8 Ideas to Keep Joy in Your Board Meetings!

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.

  1. 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,

Andy

15 Values of a Person of Integrity

Blog 15 Values of a Person of Integrity

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integrity

ĭn-tĕg′rĭ-tē

noun

  1. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
  2. The state of being unimpaired; soundness.
  3. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.

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Integrity is a characteristic that makes most lists describing good leaders. As you read the list of definitions of integrity below, evaluate yourself as to how you match up. If you want to become a better leader, with integrity, choose one to work on.

You are a person of integrity if:

  1. You are the same person in every circumstance. While we may act differently when with friends or family or coworkers, we should display the same integrity in every case, no matter who you are talking to, or what context you are in, or how much you have had to drink or how tired you are. Consistency.
  2. You are quick to acknowledge mistakes your mistakes, such as failed communication or broken promises.
  3. You are who you say you are. Your actions match your words.
  4. You are honest. Never surrendering to the draw of the white lie. Truth is a high value for you.
  5. You are a person of few excuses. You never use “sorry” as an excuse or to get out of something. If you say “sorry”, you also look at how to correct the situation.
  6. You are never satisfied with producing low quality work. You always do your best.
  7. You make the tough calls. You know when to shut down a useless endeavor, when to address concerns of team members, and when to challenge someone to do better. You do not allow problems to simmer.
  8. You do not throw others under the bus to save yourself. You take personal responsibility.
  9. You are trustworthy. If you promote a new event or project, people trust that you will do the work necessary to make it the best it can be.
  10. You want to be understood, not just heard. You learn how to communicate well.
  11. You are quick to give credit where credit is due. You never claim credit for another’s ideas or work.
  12. You respect people, whether a boss or employee, whether a team member or a client.
  13. You are persistent, and follow through, not giving up easily. You look for ways to makes something work, rather than an excuse to give up.
  14. You are ethical. You are more concerned about doing the right things than just doing things right. You do the right things even when no one is looking.
  15. You have a high regard for the standards of your profession, calling, and position.

I hope you measure up to these 15 values, if not, you might choose one or two to start working on right now. Leaders, let’s be people of integrity.

Keep Looking up,

Andy Wiebe

Book Reviews: Andy’s 2022 Reading Experience

I will be sharing a brief review of every book I read this year. Hope you enjoy and hope it encourages you to keep reading.


AQUACHURCH 2.0by Leonard Sweet

AQUACHURCH 2.0: Piloting Your Church in Today’s Fluid Culture uses the metaphor of water to teach on the church and it’s role in today’s culture. He addresses many aspects of church ministry, even chapters on “Risk Taking” and “Intuition” which most other church leadership books do not include. He is encouraging churches to be more aware of the culture we live in and minister in so we can understand how best to differentiate between places we join in and times we act counter-culturally. He makes a point of saying, “For leaders, not having a Web ministry is more than being without a calling card, not using a Web site as a communications and community-building tool is to have fumbled the future.” That is an appropriate message to the many churches who went to online service through Covid but have not chosen to have a meaningful online presence going forward. This book is a great resource for any church leader.

Leading Well When the Unexpected Happens!

We think we have a lot more control on things than we really do. We plan and prepare, but there are many things out of our control. We cannot control the weather, so it is not really all that unexpected when a picnic gets rained out. We cannot control people so it should not surprise us that people do things we hoped they wouldn’t, or don’t do things we wish they would.

Parents have hopes for their children but children choose their own paths. Business owners have dreams for their business but sometimes the market has more influence on how well they do than anything they could prepare. You plan for a big event only to have a small crowd because there were other more interesting things to do.

Most people like to be optimistic. We have to be if we want to make plans or develop anything. We have to believe that things well go well and get better. Reality sometimes chips away at that optimism.

So, what can we do when the unexpected happens?

  1. Pray

Too often we think that we need to find our way through a situation. We have worked hard on a project and want it to go well, so when the unexpected happens we feel that we need to come up with the solution. Instead, we need to remember that God is greater than any problems we come across. And God is never surprised. When challenges surprise us, why not go to God with them?

God will help you through it. He may give you an answer to quickly figure out a solution. He may give you strength as you struggle to find answers and push your way through. But God wants to be part of our lives. And if we are dedicated to serving God, then all that we do in some way should help to build God’s kingdom. If that is our goal, then the God of that kingdom would probably want to help us find our way through.

Remember to Pray.

2. Manage your Responses

An emotional response to the unexpected is not unusual, but obviously not very helpful. If we respond in a negative way to something that surprised us in a negative way, we are only compounding the problem. That is not going to help save the situation or fix what went wrong. Unfortunately, this is my natural response when a car darts in front of me in traffic. Maybe some of you can relate?

If we have enough bad unexpected things happen, when we get to that tipping point or that final straw that breaks the camel’s back, some of us give up. Whatever we were trying to do may just seem like too big of a task if too many unexpected things interfere.

Often it is our emotions that drag us down. We need to find a way to manage our emotions and push on.

3. Determine to Persevere

Some of us are resilient and continue to push ahead, looking for ways to overcome unexpected challenges. While some give up, others find a way through. Don’t immediately let the unexpected stop you from what you were planning to do. If your pursuit is of any value to you, then determine to find your way through.

These first three actions quickly lead you to the fourth one.

4. Triage the Situation

Good leaders will learn to assess the situation quickly and prioritize the needed response. When you go to the Emergency Room at the hospital, you are first taken to triage, where they assess your level of need so they can make sure that the greatest need is served first.

When the unexpected happens, you need to be able to determine the correct response by assessing if the unexpected situation needs to be dealt with first before going on with your plans.

For example, if you are planning a wedding and the hall floods on the week of your special day, you need to determine if the flooding can be dealt with or a new hall needs to be booked. This may take priority for the moment while you put aside the planning of the rehearsal to deal with the unexpected. In the same way, when something unexpected comes up at work or in your personal life, assess the situation to determine where to focus your attention for the best result.

5. Plan the Solution

Once you have triaged to identify your priorities, use that list to guide you through to a resolution. Figure out who can deal with which part of the problem and who can continue to work on the original project. Maybe part of the solution is to shut down your project or event for now and figure out how to reschedule with more planning in the future.

6. Delegate or Recruit Help

The unexpected often means that your time and resources are disappearing more quickly than you had planned. Can you hand off some of the responsibilities either in addressing the unexpected challenges or in the original project? Find someone who can step in to help. Don’t feel that you have to be limited to your abilities or that of your present team.

7. Pray and Trust God to Intervene

Continue to pray throughout the process. If you are a Christian leader, you have access to the God of Heaven. Our creative, miracle-working God can help us when we feel completely overwhelmed. I like seeing where God steps in and does the unexpected. I was just reading in 2 Kings 3 where the kings of Judah, Israel, and Edom were facing an army of Moabites. They thought they were hopelessly defeated, but then God stepped in. Water ran into the valley and onto the plains. The morning sun made it look like blood.

But when they got up the next morning, the sun was shining across the water, making it appear red to the Moabites—like blood. “It’s blood!” the Moabites exclaimed. “The three armies must have attacked and killed each other! Let’s go, men of Moab, and collect the plunder!”

But when the Moabites arrived at the Israelite camp, the army of Israel rushed out and attacked them until they turned and ran. The army of Israel chased them into the land of Moab, destroying everything as they went. (2 Kings 3: 23-24)

God can do the unexpected. Leading well when the unexpected happens depends to a large extent on how much you depend on God.

Keep looking up,

Andy

Book Reviews: Andy’s 2022 Reading Experience

I will be sharing a brief review of every book I read this year. Hope you enjoy and hope it encourages you to keep reading.


OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP – by Stan Toler

There are many books on leadership, and this little book is among the best. Every short chapter is chockfull of ideas and definitions and quotes and generally good leadership advice. Stan Toler shares great advice drawing on many other good leaders. In Part 1: Leadership that Motivates, he shares how to develop and share a good vision. Part 2: Leadership that Relates lays out the value of communication and how to best communicate so that you can transform individuals and organizations. A great little book.

Book Reviews: Andy’s Reading Experience 2022

I will be sharing a brief review of every book I read this year. Hope you enjoy and hope it encourages you to keep reading.


NO LIMITS – by John Maxwell

John Maxwell has written many books on Leadership. This one is on helping leaders expand their potential. He begins by helping the reader become aware of how they are and what they are presently capable of. He wants people to know they are probably capable of doing or becoming more than what they realize. He addresses seventeen different areas of capacity with the desire to help you maximize your capacity in each of those areas in your life. He concludes the book with this equation: AWARENESS + ABILITY + CHOICES = CAPACITY. If you wish you could do more, then this book will help you do that.

Pastors Are Staying Longer

Pastors seem to be staying at one church for a longer time than in the past. I have seen a few pastors who resigned recently after 13 or 15 years at the same church. How did they do it?

Let me share a few of my observations. Some, or all, or none, of the following may be at play in longer pastoral stays.

1. The Strong Leader

Leadership has been one of the main issues pastors have been told they need to work on to have a great ministry. There are many books and seminars and podcasts dedicated to pastoral leadership. Well, some pastors are great leaders. The congregation loves the pastor because they see how the pastor always leads with a strong vision and clear direction. The congregation see the results of new people, maybe their own children, coming to Christ and being baptized under the leadership of these pastors. The leadership board enjoys having a leader who guides them as a board.

This type of pastor appeals to a congregation that loves to do the work of the Kingdom. They flourish because the leader equips them and inspires them to move toward one direction together. This pastor understands the congregation and builds ministries on the gifts and skills and passions of those present.

The strong leader addresses issues as soon as they arise and deals with them swiftly. If there are relationships that are struggling, he will do his best to fix them immediately. If there are ministries that are having issues he steps in to resolve them as efficiently as possible.

This pastor will most likely be a “projects person.” He is great at setting up the right ministries so that the care for people is done in the ministries and programs of the church rather than through his own relationships with everyone.

2. The Strong Shepherd

Pastors do not need to have abundant leadership skills to stay long term in one church. I’ve seen some who remain at a church for years because they love people. They care for those in the congregation. They are at the hospital bed of everyone who ends up in the hospital. They might even remember everyone’s birthday and call them or take the out for coffee to celebrate. I remember a pastor with this gifting who remembered everybody’s name from the first time they attended as new-comers.

This pastor may not start new ministries but is faithful to continue to maintain the ministries that are already going. This pastor may not have strong preaching abilities, but the congregation senses his love for them whenever he preaches.

This pastor will generally be a “people person.” His ministry is all about loving and caring for people.

3. Be a Strong Adapter

I am presently doing transition ministry in one church that just said goodbye to a pastor who was there for about 13 years. As we have gone through the transition process, I have heard comments from people that the previous pastor was not the same at the end as he was at the beginning of his ministry. He changed and adapted, and it was a good thing.

Adapting happens for a few reasons.

a. The pastor grows up: If you are a new pastor just out of Bible College, you are likely young, and probably inexperienced. Some young pastors may have been very involved in their church growing up, or grew up in a pastor’s family and so have some experience of how church works. Others come to this role with little church experience at all.

If you are a young pastor, you may be able to have a long ministry at one church if you keep on growing. Keep on taking courses. Attend seminars. Read books. You might want to focus in on a certain aspect of the pastoral role that excites you, but keep learning. Find an older pastor nearby who will mentor you and whom you can bounce ideas off of. Make use of denominational leaders and coaches to help you. Be willing to listen to your leadership team. They have probably been in that church longer than you.

b. The church grows: If you are part of a church that is growing, the dynamics of church ministry will shift over time. When you have 60 people, you will know everyone. When you have 120 people, you may have to work much harder to get to know the newer people. You may need to add more small groups and add more leaders, so your role in equipping leaders may expand. If you grow to the point of hiring staff, you will again have to adapt as you are now leading a team, even if it is just two of you. You are now handing off some responsibilities to another pastor and trusting them to lead their areas well.

If you are in a growing church, make sure you keep learning. Go to seminars, take courses, and read lots. Look for someone who has experience pastoring a church that is growing and ask them to help you adapt well. Learn to increase your leadership team. Work closely with new staff. You may need to establish another level of leadership to look after different departments in the church.

If it is your goal to be a pastor who stays a long time in one church, then be the best you that you can be. If you are gifted as a leader, lead well. If your primary gifts are in the area of shepherding, then shepherd your congregation well. When you are in a church that is growing, figure out how to adapt where you can and gather a team around you to compliment and balance out your own gifts and skills. Usually both the pastor and the church benefit from a pastor staying for a longer period.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

My Must-Read Books

I recently came across a book titled, 501 Must-Read Books. I have no idea how the author came up with their 501 books, but it made me think: what books would I include on a “must-read” list?

I was given a chance to consider this after moving into a new house recently. As I was setting up my office I was trying to down-size my library. There were some books that would obviously not make the list, as I had an easy time throwing them in my “donate-to-the-thrift-store” box. Others made me pause and think about whether it was a book that I might want to glance through again. Some easily made it onto my shelves because they had made an impact on my life and ministry and I did not want to part with them.

Here are twenty-eight books that have impacted me, in no specific order:

The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living as If He Doesn’t Exist, Craig Groeschel (2010)

The Red Sea Rules: 10 God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times, Robert J. Morgan (2014)

Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas (1996)

Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, by Jim Cymbala (1997)

A Hunger for God: Desiring God Through Fasting and Prayer, by John Piper (1997)

Visioneering: God’s blueprint for developing and maintaining personal vision, by Andy Stanley (1999)

Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church, by Nelson Searcy with Jennifer Dykes Henson (2007)

Leading On Empty, by Wayne Cordeiro (2009)

And: The Gathered and Scattered Church, by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay (2010)

The Empowerment Pivot: How God is Redefining Our View of Normal, by Douglas A. Balzer (2020)

Divine Appointments, by Bob Jacks and Matthew R. Jacks, with Pam Mellskog (2002)

Who Moved My Pulpit? by Thom S. Rainer (2016)

Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend, by Andy Stanley (2012)

No Little Places: The Untapped Potential of the Small-Town Church, by Ron Klassen and John Koessler (1996)

How to Thrive as a Small-Church Pastor, by Steve R. Bierly (1988)

The Monday Morning Church: Out of the Sanctuary and Into the Streets, by Jerry Cook (2006)

Communicating for Change, by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones (2006)

The Treasure Principle: Discovering the Secret of Joyful Giving, by Randy Alcorn (2001)

The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblical Perspective, by R, Paul Stevens (1999)

With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God, by Skye Jethani (2011)

Red Moon Rising: How 24-7 Prayer is Awakening a Generation, by Pete Greig and Dave Roberts (2003)

Prayer Coach: For All Who Want to Get Off the Bench and Onto the Praying Field, by James L. Nicodem (2008)

Leadership Coaching: The Disciplines, Skills, and Heart of a Christian Coach, by Tony Stoltzfus (2005)

Transforming Church in Rural America: Breaking all the Rurals, by Shannon O’Dell (2010)

Don’t Invite Them to Church: Moving From a Come and See to a Go and Be Church, by Karen Wilk (2010)

Boondock Church: Small town – Massive Potential, Tony Warriner (2019)

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, Chip & Dan Heath (2010)

Every Man’s Battle, Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker, and Mike Yorkey (2000)

Those are 28 of my favorites, to name a few. Some of these have impacted me recently, others impacted me years ago, and I still remember being challenged as I read them.

If you were to create your own “must-read” books list, which books would you include?

Let me know in the comments – I’m always interested in recommencations!

Keep looking up,

Andy