I wonder how much of the decline of the Church in America can be attributed back to church boards. Just this week I spoke with a pastor who was walking away from his church because he didn’t feel like they would ever be willing to change. More than likely that church will be closed in the next 5-10 years along with many more churches who have been held hostage by a church board that is unwilling to let a pastor lead.
It’s a sad state of affairs when a board that has been elected to protect a church ends up destroying it.
Now, not all church boards are bad. Many are great, and I believe they’re necessary to protect the pastor and the church.
But unfortunately, most church boards I’ve seen and heard about in small towns are doomed to fail. Here are the reasons why.
- It’s a popularity contest. It’s not about who is the most gifted or qualified, it’s about who knows the most members of the church and has the best relationship with them.
- Everyone gets a vote. Members who may attend the church only a few times a year, never serve or give, have the same voice as someone who shows up every week, serves, gives, and is heavily involved in the ministry. How does this make any sense?
- Required unanimous or majority decisions. This allows one person or extended family to control the vote and hold a church hostage to their wants.
- The board is boss. The board views their primary role as holding the pastor and staff accountable. They’re not empowering the pastor to lead, they’re keeping him or her in check.
- The board wants a say in every decision. Day-to-day ministry decisions should be left up to the pastor and/or staff. Boards that want to micromanage slow down the ministry and frustrate those doing the ministry.
Now, real quick let’s look at what healthy church boards are doing.
- Protect the mission and vision of the church
- Approve the annual budget
- Approve any spending outside of the annual budget
- Be spiritual leaders within the church
- Encourage the pastor and provide accountability
- Advice the pastor on big decisions as requested
When you look at the differences, it’s easy to see why churches with healthy boards grow, and why churches with unhealthy boards are dying.
What’s been your experience with church boards? What have you learned? Leave a comment and let us know, and while you’re here subscribe to the blog to get a free resource and tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.