Here’s an example of a partnership between a board-governed, staff-led church.
(Roles and Responsibilities)
- Affirmation of the vision (usually originating from the Senior Pastor and Lead Team) through prayer and discernment of God’s voice. (Where is the church headed?)
- Spiritual discernment and affirmation of values and big picture ministry direction with the Senior Pastor. For example, multi-site or not? (What does the church look like in 5 – 10 years?)
- Determine the pace and values for facility and finance, and partner in major financial decisions, such as purchasing land or building buildings.
- Act as discerning partners with the pastor: e.g., theological, political, social, and community issues and public position on key issues.
- Ask productive questions and serve as a provider of solutions.
- Decision-making partnership for major business matters of the church. (example, church budget)
- Serve as prayer warriors for the general ministries of the church and lead with a positive influence in the congregation.
- Serve as trusted accountability for the pastor’s life, leadership, and walk with God.
- They are usually serving in a hands-on ministry within the church in addition to the board.
- Earnestly seek God through prayer for unity, purity, and honor on the staff team, and pray diligently for the congregation.
- Lead and implement the vision and strategy for the church.
- Cultivate and lead toward positive morale, vision momentum, and the overall spiritual culture of the church.
- Carry the day-to-day leadership of all church functions, events, systems, and processes to support the vision and strategy.
- Design and implementation for all ministries and their effective and measurable outcomes.
- Decision-making and responsibility for all staffing functions, including culture, hiring/dismissal, teamwork, development, and outcomes.
- Responsibility for unity in thought for practical expression of theological issues in ministry.
- Budget design and management (approved annually by the church board.)
- Creative design and execution of all worship services
- Leadership development and equipping for ministry within the congregation.
You can see two things from these lists.
There is more than enough work for everyone.
The overall health and growth of the church is entrusted to the partnership between the ministry staff and the church board, each with its own specific roles and responsibilities.
The potential of such a partnership is powerful!
At a minimum, it’s a healthy check and balance, but even more, it expands the scope of collective leadership wisdom.
2. The Best Church Boards Function as a Unified Team of Spiritual Discernment Rather Than Individual Advocacy for Specific Ministries.
Passion for a particular ministry is good, but not if it compromises the overall effectiveness and impact of the church. Therefore, each of us must set aside our preferences for the greater progress of the church.
Unity within the church is one of the most essential elements to strive for and one of the most difficult to achieve. It requires a clear vision and humble leadership.
3. The Best Church Boards Are Loyal to the Mission and Supportive of the Pastor.
A church can get in trouble if it elevates the pastor over the purpose of the church or elevates the purpose to the detriment of the pastor’s ability to lead. The pastor needs to lead with their own style, gifting, and personality.
It’s clearly a problem if the leader becomes bigger than the vision, but we also know that there can be so many requirements and expectations attached to the vision that the leader can’t function.
The beautiful balance is when a church board is very loyal to the mission and highly supportive of the pastor. This is achieved through honest conversation, heartfelt unity, and diligent obedience to God’s voice.
4. The Best Church Boards Are Strong Enough, to Be Honest, Hold the Pastor Accountable, and Simultaneously Mature Enough to Empower the Pastor and Staff to Lead.
Mutual and abiding trust is at the core of a great relationship between the pastor and the church board.