April 14, 2024


How does one prepare to become a board member of a house of worship? Also, what qualifications must those appointed or elected to govern America’s houses of worship have?

Most pastors undergo years of seminary training before entering the field of ministering to a congregation. They study theology, history, ancient texts from their faith traditions, philosophy, homosexuality, and pastoral care, among many other classes. They gain wisdom by being appointed to lead the congregation. Yet, when it comes to serving on a council or board, volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds with expertise in different areas of employment.

Most boards allocate funds for clergy and professional staff to receive professional development. Boards send them to conferences with their colleagues and to special events to work on enhancing their skills. Yet, how many congregations prioritize board development? How many boards offer retreats and other programs to strengthen the skill sets of our volunteer leaders? Should boards of faith communities invest time and resources in training future leaders of the church, synagogue or mosque?

In addition to maintaining the financial stability of the congregation, board members have other major duties towards their religious communities. They are role models and not much different from their spiritual leaders. They, too, are considered problem solvers, and, most importantly, they are charged with the greatest challenge of all, which is to maintain peace in God’s vineyards. We live in a world where the word politics is almost a profane word. In a house of worship, we like to believe that we are above those types of battlefields. The truth is the opposite, as the most political places may be in houses of worship. This may be one reason why the largest sect of followers in America remains unaffiliated in our ranks.

Boards that work on their skills at creating shalom within their communities and that can demonstrate that they are not a toxic congregation are more successful and attract new and dedicated members to their faith. The difference today is that people are not afraid to move away from those communities, as may have been the case for decades.

My congregation’s board of trustees recently had a retreat, and it was truly humbling to see everyone, including me, practicing toward manifesting their intentions and dreams for what the congregation could become. . With the guidance of a professional facilitator, we divided ourselves into small groups and focused on topics such as finance, membership and communications. The best part was stepping away from that board conference table and breaking down those barriers to discover new ideas, knowing that we are all equal and valuable to the well-being of the congregation. Not judging other people and welcoming new ideas was the theme of the day.

Professional development helps build trust and mutual respect among directors. Feeling that sense of camaraderie, and even having fun together, let alone enjoying lunch and just hanging out with each other, goes a long way toward establishing team spirit. That’s what boards need to be effective.

On today’s boards, we have trustees from business, law, education, mental health and medicine, just to name a few. Some people think that a congregation is a business and should be run that way. Others see it as a spiritual space and emphasize the specifics of religion as the guiding force over standard operating procedures in the business model. And then there are others who see how the value of financial integrity and spiritual mission should fit together and compliment each other. Being able to take a break from the daily work of building and managing a faith community to work on the bigger picture and identify issues important to the congregation makes board members more effective and benefits the congregation in the long run. .

Today, faith leaders talk about the partnership between the clergy and the board. An effective board that understands the core values ​​of the congregation and appreciates the clergy, not to mention the professional and administrative staff, creates a more unified faith community. Similarly, employees who enjoy their work and respect the congregation’s financial obligations and its governance rules will also support the board. Together, the congregation can feel that unity, and it will be reflected in the way these professional and volunteer stakeholders speak about themselves.

There is a story in the Torah about when Moses became overwhelmed with the burden of his duties. The book of Exodus reads, “Moses chose able-bodied men from all Israel and appointed them as leaders of the people who were organized by thousands, hundreds, 50s, and 10s. They took charge of the everyday work ” To judge among the people” (18:25-27). Nevertheless, Moses organized the first board of directors for a new faith tradition. Despite God’s instructions and presence during his journey toward the Promised Land, Moses eventually realized that he needed help to take care of the daily concerns of the people.

Today’s men and women who serve and lead on boards of directors best serve their faith when they develop the skills necessary to sustain their houses of worship. To secure the future the religion needs the best leaders it can attract. The purpose of board development is to train leaders to achieve their noble and worthy goals and, thereby, develop the community they work hard for and cherish.

Source: www.bing.com

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