1 00:00:00,000 --> 00:00:04,460 - Has to do with what I think is the primary role 2 00:00:04,460 --> 00:00:07,730 of a board and a congregation, especially 3 00:00:07,730 --> 00:00:11,045 a congregation with a clergy leader. 4 00:00:11,045 --> 00:00:14,900 And that is to maintain a positive and constructive 5 00:00:14,900 --> 00:00:19,120 relationship between the board and that clergy leader. 6 00:00:19,120 --> 00:00:21,410 I don't mean that they are necessarily are friends 7 00:00:21,410 --> 00:00:26,240 or that they necessarily agree about things all the time, 8 00:00:26,240 --> 00:00:31,240 although, some easy social time is a very important part 9 00:00:31,240 --> 00:00:33,810 of keeping good communication. 10 00:00:33,810 --> 00:00:38,560 What I mean is that the board is clear 11 00:00:38,560 --> 00:00:41,480 with that leader of the ministry activity, 12 00:00:41,480 --> 00:00:44,333 the head of staff, if you will, 13 00:00:45,240 --> 00:00:48,670 about what authority the board has given, 14 00:00:48,670 --> 00:00:51,090 what expectations the board has, 15 00:00:51,090 --> 00:00:54,870 what goals the church has that it needs 16 00:00:54,870 --> 00:00:57,730 to achieve through that ministry activity, 17 00:00:57,730 --> 00:01:02,730 and how that person is going to be held accountable 18 00:01:02,870 --> 00:01:05,743 for the use of the authority he or she has been given. 19 00:01:06,890 --> 00:01:11,240 And that clarity 20 00:01:11,240 --> 00:01:13,920 is the basis in the long run, 21 00:01:13,920 --> 00:01:17,340 for the friendship, the easiness, the creativity, 22 00:01:17,340 --> 00:01:21,330 the good conversation that is, that's really 23 00:01:21,330 --> 00:01:23,820 the basis of good partnership. 24 00:01:23,820 --> 00:01:28,820 There is a mistake that a lot of liberal congregations make 25 00:01:28,860 --> 00:01:30,780 which is to assume 26 00:01:30,780 --> 00:01:34,360 that the best partnership 27 00:01:34,360 --> 00:01:38,920 is created by having really fuzzy boundaries of authority. 28 00:01:38,920 --> 00:01:41,810 So we talk about shared ministry sometimes 29 00:01:41,810 --> 00:01:44,130 in a way that suggests 30 00:01:44,130 --> 00:01:46,450 that the last thing we would ever want to do 31 00:01:46,450 --> 00:01:49,580 is to be clear about what buck stops where, 32 00:01:49,580 --> 00:01:52,050 or who gets to make a final decision 33 00:01:52,050 --> 00:01:56,093 about particular things that can't be appealed to the other. 34 00:01:57,207 --> 00:02:01,150 But what I find is that in almost any area of human life, 35 00:02:01,150 --> 00:02:06,150 when people have unclear authority boundaries 36 00:02:06,900 --> 00:02:10,080 they approach partnership with caution. 37 00:02:10,080 --> 00:02:15,080 They are very careful about how they enter into conversation 38 00:02:15,510 --> 00:02:17,970 because they're afraid that they'll lose 39 00:02:17,970 --> 00:02:19,910 some of the independence or authority 40 00:02:19,910 --> 00:02:22,050 that they thought they had. 41 00:02:22,050 --> 00:02:25,920 Whereas if decision-making boundaries are really clear, 42 00:02:25,920 --> 00:02:30,920 then people can be much more transparent and flexible 43 00:02:32,540 --> 00:02:36,130 about how they interact, how they help each other, 44 00:02:36,130 --> 00:02:37,960 what they talk about, they don't need 45 00:02:37,960 --> 00:02:39,790 to keep secrets as much, 46 00:02:39,790 --> 00:02:42,980 because they know that in the end it'll be clear 47 00:02:42,980 --> 00:02:45,470 where the decision will be made. 48 00:02:45,470 --> 00:02:47,890 If I'm clear about decisions I can make, 49 00:02:47,890 --> 00:02:52,300 I can receive all kinds of input, in a much more open way, 50 00:02:52,300 --> 00:02:56,863 and then I decide based on all that input. 51 00:02:58,970 --> 00:03:00,920 Another way of getting at this 52 00:03:00,920 --> 00:03:02,953 is to talk about effective delegation, 53 00:03:03,860 --> 00:03:05,380 which is for the board, 54 00:03:05,380 --> 00:03:07,880 a really critical part of partnership. 55 00:03:07,880 --> 00:03:10,240 For staff members it's a critical part 56 00:03:10,240 --> 00:03:11,950 in dealing with each other. 57 00:03:11,950 --> 00:03:14,490 The thing about the board, there are really three things 58 00:03:14,490 --> 00:03:16,500 that need to be kept in balance. 59 00:03:16,500 --> 00:03:18,503 One is the authority itself. 60 00:03:19,480 --> 00:03:22,283 The second is the guidance that's given. 61 00:03:23,360 --> 00:03:26,070 And the third is the accountability 62 00:03:26,070 --> 00:03:27,703 for the use of the authority. 63 00:03:28,540 --> 00:03:32,940 In churches I find in general that we're very very good 64 00:03:32,940 --> 00:03:37,940 at giving authority without holding people accountable. 65 00:03:38,010 --> 00:03:40,860 We particularly do that with volunteers. 66 00:03:40,860 --> 00:03:43,180 We say things like, you can't fire a volunteer. 67 00:03:43,180 --> 00:03:45,380 Well if you give somebody, if they do it for free, 68 00:03:45,380 --> 00:03:47,690 you can't criticize how they do it. 69 00:03:47,690 --> 00:03:52,410 This is just a mistake, even with volunteers. 70 00:03:52,410 --> 00:03:54,350 The other mistake we often make 71 00:03:54,350 --> 00:03:58,510 is that we hold people accountable for things 72 00:03:58,510 --> 00:04:00,863 that they the never had authority to control. 73 00:04:01,880 --> 00:04:05,470 And the place where we often do that 74 00:04:05,470 --> 00:04:07,980 is with paid staff members. 75 00:04:07,980 --> 00:04:11,110 That we say at the end of the year, 76 00:04:11,110 --> 00:04:14,100 oh sorry, attendance is down, 77 00:04:14,100 --> 00:04:16,520 it must be, the minister or the rabbi 78 00:04:16,520 --> 00:04:18,520 must be doing something wrong. 79 00:04:18,520 --> 00:04:23,520 And that's fine except if the clergy leader 80 00:04:23,760 --> 00:04:26,980 has never been given appropriate authority 81 00:04:26,980 --> 00:04:30,650 to make it reasonable to hold them accountable for results, 82 00:04:30,650 --> 00:04:32,203 then that's just not fair. 83 00:04:33,380 --> 00:04:37,100 The question for a board is, 84 00:04:37,100 --> 00:04:42,100 do they really mean to create conditions 85 00:04:43,150 --> 00:04:46,400 where the congregation is most likely to succeed 86 00:04:46,400 --> 00:04:48,480 at what it sets out to do. 87 00:04:48,480 --> 00:04:51,640 And putting people in a position 88 00:04:51,640 --> 00:04:56,600 where they have maximum scope to try ways, 89 00:04:56,600 --> 00:05:01,490 to fail without losing the authority to try again, 90 00:05:01,490 --> 00:05:05,280 and to evaluate and learn from experience. 91 00:05:05,280 --> 00:05:10,280 That's the most fertile atmosphere for success, 92 00:05:11,070 --> 00:05:12,760 not just for the head of staff, 93 00:05:12,760 --> 00:05:15,390 but for everybody working in ministry. 94 00:05:15,390 --> 00:05:17,590 And in order to achieve that, 95 00:05:17,590 --> 00:05:20,370 the board has to be very careful about 96 00:05:20,370 --> 00:05:23,340 what it takes appeals from. 97 00:05:23,340 --> 00:05:25,080 One of the ways that boards engage 98 00:05:25,080 --> 00:05:29,920 in poor partnership practices is to set themselves up 99 00:05:29,920 --> 00:05:31,890 as a kind of appellate court, 100 00:05:31,890 --> 00:05:34,820 where anybody at any part of the organization 101 00:05:34,820 --> 00:05:39,160 who's unhappy with a decision, ends up coming to the board, 102 00:05:39,160 --> 00:05:43,870 because that's where the ultimate power is to decide things. 103 00:05:43,870 --> 00:05:47,280 Healthy boards, once they delegate authority 104 00:05:47,280 --> 00:05:50,513 and responsibility and give guidance in an area, 105 00:05:51,710 --> 00:05:54,610 refuse to take appeals from decisions 106 00:05:54,610 --> 00:05:56,880 that have been properly made in that area 107 00:05:56,880 --> 00:06:01,280 except for very extreme circumstances. 108 00:06:01,280 --> 00:06:05,580 Every board needs a way of dealing with whistle-blowers 109 00:06:05,580 --> 00:06:08,800 or misconduct allegations, or other very, 110 00:06:08,800 --> 00:06:11,810 hopefully unusual, but certainly very serious 111 00:06:12,930 --> 00:06:17,920 breaches of covenant by people with authority. 112 00:06:17,920 --> 00:06:21,080 But that needs to be very clearly an exception 113 00:06:21,080 --> 00:06:24,713 rather than then rule, as it is in many congregations. 114 00:06:25,830 --> 00:06:30,090 The question for the board where somebody's unhappy, is 115 00:06:30,090 --> 00:06:35,090 do we, have we a policy that's been violated, 116 00:06:35,480 --> 00:06:38,570 do we need a policy we don't have, 117 00:06:38,570 --> 00:06:41,490 do we need to change a policy that we do have, 118 00:06:41,490 --> 00:06:44,690 or finally, is there a great injustice 119 00:06:44,690 --> 00:06:47,600 or serious violation or a serious risk 120 00:06:47,600 --> 00:06:51,420 to someone's safety or health that's at stake here. 121 00:06:51,420 --> 00:06:55,290 In which case, we activate those exceptional places 122 00:06:55,290 --> 00:06:58,920 where the board, any board, would and should step in 123 00:06:58,920 --> 00:07:01,420 and take practical control, 124 00:07:01,420 --> 00:07:04,083 but generally that's not what you're aiming for.