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6 Tips for Navigating Change with a Board

6 Tips for Navigating Change with a Board

When “Board Relations” feels like an Oxymoron…

I’ve attended 374 board meetings in my lifetime – all with the same ministry. That’s a lot of board meetings. Some may even say that’s a lot of wasted time. And, that doesn’t even include countless committee meetings and other boards that I’ve sat on.

The board meetings that I’ve attended have ranged from inspiring to just plain awful. Perhaps the position that you’re in requires you to meet with a board. If you’re the CEO or Executive Director of a non-profit or even if you oversee meetings with your staff or group of volunteers, here are several suggestions that will improve the way your group functions.

Navigating Big Change with a Board

This month our ministry is making a transition that my board has talked about for the last 5 years. We are relocating our main building to a site that is more central to the young people we minister to. This will enable students to walk to our center everyday instead of us transporting them to our previous location. No doubt this move will enable us to see more students and for us to see those students more often.

For those of us who value a relational ministry, the move is a no brainer, right? Wrong!

My board has agonized over this decision for five long years! As the executive director and for my staff that seems like five years too long. Several years ago God clearly spoke to my heart about relocating. And, at that time every book I read and every seminar I attended reinforced the importance for us to be located “in the neighborhood” of those we ministered to.

For us that meant moving out of a wonderful facility we had built 27 years ago. The building is still in great shape, is a wonderful youth center, and has built a history of fond memories. The problem, as I saw it, was the location. We were 2 miles from “the neighborhood.”

My suggestion to relocate caused a fire storm. Several board members were ready to move that night. Others, with deep emotion and a prophetic tone coldly stated we’d never be able to afford to move. With my whole heart I felt God was calling us to relocate. I saw the ministry value.

Clearly, this was the type of decision that could easily divide a board/staff and destroy a ministry. Perhaps you’ve been in a situation like this. You’re confident God has given you direction for your ministry and yet it’s met with great resistance. It’s no fun.

6 Tips for Navigating Big Changes with your Board

Here are several suggestions that will enable you to navigate through the minefields.

  1. Run to God and ask Him to confirm his message to you. If, it’s His idea He will.
  2. Relieve the pressure your board is feeling by backing off. Ramrodding your idea is never a good idea. No matter how good it may be!
  3. Give God time to work. He’s much better at changing the hearts and minds of others than you are.
  4. Change your tone from, “When we do this…” to “If we do this…”
  5. Carefully discern how often and when you talk about your great idea. Planting seeds is more Christ like than being a bulldog.
  6. Be patient. If it’s God’s idea He’ll make it happen at the right time.

By following these guidelines a funny thing happened. My board now thinks relocating is a great idea and they think it was their idea! I know better. It was really God’s idea.

Jerry Higley
Executive Director at Lebanon Valley Youth For Christ
Jerry Higley is the Executive Director of Lebanon Valley Youth For Christ and an adjunct faculty member at LBC teaching Student Ministry courses at both the undergrad and graduate level. When he's not at work, he loves spending time outdoors hunting and fishing with his grandkids.
  1. Jim09-13-12

    Wow! That is a lot of board meetings. What a great topic and great insights. is another great resource with fantastic ideas on Boards.
    Thanks Jerry.