Who evaluates the Board?
Great question! I mean, the board in a healthy church is elected to prayerfully ask 3 important questions:
- Do we have the right vision?
- Do we have the right people on the bus?
- Are we financially healthy (“The goal is not a balanced budget, but a budget that delivers the mission… budget is a means, not an end. The end, of course, is the mission.” Gordon Smith, Institutional Intelligence, p.132-133, 2017.
Our system is not a democracy wherein the elected board represents the people! It is supposed to be more like a Theocracy wherein these leaders, affirmed by their church family as Godly women and men, who have mature faith journeys (including growing prayer and Bible lives, are active participants in church family, have healthy home lives, and value listening, creativity, unity and learning) are resolved together to hear from God about His vision for your local church family. It is no little job to be a board member.
I believe that the pastor is responsible to help the board grow in every respect as a leadership team. I also believe that the membership is responsible to help the board grow (by supporting them with prayer, honesty, gentleness, and then voting responsibly at annual meetings for new members). And I believe the board is responsible to help the board and pastor thrive. Currently the Nominating Team can be of service for us in creating a healthy board, but otherwise there is no formal systematic process in place to evaluate individual board members’ effectiveness. The Board of Administration of the FMCiC has had this very conversation and have decided to create an evaluation process – one that would and should model healthy board life. Just as pastors and staff receive performance appraisals, we have decided to do the same. We appointed a leader who solicited from BOA members input into strengths and weaknesses about each other. It has been honest robust brave conversation that I am proud to be a part of – you should be proud too about the level of accountability. The leader collected the responses and sat down with each member individually to discuss the data. The leader then facilitated a conversation with everyone to discuss process and feedback. Let’s hear from two BOA members:
- What is this board initiative and why are we doing it?
- How would you say this first round went?
TAMERA: Establishing board evaluations was a part of creating an accountable, responsible and responsive system. Having various ways for members to engage increases and respects the diverse way we experience the freedom to do so. In desiring something that would help us improve as a BOA and get stronger as individuals in this kind of role, we agreed to put board evaluation in motion. To ask those around a table to pause and really see one another is an honouring of who they are and is to also recognize the unique way God shines in them. One of the abundant ways fruit could pour out of this is, upon reflection, to realize and build upon how we then can become interconnected, allowing our gifts and shadows to become invitations to come alongside one another and experience being united in our diversity.
I was blown away and so deeply thankful for the obvious work of the Holy Spirit in this process. I knew going in that its life would be in His presence. And He was so present! Our BOA table has been evolving into a safe place and this encourages us to bring our best, unguarded self forward.
JON: Most people are apprehensive about the thought of being evaluated and many of us have had the experience of evaluations that were less than helpful. When it was proposed that we do evaluations for each BOA member, I’m sure there was some discomfort and uncertainty over how effective it would be. The process produced fantastic results, many of which were unexpected. For me personally, completing each evaluation for my fellow board members forced me to reflect on the uniqueness of each person and what they bring to the table. I also felt a healthy pressure to identify areas for improvement that I would stand behind. These evaluations made me more thankful for my fellow BOA teammates and the gift they are to this board. It also made an obvious difference to our vulnerability and trust amongst each other. As a result, I find myself looking forward to my turn being evaluated and am actively considering how we can implement something similar in my church for our board. There is a wonderful and growing culture of love, respect and trust on the BOA that I believe can help set a tone for our movement and set an example for our local churches.