Church board development training is essential to your church’s gospel impact
Dr. Bruce Hopler
Vice President of Church Strengthening
Church & pastoral health
I remember my first disappointing church board meeting as a pastor like it was yesterday. I entered the meeting excited to present big dreams, and the board promptly let all the air out of my balloon. As I drove home that night, I must confess that my thoughts about these leaders were not spiritual.
I was not only convinced there was a problem, but they were the problem! Did they lack faith? Did they lack spiritual maturity? Were they clueless about the vision God set before us? In short, what was their problem?
In hindsight, I was right about one thing: There was indeed a leadership problem. But the fault didn’t lie with the board. It lay with me.
I had successfully recruited a group of high-capacity leaders to serve on this board, but my understanding of their role and their understanding of their role were contradictory. Truthfully, we all had flawed thoughts.
I had ambitious visions and dreams. That ambition was good because it kept us moving beyond our comfort zone and helped us grow beyond barriers. The problem is that without structure ― things like policies and procedures ― it could become reckless and downright destructive.
On the other hand, many of my board members saw the critical need for order and financial stability. Otherwise, we would quickly become a sinking ship. The downside was that they often preferred the safe harbors with the least conflict and challenges.
The great irony was that despite the tension, we knew we needed and respected each other.
The board members longed to go places for the kingdom of God. I, despite my adventurous spirit, longed for a healthy organization. We would not get very far without each other.
How differing perspectives led to confusion ― and the need for proper training
Everyone on my board was a godly leader. They agreed to serve because they cared about the church and wanted the church body to be in the heart of God’s will. But we all had a radically different understanding of what a church board should do.
Some board members formed opinions from their perceptions of churches they previously attended. Some were trying to reproduce what they saw in the corporate world. Some felt it was their role to simply put out fires, reduce conflict and maintain the property.
It could have been worse. A pastor from another church once shared with me that his board chair told him that the chair’s role was to protect the church from the pastor!
I had a much better relationship with my church board than this pastor had with his. But our perspectives were still all over the map. Nobody on my board ― including me ― had any training. I never even learned about this stuff while I was pursuing my Master of Divinity degree.
Seeing the need to bring clarity, the board started studying all sorts of resources: the Bible, books about church boards, Christian leadership books, and secular leadership books. Whatever we could get our hands on, we read. Doing so helped some, yet I still found myself yearning for more.
That epiphany of needing more training took place in my life 27 years ago. It also sparked my passion for helping churches and pastors grow stronger. That passion eventually led me to Converge, where we help strengthen and equip church leaders.
Healthy churches are led by healthy leaders, so Converge works tirelessly to help them maximize their God-given potential to fulfill their mission.
Church health flows directly from the board’s spiritual effectiveness. Pouring into church boards is crucial to growing God’s kingdom through the church.
Unfortunately, church board leadership has not changed much in the past 27 years. There are still great books out there; better ones, in fact, than what I had access to years ago. But in today’s technological world, we can do better.
And so, we are.
New, free training to help your church board maximize effectiveness
The first time I met Converge North Central vice president Jonathan Dahl, I couldn’t help but to become even more passionate about helping to strengthen churches and their boards. When I asked Jonathan what energizes him, his response was simple and emphatic: “Healthy boards.”
Since then, Jonathan and I have worked alongside Converge regional church strengthening champions and several Converge regional presidents to think outside the box regarding church board development. Together, this team developed real-world training on topics to which almost every church board can relate, no matter the church’s structure.
Every church board has its own theological, philosophical, structural and ecclesiastical nuances that make it unique. But 85% of what every board discusses is very similar. So, this training focuses less on churches’ differences and more on common decisions all church boards must consider.
Discussion questions for your board members to work through together
Resources to help your team build o what they learned and discussed
An expert on each module’s primary topic will lead your board through the modules. These experts include Converge regional leaders, Converge pastors and Converge church leaders.
Board members will have personal login information, so your board can decide to watch the videos together or individually before they come together for further discussion and to determine if action is required. There is also an online message board your team can use for discussion when you are not together.
With an investment of about 30 minutes per month, your board can become more unified and effective ― and better help your church members lead more people into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. And ultimately, that is why your church exists.
Give your board the tools it needs to thrive and lead well. If you’re ready to get started or want to learn more, take the next step.
Dr. Bruce Hopler, Vice President of Church Strengthening
Dr. Bruce Hopler has been coaching pastors and church planters for over 20 years. He now serves as the executive director of Church Strengthening at Converge. Bruce started a church in Maryland against all odds with no core group and no upfront funding, but it has grown for 18 years. He then moved to Las Vegas, where he was the Spiritual Formation pastor for the eighth-fastest growing church in America. During his time in Vegas Bruce completed his doctorate in spiritual formation and leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary. After four years there, he moved to Orlando to join Converge. Bruce loves planters and pastors. He has been certified in StratOps, Church Unique and SOULeader coaching. He strives to help pastors discover what healthy means, within their unique calling and context.