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The common goals of a Board of Management include efficiently fulfilling the stated mission through visioning, growth strategies, inspiring change, and proper accountability. But is there any difference between a Business Board and a Church Board? Fundamentally, aren’t they the same?
For example, ‘Measuring the Vital Indicators’ can be applied to both Business Boards and Church Boards. In the church setting, it is useful to measure indicators such as attendance growth in the last 5 years, percentage of congregation with excellent financial health, number of regular attendees etc. And another example: both Business Boards and Church Boards can benefit from diversity in the Board. In the church setting, God has endowed each in His church with a variety of gifts to strengthen the board, and a good board will have a balance of gifts and skills where some exercise the gift of service, some the gift of problem identification and recommendation, others the gift of decision making, yet others the gift of administration. Is there really no difference between Business Boards and Church Boards?
To frame the issue, Peter Lim uses the ‘Bolman and Deal’ model of organizational development where four perspectives are analyzed – value (or cultural), structure (or organizational), authority (or power), and interpersonal (or relational). We will take a preview on the Value frame.
The Value frame deals with the fundamental issue of control vs delegation.
For example, the Business Board usually seeks to enhance stability and reduce risk by relying on the tried and true and hence the reluctance of yielding control to others. And this often leaves little room for faith in a God who can work through others who bring along different approaches. Yet the Hebrew author teaches us that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). In short, without “faith” we can seldom release control and truly serve through sharing of powers.
Another example: The Business Board values outcomes that are metrics-based and project-based. However, the kingdom of God cannot be measured easily by metrics. In the center of the kingdom are people who are growing – people who exhibit the fullness and the fruit of the spirit. It is a kingdom full of growing disciples who love God wholeheartedly and serve their neighbors fully. We should not replace a Christ-like servant-spirit with numerical measures and statistical results onto a yet-to-mature community and as a result, stifle partnership.
For other insights on how to run a Church Board effectively, Peter Lim’s book on “Focused Boards” is highly recommended.
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