Campus Ministry Matters

5 Big Questions for Boards- #1-Who should be on the Board

5 Big Questions for Boards

I’ve been really lucky.  Starting a campus ministry has its challenges, but creating a board has not been in a number of ways.  One of the ways I the fact that there was no dysfunctional board there when I started, and instead I was able to to help handpick my board and to cast a vision.  Nowadays I look for more pushback, more dialogue and definitely more board responsibility and oversight, but at the beginning, there was simply the belief in a board.  This week, I am going to go through 5 of the biggest questions I continue to wonder about with a board of directors.  I would ask for your feedback, your information, and help to move the discussion forward.  Board development is a key component of campus ministry.  The better the discussion, the better the outcome.  Let us go forth.

Question #1: Who should you have on your board?

It started with 2 friends I went to seminary with.  One was a youth director, the other a young clergy.  Then it added two more clergy.  Then a clergy found a laity, and another laity, and then there was a student, and now, I look out and I see, whom else shall I ask to have on this board.

Figuring out who to ask to be on the board is of utmost importance to the development and functionality of the board.  Now some persons will be strong leaders in the church, ready to step up and shape the functions of how we are involved and interconnected to the local church and to the institutional oversight.  Some persons are strong in their relationship to campus (like professors) and others strong to the their community ties.  But the reality is there are at least four specific types of people you want on your board.

#1: Students- Now I begin here because I believe students are the ones most often forgotten about.  We want to create a campus ministry that welcomes students, but unless that ministry encourages the passing of the leadership of the ministry to the students, it is always a give and take.  In high school, youth group starts as a place where students come to receive what the youth director/ pastor provides.  In college, we ask those same students, now further in their life experiences, to take the leadership of the student community.  Why would we not also ask them to serve in the decision making body fo the entire ministry.

#2 Clergy- Now I am reserved on this.  I actually believe a board of directors could be entirely lay-driven, and in fact I have many colleagues who only have laity on their board. I think as the future unfolds, the role of the clergy on my board will be lessoned, and I will see perhaps 1-2 members of the board be clergy.  Perhaps, like my friend Paul has taught me, all the clergy in the surrounding area might be invited as ex offico members to all board meetings.  But I’ve learned that clergy are important, because they help to connect us to the local churches and have a lot of experience that might be helpful in many situations.  But I also realize that many are already overwhelmed with over responsibilities.

#3: Strong Laity- Perhaps they are non-profit developers, treasurers, lawyers, or community organizers.  Perhaps they are simply passionate about college students.  But they all should be strong laity from your churches.  If you are an ecumenical minister, they should represent those ministries supporting the ministry.  I actually would encourage that even if your ministry were a denominational based ministry.  I would love to encourage that interfaith campus ministries might come to exist that include interfaith boards of directors.  But there has to be a mix of abilities.  Having strong fundraisers must also come with those who of strong passion to college students.

#4:  Staff, Faculty & Administration of the University— This is vital. And yet, it has for me been the greater challenge to fill.  Because our mission field is an entire campus, there are lots of connections I try to make with departments and programs across campus.  But nothing can help the ministry connect better than having one of these individuals on the board.  Their knowledge, their understanding, and their overall passion for the University all become a lens into how the campus ministry can work with what has already been established.  Additionally, these individuals may open new doors for students or for the campus ministry to be effective and influential on campus.  Without these individuals, we are lacking the very connection to the institution we are trying to partner with.

Do you have other ideas?  Would you like to expand on these thoughts?  Obviously these are thoughts reflected in what I’ve experienced in the last few years and many of you have many more years than I.  Please let us know how we might take this idea deeper.  Tomorrow, how big should your board be?