Every so often we get asked, “What would an effective board [or council or session or vestry] meeting look like?”

As you look at the agenda, remember that a board’s top priority is to hold the pastor accountable for mission alignment and vision achievement. It is NOT a board’s job to manage anything. However, for the board to hold a pastor accountable, the pastor must have the authority to make decisions, hire and remove staff as needed, set agendas, start and cancel ministry programs, adjust schedules, etc. The board’s job is threefold: To hold the pastor accountable for results (not for trying, but for results!); To set policy as needed; and to support the pastor’s decisions and programming so long as the mission and vision are achieved. 

With that in mind, here is a recommended agenda:


Keystone Discipleship Question

  • The question should be directed to each individual (never to the group): “What did you read in scripture this week that intrigued you?”

Prayers for the Church

  • These should primarily be prayers about ministries and ministers in the church, as well as mission and vision prayers.

Report of the Pastor

  • Numbers/measurables (AWA, first-time visitor count, return visitor percent, baptisms, percent involved in adult spiritual formation, percent involved in hands-on “in the name of Jesus”/non-anonymous offsite missions, income and report (we’re on target or we’re not – this is not a line item discussion)
  • Stories of local life changes through the church’s ministries
  • Vision casting and support raising (here’s what I need the board to “get behind” to support)

Report of the Board

  • Review of each council member’s “to be list” (Have you added anyone to your list? Who is ready to take on a responsibility? If so, what?)
  • Policy-making discussion (if any policy issues need to come before the council – this should be exceptionally rare and is NOT to be used to “get around” management)

What the Pastor Is Thinking About

  • A time for bouncing ministry ideas off the board … “I’ve been thinking about the best way to reach XYZ target,” etc. However,  ONLY do this with a supportive board. Do not attempt this with an acrimonious  board in an effort to rally them or to get them excited – it won’t work and will backfire.

Closing Prayer

Question: What would you do differently from this board meeting agenda?  Let us know in the Comments section below.