Friday, September 21, 2007


Advice. Who needs it? Well, you do. We all do. The Bible talks about finding wisdom in a multitude of counselors. But how do we get the advice and counsel we need? That is an important question. And the answer will impact your happiness.

For Christian leaders, one traditional source for advice has been the church board. The church board has also proved to be a good source of pain and suffering. Yes, you get the counsel you need. But you pay a high price for it. Is there a way to get counsel without the pain and suffering? Yes. Have your friends over for a barbeque. Yum. Let me explain.

You can get the advice you need formally, through a standing board or council, or informally, through an ad hoc group of friends. I say, get it ad hoc from friends. Just go to the people you respect and say, "I have a few things I've been thinking about and I'd like to bounce them off you. Are you free to come over for hamburgers Friday night?" In all likelihood, they will say yes, come over, give you some great advice, and go home. No fuss. No expectation of a "next meeting." No worries about a secretary, agenda, minutes, or quorums. No political posturing. No trying to get people on or off the board. No meetings before the meeting, or after the meeting. No misunderstandings about who is leading the church. Just good, simple feedback. And barbeque. Yum.

At CTK (a multi-site church) our governance structure is different than the traditional church. There is a Church Council that oversees me, and from there the accountability is mediated through the relationships of the pastors. It is a very clean and efficient form of governance, and one of the best things about pastoring in the CTK network. However, there is an option for pastors to appoint a Local Advisory Council for their Worship Center. This option is stated in our bylaws, but personally, I discourage pastors from taking this option for the reasons I'm outlining here. When people are given a "position" or a "title" they can get a little weird on you. They start to think that they should relate to you as a "board member" instead of as your "friend." Other people start to relate to them differently as well. They are approached by folks who say, "Hey, you're a board member! I need to talk with you about something!" Don't put yourself or these people through this. You don't have to. Just have a barbeque. Yum.

Another option you might consider is asking everyone. Yes, everyone. What if you explained what you were thinking at a weekend service, and asked people to write you a note to let you know what they thought? Or what if you invited the entire church to a meeting at which you shared the concern and asked people to brainstorm it with you. You might be surprised at who comes to this meeting, and the solutions they might provide. I have found this limited-term approach to be superior to a standing board or committee. It gives everyone a chance to influence you, instead of a select few. There are not "haves" and "have nots" when it comes to power. Anyone and everyone can be part of the process. All you need is a bigger barbeque. Yum.

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