5 Signs of a Toxic Church Board

Church boards, when they’re healthy they are invaluable to a church, but when they’re unhealthy, they can be down right toxic. Unhealthy church boards have been a thorn in the pastor’s side for centuries. I believe they can be traced all the way back to the Bible. Wasn’t it Paul who said God gave him a thorn in the flesh? I can only imagine he was talking about a church board.

I’m kidding, of course. We all know Paul was talking about a worship leader in skinny jeans.

I’ve experienced both sides, healthy and unhealthy. Although I must admit when our church board was unhealthy, I was just a volunteer.

But that didn’t keep me from feeling the sting of a toxic board more than a couple of times.

What’s tricky about a toxic board is you often don’t realize just how toxic it is until you begin trying to change things.

Change always seems to be the catalyst for toxicity.

If you’re having a hard time identifying whether you’re part of a toxic board, let me give you some characteristics.

  1. They focus on the cost instead of the reward.

One of the most common arguments of a toxic board is the financial cost of change. Yet, they fail to realize the financial cost of not changing.

  1. They highlight the pain of a few over the benefits of many.

Many times change involves moving people from one position to another or replacing them altogether. A toxic board will often let a ministry suffer rather than hurt one person’s feelings.

  1. They exaggerate how good things currently are.

You have to say, bless their heart, because they truly believe things are good. Attendance and giving can be steadily declining, the roof may be leaking, and one of your Sunday School teachers may be sleeping during service, but they will still find a way to spin it into a positive in order to avoid change.

  1. They grab onto the one thing that might go wrong instead of all the things that could go right.

They will never bring up all the things that could go right, and if you try to bring it up they will find a problem with it. They will always focus on the things that could go wrong.

  1. They will try to undercut the credibility, authority, and experience of those leading the change.

If all else fails, don’t be surprised when they turn their attacks on those who are trying to lead change. Often that’s the senior pastor, and often the toxic board will win.

Have you ever been part of a toxic board? What were the symptoms? Leave a comment to let us know, and make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

Never Assume Anything

Have you ever heard the saying, “Ministry would be easy if it didn’t involve people?” It’s so true, yet people are the best part of ministry. We couldn’t do ministry without them, but people can be so frustrating, especially when it comes to leadership.

Let me ask you a question, have you ever had to have a conversation with a leader about something that you thought should’ve been obvious? Let me give you an example.

I used to oversee every ministry leader in our church. I was the direct report for every leader in worship, children, and first impressions. I loved the job because honestly I’m a bit of a control freak, but eventually our church got too large for me to continue to do that.

During that time, social media was really starting to blow up. So I made it a priority to friend all of our leaders, volunteers, and anyone else who I knew came to our church. I still do it today.

What amazed me was the conversations I had to have with leaders based on what they posted on social media, things that seemed real obvious to me that you shouldn’t post if you’re leading a kid’s environment. That sort of thing. I’m sure you’ve had to do the same.

But I’m beginning to learn more and more throughout the years that I should never assume anything because assuming tends to make a you-know-what out of you and me.

So, these are four things I never assume anymore.

  1. People Know What I Know

Most of the time, this one is my fault because I haven’t done a good enough job communicating something. Sometimes this happens because I forget, but most of the time this happens because I just thought it was obvious that you shouldn’t play football in the sanctuary. My bad.

  1. People Think Like I Think

People don’t think the same as I do. They haven’t read the same books, they haven’t experienced the same teachings, and they didn’t grow up the same as me. So, if I want them to think like me, I need to expose them to what I’ve been exposed to. This is why reading books together is such a powerful leadership tool.

  1. People Work Like I Work

Hand me a shovel and I’m ready to quit immediately. Hand me a computer and I can work for days on end. People work at different paces and different rhythms. Just because someone doesn’t do something as fast as me doesn’t necessarily mean they’re lazy, they just have different strengths than I do.

  1. People Act Like I Act

I’m always early and never late. If I see something that needs to be done, I want to jump in and help. These things come naturally to me but not to everyone. Sometimes someone seeing you do it will inspire them to do it, but sometimes you need to take a leader aside and tell them what’s expected of them.

I’m learning in life and ministry, my assumptions often get me in trouble. So, instead of blaming someone else, I’m realizing that often the problem starts with me.

What’s your experience with assumptions in ministry? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment, and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

5 Reasons We Made the Switch from CCB to PCO

If you have no idea what CCB stands for or PCO, don’t worry I’ve been where you are. It wasn’t until we brought in an outside consultant who introduced us to the idea of a Church Management System. A ChMS is used to communicate, connect, and engage with members of your congregation. Before then we had mostly been tracking members, volunteers, guests, etc. through a very elaborate Excel spreadsheet.

After meeting with our consultant, we decided to give Church Community Builder (CCB) a try. While we enjoyed having all of our info in one central place that anyone could access, we just didn’t feel like it was worth the money, and so we decided to look at other options.

We ultimately decided on Planning Center Online (PCO), and here are a few reasons why.

  1. Cost

If you pastor a small town church, you know the pressure money puts on the ministry. You just never feel like you have enough. So, while researching the options, I took note that PCO was 25-30% cheaper than CCB. That’s a significant savings when you consider that most church management systems cost at least a few thousand dollars a year. CCB also makes you sign a yearlong contract, while PCO allows you to pay month to month and cancel at anytime without a penalty.

  1. Pay for Only What You Use

PCO has the added advantage of allowing you to pay only for what you need. If you need a check-in system for your kids, they have you covered. If you need a contribution management system, they have that too. Groups, volunteers, worship, the list goes on and on, but you can choose what you use. CCB doesn’t give you that option. You pay for everything regardless if you need it or not.

  1. Planning Center Services

Our worship team was already using Planning Center Services. Services allows you to plan your worship experience, schedule volunteers, transpose chord charts and mp3s, import music from SongSelect and PraiseCharts, and allows your team to listen to the music within the program. It makes a worship pastor’s job so much easier and saves a ton of time.

  1. They Have an App for That

PCO is so far ahead of CCB in this department it’s not even close. PCO has apps for Services, Music Stand, People, Check-In, and Projector. The apps are free, easy to use, and look great. CCB has an app for Groups.

  1. Planning Center People is Free

Planning Center People allows you to store contact data, personal information like birthdays and anniversaries, and add pictures and social profiles. It also allows you to create workflows to follow up with guests, new volunteers, and more. Did I mention it’s free to everyone no matter how big or small your church is?

We’re just getting started with Planning Center so I’m sure we’ll discover a lot more reasons why we love it, but this is just a few to get us started.

Do you currently use a Church Management System? If so, which one and how do you like it? Let us know by leaving a comment below and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.