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05 Jan 2017

How to Conduct a Better Board Meeting, Part 1

Raul Rivera

With each new year there always seems to be an overwhelming sense of hope. There is hope in what the new year will bring, and hope that the new year will be better than the last one.

As a pastor, you likely have big hopes and dreams for your church in 2017. You have plans in place that are intended to help your church grow and reach more people. You have goals to increase the ministries within your church and to improve some of the existing ones.

While all of that is good and important to have in place for any growing and thriving church, there is another aspect of your church that deserves just as much attention in 2017.

The forgotten sides of ministry

At the beginning of each new year, we receive many calls from pastors and church leaders asking about the annual filing requirements and compliance related issues for churches and ministries.

The multitude of requirements range from yearly reports with the state to Form 990 filings with the IRS, and the renewal of the organization’s charity registration. We are able to gladly provide guidance, direction, and services to the pastors and church leaders who call us with questions in these areas.

Begin Keeping Your Ministry In Order Today!

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While it is imperative for your church or ministry to know what filings are required of your organization each year, it will vary based on your type of organization and the state in which you operate.

This post will review what I think is the most important administrative meeting of your church - the board of directors meeting.

I have split this post into two parts because of its important topic. At the end of this post, you will be prompted to continue to “Part 2.” However, if interested, you can click here for a sneak peak.

What is the big deal with board meetings?

The laws of all 50 states require that at least one board meeting take place each year in every nonprofit organization. The annual board of directors meeting is often referred to as “the big board meeting” of the year.

During this meeting, you may discuss the budget for the upcoming year, salaries, housing allowances, insurance policies, and any other relevant topics. In addition, it is necessary that board meeting minutes be documented in order to record the decisions made in the meeting. In fact, it is necessary that board meeting minutes be taken and kept for all board meetings.

The laws of all 50 states require that at least one board meeting take place each year.

How often should your church hold a board meeting?

A common question that we hear is, “How often should we hold board meetings?”

Outside of your annual board meeting (which usually takes place within the first few weeks of each new year) we recommend that you and your board meet at least once per quarter. Doing so gives you a total of four board meetings per year. However, you may choose to meet as often as needed.

(Recommended reading: "Do You Know How to Take Board Meeting Minutes?")

In general, these meetings may be referred to as “special board meetings” since the matters being discussed are typically too important to wait for the next annual board meeting. Topics discussed in these meetings include the following:

  • Hiring of a new employee;
  • Salary increases;
  • Resignations or terminations;
  • Major purchases (i.e. real estate, automobiles, etc.);
  • Amendments to governing documents such as the bylaws;
  • Adoption and implementation of new policies and procedures;
  • Adding or removing a board member;
  • Member disputes or discipline of a church member; and
  • Repairs/renovations to the church building.

What to do before a board meeting

Thus far, we have discussed the requirement of an annual board meeting, the frequency in which board meetings should be held, and the matters that need special board meetings. Before a board meeting is held, you should do two things:

  1. Give proper notice, and 
  2. Establish an agenda for the meeting.

Let us take a look at each of these next.

1. Give proper notice

Every state requires that board members be given proper notice before a board meeting. While the minimum notice that you are required to give to the members varies from state to state, we at StartCHURCH® recommend that you give your board members at least 10 full days notice prior to the meeting.

The notice informs the members that a board meeting will take place on a certain date and at a certain time. In addition, it is vital that you have proof that all board members received their notice. One way is to send the notice by email and then require that each board member reply and state whether or not he/she will be in attendance.

Every state requires that board members be given proper notice before a board meeting.

When you send the notice for the upcoming board meeting, you will also want to include an agenda (although the law does not require it).

2. Establish an agenda for the meeting

An agenda of what will be discussed and voted upon during the upcoming board meeting should be sent to all board members when you send proper notice. This ensures that board members have sufficient time to study the agenda for the purposes of discussing and voting on certain matters when the board meeting starts.

In short, your agenda should be a simple list of topics; it does not need to go into any great detail. The agenda simply outlines the progression of the meeting. If you chair the board meeting, be sure to resist getting off-topic. Do not discuss and vote on any topic that is not on the agenda. Sticking to the agenda will keep the board members focused and will help prevent issues from a meeting that lasts too long.

Below is an example of the type of information that a board meeting agenda may contain:

  • Call to order,
  • Previous board meeting minutes,
  • Old business,
  • New business,
  • Reports,
  • Open floor, and
  • Adjournment.

Together we can do so much

In “Part 2” of this series, we will examine the progression of a board meeting, voting during board meetings, and what you should do in the days after the board meeting.

Perhaps you are reading this and you realize that you have yet to hold, or schedule, your annual board meeting. Or maybe you are reading this and you know that your church has never held a board meeting and are not even sure how to conduct one.

Do not worry; it is not too late.

We have created a new service to help with annual board meetings and other recurring compliance filings for churches and ministries. We understand that you want to focus on ministry and serving those who are under your leadership, and that is the way it should be. Therefore, why not consider us as becoming a part of your team? Click below to find out more about our KeepRIGHT Program.

Learn More About the KeepRIGHT Program

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Lastly, as we begin the new year, I encourage you to join us at one of our upcoming Ultimate Church Structure Conferences. During our one day conference, you will be empowered with strategic information to get your church on the right path. Call us at 877-494-4655 to register today! We look forward to seeing you this year!

Click here to read "Part 2" of this post.

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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.