it is also spiritually rewarding and worth it in the bigger picture building disciples and growing the kingdom of God.
While meetings can sometimes be the most challenging and frustrating times in ministry they can be the most rewarding as you build the sense of team, create environments of affirmation and empower the leaders the Lord has entrusted to you to achieve their full potential in building up the Kingdom of God. I challenge you to just take one of the above suggestions and implement it in your meeting tonight, this week or this month and intentionally empower your leaders. Have you got other ideas to lead empowering board meetings, share it with us and leave a comment.