Conflict with the Board

Over the years in my role as a pastoral coach and church consultant , I’ve visited many churches and met often with groups of pastors, and the most frequently asked question, whether one-on-one or in these groups, is, “How can our board function better?” or “How can I get along better with the board?”

By the way, the second most-asked question—and admittedly this is not a very scientific conclusion—is, “What is the best discipleship program for our church?” To that question my response is the question, “Who are the people in your discipleship group?”

My personal answer to the first question is also a question: “How often do you meet with the board chairman?”

So you can see that communication and relationships are vital issues in the church, and often these issues have to do with conflict. Thus it’s crucial that conflict be dealt with, especially that related to the board and the pastor. Here are some principles I think are essential for handling conflict in a board:

The pastor and the board chair should always go over the agenda ahead of time, and they both agree not to disagree in front of the others.

Board members agree to be cordial and gracious when they disagree with each other, and when they disagree it is always eye to eye.
After a disagreement has been resolved, the board members should not publically recount or divulge the particulars of the disagreement. They should speak only of the resolution: “We decided to . . . ”

Decisions should always be made for the glory of our Lord and the good of the church, not because of anyone’s personal whim.

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