Posts Tagged ‘voting on church leaders’

The single greatest human indicator of a pastor’s success in a church is his relationship with the governing board.

A pastor can be a visionary … and a great Bible teacher … and an insightful counselor … and a superb administrator … but if he does not work well with the board, his ministry will go nowhere.

For most of my ministry life, the boards I served with let me know they were there to support my vision for the church … although they reserved the right to tell me when I was suffering from temporary insanity.

But if a pastor wants to take a church in one direction, and the board wants to go in a different direction, the eventual aftermath will be heartbreaking for everybody involved.

This is why the selection process for church leaders is so crucial.

How should the process be managed?

*The selection process should begin months before leaders are approved.  If you wait to the last minute to select leaders, you will pay for it by securing people who are available but not necessarily competent.

*Nominations can come from the congregation, a nominating team, the board itself, or the pastor.  However it’s done, you can’t allow yourself to be pressured by lobbying.  I’ve found that the best people are initially reluctant to serve and that some who appear eager just want power.

*There needs to be some kind of vetting process for each nominee, including a criminal background check.  Some churches require the written approval of a supervisor at work and/or people in the community (consistent with 1 Timothy 3:7) as well.

*I don’t know how far to push this, but the pastor needs to find out the giving levels of all prospective board candidates in general terms (not specific amounts), especially if the board oversees church finances.  You cannot allow someone on the board who does not give generously to the church.  Board members need to set a financial example and can’t be managing tens of thousands of dollars when they haven’t invested in their own local ministry.

Besides, giving is always an indicator of a person’s spiritual temperature.

I once read that about half of all pastors know how much the people in their church give every week, and that half do not.  (Some pastors come into the office on Monday and the giving records from the weekend are already on their computer.)  While I was one of those pastors who never wanted to know (and never did know) how much people gave, I would make one exception: the pastor has to know whether any prospective board member is already a generous giver … or that person should be dropped from consideration.  (This suggestion came to me from a former district minister.)

*Before board members are officially approved, the pastor and/or chairman should sit down with each candidate and let them know what is expected of them in writing … maybe asking them to sign a document to that effect.

*I believe that if a church votes on/ratifies its board members, the percentage necessary for election should be greater than a simple majority.  In fact, I believe it should be the same percentage that a senior pastor candidate has to receive (usually 75%).

When I was still a teenager, I was selected to count the votes for elders and deacons at my church two years in a row.  Out of 95 votes cast the first year, one man had 20 votes against him.  The second year, one man had 11 votes against him.  Since a simple majority was all that was required for election, both men were put into office … and both men later crashed and burned morally.  I always felt that the people who voted against those men knew something they weren’t sharing.

However, my former church in Phoenix never votes on elders.  The board nominates three men every year, and their brief biographies are placed in the program.  Then the men are introduced in each worship service, and the congregation is encouraged to write down how they feel about the nominees.  If you think they should be elders, or you have reservations, you can write those down … and I assume someone follows up those responses.  (The basis for this process is Titus 1:5 where Paul tells Titus to appoint – not elect – elders in every city.)

*I do not believe that a staff member … with the possible exception of an executive pastor … should sit on a church board.  If the pastor supervises the staff, as in most churches … and the board supervises the pastor … how can a staff member be put in the position of supervising the pastor?  When the staff member is having problems with the pastor, the staffer will inevitably share his concerns with a board member, who may very well take the staffer’s side against the pastor … a classic recipe for a major conflict.

This scenario blurs the lines of accountability.  Who supervises whom?

I’ve tried it both ways, and believe that allowing a staff member to sit on the church board eventually results in one of two scenarios: either the staff member aligns himself with the board and pushes out the pastor, or the pastor aligns himself with the board and pushes out the staff member.

If you know of cases where this works well, please let me know.

*There needs to be some kind of an installation service for new board members … maybe with former board members laying hands on them and praying for their ministry.

*The board needs to find a way to report to the church on a regular basis about what they’re doing, whether orally or in writing.  A board that resists accountability will claim that everything is confidential, which is often an excuse for cloaking things in secrecy.

Whenever I placed a priority on the selection of governing leaders, the ministry went forward at a steady pace.

But whenever I neglected to select leaders carefully, the board, the church, and their pastor paid a heavy price.

Your thoughts?

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