Few things can handicap a church like a directionless, overstaffed, and disengaged church board. Alban Institute senior consultant Dan Hotchkiss, who’s consulted with 27 different denominations (and counting…) says ineffective church boards are too common, but the good news is that many of them can be fixed.
I first heard about Dan’s work when someone recommended his outstanding book Governance and Ministry. After reading it I knew I had to interview him. In this interview Dan walks us through the basics of how to identify an ineffective board and how to begin to fix it. I took away a number of tips, you may also.
Watch the Full Program
Rather Listen? Click here for the mp3.
Church governance is about deciding what the primary direction of the faith community is while church ministry is about actively working to get the congregation there. Dan says too many churches don’t keep to this distinction, suffer from disorganization, delegate poorly, and fail to be as effective as they could be. But he also says there’s hope. Here are my notes from the interview:
Is Your Board Ineffective?
Sure fire signs are: is it difficult to have an original idea? Is it hard to recruit new members? Is it hard to recruit younger members? The work of a board is not to maintain an institution, but to reflect the mission.
Downsize Your Church Board
Dan says the most effective size of a church board is 7 members. Larger boards encourage passivity and fuel disengagement. Effective boards actively engage everyone in the work.
How to Change an Ineffective Governance Structure
Steps include: admitting the problem, understanding it is not a technical fix, and asking the right kinds of questions – the ones that will have to be answered in 5 years.
About Dan Hotchkiss
Educated at Oberlin College and Harvard, the Reverend Dan Hotchkiss served congregations for 12 years and the Unitarian Universalist Association for seven. He has been a full-time Alban consultant since 2001 and has consulted with hundreds of churches and synagogues across the American religious spectrum on a wide variety of issues. His areas of special interest include strategic and financial planning, congregational governance, clergy leadership, and social justice ministries. His is also a highly-successful Alban author and seminar presenter, including leading “Shaping Holy Conversations,” the Alban seminar on planning and “Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership.”
Sponsors I Mentioned
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