Broken Boards Like Willow Creek’s

Grace and peace to all who elect to join me in this new blog series on the subject of broken boards, that is, of broken governing boards of Christian churches and organizations.

For almost twenty years I have been wanting to write a book on this huge subject.  At last the time has come for me to unveil a portion of my still ripening thoughts.

Here’s the copyrighted working title for my forthcoming book:


The Antidote to Failed Leadership  

Yes, there is an antidote to failed leadership.  There is an organizational mechanism for dredging us out of the mud, and that undervalued mechanism is called the governing board.

Hardly anyone ever thinks about governance because leadership has gotten all the press.  Governance is not leadership.  Good governance guides leadership.  Good theological governance guides leadership back to God.

In so many organizations that profess to be Christian, God has been forgotten or institutionalized.  As a result, almost everyone I know in my ministry network has seen unsavory, unrepentant, positional authority figures wreaking havoc in people’s lives while the board stands by and does nothing or else acts defensively and palpably makes things worse.

So I plan to teach and write about the very practical need for each and every board member to learn how to think theologically about organizational governance.  If this sounds less than riveting, I ask you to give me a chance to explain in some detail why I strongly believe that good theological governance is the counteracting key to institutional recovery and widespread restoration in the land.

We seriously need to revitalize our Christian institutions.  Desperately we need for them to synchronize on mission.  Right on mission.  To be right on mission means to be acting on the basis of Christian principles, doing what you know God says is right.  Every Christian organization has a special niche ministry that cannot be properly done apart from Christ.  Unless Jesus is the Cornerstone, the organizational structure of “Christian” leadership is a sham.

Whoa, the word sham is intense.  Am I overstating the problem of broken boards?

Now that Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois has shifted from the limelight to the spotlight, a critical mass of people are starting to understand that whole boards can be remiss.

God’s Word certainly tells us that boards can get off track.  Consider Isaiah 53:

All of us like sheep have gone astray.  Each of us has turned to his way.    

If board members like sheep can go astray, how then can we govern our institutions?

According to the Scriptures, unless we honestly turn to God, we will walk in our own counsels and in the stubbornness of our “evil heart” (Jeremiah 7:24).

The sobering truth is that none of us are exceptional in this:  He was crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5).

Nevertheless, by God’s grace, broken boards like Willow Creek’s can carefully be refurbished or replaced.  Thankfully the Willow Creek board resigned.






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