What Are the Duties of a Church Board of Directors?

by Christine Lebednik
A traditional church is likely to have a congregationally-invested governance structure.

A traditional church is likely to have a congregationally-invested governance structure.

The duties and responsibilities of a church board of directors varies somewhat from denomination to denomination and from congregation to congregation. Governance models in Christian denominations range from full or nearly full authority invested in the will of the congregants to more hierarchical models where full or nearly full power rests with the clergy. The closer to authority vested in the will of the congregants, the more responsibility a particular church typically invests in a board of directors. A governance body that may not even exist in congregations of more hierarchically structured churches as Orthodox congregations or Roman Catholic churches.

Policymaking

For those congregations who do use a board of directors as a governance structure, a first duty of board members involves policymaking. A church board considers the church's administrative and legislative policies. Approving, revising, and implementing appropriate policies falls into the purview of the church's board of directors, according to the Crown Financial Ministries website.

Budgetary

Another area the church board of directors concerns itself is budgetary approval. Board members review a general budget for the various ministries the church operates; in larger churches the finance committee may submit to the board for its approval. In some churches, however, the final decision of the overall budget remains with the congregation at large, to whom the board of directors resubmits its approved general budget, as described at the Crown Financial Ministries website.

Compensation Review

Another significant function of the church board of directors involves review of the senior pastor's compensation package; the pastor then sets staff salaries.

Fiscal Reporting

The church board has a responsibility to report the financial status of the church, incorporating such elements as the budgetary effects of the various clergy and staff salaries, the cost of maintaining various ministries, and related matters, according to Crown Financial Ministries. The board has a duty to exercise due diligence in fiscal reporting of the individual church's ongoing activity.

Pastor's Role

To greater or lesser degree, the pastor has authority within the church board and may have the position of moderator of the board, as described on the Metropolitan Community Church website. The degree of authority and control the minister has over the board of directors varies, depending on if that particular church governance invests the governing authority in the congregation or in the clergy as hierarchical authority over the congregation.

About the Author

A writer/editor since 1984, Christine Lebednik has spent much of her career in business and technical writing, and editing. Her consumer print and online articles include product descriptions for TDMonthly Online, book reviews for Catholic News Service, consumer reports for Consumer Search and works for various other publications. Lebednik received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Salem State College.

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