Christian school board governance

How to Move Your School Board from Operational/Policy to Strategic: Lessons in Christian School Board Governance

Many Christian school board governance approaches adopt operational/policy models. However, operational and policy governance can only get you so far. This type of governance will ultimately lead to limited or poor performance.

What’s So Bad About the Operational/Policy Model?


We’ve mentioned before the importance of having a strategic plan for your Christian school. When your Christian school board governance follows the operational model, there is no plan. Created in response to crisis, the operational model is always in survival mode. It’s hard to set/pursue goals when you’re just trying to make it to the next day, week, or semester while avoiding a catastrophe. The operational model is crisis management without a plan—just trying to keep operations up and running.

Operational board governance concerns itself with the day-to-day management of the school instead of focusing on the big picture. At its worst, it will usurp the head, create frustration, and cause confusion.


The policy board governance model is a small step ahead of the operational model. There are rules and policies in place, and as long as none are broken, everyone is happy. But there’s no room for innovation because it’s so rigid and tied to the here and now. Board members are more concerned with what they know, closing gaps in current policies, and maintaining the status quo.

At its worst, it will put policy over people, rules over relationships, and decrease connection to the mission and vision.

What Are the Advantages of Strategic Christian School Board Governance?

Strategic board governance is functional. People, including donors, will not want to financially support an organization that appears dysfunctional. And it will be evident to any major donor who is asking the right questions about the functionality of a school they’re considering investing in.

A strategic board works together, following a strategic plan. Having a common goal keeps board members motivated to stay on the board because they aren’t stressed crisis managers. They’re following a God-given purpose. They get to be innovative and think strategically while being a part of exciting efforts like charting a course, building up leaders, and collaborating with the head of the school. It’s much more fun to sit on a strategic board that gets to ask the question, “How can we amplify what we’re doing for the Lord?”

The role of a strategic board is to lead as one, oversee manpower, define yearly objectives, and determine policy.

How to Move from Operational/Policy to Strategic

First, you have to know why your school exists. What is its God-given mission? Once the mission or purpose is clear, you can focus on creating goals, strategic objectives, and a plan to work towards and accomplish them.

What’s next? Adopt a strategic board framework with policy documents that empower strategic thinkers to think and govern strategically. The right board members will help drive your tactical plans and strategies forward. Don’t underestimate the power of diversity of thought. It’s important that there’s not just one person brainstorming ideas and setting goals.

Finally, the current board should immerse themselves in the transition: praying without ceasing and inviting others to join in God’s plan.

Get Board Governance Help with The Champion Group

Many of our partners start their journey with The Champion Group through our Board Governance service. We want to help your school function at its highest level through unified leadership. Reach out to us today to get started!