November 24, 2020 Tony Morgan

9 Church Board Mistakes I Have Been Seeing Lately

Are any of these issues holding your church back?

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 an 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?

Now more than ever, establishing efficiency and creating clarity around your board is critical.

Our team has talked with hundreds of church leaders who feel overwhelmed by the rapid change and amount of decisions that need to be made right now. And if you feel this way, you’re not alone.

As you lead into the future, we’d love to partner with you as you navigate next steps.

For the last 10 years, we’ve been providing pastors with an ally—coaching them as they lead churches towards a new vision for the future, with the ultimate goal of continually reaching new people and helping them take next steps towards Christ.

Grow your ability to lead a team and a church to thrive in the new normal with an Unstuck Coach. Learn more by visiting

We often find through our work that the governance of a church becomes a barrier to health—

and ultimately one of the key reasons why churches get stuck.

In times like these, a dysfunctional or broken governance model creates additional layers of complexity around clarifying mission/vision, decision-making, and leading change.

So, how should churches be governed biblically and effectively?

Join us on Thursday, December 17 at 1pm EST for a practical conversation to clarify the essential roles of the board and the staff team, and to help you position your church for healthy growth under aligned leadership.

Register to Join Us Today!

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

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