Today’s guest blogger is Russ Jones. Russ and his wife A.J. visited our church in Santa Clara nearly 20 years ago and chose to stay. Russ eventually became chairman of the governing board and has always been there for me, in good times and bad. Russ and A.J. live in Wickenburg, Arizona. Russ and I meet for breakfast every month – even though he’s a Dodger fan – and his friendship and counsel continue to inspire me to this day. Here is Russ’ view of the connection a board member needs to have with a pastor:
Having served on several church boards and been the board chair at a couple of churches, I believe that the most important characteristic of a board person is loyalty. It is imperative that the board person consider the pastor as the leader of the board and the church and that he or she must accede to the dictates of the pastor.
Now, certainly, if the pastor is indulging in heresy or some type of deep sin, the board must act to replace that pastor. In lieu of that type of behavior, I believe that the pastor should be the real chairman of the board, that he is the professional while we who serve are the lay persons. We are there to serve him and therefore to serve God.
If the board is carefully selected and conforms to the qualifications as Paul dictated in 1 Timothy, I don’t believe that we would have the all-too-frequent problems between the board and the pastor.
I have seen a number of pastors thrown out of the church by a board for personal reasons. Not only is this devastating to the pastor, but inevitably the kingdom of God is affected as people will leave the church for their own personal reasons.
As a relatively young Christian, I was blessed to serve a godly man on his board. There was conflict in the church and the end result was that he was terminated. Now please understand that this pastor was a friend of mine, a hunting buddy, and a man who I had turned to for godly counsel.
As a result of his being forcefully terminated, I left the church. I remember so well that I told myself that I could pray and read the Word and didn’t need any fellowship to continue as God had ordered. How foolish and how wrong I was! For it wasn’t a week before I quit praying and reading my Bible.
I thank God that I have returned to Him and prayerfully serve Him to the best of my ability. Today, I use that story as my testimony to young people to tell them that we must continue to fellowship with other Christians and that they must find a church where they can feel comfortable and learn what God has so beautifully given to us through His Word.
It pains me deeply to see Christians – or at least those who purport to be Christians – act so contrary to God’s Word. They murmur, they gossip, and they display no loyalty to their church, their pastor, or their God.
If I may give a little advice to anyone sitting on a church board – or to anyone who might reasonably be given that blessing in the future – do not let any murmuring or criticism of the pastor go unchecked. The first time you hear someone make a derogatory comment about the pastor or criticize the church or the way it is being run, you must take that person and demand that he or she go with you to the pastor to air their differences. You might be surprised at how often that person will find a reason not to talk to the pastor about their criticism when challenged in such a manner. And again, how often that ends the problem with no further discussion of the matter.
In conclusion, if you don’t feel you can fully support your pastor, giving him 100% loyalty, do your church, yourself, your pastor, and God a favor and decline the offer to be placed on the board.