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Seminar Exposes "Elephants" in the Church Boardroom

By Amanda Morad | February 28, 2013

Dr. Bobby Hill and Dr. Michael Hartsfield answer questions at Church Relations' latest seminar.

"In most local churches, there are usually elephants in the room—things no one wants to talk about or tackle, but there's no denying they're there," said Dr. Bobby Hill, assistant professor in Regent University's College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) at a Church Relations seminar on Thursday, Feb. 21.

The seminar, "Elephants in the Boardroom," welcomed pastors and ministry representatives from local churches to learn about managing relationships and issues with church leadership.

"The purpose of these workshops is to provide resources to help pastors with ministry challenges they might face," said Dave Kleffman, director of Church Relations. "This particular workshop was birthed with the idea of helping pastors deal with conflict resolution in church settings, but more specifically with church boards, elders, deacons, and other leadership teams."

As a featured speaker at the seminar, Hill discussed different styles of church governance and gave practical tips for pastors to address leadership issues.

"The New Testament is descriptive, not prescriptive about how to govern a church, but we can glean some very helpful principles from the Word," Hill said. Among these principles are: acknowledging the dysfunction of church leadership, defining the board's purpose, limiting their size and term, and assigning clear responsibilities to its members.

Many factors influence board effectiveness, Hill explained, but that effectiveness begins with the right definition of a church board. "A board is a team of divinely appointed leaders empowered to guide, govern and oversee a local church," Hill said. "It's more than a business management group. Yes, the church is an organization, but it's also an organism—it's the Body of Christ."

With that in mind, Hill said church boards need the right focus, with the right members, to have the right meetings, under the right leadership, who fosters the right relationships, and implements the right training in order to be most effective.

Following Hill's session, Dr. Michael Hartsfield, assistant professor in CAS, focused on effective communication from church leaders.

"Communication creates meaning," he said. "Every time we as leaders get up and say something, we speak meaning into the lives of those we lead."

Hartsfield lent his expertise in Emotional Intelligence, outlining the importance of self-awareness, managing emotions, having empathy toward others, and managing relationships. "If we don't understand the centrality of emotion to communication, we can cause serious damage as church leaders," he explained.

Church leaders must identify and prepare to encounter their emotional trigger points with their boards. "Conflict is inevitable but not necessarily bad," Hartsfield said. "It can destroy or increase inspiration and motivation. It all depends on how you handle it."

In closing, he encouraged pastors to be proactive and engaged in their communication with others. "Your message needs your life, not just your ideas," Hartsfield said. "Pair passion and reason to communicate effectively, because people respond to what's in you."

Upcoming Church Relations events this spring will include a Ministry Enrichment Workshop, a Church Health Checkup and a Youth Ministry Seminar. Clergy will also enjoy a private showing of The Green Collection at Regent on Friday, March 22.

Learn more about Church Relations.

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Mindy Hughes, Public Relations

Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888

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