Author: Paul Campey
What happens in our decision-making in between those “book-end” prayers may or may not be glorifying to God and I sometimes wonder if we have even sought out what God would have us do, rather than just us asking Him to bless what we have decided to do.
– Paul Campey
One of the challenges for boards of Christian organisations, whether they be churches, Christian schools or some other type of Christian ministry, is the ever increasing compliance load they face. The need to undertake major compliance work tends to reduce the time in board meetings that boards spend on strategic discussions, but more importantly it tends to crowd out the active seeking of God in decision-making and the key part that discernment plays in the governance of a Christian organisation.
Our firm does a lot of work with Christian schools. The modern Christian schooling movement began with the desire, among other things, to see Christ as central in all aspects of the school’s governance, leadership and operations. This is common to almost all Christian based organisations we work with. In those early years, when resources were scarce and the very viability of the schools were threatened, there was perhaps a greater sense of mission and heavy reliance on God to come through for the school. There were limited options the board and school leadership could do in their circumstances, other than to pray and seek God’s guidance and help on issues they faced. Perhaps with time, greater resources and seeking to be “more professional” in our board work, we have pushed God to the edges.
It has been interesting to observe from many years of going to all sorts of ministry board meetings, that generally the spiritual aspects of a board meeting tend to be relegated to a brief prayer and devotion at the start of the meeting and a brief prayer at the end of the meeting. What happens in our decision-making in between those “book-end” prayers may or may not be glorifying to God and I sometimes wonder if we have even sought out what God would have us do, rather than just us asking Him to bless what we have decided to do. I will be the first to admit that I have been involved in many such meetings and have also been someone who has led those meetings.
Australia’s Christian Management Advancement Standards Council simply put it in their nine “principles of ministry governance”. Their number one principle is “God first”. The list then goes on to talk about governance, finances, accountability and so on; things that we tend to concentrate on for board improvement and operations. Don’t get me wrong; all these subsequent things are important, but I believe there is a tendency for boards to skip over the first point – putting God first.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
– Romans 12:12 NIV
Romans 12:2 is a verse that many of us are familiar with in respect of the transforming of our minds, though we should not forget the second part of the verse; it is so that we can discern what the will of God is for us. This is for us as individuals but also for us corporately.
So, what does all this mean if you are on the board of a Christian organisation? What do we need to do about it? I am personally challenged to seek change in a number of areas:
1. Spend more time reading the papers before the Board meeting as well as thinking and praying about the matters we need to work through as a board. This needs to include significant time listening to what God sees as important, not just what I can work out on my own.