Maintaining Healthy Board Relationships
At our March 14, 2019 Effective Board Practices training, Pat Mazorol, the board chair at Transform Minnesota, and Carl Nelson, the President and CEO at Transform Minnesota discussed how to navigate all of the relationships and various roles of board members in their church or ministry setting.
Effective boards are the result of strong and healthy relationships between board members, senior executives, staff and members at churches and non-profits. There needs to be an intentionality around what those relationships look like, and setting up the proper roles is important.” -Pat Mazorol, Board Chair at Transform Minnesota.
The Board & The Executive
“There is an authority and an accountability that the board has over the executive/senior pastor, but it needs to be one of lifting-up. It’s accountability that makes sure they are performing the job, but it’s not one of criticism or critique. It is one of support and providing input where appropriate,” said Pat Mazorol, Elder Board Chairman at Wooddale Church, a Trustee at Bethel University, and the Board Chairman at Transform Minnesota.
Because the senior pastor or executive director is the sole person looked to for leadership in an organization, Mazorol said the board needs to work to protect the trust in the senior pastor.
“Part of protecting trusted leadership means that a lot of actions you might take as a board are not actions that have to be taken, but are actions that show support for the direction of the senior pastor,” said Mazorol.
“There is a healthy tension in board and executive relationships,” said Carl Nelson.
- The executive should be involved, but not micromanaging.
- The board should be challenging the senior leader with questions, yet supporting leadership.
- The board needs to be patient, but not complacent.
“Issues that have to be resolved take time; the board needs to allow time for progress to be made. On the flip side, the board shouldn’t be so complacent that they never pay attention to if progress is being made or if issues are being resolved,” said Carl Nelson.
The Board & The Staff
“All of the authority of the board should run through the senior staff or executive. The senior management person is responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly in the organization. You can’t have board members interfering,” said Mazorol. “A board member wants to do everything they can to reinforce the authority the senior pastor has over staff,” he added.
The Board & Church Congregants
The best advice Pat Mazorol had for board members in their role as church congregants, is to listen well: “be a listener so you can bring that back to the board meetings.” Mazorol also encouraged board members to speak with the unified voice of the board at all times.
“If you are a board member, no matter what precautions you take, you are always speaking to staff or church members as a board member. Always have that in mind and recognize whatever they are hearing from you, as much as you put disclaimers on it, they are hearing it from a board member. Anytime you speak and they are hearing it as a board member, there’s the danger that you are undermining the board or the senior pastor.”
Quite simply, the role of a board member is as a shepherd of the Lord’s flock.
“You’ve got to make sure you stay as healthy as you can in your role as a shepherd of the Lord’s Church,” said Mazorol.