health

How to Build Strong Staff-Board Relations

  • 24 April 2017
  • Randy Wollf

The growth of an organization often depends on the strength of the working relationship between its board and staff. Stephen M.R. Covey writes:

There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world—one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love. On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life. Yet, it is the least understood, most neglected, and most underestimated possibility of our time. That one thing is trust. {1} 

Trust is the foundational element for building a strong board-staff team. Yet, how do we build trust in this strategic relationship? Here are some ideas to consider:

1. Spend time together

There is no substitute for just hanging out together in a relaxed, fun environment. For example, in the churches where I have served, we have done board-staff meals and retreats. When I was starting out in pastoral ministry, my lead pastor would remind the staff team to make the most of our overnight leadership retreats by spending time with non-staff leaders. It was prime time to build relationships.

The primary relationship in the board-staff team is between the lead pastor and the chair/moderator. If you are one of those people, make sure that you meet with your counterpart once or twice a month (preferably for a relaxed discussion over coffee or a meal). Build a strong relationship even as you discuss church matters.

It’s also important to encourage or even structure regular interactions between individual board members and staff.

Relationships provide the context in which trust can flourish.

2. Over-communicate

Using a Rule of Life to Support Your Spiritual Growth

  • 9 December 2016
  • Randy Wollf

Plant growing up trellisOver the centuries, Christians have used a Rule of Life to support their spiritual growth. A Rule of Life is an intentional plan to deepen our relationship with God and to receive more from Him (e.g. strength, wisdom) so that we can love and serve Him more effectively.

In his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero describes 12 aspects of a Rule of Life. I invite you to consider what you are currently doing in each of these areas and then to prayerfully discern how God might have you strengthen some of them. You may want to use the Rule of Life Worksheet as you read through the descriptions of each of the areas.

Scripture

How are you currently engaging with Scripture? Perhaps, you attend a worship service at your church or participate in a small group Bible study. I have a Bible Reading Plan app on my phone that takes me through the Bible in a year. Some have found that life journaling is an effective way of capturing what God is saying through a passage. We want to engage with Scripture in such a way that we hear from God, remember, and apply what He has said throughout the day (see Random Order: Read, Memorize and Study).

Silence/Solitude

Judy Brown has said, “What makes a fire burn is space between the logs, a breathing space.” Silence and solitude can create these breathing spaces, which allow us to listen to God, to discern His leading and to respond wisely and courageously.

Prayer

I like to go on prayer walks each morning. For me, it’s a great way to get alone with God for a while. I will also periodically do longer prayer retreats (see Five Reasons to Go on a Prayer Retreat). Increasingly, I want to develop a lifestyle of prayer where I naturally worship, give thanks, and petition God throughout the day.

Study

This Rule of Life element refers to intentional study of a specific topic. Lifelong learning is so important for helping us grow in our capacity to serve God more effectively.

Is Your Team Turning You into a Better Person?

  • 25 October 2016
  • Daniel Beutler

Demonstration plotsHave you ever thought about how the team or board that you are serving on is influencing the person you are becoming? Wouldn’t it be an amazing compliment if someone made the connection between a given person and a board that you previously served on because of who that person had become and how they went about their life and ministry? 

In Acts 4:13 we read the following words, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Peter had just finished responding to the question, “By what power or what name did you do this?” related to the healing of the man who had been lame from birth. The text doesn’t specify whether they took note because of Jesus’s boldness and knowledge beyond His training or because like Jesus, Peter and John were a threat to their peace and seen as dangerous people. Taken positively, I see this as a confirmation that being in the company of Jesus had favourably impacted the lives of Peter and John so that others saw unmistakable evidence of it in their lives. 

By God's grace, we also have the opportunity and responsibility to lead and serve in such a way that we create environments for transformation in the lives of the people who we serve with. The activities and decisions that teams and boards make together is important, but the kind of environment and relationships they develop isn’t just a means to greater effectiveness. Who and how they are together matters. Sadly, there are too many examples of church or ministry boards that have the reputation of being powerful and effective, but their relationships and the environment they create doesn’t empower anyone toward God’s desires and purposes. However, your board or team has the potential to demonstrate the kind of community that reflects God’s nature and character.