Best Board Books #3: Best Practices for Effective Boards

By John Pearson

Here’s a very helpful Christ-centered governance book—as part of my series on “best board books.” Pick one that fits your board’s culture and needs.

Book #3: Best Practices for Effective Boards, by E. LeBron Fairbanks, Dwight M. Gunter II, and James R. Cauchenour. Read my review here.

The total years of board leadership and board service for these three co-authors would rival almost any other trio. The best practices have been culled from 1) a lifetime of service as a denominational education commissioner (working with 54 educational institutions in 36 countries), 2) as a board chair and business leader, and 3) as a seasoned pastor/author and board member.

With almost 40 pages covering 11 documents in the appendix, you could skip the book and strike gold in every resource: “Leader Effectiveness Review Grid (22 leadership behaviors),” “Board Standing Policy Manual,” “Rules of the Road for Christlike Conflict Management,” and a “Board Survey” with 22 questions.

Can a book that articulates Christ-centered character standards for board members also meet the high bar of governance excellence? Yes! The guts of the book, 12 chapters, include helpful discussions on:
• “Ears In, Fingers Out” (great shorthand for the board role)
• “Take Time” (slowing decision-making down to hear from God)
• “Yes! to Missional Change” (choose your battles wisely)
• “Role Models of Generosity and Stewardship” (why board members must set the pace in generous giving and inspiring others to give)

In his chapter, “Yes! to Missional Change,” Pastor Dwight Gunter asks “How many Christians does it take to change a light bulb?” His answer: “Seven. One to change the bulb and six to resist the change.” (Insert “How many board members…” and it’s just as funny.)

Co-author LeBron Fairbanks, founding director of BoardServe which serves as a global intervention and coaching resource for boards, shares my favorite quotation in the book—this from a CPA firm:

“In the long run, only integrity matters.
In fact, without integrity, there will be no long run.”

BOARD DISCUSSION: What is the next book our board should read? What is the next book our staff should read—a book that would help them clear up many of the myths and misunderstandings about the board’s role versus the staff’s role?

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here.


This article was originally posted on the “Governance of Christ-Centered Organizations” blog, hosted by ECFA.
John Pearson, a board governance consultant and author, was ECFA’s governance blogger from 2011 to 2020.
© 2021, ECFA and John Pearson. All rights reserved.

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.