Church Board Duties

The start of the year is a good time for church boards to ensure that they have remained compliant with all of their duties to the organization. Of course, church entities are not all structured the same. Some are set up with broad congregational membership authority. Others are largely board governed. There may be a combination of board and membership authority. Some churches have multiple governing boards, each vested with authority over specific issues.

The church’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, when understood together, should provide a clear roadmap for navigating these issues. The Articles of Incorporation can usually be found by conducting a search of the Secretary of State’s business documents website. Bylaws are internal documents that should be kept on file by the church.

Once the structure is understood, ensure that the issues discussed below are dealt with in a timely manner by the appropriate group of people.  

Annual Meetings: Schedule the annual congregational and/or board meetings, and provide proper notice to potential participants. At the meetings themselves, the secretary or other appointee should keep written minutes of all decisions made. Though the minutes only need broad summaries of discussions, any item taken to a vote for official action should be precisely documented.

Church Budget: Before the beginning of the church’s fiscal year, the appropriate parties should prepare a budget, propose it to the decision-making body, allow discussion and revisions, and then document proper approval. Once the budget is approved, those charged with executing programs will have the necessary authority to make expenditures without needing to obtain permission for each transaction.

Performance Reviews: At the beginning of the year, church leaders will conduct performance reviews of the Lead Pastor or other key staff members. Reviews should be completed on a regular basis, and the review should be preserved in writing in the employee’s personnel file. Performance reviews may be important factors in making decisions about compensation increases and bonuses.  

Board Rotation: Ensure that proper action is taken to rotate the members of all governing boards. For adding new board members, the appropriate individuals or committees will need to spend time and energy identifying, interviewing, and nominating new board members. Proper procedures should be followed to officially appoint or elect new board members. Conversely, attention should be given to ensuring board members rotate off when required to comply with any term limits. All of these actions should be carefully documented in writing and filed for future reference.

Major Issues: In the event of a major issue that arises in the church, the governing board or boards must take appropriate action to provide for the future of the church. This may require reaching out to experts outside of the organization for help when needed. Major issues may include a Lead Pastor transition, significant church conflict, a facility transition, or a legal dispute.

Pastoral Encouragement: An important, yet often overlooked, role of church boards is to provide encouragement for the Lead Pastor, staff members, and their families.

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Clergy Financial Resources serves as a resource for clients to help analyze the complexity of clergy tax law, church payroll & HR issues. Our professionals are committed to helping clients stay informed about tax news, developments and trends in various specialty areas.

This article is intended to provide readers with guidance in tax matters. The article does not constitute, and should not be treated as professional advice regarding the use of any particular tax technique. Every effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the information. Clergy Financial Resources and the author do not assume responsibility for any individual’s reliance upon the information provided in the article. Readers should independently verify all information before applying it to a particular fact situation, and should independently determine the impact of any particular tax planning technique. If you are seeking legal advice, you are encouraged to consult an attorney.

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Clergy Financial Resources
11214 86th Avenue N.
Maple Grove, MN 55369

Tel: (888) 421-0101 
Fax: (888) 876-5101


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