"What Can Be Done To Have A Better Working Board Of Directors?"

Rev. William L. Wooley, IUGM Executive Director

A Seminar given at the 1974 West Coast Training School And Bible Conference


I assume the subject assigned is asking us how to get the members of the board of directors of our missions more involved than they are at present. Therefore, I have a couple of preliminary questions that have bearing on the subject, after which the topic will be discussed specifically.

What Kind Of Board Involvement Do We Expect?

When considering board involvement, let us keep in mind two things:

  1. The board is the governing body of the organization.

  2. The executive head is the administrator of the organization. TOGETHER they are a team serving a constituency for whom Jesus Christ died, and they serve together for the glory of God! It is important to remember THE BOARD MUST NOT BECOME INVOLVED IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE WORK OF THE MISSION -- NEITHER MUST THE EXECUTIVE USURP THE POSITION OF THE BOARD.


Do we really want board involvement?

If the answer is "Yes," then we must keep two things in mind:

  1. It is terribly difficult for the board to become involved without assuming administrative responsibilities.

  2. It is equally difficult for the executive head to be a leader and not a dictator. In the limited experience which I have come by during my two brief months as executive secretary and in my experiences as district president, I believe I can say that most of the problems in the IUGM about which I have heard have involved one of the above. And, I believe it takes REAL MATURITY -- CHRISTIAN MATURITY and EMOTIONAL MATURITY -- for both the board members and the executive head, if the board is to become involved in the mission, in an appreciable way.

Why Have Board Involvement?

  1. Involved board members are more likely to be sold on the work, and can sell others with whom they have contact. Uninvolved board members are likely to be satisfied to play a minimal role in the work.

  2. The executive head and the board are partners in the Divine plan of redemption and reconciliation. A dependency exists between them. They need each other! Recently, as I visited with a superintendent and discussed some problems he faced in his city, he said, "I have concluded that I don't need my board of directors!" I can "go it alone!" How mistaken he is! He can no more carry on the entire work of the mission effectively without the help of a board of directors than they can carry on without him!

  3. As an aside, let me just say something about our relationship with our board members. Most of us, as noted individualists, have come to act as though we believe there is something weak about our confession that we cannot do everything, or we cannot do everything well. Not so. God has given us helpers -- and the board members should, and WILL, serve in this capacity if we share with them!

    Is it important to have a better working board of directors? Yes, we want board involvement, because it is vital to our existence and well-being!

How To Involve The Board Of Directors, So They Will Be Better Workers For God's Glory And For The Mission.

  1. Define responsibilities of both the board of directors and the executive head, so each will know what is expected of them, and thus, many problems over decisions will be averted. When responsibilities are defined, we know or can plan how best to invest our time and efforts. While I was at The Anchorage, the board of directors assumed the financial responsibility of the work -- and when funds were needed, they went out and got them! Now not all boards see this as their role -- and perhaps not all should be involved in this way -- but all should clearly define WHAT ROLE THEY PLAY so the executive head will know, and can plan accordingly.

  2. Offer leadership suggestions for board organization, so members will be used more effectively.
    1. Organize board committees, placing men according to their unique capabilities, i.e., the owner of a building supply business, a contractor, a plumber and farmer could be used on the "Building and Grounds Committee"; "news media men" should be used on "Public Relations Committee"; and bankers could be used on the "Budget and Finance Committee". This gives the mission the benefit of the services of their board members in the areas where they have proven abilities and expertise.

    2. Once committees are established LET THEM PERFORM! Some of us are impatient, and are likely to do what a committee has been appointed to do, when the committee often is more capable of doing the job! If we do the committee's work, they will believe we want them as a "figure-head" only. If we let them do the job, they will have a sense of making a significant contribution, and involvement usually leads to more involvement.

    3. The board should mirror (or reflect) the executive head in attitude toward the work, and in enthusiasm for the work. Challenge and inspire them!
    1. By having testimonies of those who have met Christ through the mission program. Show them their efforts are paying off!

    2. By giving them all the information to which they are entitled. Remember, as the "governing body" they are entitled to know all of the difficulties and problems involved in the work. Sharing them gives them the sense that they are really members of the team!

    3. By sharing your dreams and aspirations for the future of the mission with them. Certainly, one of the functions of the executive head is to "throw out" ideas and suggest plans for extending the outreach, improving the facilities, etc. As you share these ideas and dreams with the board members, they have opportunity to think through on the ideas, and make them a matter of prayer.

    4. By having specified times for prayer with individual board members concerning the work. While it will not be possible for you to have a time of prayer regularly with EACH board member, it is possible you can arrange to do so with some who are spiritual and are real prayer warriors. Share the problems as well as the blessings. They will keep on praying in their private devotions, and will keep seeking solutions.

    5. Ask God to help you to think BIG -- NOT RECKLESSLY -- but with much faith. So many board members are blessed by a genuine operation of faith that they grow spiritually and "hang on" to their posts as board members, and their interest and desire to serve grows. Some have no other exposure to "faith in action" and their hearts are hungry. Be a messenger to them by your actions, and let them observe you as you "walk by faith."

    6. In conclusion, DO GET YOUR BOARD MEMBERS INVOLVED! Not all can be involved in the same way. While one board member may find it absolutely impossible to actively engage in raising funds in a personal solicitation, he has other traits, talents and capabilities needed by the mission. Encourage each other to be involved in the way that fits them, and trust God for growth in your mission as you work together for the glory of God!