Church boards hold a great responsibility on their shoulders. Members accept the responsibility of providing spiritual and emotional support for the congregation while overseeing the church’s financial and operational activities. Outsiders may assume being a pastor is the most stressful role, but board members can become almost as overwhelmed with their responsibility.
This article provides a better idea of what a board means to the church, board member responsibilities, and choosing and training board members.
The primary purpose of the church board is to provide spiritual support and take the lead in financial and operational decisions. As leaders of the church, the board must understand its mission and direct the church towards meeting its goals. The pastor may be the visual embodiment of the church, but the board provides leadership and accountability for the pastor and other church members.
The most crucial duty of a church board is to find a pastor to lead the congregation. Finding the right pastor is vital to a church’s long-term success. We have all heard horror stories of churches being brought down because of this decision.
The best way to start is by forming a search committee. This committee will begin conversations with church members about their needs and expectations and possibly receive suggestions of potential prospects. After determining what your church is looking for, the committee can then seek outside counsel to find the best pastor for your church.
Since church boards are leaders of the church, they must take responsibility for the spiritual wellbeing of its members. Prayer is the strongest tool a church board has at its disposal. Church board members can also provide support by listening and responding with empathy when complications arise.
Your church’s mission is the reason for its existence, who, and how it serves all rolled into one. Individual churches realize this mission in different ways. Some will focus on spreading the word of God with mission groups throughout the world. Others will concentrate on their own neighborhoods. Regardless, it’s crucial to your church’s future and growth.
Each member of your board must know and understand your church’s mission and use it as the basis for all its decisions. Building a new facility, holding a fundraiser, and hiring more staff members must all be done to continue your church’s mission.
The growth of the church is essential to help the vision materialize and bring changes to the community. It is upon the board members to strategize and come up with plans and short-term as well long-term goals to ensure that. These days, growth is ensured with emerging technologies, adapting to new changes, and being ever-ready to listen to and understand what the people want.
For example, if passing the offering plate on Sundays isn’t helping any longer, your board needs to turn to online donation techniques like text-to-give, QR codes, and church membership campaigns. If possible, they should start a virtual church to reach those who cannot reach your church. It can as well be a great way to acquire new donors and ensure more donations for the church. Board members should also suggest and help with fundraising events to raise revenue through fun ideas and entertainment.
Most churches have anywhere between 5 and 10 board members with various experiences. When choosing board members, it is crucial to find members who have a solid commitment to the church, useful life and work experience, and an ability to financially support the institute.
Board members are expected to spend their time and efforts supporting the church and its parishioners. The best church board members have an active church life and are committed to the organization and those within it. When looking for new board members, it is best to start with those who have been church members for several years. These individuals have likely already formed healthy relationships with other church members and can further unite the board with the congregation.
Forming a board is not an easy task. While it may be tempting to accept anyone willing to serve on your church board, there are specific backgrounds that can be vital to your board’s success. Having someone on the board with each of the following experiences can help you confront any operation, legal, and financial issues that may come up in the future.
Experience in these fields does not have to come solely from their employment background. You may be surprised by the number of stay-at-home parents in your congregation with expansive fundraising and financial knowledge.
Finally, nonprofits must consider a board member’s ability to give to an organization when choosing board members. This does not necessarily mean the person has to give significant amounts, but it is crucial to discuss the importance of tithing with potential board members. Individuals who’ve shown interest and ability to give to the church are ideal board members.
Once you’ve found board members interested in serving the church, you can determine where each member can best benefit the organization. When deciding where to place board members, find committees and responsibilities that match their experiences and interests. Below is a list to help you get started.
The purpose of a strategic plan is to develop the church’s core mission and create a strategy to carry it out. Your church’s strategic plan should start with your church’s mission, vision, and value statement. Once these are finalized and adopted by the entire board, you can determine the organization’s goals and fundraising plans.
Your board director should lead strategic planning for the organization. Members with marketing experience should also be a part of this project.
It can take staff and volunteer members to make a church work. The board’s responsibility is to oversee those in these roles and ensure they follow the church’s mission and purpose. This includes managing the actions, needs, and authority of the pastor. Board members with a human resource background can lead this committee and perform regular management reviews and updates for the rest of the board.
Budgets can be quite an undertaking. Unfortunately, money can be tight at times, and planning to build a new facility or develop an emergency fund is best done by someone with a financial or accounting background. A financial oversight committee will develop a church budget that covers staff salaries, facility and equipment costs, debt, and reserves for the future. Your board’s finance committee is responsible for preparing financial statements for board meetings and working with staff or an outside economic adviser to ensure all payments are made on time.
Churches are nonprofits, and as such, must follow all laws that apply. When forming your church, the state and IRS require that you create bylaws for your church to follow. Your bylaws will help govern the organization and provide a road map for the board to follow when electing board members and officers and addressing conflict of interest and other legal issues. Bylaws should be updated every two years. Your board’s legal committee should work with outside counsel to address this and any other legal issues that arise.
Board records are the responsibility of the board secretary. The individual elected to this position will take and keep board meeting minutes. They must also keep copies of the following documents:
The church expects its board members to provide leadership, but you’re setting them up for failure without training. The following steps will help your church create a board training process that enables board members to fulfill their roles and responsibilities and greatly benefit the church.
Training is necessary for any new board member but can also come in handy to keep the rest of your board updated on best practices. Providing training for all board members once a year is ideal. This training can be specific to each member’s committee and address any areas the board lacks as a whole. New members should attend an orientation and be trained on the basics when joining the board.
Your church can either create a committee to oversee board training or leave it to the committee that oversees other personnel management. Who trains board members will significantly depend on your church. Ideally, you will have skilled board members or staff that can take the time and effort to provide training for all new board members, but you can also hire an outside consultant to train your team.
Finally, your training committee must prepare an orientation and training manual to be reviewed and approved by the board. This manual should include the following:
Finding the right board members for your church is a long-term commitment and as crucial to meeting your church’s mission and finding a pastor. It is best to create a committee to oversee finding and training board members.
If your church is looking for more board management and fundraising tips and resources, check out the Donorbox nonprofit blog. Subscribe to our newsletter for having our curated list of product news, resources, and updates delivered to your inbox.