The 2 BIG Problems with Policy Based Governance

Perhaps you are an experienced leader in a ministry that (at least on paper) practices policy-based governance. Maybe your context is a more traditional model of leadership and you are curious about policy-based governance.

At its heart, the policy-based governance provides a framework for leadership for most mid to large-sized churches. Trust your leaders to lead - and make sure they are accountable.
In my experience with the policy-based governance model, I’ve come to realize that there are two major problems implementing it in a church.

1. It is often too rigid.
Most ministries copy and paste their model and specific policies from a non-profit corporation or a larger church who has existing policies in place. The problem? They are not your policies! The policies do not fit the context of your church and your people. They are likely “corporate” and are more than you need to lead your ministry effectively. Over complex policies lead to disengaged board members and leaders. If the real world purpose of each policy is not clear, your leaders will simply ignore it and it will remain buried in a binder. Rigid policies do not help your ministry grow.

2. People
You likely have well-intentioned servants who volunteer their time to serve on your leadership board. The local church would suffer if it were not for people like them. Your kind-hearted people also represent a barrier to effective policy-based governance. It is likely that they do not have the expertise, time, or motivation to immerse themselves in the theory or best practices of policy-based governance. As a result, they either revert to micro-managing the ministry or they become unengaged and serve as a “rubber stamp” for their senior leader. Your ministry needs more from them. Your lay leaders need to function as an effective policy-based board for the health of your ministry. They need help.

Bryan Blackford