May 28, 2015 Tony Morgan

9 Church Board Mistakes I Have Been Seeing Lately

Last week, I shared my interview with T.J. Addington discussing his book High-Impact Church Boards: How to Develop Healthy, Intentional, and Empowered Church Leaders. I think every church board needs to read that book together.

The book got me thinking about some of the mistakes I see a lot of churches make when it comes to boards/governance. Here are nine; you may be able to think of more.

1) Voting on church leaders based on popularity.

Leaders should be appointed based on gifting and biblical qualifications.

2) Having a board that views its primary role as holding the pastor accountable.

Rather than empowering the pastor to lead.

3) Thinking everyone in the church should have a voice on every decision.

This gives everyone the same voice including unbelievers, those who are not spiritually mature and those who are not qualified to lead.

4) Having more than one board or committee to create checks and balances.

There should only be one lay leadership board that handles all the responsibilities of previous boards and committees.

5) Giving the board oversight over more than one person.

The only person who should be accountable to the board is the senior pastor. All other staff leadership, including hiring and firing, should be the senior pastor’s responsibility.

6) Having a board that spends most of its time rehashing reports from what happened in the past or what’s happening today.

Rather than planning and praying for what happens in the future.

7) Involving the board in day-to-day ministry decisions, including purchases previously approved in the budget, rather than focusing on the big picture.

The board should embrace these primary roles:

  • Modeling spiritual leadership to the congregation
  • Providing encouragement and accountability to the Lead Pastor
  • Protecting the established mission, vision and values of the church
  • Making significant financial commitments (annual budget, salary of Lead Pastor, land acquisitions, construction contracts, etc.)
  • Advising the Lead Pastor, as requested, on strategic decisions the staff leadership is processing

8) Requiring a unanimous vote or a simple majority to make decisions.

In either case, one person can control decision-making. The goal should be to achieve consensus with everyone committed to decisions once they’re made.

9) Allowing people to spend more time in meetings than in ministry.

The more complex the structure gets, the less church health and growth we see. On the other hand, there’s a direct correlation between mobilizing lay people into ministry and the overall health of the church.

Church boards don’t have to be dysfunctional. We review the church’s governance and make recommendations for changes as part of our staffing and structure review for larger churches.

Are any of these issues holding your church back?

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Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, theunstuckgroup.com. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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