For a church to maintain its non-profit status, they must have an oversight board. This board is mainly in charge of ensuring that the ministry is financially stable and is fulfilling its core mission. Members need to be chosen carefully, dedicate themselves to the church’s mission, and educate others on important church topics. Church boards are formed to handle major assets governed by laws without any previous training.
What are the Responsibilities of the Church Board?
Church boards need to meet regularly to oversee the operational functions of the ministry, such as the church’s budget, top leader performance evaluations, strategic performance, and legal compliance. The duties of a church board are called fiduciary duties, which represent the highest standards of the law. There are three very important fiduciary duties of a church board:
- Duty of Care: This requires that all decisions be made in good faith and are arrived at through due diligence. Decisions should be well researched, and the consequences should be known.
- Duty of Loyalty: This requires that the board members have a conflict-of-interest policy that requires disclosure of conflicts and timely addressing all problems.
- Duty of Obedience: This requires the board to comply with local, state, and federal laws, as well as the organization’s bylaws.
The church board has many other responsibilities that are necessary to keep the church running smoothly. To ensure the church runs efficiently, it is recommended to do the following:
Strategic Planning: Articulate the church’s core mission and develop a strategy to achieve it. This can be done through a formal strategic planning process that develops a mission, vision, and value statement. The different goals that are set should be delegated to different departments of the ministry. Each member of the board and church needs to be held responsible for getting everything done.
Manage Performance: The church board is responsible for monitoring and holding church leadership accountable for their jobs and duties. Also, ensure that leaders are not performing duties outside of their job criteria and overlooking their actual priorities.
Financial Oversight: Keeping finances in check and maintaining a church budget will ensure that money is being used properly and effectively. Hire outside auditors to help prevent embezzlement or fraud.
Manage Compensation: The church board is responsible for benchmarking top church leaders’ compensation, making recommendations for pay and housing, and approving salaries of other church leaders.
Legal Compliance: The board is also responsible for adhering to laws that govern all non-profit organizations. Use good judgement to keep the church running smoothly and ethically.
Maintain Board Records: Records need to be cleaned and updated by keeping board minutes, mission statements, church bylaws, articles of incorporation, and any policies that govern the board function.
How Do I Choose Board Members?
A church board is a team that works together to make crucial business decisions. Every board needs a leader to ensure that the board is working together and is united. Boards also need a treasurer to focus on finances, including the church’s income, outgoings, projections, budgets, changes, and trends. A board secretary will ensure that all rules, bylaws, policies, and procedures of the church are being followed in and out of meetings. They will also oversee record-keeping and archiving documents.
A church board should not be made up of friends or family members of the church diocese officials. The members of this type of board must be fully dedicated to their position, and they are responsible for making very important decisions. Members on this board must be willing to face difficult situations and be chosen based off their dedication to the church and their ability to handle tough problems that may occur.
The number of church board members differs by each organization. If one has too few members, the board may lack experience, wisdom, and diversity. If one has too many members, one lacks the ability to make conclusive decisions. Five to nine people on a board is recommended. If one must change out the members of the board or find new members due to changes in life, availability, or resignation, there are a few ways to do so.
Board members choose who should be on the board through proposals and discussions. Once the candidates have been discussed, the members should vote. A change of members should be a positive situation, and board members should welcome anyone new with open arms. A full training schedule should be designed for new members, as well as a breakdown of what the board does at meetings. Any new ideas and opinions should be taken into consideration, especially since the church community is constantly changing.
What Guidelines Should I Follow?
For a church board to succeed, there are 10 essential guidelines they should follow:
- Determine and understand the mission and purpose. Ensure that the mission is clearly stated and readily available to everyone involved in the church.
- Select a chief executive officer. This position may also be referred to as the chair, president, or head of trustees.
- Support and evaluate the chief executive officer. The chief officer and the board members should always be informed, and every piece of information should be known.
- Maintain effective planning. This includes financial planning, project planning, and risk management.
- Monitor and strengthen programs. Evaluate if programs match the church’s mission, ensure that the cost-benefit ratio is appropriate, and discontinue non-effective programs. Try and cultivate a culture that embraces change.
- Ensure financial resources. Provide adequate resources for the organization to fulfill the church’s mission. Also, each project that the board takes on should have specific goals and in-depth fundraising strategies.
- Establish fiduciary responsibilities. This includes developing the annual budget and ensuring that proper financial controls are in place.
- Train and recruit a competent board. When creating the board, it is important to train each individual member and clarify expectations.
- Enhance the church’s public image. Publicize the positive strides that the organization has made within its own members and the outside community.
- Ensure legal and ethical integrity. Schedule regular legal compliance audits.
It is important to remember that individual board members do not represent varying parts of the church; they represent the entire church. The church board needs to work together to maintain the integrity of the church and ensure that its mission is being fulfilled.
Church boards are also formed to provide further spiritual support, which is the highest value in any church organization. Members of the board should be diligent in prayer and involved in all aspects of the ministry. The board needs to understand the balance between spiritual support and corporate obligations. For additional help, it is wise to consult with a church law attorney.
Church Law Attorneys at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Help Clients Construct Successful Church Boards
Church boards are necessary for a church to thrive in the non-profit community. The creation of these boards can be difficult and need to be carefully managed. The church law attorneys at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC are skilled in church litigation, and we will help your church board succeed. Call us today at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.