Churches exist to help people and make a difference in its community and beyond. This commitment to a mission is what drives a ministry and dictates church board behaviors.
However, churches have life cycles like any other organization and its long term success has a direct correlation to the strength of the board that oversees it.
Effective church boards are made up of people who have a passion for the organization, its mission and the people that it serves. These governing boards strengthen the organization through intentional strategic focus and diligent financial oversight.
This requires a commitment to challenging the status quo in its pursuit of continual improvement, growth and development.
Board members are legally responsible for the oversight of the organization as it pursues its mission and provides direction and financial management of its resources.
7 Things Effective Church Boards Do Well
1. Clarify Direction
A church board helps to clarify direction and purpose by defining why the organization exists and what it hopes to achieve.
This is done through the development of a mission, vision and values statement that steers all decision making.
This clarification is communicated to all stakeholders of the church – employees, volunteers and members to ensure everyone is working toward the same goal.
2. Develop A Plan
Effective boards have a strategy and plan for achieving its mission.
This is done through the development of a strategic plan and annual church goals that support the mission and vision of the organization.
This planning process factors in accountability for accomplishing goals and holds parties responsible for achieving desired results.
3. Ensures Accountability
Getting things done can be a challenge in ministry because there are so many unpredictable variances in any given day.
For instance, life happens and when a member is in crisis, the church stops to help. This is what its there for.
However, the board is responsible for challenging leadership and holding the organization accountable.
They do this by studying board reports, asking clarifying questions and pushing past barriers that deter from accomplishing ministry goals.
They keep a pulse on the organization by challenging things that don’t line up with its strategy and diligently keeps the focus on its core mission.
4. Provide Financial Oversight
This involves creating an annual church budget and holding leadership accountable for adhering to the budget.
An annual audit of financial reports and accounting practices must be done and donors should receive an annual report showing income, expenses and a financial statement.
5. Drives Continuous Improvement
Continuous improvement is how organizations get better at what they do.
The board should assess the organization’s performance to ensure it is fulfilling its strategic plan and improving its internal processes.
This is done by appraising the organization’s leadership and their ability to lead others and achieve strategy.
This assessment also looks for ways to improve church programs and operations by using quality tools to identify areas of focus and developing plans for improvement.
6. Maintain Integrity
Every organization should operate with the highest of ethical standards and behavior but the church should be held to the highest standard.
A church board should hold themselves accountable for maintaining integrity and high ethical standards for the organization.
This includes developing a conflict-of-interest statement that all leadership adheres to – and ensuring that all decisions are made with the organization’s best interest in mind.
Conducting church related business with family, friends or church members should only be done through conflict-of-interest guidelines, by providing multi-bid comparisons and justifying any decisions with detailed documentation of business relationship and the value it brings to the church.
You might also want to check out ECFA Integrity Standards to inspire your board.
7. Support Its Leadership
Church leaders carry the weight of the day-to-day operation and need support.
Effective boards support church leadership by helping them do their job.
This is done by assisting to remove obstacles that hinder organizational progress and ensuring the necessary resources are available to support the mission.
Church board governance is the backbone and driving force of effective church management, development and growth. Taking the time to train and develop the governing board is one way to help equip them for this important responsibility.
There is a great book on board governance to help you get started!