The success or failure of a church rests on its leadership and ultimately its board.
Those who have been given the responsibility of managing a church are required to take the necessary steps to ensure it is financially viable and exercises effective management practices. Neither of which happen without intent and planning.
Global planning for a church begins with the church oversight board. Whether that board is an independent board, member board or church leadership, planning is critical to a ministry’s ability to achieve its mission.
Effective boards meet on a regular basis and discuss strategy, goals and improvement opportunities. These meetings should be structured and facilitated to ensure a plan is developed and next steps are clear as to what (needs to be done) who (will do it), and when (timeline) key objectives will be met.
At least once a year the oversight group should step back and assess the organization by asking some crucial questions.
12 Questions to Ask at the Next Church Board Meeting
1. What are we good at?
Successful organizations recognize what they are good at and put systems in place to improve on their strengths. Whether that is a strong worship team, children’s ministry or dynamic teaching, identify what your church does well and make it better.
2. What needs our attention and focus?
It is difficult to acknowledge weak areas but it is important to identify those areas that need attention and focus. If you don’t know what area to focus on, keep a list of ongoing comments and complaints from members and volunteers and you are sure to recognize some improvement opportunities.
For instance, if volunteers consistently complain about the application, approval and placement process spend some time focusing on improving the volunteer application process.
3. What population needs help?
Growing churches understand the importance of supporting all demographics. Whether it is older adults, teenagers or children, identify which group needs time, focus and resources and develop a plan to create or improve those programs.
4. Are we fulfilling our Mission?
It is difficult to admit when we fall short but if your church is not fulfilling its mission, there should be a conversation. And the conversation should answer the question why.
5. What are our measures?
Identifying key measures is the only way to gauge success. If you don’t know what you are trying to achieve, it is difficult to know if you were indeed successful.
For instance if you have an objective to influence your community, what measures can tell you whether or not you are being effective?
6. Do our volunteers have a good experience?
Volunteers are the labor engine of a church and should be given the support and resources to do their job.
Take the time to gauge the effectiveness of your volunteer program and constantly raise the bar for improving the volunteer experience.
7. Do our employees like working here?
People who work for a church do so because they feel called to the ministry.
These jobs are often difficult because employees are working with limited resources and rely on volunteer labor to get the job done.
Help employees by providing them with the necessary resources and tools to do their job.
Acknowledge their hard work by rewarding them for good performance.
Solicit feedback from employees and identify things you can do to improve their employment experience.
8. Are members engaged?
Engagement is crucial to member support and loyalty. Discuss member engagement and determine if effort needs to be placed on increasing engagement. A measure of this could be member involvement and participation in church programs, events and volunteering.
9. Can members tell us why we exist?
Members who understand a church’s mission are more engaged than those who don’t. Make sure there is a compelling mission and vision and communicate it often to ensure members understand the why behind everything you do.
10. How are we doing compared to 1 year ago? 5 years ago?
Use your measures to assess how the church is doing compared to prior years. Is growth in line with targets? Are outreach initiatives impacting lives? Are church programs improving?
If things have become stagnant, use this meeting forum to jump start fresh strategies.
11. Do we have the resources to support all of our programs and initiatives?
At the end of the day it takes resources – people, time and money to get the job done. Spend some time reviewing the budget and determining if financial resources are supporting those crucial initiatives.
Talk about volunteer and employee labor and whether those valuable resources are spending their time on those things that are mission critical. Make the tough call and cut out waste in any area possible.
12. How do we plan to improve next year?
At the end of all of this conversation, determine what needs to improve over the course of the next year and put a plan in place to monitor improvement efforts.
Be specific and identify the who, what and when for each identified area. Then provide the necessary resources (people, time and money) to get it done.
Church oversight is the foundation for growth and a ministry’s ability to achieve its mission. Invest the time, at least once a year, to ask these tough questions, provide the resources to support key initiatives, and you will be creating an infrastructure that ensures your church will achieve the mission that God has put on your heart!