The beginning of a new year and a new month is always a great time to hit the reset button. In the church world, the beginning of the year is often the time when leaders are rolling off of leadership boards and new leaders are rolling on. This is yet another great opportunity to assess and analyze. Fresh eyes and perspectives are now sitting at the table to ask these important questions. What’s working well? What needs improvement? Where are our blind spots?
The very first analysis is taking a good look at the agenda used for each leadership board meeting. Typically board meetings following a routine format. How well is that format serving the purpose of the organization and the work of the board members? This sounds like a pretty elementary question, right? Yet, so many agendas follow a historical rhythm rather than a mission-focused, results-oriented, and asset-aligned purpose. The typical historical agenda topics typically include: opening prayer by the pastor, a list of reports presented by committee chairs, old business, new business, problem-solving, and closing prayer by the pastor.
To truly expand the mission and maximize the church’s Kingdom impact, it might be time to assess the agenda of the leadership board. The leadership board is the entity accountable for ensuring the church is living out its purpose and leveraging its assets in the best possible way for the mission. The agenda is the vehicle that provides the format and focus for the conversations, the exchange of information, and the outcomes of each board meeting. A leadership board can have the best of intentions, but can still be ineffective without an agenda which is mission-focused, results-oriented, and asset-aligned.
Following are a few tips to consider if your leadership board would like to expand the mission and maximize the church’s Kingdom impact in 2024:
- Eliminate the reading of reports at meetings. This is a complete waste of time! Any reports that need to be shared should be sent ahead of time to the board members. If someone needs to attend a meeting to know what’s going on at the church, you have a communication issue. Board meetings are not a substitution for a newsletter. Most reports are typically ministry highlights and the audience is the whole church and therefore are more appropriate for distribution via newsletter. Other reports such as financial and minutes need to be distributed ahead of time so board members have the time to review and are ready to approve or discuss.
- What impact indicators are being measured to ensure the church is living out its purpose/mission? In other words, what lead and/or lag measure is the leadership board monitoring every month to confirm the ministries, resources, staff, teams, and assets that are being deployed are actually accomplishing the mission of making disciple-making disciples? If they are, how are they celebrating, expanding, and sharing this great news? If not, how are they assessing and making decisions to course-correct and get back on track?
- Take a look at the topics on the agenda. How is the leadership board developing guiding principles to eliminate their interaction or decision-making from being a bottleneck from the day-to-day operational and ministry decisions?
- How much time is spent focused on who is already a part of the faith community versus how to connect with who is not yet a part of the faith community? To truly expand the mission and maximize the church’s Kingdom impact, a greater percentage of the agenda will need to focus on those yet to be gathered than those already gathered. This includes understanding the mission field the church has taken responsibility for reaching and being a church who is competent, compelling, and vital enough to do so.
- Who is engaged and leading the board meeting? The chair and pastor should not be the only leaders leading the meeting. Each board member should take their turn over the course of the year to lead in prayer, spiritual formation, leadership development, reports/presentations from work team assignments, etc. Having all board members fully engaged and committed is critical. Of course, these expectations need to be explained when they are first considered by the Committee on Nominations and then reinforced by the annual leadership covenant signed by the leadership board members.
While this is not an exhaustive list of agenda recommendations, it is a great starting point to begin evaluating your agenda heading into this new year. Which tip could you adopt first that might have the greatest impact? Start there and implement that one. Next month, choose the next tip to implement. Before you know it, you will have completely revamped your agenda and your meeting will be completely reformatted and your leadership board conversations will become much more mission-focused, results-oriented, and asset-aligned.