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Centerboard: The Well-Run Board Meeting

January 2007
By: Tom Lothamer
Judging by the responses I've had to this ongoing series, problems with pregnancy care center boards seem to be a major source of frustration for many directors. One director called to say that all her board members had resigned. They had been seeking their own agendas and lost sight of their collective role of leadership. As a result, board meetings were filled with tension, and the ministry suffered.

Earlier Centerboard articles have reviewed what role board members serve in the ministry. Board members are not the "bosses" of the organization, but servant leaders who humble themselves before the Lord and each other. The best results in ministry come when all the members serve together as a team.

Sometimes problems stem from members not knowing or understanding the principles of how a good meeting is run. Tensions rise when members feel they are not being heard or they can't trust other members. In the last article, we touched on the importance of prayer, regular attendance, proper preparation for meetings, friendship among the membership, and the need for each member to share his or her views in board discussions. The following are further elements to consider:

DISCUSSIONS—The board as a whole should have an opportunity to discuss issues at the appropriate time—during board meetings. Board difficulties often are a result of impatience with the somewhat slow and deliberate board governance style of leadership. The temptation is for some members to manipulate votes by discussing pet ideas, projects, or programs with other members outside the meeting. This type of behavior would violate the efficacy of board meetings and must be prohibited.



BOARD MEMBERS
ARE NOT THE
"BOSSES" OF THE
ORGANIZATION,
BUT SERVANT LEADERS
WHO HUMBLE
THEMSELVES BEFORE
THE LORD AND
EACH OTHER.


Prior to meetings, the chairperson should work with the director on setting an agenda. Board members wishing to add an item to the agenda should do so before it is published and distributed to other members. The chairperson can approve additional items during a meeting if two or more members present the items. It's up to the chairman to run the meeting according to the stated agenda.

The chairperson must also keep individual members from monopolizing discussions, giving all voices a chance to be heard. Members should learn to speak concisely and avoid bringing up issues that are not pertinent to the decision at hand.

Discussions should be based on facts and not supposition or emotion about a given circumstance, issue, or situation. All information that would contribute to the board being sufficiently informed and making good decisions should be shared with every member before a meeting.

MINUTES—Minutes are an official record documenting what the board discussed and what actions were taken at the meeting. Minutes are legal documents, not a record of individual opinions or incidental comments and discussions. They should reflect the board's due diligence concerning whatever decisions are made. Minutes generally include:

Date of last meeting
Members present
Members absent
Notation that minutes of the prior meeting were approved
Notation of reports that were made and whether they were approved
Brief description of what items were discussed (old and new business)
Motions that were made and final outcome
MAKING OFFICIAL BOARD DECISIONS—Decisions are made after a motion for action is placed on the table. While a simple majority is all that is needed for approving a motion, it is good policy to prayerfully reach consensus before a final decision is made. If consensus cannot be achieved, it may be best to table the matter—making it a matter of additional prayer—and place it on the agenda for the next meeting under "old business."

REMEMBER:

The board is a group of individuals that speaks publicly as one voice.
Each member shows respect for other members and works toward consensus.
What one member knows, all the members know.
No member brings a hidden agenda to the table.

Tom Lothamer is President of Life Matters Worldwide in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 



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