1-year self-evaluation and report to the congregation
In March 2020 Mt. View moved to a single, unified church leadership board, replacing what were formerly four separate groups – the Trustees, the Finance Committee, the Staff-Parish Relations Committee, and the Church Council. At the time, we promised that we would report back to the congregation about how the new church leadership structure was functioning, in a timely fashion. This is our first promised report back.
Due to COVID striking us the very month of our first new board meeting, it has been a little difficult to evaluate the new board structure – we don’t have comparative information on how the previous leadership structure handled pandemics that forced the church to go on-line for over a year! But Mountain View has survived, and the Board has survived, and those are things to celebrate. At the same time, we have learned some valuable lessons for the future.
The lessons are:
The Board initially tried to – and was sometimes forced by COVID to – do too much detailed operational work during the monthly meetings. It has become increasingly clear that temporary sub-committees of the Board need to meet more regularly to handle some of the operational work (SPRC-type or finance-type functions) outside the regular board meetings. We have begun doing this already in the last two-three months. This will allow us to focus better on vision and true leadership and goal-setting, while also conducting shorter meetings.
Related to the previous, the Board needs to make more efforts to involve congregational expertise in its work, including having members of the congregation join some of the temporary sub-committees on occasion (as was in fact done with the Re-launch Committee).
Also related to the previous, the Board Chair (Andy Cowell) recognized that the Chair must take more active responsibility to make sure reports and agenda items are presented to the board in a well-prepared and efficient manner, so that decision points are clear.
We need to have more extensive on-boarding for new members at the beginning of the year.
We also need to have one or more occasions each year simply to get to know each other better, outside of the context of board-specific training or tasks.
The board must articulate goals very clearly to the Ministry Council, in ways which allow for implementation, for linkage to measurable outcomes and accountability, and which provide timelines for feedback to the Board.
The Board members need to feel free to continue to be involved in Ministry Council and other congregational service and action roles, as long as they remember to remove their “Leadership Board hat” in those cases – and conversely, to put the hat back on in Board meetings, so as not to risk becoming an advocate only for their personal church focus areas.
We would like to receive more input from the congregation on how to make the Board better, more understandable to the congregation, and more responsive to the needs of the church. This includes a desire for a “town hall” meeting with the congregation sometime this Fall.
Feel free to contact the Board Chair for 2021, Andy Cowell, at firstname.lastname@example.org.