Governing Boards: Their Nature and Nurture

by Cyril O. Houle. Jossey-Bass, 1997.

Cyril Houle contends that all governing boards (including those that function in churches and synagogues) share a common form and operate in many of the same ways. All that they do can be understood in terms of a tripartite system: the work to be done, the administration of that work, and the establishment of policies to guide it.

Beyond these parts, the quality of a board's work depends, first, on relationships. Care must be taken in choosing people to serve on a board and seeing that the board is well oriented and trained. Board members do well to tend to the relationships between the board, the executive, and the staff—as well as the ways in which the different boards in a community relate to one another. The quality of a board's work also depends on a clear understanding of its mission and on regular evaluation. Each of these aspects of a board's work need to be surveyed under the seasoned eyed of a wise guide.

Congregational leaders certainly will find this book useful. But the volunteers who serve on a congregation's various boards will find it most helpful.