This Could Be Your Most Important Meeting, Part 1

Written by Raul Rivera on Jan 07, 2016 in Church Management

The first service of the new year had just concluded and Pastor Gary was feeling great! He was encouraged about the sermon—the first in a new series the Lord had laid on his heart several months back—and he felt refreshed by the worship that morning, which had been exceptionally good. For the first time since the beginning of the holiday season, the sanctuary had been full of familiar faces! It was wonderful to see the congregation that he loved dearly praising the Lord and greeting each other warmly. Pastor Gary even noticed a few newcomers in the crowd.

Before going to meet his family for lunch, Pastor Gary walked around the sanctuary thanking the Lord for everything his heart was feeling. He was soon overwhelmed with a sense of joy and excitement. He knew in his heart of hearts that this year was going to be a breakthrough year for the church.

He could envision broken marriages mended, relationships between parents and children restored, and lives changed for all of eternity. He could imagine the smiles that would spread across the faces of people they would serve through the food pantry they were planning to begin. Furthermore, he was confident that the favor of the Lord was upon the church. Up and down the sanctuary aisles Gary walked, his mind continuing to revel in the ministry opportunities that were ahead…and then he paused. Something was not right. “What is bothering me?” Gary wondered. From somewhere deep inside, he couldn’t shake the developing feeling that not everything was in order.

He quickly began running down a mental checklist of all that the church would be doing that first quarter, and suddenly he realized that the annual board of directors meeting had yet to be scheduled.

What’s the big deal?

Perhaps you are wondering what the big deal is. I mean after all, Pastor Gary remembered that the annual board meeting needed to be scheduled. But unfortunately, there are many pastors and church leaders who are simply unaware of the requirement to hold an annual board meeting.

In essence, the laws of all 50 states clearly require that at least one board meeting take place per year. The annual board of directors meeting is often referred to as “the big board meeting” of the year.

During this meeting, you generally discuss the budget for the upcoming year, salaries, housing allowances, insurance, policies and procedures, and any other pertinent topic(s). In addition, it is necessary that board meeting minutes be taken in order to document the decisions made during the meeting. As a matter of fact, it is necessary that board meeting minutes be taken and kept for all board meetings.

Frequency of board meetings

A common question we receive is, “How often should we hold board meetings?” Well, 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. You may, however, choose to meet as often as needed.

In general, these meetings may be known as “special board meetings” since the matters being discussed are, typically, too important to wait for the next annual board meeting. Such topics discussed in these meetings include, but are not limited to, the following:

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

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 necessitate special board meetings. But before a board meeting is held, you should do two things: 1) give a proper notice, and 2) establish an agenda for the meeting. Let’s take a look at each of these.

1. Give a proper notice

Every state requires that board members be given some measure of proper notice prior to a board meeting taking place. While the minimum notice that you are required to give to the members of your board 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.

In essence, the notice informs the board members that a board meeting will take place on certain date at a certain time. Additionally, it is vital that you have a way of proving that all board members received such notice. One way to send the notice is by email; make sure that each board member replies back to you whether or not he will be in attendance.
Although the law does not require it, when you send the notice, you will want to send an agenda for the upcoming board meeting, which we will talk about next.

2. Establish an agenda for the meeting

An agenda of what will be discussed and voted upon at the upcoming board meeting should be sent to all board members at the time that you send proper notice. This ensures that board members have enough time to study the agenda and be prepared to discuss and/or vote on certain matters by the time 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 a board meeting. When 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. This keeps board meetings focused and precise and helps prevent potential headaches from board meetings that last 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
  • Adjournment

Conclusion

Perhaps you are reading this and you realize for the first time that you, like Pastor Gary, have yet to hold your annual board meeting. Or, perhaps you are reading this and you realize 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.

In Part 2 of this series, we will examine the progression of a board meeting, a couple of things about voting during board meetings, and what you should do in the days after the board meeting. In the mean time, I encourage you to do at least 1 of 2 things:

  1. Sign up 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.
  2. Call our office, toll free, at 877-494-4655, and ask to speak with one of our church plant consultants who can help answer your questions and let you know how we can serve you and your church.

Our goal is not to overwhelm you with additional items to add to your already jam-packed “to do list”. Rather, our goal is to empower you and your church with the knowledge to better navigate your church through today’s legal landscape.

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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