How to Have Cultural Integrity at Board Meetings

The culture of a ministry is the foundational beliefs and values on which its relationships and decision-making are built. Godly leaders establish cultural consistency throughout the organization, even at board meetings.

The three cultural foundation stones at our ministry are:

1) honoring God

2) cultivating healthy relationships with each other

3) seeking God’s wisdom for decision-making

Anytime two or three staff members are in a meeting, we’re intentional about engaging with God as our Father, connecting with each other as brothers and sisters in Jesus, and discerning the Spirit’s plans for the ministry. It keeps us aligned with God. It’s invigorating for us. And it’s powerful for the ministry.

If you’ve read my blogs, you know that we’re proactive about engaging in our culture at board meetings as well. (5 Keys to Productive & Enjoyable Board Meetings, How to Take the Bored out of Board Meetings, Freshly Baked Bread at Board Meetings.)

These “Family Times” have primarily been staff-led—probably because it’s the world we live and function in, and it’s easy for us to carry it into board meetings. But recently, God impressed on us the importance of board members taking a turn. That way each person’s gifting and relationship with the Lord can influence these meaningful times together.

4 Steps for Inviting Board Leadership in Ministry Culture

  • Discuss it with the board chairperson. Anytime you sense a new thrust for board meetings, you’ll want to talk about it privately with your board chairperson to seek his or her perspective.
  • Share it with the full board. When you and your board chairperson come to an agreement, decide who will communicate it to the rest of the board members at the next meeting. Explain the value of having each person take a turn leading your board in an intentional time of engaging in your organization’s culture.
  • Give direction for culture infusion. While your board members have likely experienced your culture at board meetings, it’s different to be in the driver’s seat. Talk through a few guidelines regarding purpose, types of activities, and time frame.
  • Create a schedule. Map out a sequence of who will provide leadership for the culture activity over the next year. Include yourself and staff members who participate in board meetings. A week before the meeting, send a simple reminder to the person who’s leading.

For organizational culture to have integrity, it must be actively engaged in throughout your organization. Mentally comb through the various groupings of people in your organization—from volunteers, to staff, to board members—and assess the healthiness of the culture at each level. If you detect gaps or weak areas, work toward strengthening them. Great leaders ensure that their organizational culture is systemic and thriving.

 

Describe how your board participates in your ministry culture at board meetings. Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.

 

 

THE SECOND PRIORITY AT BOARD MEETINGS

It’s my conviction that the first priority of any Christian board meeting is to authentically engage with Jesus. The second is like it—to actively uphold the ministry’s mission at each meeting. Instead of assuming our mission is central at board meetings, let’s make it so.

As leaders, we distill our board meeting agenda to issues that rise to board-level discernment and decision making. And while our mission is foundational to those discussions, if we’re not careful, it can fade in our consciousness and wane from our prayers.

The convictions of a board of directors will eventually become the practices of a ministry. Here’s how it rolls out regarding the gospel, for instance:

  1. God wants everyone to come into a relationship with Him through Jesus.
  1. Board members connect with God and carry His heart for the gospel.
  1. Board meetings include prayer and conversations about keeping the gospel central.
  1. Leadership staff provide ongoing inspiration and gospel-sharing training for field staff.
  1. Field staff provide ongoing inspiration and gospel-sharing training for volunteers.
  1. Staff and volunteers, with spiritually-prepared hearts, readily share the gospel.

The reverse of this list is also true. God will always want people to know Him, but it can begin to break down at point #2 if board members aren’t connecting with God’s heart. And again at point #3 if the gospel doesn’t remain central. And so on. It’s a slippery, dangerous slope.

The mission of our ministry is to champion the gospel of Jesus Christ and the sacredness of human life through life-giving services, partnerships, and resources. Its two pillars are the gospel and the sacredness of human life. We keep them at the forefront of board meetings through focused worship, prayer, and conversation.

More recently, we’re including two new agenda items at each board meeting: 1) Gospel Focus, and 2) Life Focus. We’re taking time to discuss and pray about an aspect of the gospel and also the sacredness of life that’s current and relevant within our ministry.

How to Keep Your Mission Prominent at Board Meetings

  1. Write down the core components of your mission, the foundational reasons you exist.
  1. Talk with your board chairman about including them as agenda items at each meeting.
  1. Prayerfully discern fresh and creative ways to engage with your board members around these core components.

Board meeting priorities are much like the two greatest commandments: loving God wholeheartedly and loving others. When we authentically connect with God at board meetings and actively uphold the mission He’s given us, not only are we personally refreshed and re-engaged—God’s life can flow through us to the people we’re serving.

 

How do you keep your ministry’s mission prominent at board meetings? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.

 

 

 

 

FRESHLY BAKED BREAD AT BOARD MEETINGS

Nothing has quite the drawing power of a loaf of bread straight from the oven. The aroma finds its way to every room in the house, and every person in the house finds their way to the kitchen!

We had that experience at a recent board meeting – with the bread of the Word.

shutterstock_431089159

Our board chairman opened the meeting with Scripture, but in a unique way. He asked three people to read Psalm 147 out loud, each using a different version. If we were auditory learners, we were to purposely look at the words by following along in our own Bibles. If we were visual learners, we were to close our eyes and just listen. He encouraged us to discern what God drew our attention to.

The words of the psalm wafted through the room like the yeasty smell of bread. Over and over strains about God’s power, His sovereignty in creation, and His steadfast love cascaded around us.

When our board chair asked us to share, our responses were beautifully varied:

“The part about God determining the number of the stars reminded me of the astronomers who pointed the Hubble telescope into a dark hole and discovered 10,000 new galaxies. They’d been there all along; God had already numbered them. It’s incredible how vast His universe is.”

“I kept picturing God on His throne, sovereign over all creation and sovereign over us.”

“When I thought of the vastness of creation and how awe-inspiring it is, I was drawn to God’s emphasis on what He truly delights in – people – those who fear Him.”

“Yes, I like that part too, and how He goes on to describe us as people who hope in His steadfast love. So it’s both an awe of God and an experience of His tender love.”

“I was struck by how God knows the stars so intimately that He names each one. How much more does He know us and every intricacy of our beings?”

“As I listened to the psalm over and over, I just kept hearing the word ‘He.’ God was at the beginning of almost every sentence as the initiator, the sustainer, the centerpiece of it all.”

Having relished in our own perspectives – and now having taken in the insights of each other – we were full. Satisfied. As though we’d savored a meal of the choicest bread.

Our board chair invited us to pray about the psalm, about the ministry, and to share any new thoughts. We prayed and talked together, and God laid out a fresh way for us to understand our current season of ministry growth.

5 Benefits of Breaking Bread Together

1) Just as there’s joy in sharing a physical meal together, there’s joy in the shared experience of taking in the Word. Each person is individually nourished, but you’re also experiencing the Word together.

2) “Oh man, you gotta taste this bacon horseradish dip!” If someone said that at a picnic, you’d probably scoop some up with your cracker. The same is true for sharing what you’ve personally gleaned from Scripture – others can benefit from what jazzed you.

3) Just as a chef delights in seeing people eat the food He’s prepared, God takes great pleasure in watching His children partake of His Word.

4) Sharing a meal of the Word together at a board meeting provides fresh inspiration for the rest of the board meeting.

5) God’s Word is a light to our path, and God will often give new direction and perspective for the ministry when you seek Him through His Word.

Just like we each have a favorite type of bread, we may have a favorite way of taking in God’s Word. Let’s break out of the mold and try the pumpernickel! Let’s ask God for creative new ways to feast with others on the Bread of Life. There are countless ways to take in God’s Word together – and limitless benefits.

 

What’s one way you’ve spent time in the Word with your teams? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.

THE BENEFITS OF MORE THAN ONE STAFFER ATTENDING BOARD MEETINGS

If you’re a senior leader who attends board meetings solo, I may have just ruffled your feathers. But hear me out. As a senior leader myself, I know I play a unique role in our organization, but I also know I’m not the end-all. In fact, by God’s design, each of our giftings is accompanied by built-in limitations. We need each other, and we’re better together. Here’s why I think having appropriate staffers participate in board meetings is healthy for your organization.

shutterstock_81658438

I’ve lived it both ways. Early on in ministry, I served at a small non-profit with a handful of staffers. The director represented the ministry at board meetings, and for a season all seemed well.

WHY BOARD RETREATS ARE MOMENTUM-BUILDERS FOR MINISTRIES

Let’s be honest. Most of us don’t jump for joy at the thought of scheduling a board retreat. As leaders, we’re reluctant to add one more responsibility to our calendars. Plus, since most board members work weekdays, retreats are usually held on cherished Saturdays. But despite the additional time commitment, board retreats are one of the best ways to foster momentum and growth within your organization.

shutterstock_234372361

When I reflect on 30 years of ministry and 30 years of bi-annual board retreats, some great memories come to mind.

5 KEYS TO PRODUCTIVE AND ENJOYABLE BOARD MEETINGS

Be honest. Would you dance a little jig if this month’s board meeting got cancelled? Many of us would. Between conflict and monopolizing personalities, wrenched gears and spinning wheels – we can find ourselves longing for an all-new Dream Team board. But what if it’s not so much the individuals on your board as their mindset? Having a shared mindset of “Jesus in your midst” will absolutely revolutionize your board meetings.

shutterstock_79764832

I’ll never forget the first time we attempted to acknowledge Jesus’ presence at a board meeting. 

HOW TO TAKE THE BORED OUT OF BOARD MEETINGS

Raise your hand if you’ve been bored at a board meeting. As a leader, your hand is likely in the air. You’ve had the blessing and bane of sitting through more of these meetings than most. Meant to be inspiring and direction-setting, board meetings can be boring, frustratingly long, and unproductive. What if there’s an entirely different way to run them that’s refreshing to members and life-giving to the entity you’re serving? There is!

shutterstock_226425211

Have You Christianized a Secular Board Meeting?

In the early years of our ministry we fell into the trap of modeling board meetings after their secular counterpart – with the add-on of opening and closing prayer.