Is there any special paperwork that has to be filed in order for someone to officially serve on the board of directors of a church?  How about a social procedure to join or to remove someone from the board?  Those are common questions that many pastors and leaders ask.  

These questions have been asked by so many pastors in recent months that we have added a whole new topic to our conferences for the upcoming seminar schedule.  We will cover in detail the letter of invitation to a board member, how to officially appoint members to the board, the documents that each member should sign when joining, and the follow-up annual statements that must be signed.  Additionally, we will cover the difficult topic of removing a divisive board member: the correct procedure to make sure that retaliatory legal attacks fall harmless on your ministry.

In the mean time, below are three documents that must be signed by board members.  If you are on the board of directors and you have never signed any of the big three documents, today would be a good day to learn about them.  We have added these documents to our conference manual (Pages 75-77) to make sure you maximize your church's level of compliance.

Conflict of Interest Statement:  To ensure that the board of directors follows best practices, each board member must annually sign a conflict of interest statement.  This is a supporting statement to the conflict of interest policy that must be in the church's corporate records.  In essence, this document contains 4 declarations, as follows. 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, and 4).  The board member understands that the church/ministry is a tax-exempt, charitable organization and that it must engage in activities that accomplish its purpose in order to maintain tax-exempt status.

Acceptance to Serve on the Board:  When a church/ministry 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, as follows. 1).  The board member accepts the appointment, 2).  The board member will actively participate on the board, and 3). The board member agrees to submit to and abide by the constitution and bylaws of the church/ministry.  This is really important because the bylaws should have certain clauses such as common interest clause and the standard of living clause that protect the church in case the board member turns against the church and pastor.  Unfortunately, these things happen more often than one may think.

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 meeting legally nullified by courts because they failed to meet the proper notice requirements when conducting them.  In essence, 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.

Get it right before the year ends

It is in your heart to make sure that your church operates within the requirements of the law.  That is why you read this article.  However, do not wait for the New Year to make a resolution to do better with the church's legal compliance.  Start today, study, and invest time and money in acquiring knowledge so that when the New Year comes, you hit the ground running.  If you wait until January to start, it will be too late and you will probably quit by February.  Do not put off for tomorrow that which can and ought to be done today.