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19 Mar 2017

3 Positions Every Church Board Must Fill

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. The pastors consider who will be on staff and who will be congregational volunteers. Pastors go to great lengths to ensure these people are positioned when the new church begins. But what about the church board?

Are there other individuals that pastors should be considering as essential team players? Yes! Some of the most vital individuals that should come to mind are the president, treasurer, and secretary.

At our conferences, we teach how these roles need to be clearly defined in the bylaws and how to properly select the individuals to serve on your church board. In this post, we will take a look at the vital importance of these three positions to your church.

The church board of directors

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.

The center usually hikes the ball to the quarterback 50 to 75 times a game without error, 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 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 three important positions within their bylaws. Each church is different; therefore, it requires us to listen carefully and learn about each church’s vision.

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Let me give you a snapshot of each of these positions, and how they affect the future of your church.

3 vital board 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. Moreover, the president casts the vision of the church. The pastor usually fills this position, which gives him the task of providing leadership to the whole church. 

In all of the years that I pastored, I was the President/CEO of the church corporation. Many pastors view themselves as ministers, but they do not see themselves as CEOs and leaders of a corporation. I have noticed, however, that when a pastor adopts this CEO mindset, a level of growth and maturity begins.

Many pastors view themselves as ministers, but they do not see themselves as CEOs and leaders of a corporation.

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 every case, the church suffered.

At our Ultimate Church Structure Conference, we talk not only about structuring a church that is protected in the face of complex civil, business, and tax laws, but also about aligning your church board with the vision that God has given you. 

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(Recommended readings: ”How to Conduct a Better Board Meeting, Part 1” and “How to Conduct a Better Board Meeting, Part 2”)

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 manage 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 using our bookkeeping service.

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

  1. Establish financial systems and accountability controls, which include 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.

3. Secretary

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

  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. 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

It is no secret that each year hundreds, if not thousands, of churches end up in court. If we were to closely examine these cases, I think we would see that many of these lawsuits can be traced back directly to something that the president, treasurer, and/or secretary either did or failed to do. 

On many occasions, there have been lawsuits concerning embezzled money by the treasurer. Other legal cases have pertained to improper filing of papers or improper notices by the secretary. 

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.

Do not be deterred . . . keep moving forward

We know that keeping up with ever-changing church law is tough. That is why we exist. We feel that it is a part of our calling to bridge the gap between your vision and the lawful way to make your vision come to pass. 

Serving pastors and leaders is an honor that we do not take lightly. We would love for you to join us at one of our conferences near you! For more information, please call us at 877-494-4655 with any questions or concerns that you may have.

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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.

Blessings,
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.