encourage the exploration of scripture
It’s past time to close the loop on this blog topic. So let’s recap. Having the healthiest and most effective board size begins with two board imperatives:
Blog #1 - Clarify the board’s purpose
Blog #2 - Recognize that group wisdom decreases with every member over eight
Once you’ve addressed these, take an honest look at the ministry of your church. Do you have enough leaders in positions of strategic importance doing direct, people-to-people ministry? There is a good chance that..
While most Americans are familiar with the commercial experience of Cyber Monday, few know its liturgical origins and its controversial inclusion in the 1552 edition of the Book of Common Prayer.
William Siber was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales in 1497. As a young man, his unusual height for the day (5’ 11”) allowed him to travel England with a band of minstrels as a crowd-gathering oddity. This is likely when he developed his passion for value-based pricing. After the success of his first theological treatise Perceived Value and The Parable of the Shrewd Manager, Siber was elected to Parliament in 1525.
Following his wildly unpopular essay 11 Percent: Rethinking the Tithe, Siber set his eyes on ecclesiological reform, fully convinced that the Sabbath ought to be observed on Monday. Siber’s position was influenced less by Biblical research and more by a French calendar he was given as a Guy Fawkes Day gift.
In my last post, I encouraged you to begin looking at the issue of effective board/vestry size by first establishing its intended purpose. What is the board’s first priority? Unless its primary focus is on information gathering, information dissemination, and/or direct shepherding oversight, most boards are charged with making wise decisions. These decisions could be spiritual, ministry, financial, accountability, or all of the above.
The problem with a larger decision-making board (above 8 members) is the predictable imbalance it produces along the “inquiry vs advocacy” spectrum.
Earlier this year I helped a liturgical church rewrite its bylaws and the issue of board size came up. Well, more accurately... I raised the issue. The board of this church consisted of twelve voting members, the Rector, and a secretary - fourteen people. Fifteen when the treasurer was invited, which was often. It was too many for effective conversation and collaboration toward their stated purpose. This naturally led to inefficient, intentionally infrequent, and long meetings.
START HERE: Clarify the Board’s Purpose
In last week’s post - the aptly named Small Groups for Small Churches #1 - I listed several challenges facing small churches looking to grow or launch their small groups ministries. Here are four advantages for those of you who lead smaller churches:
#1) One group can make a big difference: Simple math dictates that every healthy group at a small church will have a significant positive impact. Even more so if that group can replicate its DNA through growth and multiplication.
In last week’s post, I described a particular leader training tension which existed at my multi-campus church of 5000. Do know, I’ve been on the other side too. At my first church out of seminary, I was charged with launching a small groups ministry from scratch. Zero groups. Zero group leaders.
When it comes to groups ministry, there are several challenges smaller churches (under 200) face that their larger sister churches do not. Here’s a short list, plus one worthy of special note.
When, in 2008, I began leading the adult discipleship and small groups ministry department at a very large multi-site church, I inherited a leader training rhythm that included two yearly leadership events (October and January). Attendance at these events was a stated requirement for all active small group leaders. A couple of years in, I celebrated with my team after a particularly well-promoted and well-executed training event. We had accomplished everything we had set out to do. And with 62% of our leaders participating, we had even hit our 60+% attendance goal, which meant that hundreds of leaders experienced the energy-filled room, the encouraging leadership community, and our inspiring and practical content.
Only those who have mastered 5th grade arithmetic will see what we were missing. Question: was our event a success or a failure?
Early in my pastoral career, I repeatedly encountered a piece of practical “wisdom” that went something like this: When someone comes to you with a ministry idea for the church, ask that person to become the leader of the effort. Maybe you’ve heard similar advice. Unfortunately, whether this was meant for organic leadership development, the sane preservation of the pastors schedule, or as a simple rubric to avoid the pain of saying no, it was lazy advice.
When confronted with a new ministry idea from a church member, ask three questions.
Last week I proposed the following organizational shift:
FROM: Executive Pastor reports to the Senior Pastor
TO: Teaching Pastor reports to the Lead Pastor
In Seminary, I was convincingly shown that all three basic church polities (congregational, presbyterian, and episcopal) can all be illustrated with New Testament examples and neither is taught explicitly. As an ordained congregational pastor, leading in an episcopal church, after serving in multiple presbyterian churches... this still makes sense to me. Description versus prescription. So I’m not arguing that scripture proscribes this org chart model for all churches. But doesn’t scripture speak timeless wisdom into our church leadership decisions?
Many years ago “Lead Pastor” began to grow in popularity as the title of the person at the top of a church’s org chart. Presumably, the term replaced “Senior Pastor” for some well-meaning reason. Unfortunately, it was a change in name only. Few Lead Pastors - as their title might imply - operated any differently than their differently-titled peers.
In last week’s article, sparked by Patrick Lencioni’s The Motive, I summarized a common problem for the church: The most important responsibility of a CEO is staff management and leadership, but the most important weekly responsibility of a Senior Pastor (Rector, Lead Pastor, etc.) is teaching. This creates tensions for a dedicated teacher who is also, in practice, expected to be the church’s CEO.
Typical Solution: As a church grows, it will hire an Executive Pastor (or Director) to relieve the Senior Pastor of the responsibilities of leading and managing the church staff. Like this...