How to reboot your church board
If you feel like your board is tying your hands from moving forward effectively in ministry—or if your board members feel like you are tying their hands—there’s need for a reboot.

Written By Robert E Logan

Christian Coaching Pioneer, Strategic Ministry Catalyst, Resource Developer, Empowering Consultant : Logan Leadership
Just like a computer that’s been working for a long time, your church board needs a reboot every so often. They need to reset, get updates, and remind themselves what they are supposed to be doing so they can get on with the task at hand. The goal is for staff and boards to work together in coordination and partnership to move the ministry forward. 

Based on your experience with computers, you know what’s eventually going to happen if you don’t reboot when necessary: Complete stuckness. No progress on the task at hand. Significant levels of frustration. Viruses and lack of healthy functionality. And in the case of a church, sooner or later that problem will spread from being a dysfunctional board to an ineffective and dying ministry churchwide. 

So what do you do? Coaches can come alongside church boards to help them navigate a reboot. Here are the steps:

7 steps to rebooting the board

church board reboot

1. Review

Start by providing a basic refresher on the job of the board. What is the job of the board? 1) Set and update bylaws and guiding principles. 2) Hold senior leadership accountable. 3) Represent the core values of the church. It may also be helpful to provide a refresher on the roles and responsibilities of the senior pastor and the staff. 

2. Agree on the problem

After that basic reminder of what the job of the board is (and is not), then agree on the problem. Don’t be afraid to bring it up. Everyone knows something is off. You need to get them started talking about it. Try meeting with members individually as well as in the full group to help them identify core issues, take ownership, and repent where they can. (Hint: To truly be successful in these conversations, learn to ask good coaching questions, such as:  What’s working? What’s not working? What are you learning? What needs to change? What’s next?)  

3. Build hope

Without hope, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). They need to know they are moving toward something positive and achievable. Be like Moses casting vision to the Israelites for freedom. Because things have been hard in the past, they may have trouble believing. But encourage them by reminding them of the character and promises of God. Doing so has the added effect of helping board members feel good about the time they are investing–time they aren’t spending with family and friends or working on projects of their own. Cast vision, build hope, pray together for a preferred future, and ask questions to help people engage with that vision and that hope. 

4. Establish principles

Clarifying the basic principles you are agreeing to follow together can help provide guardrails for the journey forward. Even something as simple as the mission of the church can serve as a principle: any actions that aren’t in direct alignment with the mission are non-starters. Another example of a principle might be outward focus. Think of your principles as a counterweight on a scale: If a given decision doesn’t balance with the principle, it’s not the right decision.  

5. Complete a project

Start with a smaller project that can be finished within a couple of months. For instance, getting our sabbatical policy clarified and on track. Use this project to help them filter their decisions and actions through the principles. This strategy provides a place for practice, as well as an opportunity for a quick win and the motivation to continue moving forward.  principles

6. Create a new rhythm

Next, help your board members reflect on this new process they have used. Identify what worked. Admit where things didn’t work. What did they learn from the process? How can they adjustment to be more effective next time? What project will they try next? New rhythms are set by reflecting and then learning from that time of reflection. 

7. Foster internal accountability

From there, you can begin helping the board function more and more independently. Identify one board member as a liaison, and meet with that person between board meetings to provide support and troubleshooting. Debrief with them after board meetings to solidify concepts. Be sure to provide this type of support by walking alongside them through at least three projects to help solidify the new process.  

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