Magnify Your Impact with a Leadership Council
By Mary Walker, Petrus Blog Contributor
Plans fail when there is no counsel, but they succeed when advisors are many. (Proverbs 15:22)
It’s a tough world out there, and our ministries need help to survive and grow. Questions arise. Which path should you pursue? How can you get from where you are to where you believe God is calling you to be? And what pitfalls exist that you don’t even know about?
One way to help move your ministry forward is to seek wise counsel, especially in areas that are beyond the experience and expertise of your staff.
What is a Leadership Council?
A Leadership Council is a group of women and men who have been invited to share their expertise or influence, in an advisory role, to serve the mission of your ministry. An example of how a council could help is if your staff is good at evangelization, but uncomfortable in planning for growth and engaging the people who could make this growth possible.
In contrast, board members, directors of ministry, and staff typically have governance responsibilities. Leadership Council members do not have the responsibility for the day-to-day operations, decision-making, or the bottom-line. Rather they focus on “big picture” plans and questions, and offer practical help.
When is my ministry ready for a Leadership Council?
Your ministry is ready when:
- You must grow in facilities, programs, and services; or
- You have to manage significant growth; or
- A change of direction is required and your ministry would benefit from the ideas of people who are NOT in the day-to-day inner circle; or
- Your ministry needs the perspective of proven leaders who will ask the hard questions; or
- Your ministry needs to expand its contacts with influential people.
In other words, any ministry would benefit from the guidance of a good Leadership Council.
Who should be invited to be on your Leadership Council?
A good Leadership Council Member should:
- Believe in your mission.
- Have expertise or personal contacts that your ministry lacks. Perhaps the member has grown a business, managed a large construction project, or dealt with other entities that your ministry relies on to do its work.
- Understand that the role is advisory. While their input is valuable and will always be considered, they do not have governance responsibility.
- Be willing to support and promote your ministry as appropriate. For example, if the organization is hosting an event in the community where the member lives, the member could personally invite people with shared interests from her network and make introductions to potential benefactors.
Should all Leadership Council Members be major donors?
Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold. (Proverbs 8:10)
Hey, there’s nothing wrong with benefitting from instruction AND silver and gold!
Seriously, often leaders have achieved financial success in their professions. As they see the impact of your ministry, they support it financially. However, many good Leadership Council prospects have experiences that are not tied to wealth and may not be able to make major gifts.
For example, one campus ministry had a council member who worked in university administration. His advice was valuable because he knew how to “get things done” for a ministry that relied on the goodwill and cooperation of university administration. He also knew the personalities of those at higher levels and how to approach them with ideas.
How many should be on the Leadership Council?
It depends. What expertise do you need? If you want help establishing a budgeting system, a few financially trained advisors may be fine for now. If you are considering a capital campaign, then more varied and diverse experts are needed. As circumstances change, you can add or subtract members.
What is the time commitment of a Leadership Council Member?
When you invite a person to be on the council, you should be clear about your expectations. For example, most councils meet in person on a periodic basis, such as twice a year. These meetings offer a quick review of what has happened, and a more in-depth focus on upcoming projects.
While online meetings can work for updates, in-person interaction is more valuable. When leaders get together, a synergy of ideas takes place. Conversations during meals or in a casual setting often yield insights that would never have occurred online.
In addition, the members should expect occasional phone calls with more directed questions in their areas of expertise. Although the Leadership Council is not a “crisis management team,” in any dynamic ministry, questions and situations arise from time to time that require a quick response.
How long should a person serve on the council?
Again, it depends. Two years is a good minimum, perhaps with an option to serve another two years. The terms can be staggered so that turnover can be managed. It’s important to have both experienced members and newer members, who bring enthusiasm and fresh ideas.
Remember: God is the ultimate source of wisdom and is in charge of your ministry’s impact!
Many are the plans of the human heart, but it is the decision of the LORD that endures. (Proverbs 19:21)
We all know that the Holy Spirit is the ultimate counselor and source of wisdom, which he abundantly shares with us—especially through prayer and our relationships with others. Seeking advice is an act of humility and trust that God will provide the expertise we need to do his will.
Interested in a sample job description for leadership council volunteers?
Check out our free sample job description worksheet! The worksheet will outline expectations and duties for new leadership council volunteers.
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