Wanted: Lifelong Learners

Would you trust a surgeon who stopped learning?


by Dan Busby and John Pearson


My best friend is a person
who will give me a book I have not read.

Abraham Lincoln

Do we really need a book on church board governance? The short answer: yes. Here are four reasons:

First, very little has been written on church board governance. It is such a fundamental topic for churches. So, our hope is that this book will start many important conversations on this topic.

Second, lifelong learning is critical—especially for church leaders and board members who steward God’s work. Read what John Maxwell says about leadership—and check the box that resonates with your aspirations as a board member:

  • “If you want to lead, you have to learn. If you want to continue to lead, you must continue to learn.”
  • “Most leaders want to grow their [church]. What is the one thing—more than any other—that will determine the growth of that [church]? The growth of the people in the [church]. And what determines the growth of the people? The growth of the leader! As long as people are following you, they will be able to go only as far as you go. If you’re not growing, they won’t be growing—either that or they will leave and go somewhere else where they can grow.”
  • “When a leader reaches a desired position or level of training, there is a temptation to slack off. That is a dangerous place to be. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, says, ‘The moment you stop learning is the moment you stop leading.’”[1]

There’s still much to learn, and our prayer is that this book stimulates a wider interest in the dynamics of Christ-centered governance, while deepening dependence on God.

Third, church board members are increasingly taking their board roles seriously. Highly engaged board chairs and board members know that when they say yes to board service, they must continually increase their knowledge and competencies to fulfill this sacred calling.

The challenges of stewarding a church are complex. Prospective board members are asking probing questions before saying yes to board service. (And some are saying no.) Many current board members are realizing that they don’t know what they don’t know. Lifelong learners seek the heart of God in prayer and discernment, and they do research to gain knowledge for effective service.

Would you trust a surgeon who was not a lifelong learner?

Would you trust an airline pilot who relied on outdated training?

Do those who attend your church feel safe in your hands? Why should they trust your church’s board? Is your board on top of the changes that are affecting the church?

Fourth, the role of the board has changed. Ram Charan, governance author, reminds us, “The role of the board has unmistakably tran­sitioned from passive governance to active leadership with a delicate balance of avoiding micro­managing.”[2]

He adds, “With the right composition, a board can create value; with the wrong or inappropriate composition, it can easily destroy value.”[3]

Is your board adding value or subtracting value? How do you know?

ECFA enhances trust in Christ-centered churches by establishing and applying Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™ to certified churches. (Does your board review those seven standards at least annually? Can you name three of them?)

So you see, yes, we need a book on church board governance. There is so much to learn, and Lessons From the Church Boardroom will help and encourage you. We’ll also help you sort out the truly central issues in governance from the rest of the noise and clutter.

Our prayer is that you will leverage the insights in Lessons From the Church Boardroom so that your board will govern with eternity in view.



Board service is not for the weak of heart.
In churches, it is a sacred calling
that requires prayer and discernment, deep engagement,
and a heart to be a lifelong learner. This book will help you
on this sacred journey to be a competent, committed,
and God-honoring board member.

  Board Action Steps:

  1. Read: Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask by Ram Charan.

  2. Share: Give a copy of Lessons From the Church Boardroom to every board member and senior team member. Invite at least one board member per board meeting to share an insight gleaned from the book.



Lord, Romans 12:8 says that I am to lead diligently.
Give me a heart to be a lifelong learner
in my leadership journey. Amen.



[1] John C. Maxwell, Leadership Gold: Lessons I’ve Learned From a Lifetime of Leading (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008), 125-27.

[2] Ram Charan, Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask (San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, 2009), 1.

[3] Ibid.


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.