Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Dynamite Idea for Your Next Board Retreat

At your next board retreat, here’s a value-added exercise to engage every board member.

STEP 1. Three to four weeks before your board retreat, give every board member a copy of ECFA President Dan Busby’s new book, Trust: The Firm Foundation for Kingdom Fruitfulness. (Read my review on Amazon.)

Busby enriches our understanding of trust in four major areas—with a simple, but powerful premise:
“Christ-centered ministries with Trusted Governance,
Trusted Resource-raising,
and Trusted Resource Management
experience elevated Kingdom outcomes.”

Who sets the tone at the top for trust in your ministry? How is your ministry perceived by donors, volunteers, the media, and the public? Busby notes, “We ignore perceptions at our peril.” In his chapter on “Perceptions,” he includes a list of ten major issues that can lead to misperceptions (compensation, fringe benefits, intellectual properties, family members paid by the ministry, related-party transactions, and five more).

STEP 2. Assign relevant chapters to each board member—and ask each person to prepare a four-minute chapter review. (The book has 21 short chapters, plus a meaty introduction.)

Trust features more than 100 memorable quotations, including:
   • “A Christ-centered ministry that lacks trust is like a teenager running through a fireworks factory with a lit blowtorch.  It isn’t whether something is going to blow up—it’s just a matter of when.” (Busby)
   • “Trust is the starting point for all healthy relationships, the fuel for team ministry, and the cornerstone of group effectiveness.” (Stephen Macchia)  

STEP 3. At the beginning or end of each hour of your retreat, spotlight one board member and his or her four-minute review. (Mandatory! Set the four-minute alarm on your iPhone—and, perhaps, award a Starbucks card for stopping before the bell.)

Imagine the engagement! After your board members have prepared their four-minute presentations—they will have already invested, perhaps, their most serious thought ever on the Kingdom linkage between “trust” and fruitfulness.

STEP 4. Following each chapter review, if you have time, allocate two to three minutes for Q&A and feedback. (Trust me. The content in Trust will energize the dialogue.)  For example, in “low-trust” organizations, Busby warns that you’ll find:
   • Internal dissension. “Without trust, the office dissension machine runs at full speed—and divides a ministry against itself.”
   • Disengagement.  Staff work in silos and “they shift from joyful service to turf protection.”
   • Turnover. “When trust is low, turnover is disproportionately high—ministries lose the people they least want to lose.”
   • Fraud. “Low trust encourages a small theft; if they don’t get caught, they may take it to the next level.”

There’s much, much more, so read the book.

STEP 5. Before you adjourn the retreat, ask for next step recommendations. (The study guide on pages 201-204 outlines possible next steps.)

If you don’t have a board retreat scheduled in the next three to six months, you can still spotlight several chapters at future board meetings. I urge you and your board to read Trust. The chapter, “Christ-Centered,” lists five ways boards exhibit a lack of harmony including, “When problem-makers outnumber problem-solvers.”

Busby adds, “Trusted governance starts with spiritual leaders who deeply know God, seek to find God’s will, and delight to obey God.”

QUESTION: Max De Pree, a former seminary board chair said, “When things go awry, trust powers the generators until the problem is fixed.” Does your board have adequate trust to fix big problems?

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