11. A Strange Partnership: Governance and Ministry

A bee pollinating a flower

Congregations are very different than traditional non-profit corporations. Congregations are also the donors that support the institution, staff/volunteers that do the work of the institution, and the beneficiaries of part of that work. Board members tend to have roles in all three of these aspects.

A board needs to do its work deeply, minding the corporate aspects through its governance. This enables the other aspects--the ministry--to focus on the work of the congregation with known (if limited) resources.

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Styles of Governing Boards

In each of our congregations, the expectations, assumptions, and structure about the role and functioning of the Governing Board in the congregation and community are different. In some cases, the Governing Board is called upon to lead. In others, they function more to coordinate and represent the leadership of the members.

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The Mission-Based Board

Even if your board doesn't operate fully as a strategic board, it is still important to take time in board meeting to thing strategically. One way to do this is to engage with Powerful Questions.

More on Being Mission-Based

Ministry as Partnership

The relationship between the governance of the congregation and the programs or ministry of the congregation works well when both parts are in partnership in service to the mission.

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There's Enough Ministry to Go Around!

Shared ministry creates a congregational culture in which each member is invited to participate in ministry and helped to do so through proven systems and processes. It brings new life and energy to the congregation. Members learn that all people have gifts and all are called to use them in building the reign of God. Shared ministry creates the environment in which this can actually happen. -Ryn Nasser (Alban Institute)

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About the Author

UUA Congregational Life Staff Group

The regional Congregational Life staff are congregations' local connection to the UUA. All of the program Congregational Life staff have expertise in most aspects of congregational life and each also has a few program areas of expertise. See the...

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Governance and Ministry, Second Edition Rethinking Board Leadership

By Dan Hotchkiss

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