Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A Minute on Recording Board Minutes

by Michael Martin

When the board meeting draws to a close, days or years later, what you are left with are the board minutes. What do your organization’s look like? Are they hardly more than an outline of the agenda itself, an exhaustive script of each and every spoken word, or somewhere on the spectrum between these two extremes? Too many or too little details can make these records significantly less useful. What, then, should they look like?

A good place to start is to ask yourself this: Would someone who was not present at the meeting have a clear picture of the board’s actions and intent?

Board minutes are not only required, but they can become helpful tools for future generations of board members serving your organization. If needed, proper board minutes can also provide important legal insight into policies, intentions, and actions taken by the board. Sound board minutes can become a legacy as well as evidence of good faith in carrying out board duties.

Your board minutes are invaluable to your organization. Finding the right balance of what to include can be difficult. For more practical clarity, here is a sample set of board minutesHow do yours compare?

For more on board minutes, check out the video above and this knowledge center guide.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Unleash Your Board's Potential at an ECFA Governance Forum Near You

Could your board use an inspirational wake-up call? ECFA is pleased to announce a series of Excellence in Governance Forums, coming this fall, designed to help you take your church board to the next level.

These engaging and interactive sessions, being held at various locations around the country, will integrate biblical wisdom with practical governance best practices. Peer-to-peer discussions will dominate – not talking heads!

Based on ECFA’s unique, in-the-trenches research, observation, and understanding of the complex governance issues facing churches and ministries, ECFA will deliver fresh insights on governance topics – with a creative blend of learning methodologies.

Each one-day symposium will include content experts with new insights from three channels:
  • Research findings from ECFA governance surveys
  • Five recently-released governance books from ECFAPress
  • Hot-off-the-press results and statistics from ECFA’s new online board assessment tool, ChurchBoardScore.

We’ll also share what’s trending on critical governance issues.

The Excellence in Governance Forums are FREE for ECFA Member churches and organizations, and $199 for non-members (see special pricing for multiple people from the same church). FIND A FORUM NEAR YOU on the Excellence in Governance Forums webpage. We’d love to see you there!

Monday, April 22, 2019

ChurchEXCEL Top New Resources

With spring in full swing, we wanted to drop in with an update on a few exciting items for churches. ECFA has declared 2019 the Year of Excellence in Governance, and we are here to help with lots of new resources in honor of our 40th anniversary.

Because we believe that “as goes the board, so goes the ministry,” we are excited to announce a brand new self-assessment tool, ChurchBoardScore. This assessment is user-friendly and offers immediate feedback and practical steps for improving the effectiveness of your board. We invite you to share ChurchBoardScore with your board today.

Thinking ahead to fall, registration is now open for our Excellence in Governance Forums! These forums are thoughtfully designed with peer-to-peer discussions and insight form top leaders. With eight forums in eight cities, we would love to see you there.

For new resources addressing topics facing ministries like yours, join our free ChurchEXCEL community! All you need is an email address. ChurchEXCEL is home to a rotating library of free benefits, including Knowledge Center documents, eBooks, tax guides, and more, with new items added every month. We are passionate about helping churches excel in ministry, and it is our joy to offer these church financial resources to everyone. For those of you who are ECFA certified members, remember to log in at ECFA.church to access every ECFA resource for free at any time.

No matter your ministry size or role at your church, we seek to provide practical solutions and conversation-starting resources that are relevant to your ministry. In the meantime, check out a podcast, connect with us in person at a forum, or share ChurchEXCEL with a church administrator. Join us in making this a year of excellence!

Monday, April 15, 2019

How Effective is Your Church Board? ECFA Church Governance Survey

What are the best practices of effective church boards?

  • How much time goes into planning the future vs. reviewing the past?
  • What size is the board? Is the pastor also the board chair?
  • How does the board best support the church staff?

Dr. Warren Bird, ECFA Vice President of Research and Equipping, and the research team here at ECFA have recently released a brand new, just-for-churches survey designed to help church boards become more effective for their congregation, community, and ultimately, God's Kingdom.

The survey is tailored for pastors, board chairs, and board members to share their feedback on what "works" for your board, and what doesn't.

If you serve on your church's governing board, we would love for you, as well as your fellow board members to share your thoughts with us! If you’re willing, please take about 10-15 minutes to share your experiences on your church board, and consider forwarding the link below to the other board members to make sure they have an opportunity to take the survey. All feedback is confidential, and will greatly help US to help YOU and other churches as we learn what makes church boards thrive, and why.

Click Here To Check Out the Survey

We will give each survey participant a free summary of what we learn. Plus, as an extra incentive for survey participants, we will be doing random drawings for Amazon gift cards and other perks, so we hope you'll participate, and encourage your fellow board members to do the same! We are so excited about serving you through this valuable research.

Many Thanks!

Here's an easy cut and paste to share with others:

What makes great church boards great? Take the ECFA Church Governance Survey and you'll be the first to receive the free report with the results, as well as being entered to win Amazon gift cards and other great incentives. Take the 10 minute survey here: https://www.research.net/r/ChurchGov2019Pulse.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Lessons From the Church Boardroom – A New Book and A New Blog

Dan Busby and John Pearson deeply love the church and share a passion for Christ-honoring ministry at the board level. They’ve served on boards good and bad, they’ve heard tales from others, and they’ve immersed themselves in the literature of what makes boards work well. Their lessons, now brought together and shared in a new book from ECFA Press, Lessons From the Church Boardroom, are both tested for theory and tried by first-hand experience.

Lessons From the Church Boardroom will feel like it’s describing many of your own church board meetings. Disarming yet authoritative, enjoyable yet challenging, it quickly pinpoints an issue and then offers a better way to handle it. The bite-size chapters are certain to help anyone walk away with practical ideas that you can start using at your next board meeting.

In the book, Dan and John refer to the “church governing board” or simply the “board.” They are acutely aware that some churches have multiple boards, and that boards vary from church to church in both function and title. The book honors these differences. The 40 lessons shared will have meaning across denominational lines and within various governance structures.

As a companion resource to the book, which is available for purchase on Amazon.com or in bulk through ECFAPress, we are pleased to introduce a brand new blog written by John Pearson, along with guest authors who highlight key insights from the 40 lessons. Be sure to check out the Lessons From the Church Boardroom blog here.

We at ECFA are prayerful that this book and blog will serve as a catalyst for your church board to catch the vision for exceptional governance. We are hopeful that you’ll help foster a ripple effect of enriching boardroom experiences that honor God.

Like many, we believe that “as the board goes, so goes the church.”

Monday, April 1, 2019

Accountability for Large Church Pastors

With the power and influence God gives us, there is a responsibility to ensure that Christ remains at the center. What does that look like in practice, especially for pastors of large churches? It requires purposeful invitation.

In a recent podcast with ECFA’s Warren Bird, Matt Chandler of The Village Church talks through embracing the value of accountability in leadership.

Key to Chandler’s approach to accountability is inviting a “cross-section” of individuals from across the organization to speak into the lives of their three lead pastors. These men and women represent a variety of viewpoints and offer significant insight. This pool of trusted individuals sees their leaders and pastors in the thick of ministry. The questions and loving confrontations that result from these relationships provide the opportunity to address areas of concern. In this way, the senior leader is supported but also held accountable.

Purposefully inviting in people who can say “no” to senior leaders is essential. Systems of accountability prevent leadership and great decision-making power from being abused and misrepresenting Christ. For more about how to walk in accountability across the board - financially, spiritually, and more - check out the full Accountability for Large Church Pastors podcast here.

Monday, March 25, 2019

ECFA Joins Coalition in Call for Full Repeal of Nonprofit Parking Tax

In a letter dated March 1, 2019, ECFA joined a coalition of religious nonprofit organizations renewing the appeal to Congress to fully repeal section 512(a)(7) of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which places a burdensome tax on churches and nonprofits for the parking and transit benefits provided to their employees.

Drafted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and co-signed by a number of organizations of wide ecumenical scope, the letter seeks a swift response from Congress as churches and nonprofits face the task of filing the necessary 2018 documents to pay the tax.

The letter is addressed to Chairman Richard Neal and Ranking Member Kevin Brady of the House Ways and Means Committee, and marks the continuation of a campaign to repeal 512(a)(7), largely spearheaded by ECFA, which began in early 2018 shortly after the implications of the little known provision were discovered.

The letter acknowledges that while recent guidance from the Treasury Department on how to calculate the tax has “offered some relief,” the administrative burden on churches and nonprofits continues, and the tax will result in these organizations being “forced to shift resources from serving their charitable mission to dealing with paying this burdensome federal tax.”

Therefore, the coalition calls for a full repeal of section 512(a)(7) before the tax filing deadline for Form 990-T.

Read the Full Letter Calling for the Repeal of the Nonprofit Parking Tax Here.