One of the requirement of maintaining a nonprofit status is to have an oversight board.
Church boards are responsible for ensuring that the ministry fulfills its core mission.
This is done by developing strategy, monitoring performance and ensuring church financial accountability.
Strong board governance makes certain a meaningful mission is implemented effectively.
Effective boards have an impact on the long-term viability of the organization and have a vested interest in how well the church implements the strategy of achieving its mission.
This is done by meeting on a regular basis while actively overseeing the key operational functions – which are church budget oversight, top leader performance evaluation, strategic performance management and legal compliance.
8 Church Board Responsibilities
1. Strategic Planning
The board is responsible for articulating the church’s core mission and developing a strategy and plan to achieve it.
This is done by going through a formal strategic planning process which includes development of a mission, vision and values statement as well as overseeing the development of operational goals that map out steps for achieving the mission.
2. Managing Performance
The board is responsible for monitoring and holding leadership accountable for achieving business results.
This is done by developing annual church goals and holding the top leaders responsible by providing them with authoritative boundaries for achieving goals.
For example, the Executive Pastor should understand the boundaries of their authority for making tactical decisions about the the day-to-day operations of the ministry.
3. Financial Oversight
The board is responsible for the organization’s responsible stewardship, financial accountability and solvency.
This is done by approving and overseeing the annual church budget. This includes providing input and direction into strategy and priority in spending as well as ensuring that the the strategy set-forth has the financial resources for implementation.
This financial oversight includes identifying independent outside auditors to perform occasional audits to ensure good business practices and compliance with state and federal laws.
4. Managing Compensation
The board is responsible for chartering a compensation committee that is responsible for benchmarking top church leader’s compensation, making recommendations for pay and housing allowance and approving salaries of senior leadership.
5. Ensure Legal Compliance
Church boards are responsible for adhering to laws that govern nonprofit organizations.
This includes the duties of care, loyalty and obedience which is the board’s responsibility to participate in decision making and use good judgement, set aside personal interests to ensure the organization’s interest are kept and ensures that the church stays true to its core mission by complying with governing laws.
6. Monitor Conflict-of-Interest
The board is responsible for ensuring there are no conflicts-of-interest and puts policies and systems in place to ensure full disclosure of any potential conflicts within the organization or the board.
7. Maintain Supporting Documents and Board Records
The board is responsible for ensuring all board records are kept including board minutes, mission, vision, values statement, church bylaws, articles of incorporation and any policies that govern the board function.
8. Board Training
Strong boards ensure that new board members are provided the appropriate orientation and training for their role.
This includes review of all corporate documents, job description and responsibilities as well as understanding the legal requirements for board members. There are many church board training options that can be found online.
Anyone who is chosen to be part of a church board should recognize the honor and incredible responsibility that comes with that role. Having a good understanding of role responsibilities, coupled with thorough training, is a great way to get a board member equipped to serve the church.
Some other great book for your reading library are High-Impact Church Boards: How to Develop Healthy, Intentional, and Empowered Church Leaders and Good Governance for Nonprofits: Developing Principles and Policies for an Effective Board.
photo by: IITA
Article originally posted March, 2012, updated, February 2015.