Equipping the Saints to Lead
Training the board is one of the most effective ways to increase unity and efficiency.
When Tim entered the ministry, he honestly looked forward to working with board members. Even though he'd heard his share of war stories, he figured his case would be different. As long as good people were elected and carefully discipled, he saw no reason why he and the board couldn't get along famously.
But five years later, as I talked with him, Tim wasn't so sure. Instead of partners, the board members seemed like adversaries. It no longer surprised him when even his best ideas were rejected outright. Sometimes he wondered if his board members understood ministry at all.
Odds are, they didn't.
They were sharp people and good leaders, but no one had trained them for their role. They had never been exposed to the unique principles and requirements of leading a spiritual and volunteer organization like the church. That was left for Tim and his fellow professionals to learn at Bible school and seminary. The layleaders were expected to figure it out on their own.
Tim's training, and their lack of it, caused them to view issues from radically different perspectives. They were suffering from what I call "educational separation." And with every new book Tim read and every seminar he attended, he slowly widened the gap between the way he saw the church and the way his layleaders did.
When Tim told me about his predicament, I understood. Early in my ministry, I had faced a similar situation. It seemed the more I learned about ministry the more I found myself frustrated with board members who had never been exposed to the material, much less sold on it.
Overcoming Educational Separation
Searching for some way to close the gap, I decided to set up an on-the-job training program to expose our board members to the same insights and principles I had been exposed to during my own training for ministry. But instead of focusing on the standard biblical and doctrinal themes, I zeroed in on practical theology, the stuff I studied in my pastoral ministry and Christian education classes.
Almost immediately, the gap in our perceptions of ministry began to close. Now that they were being trained like pastors, many of our board members started to think like pastors. Even when we disagreed, we had an easier time understanding and appreciating each other's viewpoint. Most important, we made better informed and wiser decisions.
Over the years, we've tackled a variety of subjects: church growth, educational theory, group dynamics, management styles, and the role of New Testament elders, to name a few. We've read articles and books by Lyle Schaller, C. Peter Wagner, Frank Tillapaugh, and others; and we've reviewed the insights of secular books such as In Search of Excellence and Megatrends. Also, whenever I or a staff member have attended a seminar or conference, we've summarized for the board any significant insights.
Training the board makes a difference—a big one. It's one of the ...