TOOL 19 Review – Ten Minutes for Governance

By John Pearson

Lifelong Governance Learning—in 10-Minute Chunks!

“Leadership is a complex field,” writes Richard Kriegbaum in Leadership Prayers, “and no one resource can meet all the needs of every leader in every situation.”

So here’s a very, very simple boardroom best practice: In every board meeting, remind board members that good governance does not happen by osmosis. It happens only with intentionality, training, and keeping critical governance topics (like focusing on policy, not operations) on everyone’s radar.


Use this tool at every meeting to enhance lifelong learning.

Tool #19 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of four tools in Part 6, “Ideas for Better Board Governance,” in this jam-packed 272-page resource. This tool features two templates—and two ideas—for spotlighting good governance in a 10-minute segment at your next board meeting. Pick one!

Why is this important? Guest blogger on Lesson 39 of Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog John Walling notes, “Every board member carries unhealthy baggage into your meeting that passed as normalcy in a previous boardroom.” Thus, your board may find it helpful to return to “Christ-Centered Governance 101” topics frequently!

John Walling suggests that you pilot test “10 Minutes for Governance” at your next two board meetings. Then evaluate whether you should add this to your standard agenda. Click here to read his guest blog on Lesson 39 at the Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog.

To get started, create a master list of possible topics (board policies, recruiting board members, understanding financial reports, ten basic responsibilities of nonprofit boards, the distinctives of Christ-centered governance, etc.). You might also find helpful topics using selected chapters from Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom (40 lessons) and More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom (40 lessons).

Teachers often learn more than their students, so rotate the leadership of this segment. Give board members advance notice when asking them to prepare a presentation. Suggest that each 10-minute segment include at least four to five minutes of interaction and dialogue.

Example: “In groups of two, read these 10 listening guidelines and identify the one guideline that is most difficult for you.” (Use a timer to buzz at 10 minutes.)

In addition to assigned reading prior to board retreats and inspiring board members to read at least one governance book a year, you’ll discover that a “10 Minutes for Governance” segment at every meeting will keep Christ-centered governance on the front burner.

Order the tools book from Amazon by clicking on this title: ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. The book gives you full access to all 22 tools and templates—formatted as Word documents so you can customize the tools for your board’s unique uses.

BOARD DISCUSSION: Strong differences of opinion can flare up in the boardroom—often based on a board member’s previous board experience (healthy or unhealthy—yet the only experience he or she has had). Are we in agreement about our “Christ-Centered Governance 101” assumptions—or is it time for a refresher? One option: read the ECFAPress book, The Council: A Biblical Perspective on Board Governance, by Gary G. Hoag, Wesley K. Willmer, and Gregory J. Henson.


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.