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3 Must-Have Board Member Positions

By Chaston Asbury

Church planting is one of the most exciting and challenging times in a pastor’s life. As any church planter knows, it takes a team of committed individuals to start a church successfully. The pastor, musicians, and volunteers are all vital to a new church. However, there is another group of individuals that must fulfill the important roles a church can have, especially at its outset.

This group of people is none other than the board of directors. These individuals play a crucial role in helping the pastor lead the vision he or she has been given. In this blog, we will discuss who the board of directors is, how to successfully create one, and why your board must be balanced.

What is a board of directors?

The board of directors is a group of individuals that constitutes the decision making body for the organization. While your board may contain many different individuals, three specific positions must be fulfilled. 

The first position on the board is the president.

The role of the president is defined as the individual in charge of the day-to-day activities of the church. More importantly, the president casts the vision of the church. Usually, the pastor fills this position. This gives him or her the task of providing leadership to the whole church.

Many pastors view themselves as ministers, but they do not see themselves as CEOs or leaders of a corporation. You may not automatically see yourself this way either, but when you choose to have a CEO mindset, you will see growth and maturity within your church.

The next position that is absolutely necessary to have is the treasurer.

The role of the treasurer can be best defined as the overseer of the financial management of the church. The treasurer has three main responsibilities to ensure the church books are transparent and compliant with the law. Those three responsibilities are: 

  1. Establish financial systems and accountability controls. This typically includes accounting, reimbursement policies, payroll, and IRS reporting.
  2. Create a set of reports that keep the board of directors updated on the financial condition of the church.
  3. Understand the laws that govern the management of the church’s tax-exempt status and ensure compliance with the law.

Many are under the impression that the treasurer has to manage the books, but this is not a requirement. A volunteer, a finance director, or a paid staff member can be assigned to handle the church's books. However, not every church has the ability to hire someone to handle their books. In such cases, you can look to using a service like StartCHURCH bookkeeping. Our full-time bookkeepers are experts at nonprofit books, especially churches and ministries, and would love to assist your church in keeping accurate financial records. 

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The final position that must be fulfilled within the board of directors is the secretary.

The role of the secretary can best be defined as the custodian of the legal documents. This role is critical because this person usually handles many of the records and documents that affect the church. Like the treasurer, the secretary also has three main responsibilities: 

  1. Manage and maintain the governing documents of the church.
  2. Schedule board meetings and make sure that minutes are properly recorded and stored.
  3. Stay up to date with state corporate reporting requirements such as annual reports, charity registration, state sales tax exemptions, property tax exemptions, 501(c)(3) status, and more.

Now that we know who makes up the board of directors, let’s talk about how to establish your board effectively.

3 documents board members should sign

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “Is there any special paperwork that has to be filed in order for someone to officially serve on the board of directors?” And the answer is yes. Let’s cover what those are now. 

1. Acceptance to Serve on the Board

When a church adds a new board member, it is very important for that board member to sign an incoming board member statement. This statement is composed of three declarations.

  1. The board member accepts the appointment.
  2. The board member will actively participate on the board.
  3. The board member agrees to submit to and abide by the bylaws of the church.  

Your bylaws should have specific language, such as a prohibited activities and a mutual interest clause, that protect the church in the event that a board member turns against the church and pastor. Unfortunately, these things happen more often than you might think.

2. Conflict of Interest Statement

Ensure that the board of directors is following best practices by having each board member sign a conflict of interest statement every year. This is a supporting statement to the conflict of interest policy, which is recommended to be included in the church's corporate records. In essence, this document contains four declarations: 

  1. The board member has a copy of the conflict of interest policy.
  2. The board member has read and understood the policy.
  3. The board member agrees to comply with the policy.
  4. The board member understands that the church is a tax-exempt, charitable organization and that it must engage in activities that accomplish its purpose in order to maintain tax-exempt status.

Call StartCHURCH today at 877-494-4655 to get your FREE and editable Conflict of Interest Statement!

3. Waiver of Notice  

In order to avoid any issues with board meetings, every board member should sign a waiver of notice before a board meeting begins. This is a particularly important document because it is defensive. Many churches have had their board meetings legally nullified by courts because they failed to meet the proper notice requirements when conducting them. Essentially, the waiver of notice is a signed statement by each board member where they waive the proper notice requirements and attend the board meeting waiving that right. 

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Having a balanced board

When establishing your board of directors, it is important to know that the board must remain balanced. A balanced board of directors is comprised of a majority of individuals unrelated and uncompensated. 

For example, if a husband and wife were to be on a church board of directors, there would need to be at least three additional members on the board who are not related (by blood or marriage) to the pastor or his wife. 

Another example would be if there were two individuals on the board who were receiving compensation. Let’s say, in this instance, the senior pastor and the assistant pastor are getting paid. There would need to be at least three additional members on the board who are not receiving compensation.

Having a balanced board of directors ensures that all decisions are being made in the best interest of the church, as opposed to the best interest of one particular family group or the paid individuals on the board.

The confidence to lead well

It is absolutely necessary to have the president, treasurer, and secretary in place when running an organization. These three positions oversee and manage the church's vision, finances, and official documents.

If you have questions about board member positions, or if you’re uncertain about whether or not your board is balanced, give our specialists a call at 877-494-4655. We will gladly help you identify these positions and make sure you are on the right track of compliance. 

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