Many pastors and church leaders see board meetings as a necessary evil. It’s a meeting that has to happen once a month, so I will just endure every boring moment of it and get back to the real things of leading a church or organization.
I’m on the other side of the equation. I like my job and am serving in my calling, and so I enjoy board meetings and look forward to meeting together with key decision makers as we guide our church to a better future. This is the one time a month that you get to interact with the people who help you make the best decisions and look after the big picture of the church or organization you lead.
Here are a few ideas I rely on to make board meetings times of joy.
- Have the right attitude.
Some of us are naturally more interested in meetings than others. It might help to remind us that this is the group of people most invested in us leading well and moving the church forward. This is a time to look at the big picture of the organization and people that God has called you to lead, and entrusted to your care. What a privilege and what a responsibility! Prepare for your board meeting with an attitude of expectancy, as you seek to hear from God together.
2. Plan it.
Do not show up to a board meeting, whether you are chairing it or participating in it, without preparing yourself to be aware and ready for what will be discussed and decided. If you are participating, review materials that have been provided in advance. If you are leading, make sure you create a clear agenda and distribute it to each participant. Think through, even pray through, the agenda. Identify what needs to be discussed at this meeting, and what could instead be addressed in an email or a one-on-one conversation. The agenda will also remind you of remaining items left from previous meetings and identify how the success of the meeting will be measured. I sometimes put a suggested time marker for each item so the rest of the board knows if we are on time or starting to spend too much time on a certain issue. With effective planning, the agenda can even include an end time.
Sometimes the joy is drained out of board members because meetings drag on and on with no clear idea of when you will be done.
3. Provide information in advance.
Make sure that all pertinent information is sent out to the board members at least a few days before the meeting. Be clear which items are for information only and what will be discussed. Send minutes, agenda, and reports to everyone so time isn’t wasted reviewing these during the meeting.
4. Personalize your meeting.
Take time to be personable. It’s okay to schedule time to catch up with people and laugh at a story together. Some leaders suggest having everyone share a highlight and something they have been struggling with. The business of a board meeting has to be about people, so make sure the people on the board know they are not just decision-making machines, but appreciated for who they are and what they contribute.
5. Focus on your vision.
When you meet, make sure that you allow your organization’s vision and values guide what you talk about.
It should be a rare occasion to spend time on issues outside of your vision. If your vision is compelling and you are seeing progress, then it will be exciting to talk about what is going well. If things are not going well, then take some time to pray and ask God to give you creative solutions how to move forward.
6. Celebrate what is going well.
Celebrate something every meeting! Celebrations help add joy. Do whatever you want. Get everyone up to do a “happy dance” or high five each other. Maybe you bring in a cake and balloons. At minimum, recognize the wins and celebrate what God has accomplished through your efforts. And before you move on, determine if there is anything that can be done to continue to build on those wins.
7. Prayerfully plan how to address what is not going well.
Often there are things in your church or organization that are not going well. As a board, you need to decide how to respond to those challenges. Ask God to help you determine if there needs to be some tweaking or a complete re-think. Sometimes a small change can make a big improvement. Sometimes it may mean personnel changes or adjustments to processes.
8. Always look ahead.
Your meeting should leave you excited about what is next. Your vision should continue to compel you to move ahead. I hope you can leave each meeting motivated and encouraged to keep going. Ask God to continue to give you clear direction as you move forward.
Joy comes from knowing you are doing what God has called you to, seeing God at work in what has gone well, and prayerfully anticipating what God will do next as you move ahead together!
I hope you have great joy in your board meetings.
Keep looking up,