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Prioritize Prayer Over Problems

Create space for prayer—serious supplications for serious work.

 

by Dan Busby and John Pearson

 


…And dear God, help us to remain unified. Help us to remember
that few decisions are worth the divisions caused by
dominant winning or belligerent losing.
Help us to seek your glory and not ours.
Grant us the joy of arriving at adjournment closer to one another
because we are closer to you.[1]

Dan Bolin
 


“Where’s the prayer?”

The quarterly board meeting at First Church was about to start, and that was the question that Andy, the board chair, asked Pastor Tom.

Andy: Pastor, where’s the board prayer?

Pastor Tom: What board prayer?

Andy: You know. It’s titled “A Board Prayer,”[2] and we read it at the last meeting. You gave copies to every board member, and we went around the board table several times, each of us reading a sentence out loud. It was powerful! So where are those copies?

Pastor Tom was confused but enjoying every moment. Of all the issues facing the board at this meeting, his board chair was hyper-focused on prayer!

Pastor Tom: Well, since we read the prayer at the last meeting, I didn’t bring copies for this meeting.

Andy: Don’t you remember? It was so impactful and such a great preamble for doing God’s work here, that we agreed to read the prayer at every board meeting!

Pastor Tom: I’ll get the prayer—and I’ll be right back!

So they read “A Board Prayer” and were reminded, once again, that issues like reporting, mission clarity, listening, speaking, planning, and unity all require inviting the God of the universe into the work and relationships of the church board.

The following are just a few of the gems from the prayer that the board needed to hear:

  • Thank You for the many people whose lives will be influenced through our meeting—other board members, staff, members, givers, vendors, and generations yet unborn who will benefit from the decisions we make today.
  • Help me to give credit to others and take responsibility for failure and lack of progress.
  • Help us to see the issues before us from many perspectives—but ultimately from Your perspective.
  • Allow me to focus on what is being said more than how I will respond.
  • Let me use the least words, the least intensity, the least volume needed to be understood.
  • God, give me the grace to watch with dignity as my proposal fails, and give me humility when my idea meets with approval.
  • Help us to honor the past but give us the courage to abandon the methods that provided yesterday’s success but will lead to futility tomorrow.
  • Help each of us to leave this meeting with the commitment to speak with one voice and to support the group decisions in public and private.
  • Help us to remember that few decisions are worth the divisions caused by dominant winning or belligerent losing.

Written by Dan Bolin, the two-page prayer is now used by hundreds of boards around the world. (Your board can also read the prayer, or portions of it, as frequently as you wish; click here for the complete prayer.)

Andy understood ministry priorities. Not content to begin God’s work with “three points and a poem” or a clever devotional off the internet, this board chair created a boardroom culture that prioritized prayer over problems.

Andy is representative of board chairs and board members in thousands of churches who believe that Christ-centered governance has a boardroom distinctive that requires a serious intentionality about prayer.

The Council: A Biblical Perspective on Board Governance provides this admonition: “Prayer and petition with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6-7) guides boards away from worry to unimaginable peace. Through the practice of supplication, we position the board, staff, and all the constituents served by the organization to pray with us to experience the incomprehensible peace of God.”[3]

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Pray specifically—before, during, and after every board meeting, “asking God to do what humans cannot do.” Authors Hoag, Willmer, and Henson continue, “Perhaps throughout the board meeting, someone can take note of items that cannot happen without God’s help or intervention.”[4]

 

BOARDROOM LESSON
_______________________________

When you take time to pray—not just perfunctory
“bless us” prayers but prayers with power and faith—
God promises to hear and act.
Encourage your board chair to make space for prayer,
for quiet, and for discerning God’s voice.

  Board Action Steps:

  1. Pray: At the beginning, at the end, and frequently during your board meetings, pray!

  2. Affirm: Encourage your board chair to leave ample agenda time for planned and unplanned prayer.

  3. Read: Distribute copies of “A Board Prayer” located at https://www.ecfa.church/Content/A-Board-Prayer-LessonsChurch and, going around the room until the prayer is completed, ask each board member to read one bullet point. Then in groups of two, ask each person to share one or more points that hit home.

 

Prayer

Lord, we pray along with Dan Bolin:
“Help us to see the issues before us
from many perspectives—but ultimately
from Your perspective. Align our thoughts
with Your thoughts and our work with Your desire.” Amen.

 

 

 

[1] “A Board Prayer,” by Dan Bolin, is reprinted by permission in its entirety at https://www.ecfa.church/Content/A-Board-Prayer-LessonsChurch. “A Board Prayer” is also included in the book, TRUST: The Firm Foundation for Kingdom Fruitfulness by Dan Busby; and in the facilitator resources for the ECFA Governance Toolbox No. 3: Conflicts of Interest. 

[2] Ibid.

[3] Gary G. Hoag, Wesley K. Willmer, and Gregory J. Henson, The Council: A Biblical Perspective on Board Governance (Winchester, VA: ECFAPress, 2018), 84.

[4] Ibid., 83-84.

 

From Lessons From the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance, ECFAPress, 2018, www.ECFA.Church/KnowledgeCenter.


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.

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