Behaviour will often make the difference between just being a church board member and being a productive church board member. People may know the rules about playing volleyball and participate in the game, but without passion, concentration, commitment and desire to work collaboratively, they will rarely excel and be productive with the team. Similarly a church board member may know the board rules, attend the meetings, and contribute occasionally, but this does not translate into productivity. To be a positive and constructive influence in the development of a local church requires each church board member to understand and adopt intentionally the behaviour that marks a productive church board member. Let’s consider three behaviours that will help any person become a productive church board member.
1. Enthusiastic and engaged: church board members serve primarily as volunteers. Time given to church board activities becomes part of their stewardship, a gift given generously. Many other responsibilities crowd the time available and often church board members face significant challenges to remain enthusiastic and engaged. Making time to read material before a board meeting, keep in touch with church life, educate oneself about board work requires commitment, an energetic giving of self. Being prepared for each church board meeting takes time and effort, but the results will be productive because good questions are asked, consensus is achieved, and the mission of the local church is advanced. Joy flows in the midst of such worshipful work. The church board chair and lead pastor together bear responsibility to encourage each church board member to remain enthusiastic and engaged in the church board’s work.
2. Generating goodwill: church board members are key promoters of the church’s mission and vision. They have many opportunities to speak discretely about the significance of the church’s work and build a positive ethos within the church body. A dispirited, cranky church board member can be a serious hindrance when he or she discloses concerns to the body in general, rather than seeking effective resolution within the church board context. Church board members function as primary advocates for the mission and vision of the church. When a church board member is asked about a sensitive issue, she or he can respond by saying "the Board is handling this and it will soon be resolved," without revealing confidential information. Church board business must be dealt with within the context of the church board meeting and the behaviour of church board members in supporting this principle is very important.
3. Committed to building consensus: each church board member contributes a unique set of gifts, experience, professional competence, and spiritual wisdom. The chair has the significant responsibility to ensure that each member is contributing to discussions through questions, stating opinions, and careful listening. But at the end of the day, some decision will be required. Productive church board members participate with a view to achieving consensus. As discussion proceeds they are praying for the Spirit’s wisdom, they are considering creative solutions to challenges expressed, they are evaluating the proposal carefully in the light of the church’s mission, values and vision, and they are checking for potential conflicts of interest within their own context. Consensus is not compromise; it is achieving a decision that clearly is in the best interests of the church and the Gospel it represents.
Productive church board members know how to behave so that their participation enables the church board to conduct its work effectively, efficiently, and worshipfully.