Be Intentional About Your First 30 Minutes

Does your board meeting need a refresh—so you experience holy moments more frequently?


by Dan Busby and John Pearson


How do you refresh a meeting that’s grown rote?
Break the script.[1]

Chip Heath and Dan Heath



It’s so ironic. The same Christ-centered ministries that leverage God-honoring creativity at their ministry events often torture their long-suffering board members with boring board meetings.

Imagine if you tasked your creative event team to suggest ways to refresh and enrich your board meetings. What would an inspiring and productive board meeting look like? How many holy moments can you recall from last year’s board meetings?

Picture this boardroom:

“James, our esteemed board chair, called last night and asked me to share some spiritual insights tonight. So let me read an interesting piece I found on the internet.”

Within moments the board members’ eyes glaze over, as it seems the piece isn’t so interesting after all.

Of course, it really doesn’t matter—because a few people are always late, which also doesn’t matter, according to Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert:

DILBERT © 2018 Scott Adams. Used By permission of ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION.
All rights reserved.

Too true! If we’re not intentional about the first 30 minutes, Christ-centered governance may often look and taste like most secular meeting models—with one exception: you’ll drop in a prayer at the beginning and the end of the meeting; and maybe throw in a devotional thought or poem. Then presto! We think we have achieved “God-honoring governance.” Not really.

While participating in numerous board meetings and board retreats over the years, we have observed and appreciated the power of preparation—and being at least as intentional about the first 30 minutes of a board meeting as we are about meal choices (steak or salmon?).

Rather than coasting into the agenda (housekeeping items, late starts, false starts, come-to-order preliminaries), thoughtful intentionality by board chairs and CEOs will often command immediate attention and eternity-lasting Kingdom results.

Let’s confess. Our board meetings have gotten sloppy when:

  • Preparation is rote
  • Execution is rote
  • Celebration is rote
  • Follow-through is random

Heed the challenge from Chip Heath and Dan Heath in their 2017 book, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact. With examples from education, business, hospitality, and church sectors, they call leaders and teams to break out of the routine and defy “the forgettable flatness of everyday work and life by creating a few precious moments.”[2]

What if you maximized the first 30 minutes of your board meeting or board retreat with a few precious moments? Imagine this result:

“How was the board meeting tonight, dear?”

Oh, my! I’ll never forget it. We had a holy moment! Here’s what happened . . .”

At one retreat, a short inspirational video launched the meeting. The video helped board members transition from the commuting hassles of arriving at the meeting . . . to the holy calling of being board members/stewards of the ministry. The video sharpened each board member’s focus and brilliantly set the spiritual tone for the meeting.

At another board meeting, a board member shared an inspirational two-page presentation that was the catalyst for a major fork-in-the-road decision about the future.

In this case, the board member had clearly taken time to hear from God—to discern what God was saying to him and the board. Then he wrote his presentation, rehearsed it, and with a Holy Spirit-empowered conviction and a stunning use of Scripture, inspired the board to think bigger about its Kingdom calling.

At the conclusion of the meeting (equally as intentional as the beginning), each board member shared their “One Big Take-Away.” It was powerful! Many board members mentioned the devotional presentation as the highlight of the board meeting.

Think back over your last few board meetings or last year’s board retreat. Can you remember what anyone shared or prayed about? Inspire your board to higher levels of governance and creativity. Remember that our Creator (talk about creativity!) said, “It is good.” He didn’t say, “Oh, it’ll do.”[3]



What happens at the very beginning of your board meeting
signals to everyone the tone and the tenor of the entire meeting.
So orchestrate your first 30 minutes to create the expectation
that this board meeting has eternal consequences.
How you launch will impact how you land.

  Board Action Steps:

  1. Refresh: Ask a creative team member to help you refresh the first 30 minutes of your board meetings. Suggest he or she read The Power of Moments from Chip and Dan Heath.[4]

  2. Relate: Be intentional and prayerful as you invite a board member (or staff member) to share a spiritual insight that will be relevant (not random) to the focus of the board meeting.

  3. Reflect: Create unhurried space at the end of your meeting for around-the-room “One Big Take-Away” responses. (How you launch will impact how you land.)



Lord, forgive us for our lack of intentionality.
Forgive us for haphazardly dashing through our opening half hour—
and relegating You to the preliminaries. Amen.




[1] Chip Heath and Dan Heath, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017), 89.

[2] Ibid., 265.

[3] Don Cousins, Leith Anderson, and Arthur DeKruyter, Mastering Church Management (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1990), 17.

[4]  Heath and Heath, The Power of Moments.


From More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: Effectiveness, Excellence, Elephants!, 2019,


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.