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Church governance is the cornerstone to effective church management of ministry resources – people, time, and money.
One way to ensure that your church has a strong governance model is to adhere to the ECFA Standards of Responsible Stewardship.
ECFA is an organization that helps equip nonprofit organizations for financial integrity.
As part of its mission, this organization helps ministries learn about effective board governance.
A recent ECFA report speaks to 4 challenges that nonprofit boards face.
Does your church board deal with these 4 challenges?
1. Succession Planning
Succession is inevitable. Even if there isn’t a plan for it.
Church boards need to be proactive and invest the time and resources to create a sensible succession plan.
All too often a church is formed and rides on the back of its founding pastor.
While this person typically carries the weight of connection and growth, there needs to be thought about the inevitable – what ifs.
What if – the pastor becomes ill;
What if – the pastor suddenly dies;
What if – the pastor wants to retire one day;
What if – the pastor needs a well earned sabbatical.
These are just a few of the scenarios that churches deal with every day.
Take the time to create a well thought out succession plan so your church is prepared for the inevitable events in life.
2. Writing Measurable Goals
Churches are birthed to fulfill a mission. And, in order to know if the church achieves what it sets out to achieve, it needs to measure what it does.
This is done by creating a strategic plan that is supported by ministry goals.
It is the boards responsibility to set the direction for the church and to help staff and volunteers write and achieve annual goals.
These church goals should be written in concert with church staff and volunteer leadership.
For instance, if the church board has an objective in the church strategic plan to create an outreach program for the homeless population in its area, the board should work with the staff and volunteers leaders to create SMART goals.
This coordinated effort ensures that the key stakeholders have input on how and when goals are achieved.
3. Planning For The Future
This requires committing a percentage of a board meeting agenda to planning for future needs of the church.
For instance, establish a church board agenda item that asks these kinds of questions.
- What will this church look like in 10 years?
- Where will it be located?
- What will be its future facility needs?
- What technologies will be required to communicate the church’s message?
- What types of training will be needed for staff and volunteers?
Keep the conversation going by establishing goals for the future.
4. Maintaining The Right Board Composition
Church boards need to have the right people represented who are committed to getting the job done.
Too often boards are established by selecting people who have a passion for its mission and who might have relationships with other members.
While this is OK, it is important to determine the kinds of knowledge experts that can help challenge the board and think strategically.
For instance, common sense tells us that a church board needs to have pastoral representation.
However, an effective board may also consider recruiting knowledge experts in the areas of facilities, finance, human resources, information technology, legal and marketing.
These knowledge experts can offer guidance in these specialized areas that might otherwise get missed in their absence.
Growing churches are sustained by a strong board that helps establish a plan that considers the future while maintaining a strong present.
If your church is not familiar with ECFA, I highly recommend you taking advantage of their many resources. If your church has not taken the steps to become ECFA accredited, you can learn more about the ECFA Accreditation process here.
How well does your church board deal with these issues?