Church board members are one of the greatest gifts given to a pastor and a local church. These wonderful servants of the Lord lift the arms of the pastor and help advance the vision and mission of the church.
The wise and discerning pastor is always intent on fulfilling the charge in Ephesians 4, to equip the saints for the work of ministry. A key group of saints of any church starts with the good people who sit around the church board table. With church board members, that equipping starts immediately upon the board member assuming their new role.
In this post we’ll look at the following ways to equip church board members:
One of the first components of equipping a new board member starts with the pastor’s development of a comprehensive new board member orientation plan. This needs to be done prior to a new board member being selected to serve.
Then once the new board member is selected, either by vote or ratification of the existing board or the membership, the pastor should plan to meet with that person immediately (normally within 3 – 7 days.)
This may be an extended time of meeting with the pastor and maybe another key board member to help the new member get up-to-speed on where the board has been and where it is going.
Be thorough in helping the church board member understand their roles and responsibilities. Orient them to be a team player. Reinforce the pastor’s need for the board member to serve as part of the team.
It is during this time that the pastor should set the bar as high as possible. The new church board member is more ready than they’ll ever be to do everything they are supposed to do in serving the pastor, their fellow board members and the church. They are like a new employee who really wants to satisfy the boss. We’ve all been there. This is a good thing.
Formally & Informally Equipping Board Members
Once the new church board member is equipped and fully on board, then the pastor needs to give regular attention to doing ongoing church board orientation. Block time on the church calendar for an annual board orientation, away from the church.
This would probably be in a retreat type of setting. Maybe make it an extended Friday/Saturday together; maybe noon to noon. I would encourage the pastor and board to gather together along with their spouses. This is a unifying time together for the leadership of the church to hear from the Lord.
Plan for that retreat setting to include a significant amount of time given to prayer. Certainly, there will be planning at this time away, as well as dreaming and having fun along the way.
At the retreat, the pastor should plan to cast vision. This can be an unbelievable time of building spiritual excitement for the future in the hearts and minds of the board members and their spouses.
You should use this time to refresh the board on roles and responsibilities. This fits under more of a nuts and bolts portion of the retreat, however, it is a very important reminder for even long-term board members.
At the retreat, it is important that the pastor have a focus on the philosophy of ministry at the church. While the pastors eat, sleep and breath church 24/7/365, the church board members generally do not. Board members have day jobs and pastors have to always remember that.
When discussing the philosophy of ministry, always remember to help board members stay in focus on the church’s world view, mission, core values, aims and strategies. In doing so, the pastor is helping individual board members continually align with the direction of the church; all a part of continued church board member orientation.
In addition to doing regular times away to equip church board members, the pastor should also provide regular, ongoing board member equipping. This is frequently done during the regular board meetings. Some pastors always allow for 10-15 minutes of church board orientation on the front end of any monthly meeting.
(NOTE: Want to know the proper roles and responsibilities for Church Boards? Click here)
The pastor needs to regularly teach, train and equip the church board. This can happen formally, as illustrated in the board retreat we just discussed. And it can happen informally. I encourage the pastor to make the informal equipping to be the norm.
Informal equipping of the church board happens over a cup of coffee, breakfast or lunch where the pastor and individual board member interact on all things personal and all things church. This is gold for the church when this happens.
Let me mention, as well, it should go without saying, but it is critical that the pastor prays for the board as a whole, and board members individually. If the pastor is serious about continual equipping of the church board, then prayer for the board needs to happen on a daily basis.
Use tools like the Church Board Track of training inside Church University (watch for its release late October 2019) to help advance the board as a whole.
Lead Pastor-Led Equipping
One thing we know for sure in larger and growing churches, and that is that the primary equipping comes from the lead pastor. When it comes up, “how to equip the church board,” it is that the pastor is the primary player in this equation. Others can play a role, but the pastor leads the charge.
While the pastor frequently is focused on the mechanics of the church board functioning as it should, it is critical that they also understand the need to invest spiritually in the board. Board members should look forward to board meetings because of the investment the pastor makes in them spiritually, both as individuals and the board as a whole.
The pastor should regularly help board members understand their roles and responsibilities, not in the sense of that they aren’t doing something right. Rather, that what boards do should be a natural part of conversation that flows well and keeps everyone on the same page.
The board needs to be regularly reminded of the pastor’s roles, as well. Train board members to operate in their lanes as board members and for the pastor and staff to operate in their lanes. Of course, always remember that the lead pastor necessarily runs in both lanes.
When equipping church board members for service to the church, never assume. Again, church board members have day jobs and frequently, the things we think we’ve made abundantly clear to these good folks, sometimes gets forgotten. Seriously… it happens!
So, what does a pastor do if this happens when equipping the church board for service? Repeat, repeat, repeat. If the pastor will do this, then the church board moves forward best in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities.
Board Member to Board Member Equipping
Now, an often-overlooked part of equipping new board members can come from board members themselves.
I encourage the pastor and church to build a culture of board members investing in each other in this way. The pastor will find that good church board members beget good church board members. It’s a fact of life!
(NOTE: Want to know the proper roles and responsibilities for Church Boards? Click here)
Do One-on-One Coaching
Along these lines, I encourage pastors to do one-on-one coaching with individual church board members. This pays huge dividends for the pastor, the board and the church.
Pastors need to pray daily and intently for each board member. Do so by name.
Pastors need to invest in individual board members. Plan to meet one-on-one with them in casual settings away from the church. Some church business can happen during these one-on-ones, but overwhelmingly it is time for relationship building.
Maybe plan to meet with at least one board member per month. With seven board members, that would take seven months. Then add in a full board summer gathering along with the whole group doing something at Christmas and great investment is happening on a very regular basis with this high-value group to any pastor and church.
Let me note here, that with preparation for any one-on-one, if the board member is of the opposite sex, then be sure to include the pastor’s spouse or theirs or both spouses. Make it fun and natural, maybe double date. This is wisdom on any pastor’s part to interact with a board member of the opposite sex in this way.
When you think of how to equip church board members, it is important to always build a culture of loyalty between board members with each other and with the lead pastor. This will pay huge dividends for the pastor and the board in the future.
Then again, have I mentioned that after you do these things you should never assume and you should always… repeat, repeat, repeat?
Use an Outside Consultant
When the church acknowledges its need to equip church board members or the board as a whole, sometimes it makes a lot of sense to bring in an outside consultant.
Outside counsel can be extremely valuable. Think of it as an investment. Business leaders do this all the time to increase the effectiveness of their teams. With a mission as important as the church’s, why should the church do anything less?
Outside counsel can help the church gain from the best practices of larger, growing churches. The pastor and church board can leverage experience of the consultant and of the network of other churches the consultant possesses.
When the pastor thinks of how to equip the church board and uses an outside consultant, the consultant brings horsepower to the lead pastor and the church.
Honestly, this is a very cost-effective way to bring training/equipping to the table for the average church. I mean how many churches are you aware of that have money growing on trees? The consultant costs far less than a full or part-time staff member and they bring great value to the pastor and church board.
When the outside consultant helps the pastor equip the church board, the consultant helps the pastor and church get to where it wants to go. Sometimes, the discovery of the “where to go” even happens with this help. Frankly, there is safety for the pastor and the church board with an outside ear and voice at the table.
If you’ve read this far, it should go without saying… but I’m going to say it. None of this works or is of any value without the lead pastor and church board seriously in prayer on the subject of equipping the board. It just won’t happen at the level it needs to without prayer. Period!
So, let’s recap some thoughts…
The best equipping of church board members is consistent and in that way is never-ending. When equipping the church board, growing churches know that it is done so as pastor-led and pastor-guided.
How to equip the church board members is spiritual and technical all at the same time. The pastor and board can never take their eyes off the philosophy of ministry or any of the ancillary parts of that philosophy; world view, mission, core values, goals and strategies.
Spiritually savvy pastors and board members understand their need to take advantage of outside counsel to help them get to where they can’t go on their own.
When the church equips church board members with these things in mind, it will watch God do amazing things with the pastor, the church board and the church as a whole.
I pray with you to this end!
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