When all is said and done, how do you as the board chair know whether or not your church board is being productive? Church boards get busy, but are they achieving results? Church boards process a lot of ideas and have significant discussions, but at the end of the day has the mission of the church advanced through all of these efforts?
Maybe its time for you as chair to do a productivity audit.
1. Take the minutes from the last 6 board meetings. Review them carefully and note the explicit decisions that the board made or specific directions given. Now comes the tough part — as you analyze these decisions or directions, how many of them actually achieved results, i.e. made a difference in the life of the church? What new ministry began, what ministry was transformed, what discipleship occurred through teaching, what improvement in serving the congregational needs resulted, what new evangelistic activity occurred, etc.?
2. Did your board establish some goals they believed the church should seek to achieve in this year or the next year? Locate those goals. Now comes the tough part — relate the decisions or actions taken by the board to the goals. How many of those decisions or actions actually enabled the church to achieve these goals? Of course, if the board did not set goals then you have no means of measuring whether or not the board is being productive in its work.
3. Did your board in its decisions or directions name who was accountable for implementing the decisions? Review the decisions and actions and note who was assigned such responsibility. Also note where decisions were made or actions directed, but no one was named to implement. Now that you know who was made responsible for implementation, ask yourself what reporting has come back to the board regarding the progress made in that implementation? How does the board know whether the decision or action is being fruitful, accomplishing its intended objective?
4. If the board made a decision or took an action, but nothing has happened, take some time to analyze why this is the case. Perhaps no one was made accountable for implementation. Or perhaps no resources were allocated to support the implementation. Or maybe efforts were made, but for some reason were not successful. Or maybe someone had second thoughts and so nothing was done, without ever reporting back to the board why. Perhaps leadership changes meant there were no personnel available to implement. Changes happen and so some decisions are still-born. However, the board would benefit from knowing this and doing a bit of analysis as to why this happened and what might be done differently in the future to prevent such things from recurring.
The church board chair is in a wonderful position to track the big picture of the church’s advance. If the chair is not keeping a finger on the board’s productivity, then who is? While this must be a collective board responsibility, the chair has to take the lead and encourage the board in this exercise occasionally. It will be a source of great encouragement, sober reflection, and stimulation to do things better. Presenting the results of such an analysis at an annual board retreat would provide significant grist for prayerful discussion and reflection. You might also discover that the minutes being taken for the board are not sufficient to enable such productivity to be analyzed. This in itself is a good discovery and can lead to healthy change.