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24 Mar 2016

3 People Your Church Cannot Overlook

Raul Rivera

When pastors begin planning for the launch of a new church, they often think of the various people who will join their launch team. Usually when one begins a church, the pastor is thinking of those who will be on staff or congregational volunteers. Pastors go to great lengths to ensure these people are in place when the new church begins.

But, are there others that pastors should be considering as essential team players? The answer is, “Yes!”. Some of the most vital individuals that should come to mind are those of the president, treasurer, and secretary.

As taught in our Ultimate Church Structure Conference, we teach pastors and church leaders how these roles need to be clearly defined in the bylaws and how to properly choose them to serve on your board. In this post we will take a look at the vital importance of these three positions to your church.

The church leadership team

As with any team, there are people in the church that have a huge impact on the team but are not necessarily seen from the front.

For example, the sport of football has a position that no one thinks about until that player makes a mistake. The center usually hikes the ball to the quarterback 50 to 75 times a game without hitch, yet no one praises him for doing it perfectly. However, when he makes one mistake, everyone notices it.

Nearly 100% of the time that the center makes a mistake hiking the ball, it results in a loss of yards or a turnover. The same goes for the three overlooked people in the church. If any of them falter, the consequences to the church can be devastating.

These three people are so important to a church and ministry that throughout our StartRIGHT® Program, we help pastors and church leaders to define the roles of these 3 important positions within their bylaws. Each church is different; therefore, it requires us to listen carefully and get to know each church’s vision.

Learn More About the StartRIGHT Program

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Let me give you a quick 10,000- foot view of each of these positions and how they affect the future of your church.

3 vital positions your church must fill

1. President

The role of the president is defined as the individual in charge of the day-to-day activities of the church. The pastor usually fills this position, giving him the task of providing leadership to the whole church. Moreover, the president casts the vision of the church.

In all of the years that I pastored, I was the President/CEO of the church corporation. Many pastors see themselves as ministers but they do not see themselves as CEO’s and leaders of a corporation. I have always noticed, however, that when a pastor makes this connection in his mind, a level of growth and maturity begins.

As the CEO of the corporation, I made it a point to ensure that my treasurer and secretary were in alignment with the vision of the church. I have met too many pastors that had board members and officers that were not running with the vision of the church as cast by the pastor, and in 100% of every case, the church suffered.

Many pastors see themselves as ministers but they do not see themselves as CEO’s and leaders of a corporation.

At our Ultimate Church Structure Conference, not only do I teach church structure in regards to civil, business, and tax law, I also share from my experiences leading a church and what I did to keep the board of directors unified.

2. Treasurer

The role of the treasurer can be best defined as the overseer of the financial management of the church. Many are under the impression that the treasurer has to run the books. It is possible for a volunteer, a finance director, or a paid staff member to do the work of bookkeeping. However, if you find that you need help with your church's bookkeeping responsibilities, consider checking out our bookkeeping service.

Discover More About the StartCHURCH Bookkeeping Service

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The treasurer has three main responsibilities that need his attention to ensure that the church books are transparent and compliant with the law. Below are three responsibilities of the treasurer.

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

3. Secretary

The role of the secretary can best be defined as the custodian of legal matters. The secretary’s role is very critical because this person usually handles many of the documents and documentation that affect the church. Below are three responsibilities of the secretary.

  • Manage and maintain the governing documents of the church.
  • Schedule board meetings and make sure that minutes are properly recorded and stored.
  • Keep 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.
(Recommended reading: "Do You Know How to Take Board Meeting Minutes?")

Trouble comes when these positions falter

Last year, an estimated 12,000 churches ended up in court. Thousands of these lawsuits could be traced back directly to something that the president, treasurer, and/or secretary either did or failed to do. On many occasions lawsuits were concerning embezzled money by the treasurer, while others were pertaining to the improper filing of papers by the secretary or improper notice requirements the secretary was responsible to send out.

Moreover, every year secretaries, while trying their best to keep the church’s records up to date, fail to file annual reports and/or submit the charity registration. Likewise, church treasurers are not always up to date with the requirements of the law concerning informational returns and section 4958 requirements.

Why we exist

We know that keeping up with the ever-changing side of church is tough. That is why we exist. We feel a call from the Most High to bridge the gap between the vision and the lawful way to make it come to pass. Serving pastors and leaders is an honor that we do not take lightly and we would love for you to join us at one of our conferences near you. For more information, feel free call us at 877-494-4655 with any questions or concerns you may have. You will be glad you did.

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Please feel free to comment. We always appreciate good dialogue. However, we do moderate each comment to ensure that it is on topic and not derogatory to other participants. We ask that you keep your comments brief and pertinent to the topic so that others may benefit.

Raul Rivera

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About the Author

Church Planter. Speaker. Author. CEO. Raul Rivera has had ample experience in the church planting world. His current venture, StartCHURCH, has helped 1000's of churches to start right. Raul has compiled an array of manuals and software tools that help churches stay compliant with the IRS. He also hosts over 35 national conferences per year, training pastors on how to launch their churches. Raul is married to his wife Genel, and they and their five children live in Atlanta, GA.