Stephen Judd | 13 Mar 2023

Lack of theological input on Boards hastens loss of Christian identity

We can all think of Christian organisations that have suffered from mission drift.Often, they were started by entrepreneurial, gospel-hearted people who wanted to serve by showing God’s love to his creation. However, years later the original Christian identity and purpose has faded and is recognised as more historic than alive.

How does this happen? Are there clear 'red flags’ that indicated that Christian identity and purpose of an organisation may be at risk of being lost? In Keeping Faith:How Christian organisations can stay true to the way of Jesus, there is a checklist of 14 such warning signs. That list is by no means exhaustive; I am sure it will be added to and amended over time.

However, there is perhaps one warning sign that surprised us: a seeming antipathy towards the continued involvement of theologians and clergy.

Many Christian organisations were founded by gospel ministers, includingBrotherhood of St Laurence, World Vision, Lifeline, Methodist Homes UK, and Habitat for Humanity. While it is unsurprising that ministers of the gospel are in the frontline of participating in God’s redemption of the world, what is astounding is how, over time, the presence and influence of gospel ministers within so many organisations diminishes. Why is that?

Have our organisations become so focussed on the ‘What’ and the ‘How’—finances, property, HR, risk management and operations - that other directors cannot imagine the value of a gospel minister? Or do clergy find they seemingly have nothing to contribute?

This is not to say that any clergy person is suitable for a board or executive position. You can have a ‘dud’ clergy person on a board as much as you have a dud accountant or medico. However, the alarming evidence is that there is a clear line of sight between a lack of theological knowledge and influence among the board of trustees and a loss of an organisation’s Christian identity and purpose.

Something to contemplate the next time the skills matrix is reviewed.

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