36. Review Article # 2: T.J.Addington, High Impact Church Boards (2006).

9. Navigating the Whitewater of Change.  In his last chapter Addington provides excellent guidance on managing the change process. He emphasizes that understanding the process of change and leading the process well is as important as the actual change being proposed. Many fine initiatives founder, not because the idea is bad, but because the process to implement the change was faulty or poorly led. Pay attention to the process. He also acknowledges that people respond to change variously and so expect diverse perspectives to change to emerge in your congregation. He references Rogers work, entitled Diffusion of Innovations, and its observations about change and human sociology.

The section “what you need to know when you are going to suggest change” (206) is very helpful for any leader.  Prepare people for change by communicating well and often. Remember that communication is a two-way street — you need to listen. Always relate significant change to mission accomplishment. In other words people need to see how this change will enable them to achieve something they value.  And make sure you have people praying through the process.

I think that a board’s ability to lead a congregation through change depends significantly upon the level of trust that it has developed over time. If you know as a board that a significant change is necessary, then try in advance to establish your credibility as a board as securely as possible. If people lack confidence in the board because of ill-advised decisions, then the board’s ability to lead the congregation to accept significant change will be compromised.


As I indicated in my initial remarks, Addington has written a very helpful resource for church boards. In my opinion it would be strengthened if more attention were given to:

1. Matters of trust.  Effective boards require immense trust as the capital by which they can work well together, with the ministry staff and with the congregation. When trust goes, effectiveness soon follows.  Boards and their leaders must do all in their power to develop and deepen internal and external trust, if they hope to have any success in achieving their institutional mission.

2. Role of the Board in pastoral evaluation. If there is to be effective “return on mission”, then a church board must engage in annual and consistent evaluation of staff performance. Without this occurring, accountability will be absent.

3. Role of the Board as ministry team. In everything that the church board does, it must see itself primarily as a key ministry team in the church. All of its work is ministry and if the board loses sight of this reality, it loses its ability to serve Christ and the congregation in a healthy way. Further, this reality enables the board members to keep their focus and motivation at a high capacity, because ministry is always the goal and desired outcome, no matter what is on the agenda.

4. The strategic role of the Board chair. The role of the board chair is critical in facilitating the effectiveness of a church board. If this role is overlooked and diminished, the ability of any board to achieve its potential will be severely diminished. The appointment of the board chair has to be seen as a critical contribution to board effectiveness.

Larry Perkins, Ph.D.

June 2010

[1] Consider how the major lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000),870) provides two very distinct options for the sense of this term in Romans 12:8. In this context the term is preceded and followed by references to the ‘gifts’ of encouragement, giving, and mercy. Leadership seems rather out of place in this context.

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