How Are Church Trustees Elected To An Elder Board?

How Are Church Trustees Elected To A Church Trustee Board At A Local Church?

Electing church trustees of the local church trustee board can vary from congregation to congregation. Some churches may have a nominating committee that puts forth a slate of candidates for the congregants to vote on.


Other ministries may allow any congregation member interested in serving as a trustee to put their name forward as a candidate.


In either case, it is vital for those voting on the new trustees to understand what qualities make for a good church trustee. This includes both personal attributes and qualifications that the trustee should possess.

Who Elects Church Trustees and Deacons?

The church membership typically elects church trustees and deacons at a regularly scheduled annual meeting. The minister or current church board of trustees will appoint the time and place for holding the election.


Church members will then hold a vote to elect new trustees and deacons. The election should be by ballot of the members present and voting at the meeting unless specified differently in the church’s governing documents. 


Once elected, candidates become trustees or church board members that day. The installation of new trustees typically occurs during worship service after the annual meeting has concluded. 

How Many Votes do Church Trustees Need to be Elected?

For a member of the church to be elected to the board of trustees, they must receive a majority of the votes cast at a church meeting. This means that if there are five candidates, the one that gets the most votes (over 50%) will be elected.


In many churches, the minimum number of votes needed for an election is at least two-thirds of the total votes cast. This ensures that most church members have agreed upon the selection.


New church board members must be elected by the church, not simply the pastor or current elder board. This helps instill trust in the church congregational members of the leadership team.

12 Tips for Electing Effective Church Board Members

12 Tips for Electing Effective Church Board Members

1. Identify Qualifications and Duties


When identifying church board members, it is vital to consider their qualifications and assigned duties. Capabilities typically include being a current church member, meeting the age requirements, being approved by the church membership, and having strong communication and leadership skills.


As board members are responsible for running the nonprofit organization, it is critical qualifications include:


  • Attending meetings regularly and taking an active role in discussions and votes
  • Reviewing documents
  • Understanding the church constitution and by-laws,
  • Getting to know fellow board members
  • Studying matters before the board
  • Background in Finance and understanding Profit and Loss States and Ballance Sheets 


2. Establish a Nominating Committee


Establishing a nominating committee can help to ensure that church board members are elected by providing a vetted and trained slate of candidates for the board. This not only ensures that the members are qualified and have been instructed in the duties and responsibilities of the commission but also gives every church member eighteen years or older and in full communion the right to vote for the nominees at the election. 


3. Recommended Church Board Size


The size of a church board is an essential factor that impacts its effectiveness. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, a recommended church board size is typically between 5 and 15 people depending on the size of the church congregation. 


The number of trustees sitting on a board should not be fewer than three. A church board may have the legal authority to make significant changes, making it vital to have a vacancy filled promptly.  


4. Review Current Board Members and Idenfiy If Replacements are Needed


Sitting on a board is time-consuming, and it is vital to ensure that current members are willing and able to continue serving. If there is insufficient interest or capacity among the sitting board members, replacements should be actively sought. 


Members of the board should be given the option to step down annually. This ensures the church leadership maintains a positive role and a vested interest in their job.


5. Pray to Find Candidates Led to Sit on the Church Board of Directors


Pray for the Lord’s guidance in finding suitable candidates to serve on the church board of directors. Holy Spirit must guide all decisions to ensure the right members are chosen. The Lord can bring together the best people to serve in an advisory capacity and help lead the ministry of a church in the right direction. 


6. Conduct Interviews and Evaluate Candidate Skills and if God calls them


When evaluating church members to become new trustees, it is vital to interview them as part of the process within the church. Following are step-by-step instructions to conduct interviews and evaluate candidate skills to select church board members.


  1. During the interview, ask questions relevant to the position and its responsibilities. Inquire about their experience and qualifications, religious beliefs, commitment to the church, and goals for the church.
  2. Evaluate the candidate’s skills and qualities, such as interpersonal communication, problem-solving, decision-making, and organizational abilities.
  3. Examine the candidate’s ability to handle financial matters, assess their knowledge of the church’s mission and doctrine, and evaluate their understanding of the responsibilities of a board member.
  4. Evaluate if they have met the biblical guidelines outline in scripture.
  5. Consider the candidate’s past experiences.
  6. Look for qualities such as dedication, enthusiasm, and a willingness to help the church.
  7. Ensure the candidate is passionate about the church’s mission and willing to take on the necessary tasks.


7. Consider the Personal and Spiritual Qualifications of Church Board Members as Outlined in the Bible


In the Bible, church board members’ personal and spiritual qualifications are outlined in several places, including 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. According to these passages, trustees must be men of good character, known for their integrity, wisdom, and self-control. They must also be committed to their families and have a good reputation in their community. 


Spiritually, board members must be devoted to the Word of God and able to teach others and be prayerful and filled with the Holy Spirit. These qualifications help ensure that those chosen to lead the church can do so with wisdom, grace, and a deep understanding of God’s will.


8. Consistently Follow the Church By-Laws


By consistently following the church by-laws when electing board members, the church can ensure that only qualified and dedicated members are elected to serve. This helps to create a strong and effective board that is knowledgeable about the church policies, committed to serving God, and actively seeks to improve the growth and welfare of the church, its members, and the community. 


9. Inform the Congregation of Board Elections


The board chairperson needs to inform church members of upcoming board elections. Providing thirty days of notice is recommended to ensure the congregation can plan to attend the business meeting.


10. Establish Voting Eligibility


Voting eligibility for church board members must be clearly outlined to ensure a fair process for a successor or new trustee. Here are a few recommendations for establishing a provision for voting eligibility.


  1. Require formal church membership before voting rights are granted.
  2. Members must be a specific age, such as 18 or 21 and older.
  3. Must have attended church in the prior quarter, half year, or past 12 months.


These are a few standard voting eligibility requirements churches have established for their religious organization.


11. Conduct the Election


Before election day, church members should be allowed to hear from each proposed trustee on why they’re called to the position. This helps members elected by the board consideration to share their testimony and make a case on why they feel qualified for the trustee position.


On Election day, church members should be allowed to express their concerns and approval of any person being elected. This allows everyone to let their voice be heard before the vote if they are aware of problems that should be made known.  


12. Take Notes and Document the Process


By documenting the process, such as the appointment of church trustees and keeping minutes of the meeting in which the trustees were elected, it will be possible to provide a record of who was elected, why they were elected, and any relevant information needed to complete the process.


Additionally, documenting the process can help ensure that all church board members have been duly elected and that no one has been unfairly given a position of power. 

Should Religious Nonprofit Organizations Implement Board Member Term Limits?

Should Religious Nonprofit Organizations Implement Board Member Term Limits?

The need for term limits on board members of religious nonprofit organizations is an important issue to consider. Term limits help ensure fresh perspectives are incorporated into the organization’s decisions. They also provide accountability and prevent stagnation in leadership. 


When implementing term limits, religious nonprofit organizations should carefully consider several factors. These include whether the terms should be staggered or all members replaced at the same time, the length of the terms, any limitations on the number of consecutive terms a director may serve, and any designated positions on the board.


Staggered terms allow for a degree of continuity that might be lost if the entire board is turned over simultaneously. Shorter terms might also be easier to fill and can ensure openness and continuity. Longer terms, however, can allow a leader to develop effective leadership and serve as a mentor.


Churches may choose not to implement term limits at all or to establish term limits that are more liberal than those of other nonprofit organizations. Each organization should develop its policy on term limit lengths and restrictions depending on its needs.


Ultimately, each religious nonprofit organization should consider what works best for its members and purpose when deciding how to structure its board terms. 

Church Liability Insurance Required for Trustees

A church insurance program needs to contemplate lots of liability concerns. An affordable small church insurance program must include many of the same church insurance coverages as large church insurance programs.  


Maintaining church property insurance for your buildings and the pastor’s parsonage is essential. Church buildings have faced significant inflation risk in recent years. The chairperson of the board needs to review their church building insurance coverage with their church insurance agent annually.   


Obtaining the right insurance for churches is vital, as many insurance companies do not specialize in churches insurance. Ministry insurance must include general liability coverage for churches, directors and officers liability protection, employment practice liability coverage, abuse and molestation insurance, business interruption insurance, crime coverage, and workers’ comp insurance for nonprofits who hire W-2 employees.  


Integrity Now Insurance Brokers provides access to the top church insurance companies across the U.S.  If your church needs to protect its trustees, contact our church insurance agency for help.

Frequent asked questions faq

Who should be on the board of a church?


When choosing who should be on the board, it is important to consider individuals who are committed to the values and beliefs of the church. They should be actively involved in the church and able to work collaboratively with other board members.


It is essential to have diversity represented on the board, including different ages, genders, races, and backgrounds, to ensure that multiple perspectives are considered in decision-making. Those on the board should exhibit strong moral character and have a servant leadership mentality. 


What is a trustee at a church?


A trustee at a church is an individual who holds a leadership position and responsibility within the church. Trustees are typically appointed or elected by the church congregation or governing board and are responsible for making important financial and organizational decisions on behalf of the church.


They oversee the management of the church’s assets, including property and buildings, and ensure that they are well-maintained and utilized appropriately. They may be responsible for ensuring compliance with legal and financial regulations and overseeing the work of other staff members or volunteers. 


Are church trustees financially liable for the decision made on the board?


Church trustees can be financially liable for the decisions made on the board. Trustees are legally and financially responsible for managing church property and assets.


Trustees have a fiduciary duty to act in the church’s and its members’ best interest. This means they must exercise due diligence and prudence when making decisions impacting the church’s finances.


If a decision made by the board results in financial harm to the church or its members, trustees may be held liable for any losses incurred. 


Do churches have boards of trustees?


Yes, many churches do have boards of trustees. These boards are typically made up of a group of people tasked with overseeing the finances and operation of the church.


Who elects the board of directors?


The church members elect the board of directors as required by their bylaws. 


Are churches required to have trustees?


The requirement for churches to have trustees varies depending on the state or country where they are situated. Many states require nonprofit organizations, including churches, to have trustees in the United States. 


Can a pastor be a trustee of his church?


A pastor can be a church’s trustee, but it is not always recommended. Being a trustee and a pastor simultaneously can create a conflict of interest. Trustees are responsible for managing the church’s finances and making important decisions about the property and assets.


Pastors are responsible for leading their congregants’ spiritual lives, which may involve another set of priorities. When conflicts arise, pastors may have to choose between their roles as trustees and a pastor.


This can lead to disagreements between the pastor and other trustees, causing tension in the church. Therefore, having other church members separate from the pastoral trustee role is best.


What are the different roles in a church?


A church is a community dedicated to worship and fellowship, and each member can have a unique role to play in its operations. Some key roles include the pastor or minister, who leads the congregation and provides spiritual guidance and support.


Other significant roles include deacons or elders, who assist the pastor in baptisms, communion, and pastoral care. Additionally, volunteers may serve as ushers, greeters, choir members, or children’s ministry leaders.


Missionary work may also play a role in the church, where groups and individuals go out to share their faith and help those in need. Each member’s unique skills and talents can be used through various roles, allowing the church to function as a unified body to serve God and others.


What are the different positions on a church board?


A church board comprises various positions with different responsibilities in overseeing the church’s operations. The most common positions on a church board include the chairperson, vice-chairperson, secretary, treasurer, and ministry leaders.


The chairperson is the head of the board and is responsible for ensuring that the board functions effectively. The vice-chairperson assists the chairperson in their duties and takes over in their absence.


The secretary keeps records and minutes of board meetings, while the treasurer is responsible for managing the church’s finances. Ministry leaders oversee different areas of the church, such as children’s ministry, youth ministry, or outreach programs.


As the church organization grows, additional positions may be needed to manage the nonprofit church organization effectively.

Liability Insurance Expert For Churches and Nonprofit Organizations

Integrity Now Insurance Brokers has a team of experts dedicated to helping churches and nonprofit organizations with their liability insurance needs. They understand the importance of protecting these organizations from potential financial losses due to lawsuits or other legal issues.


The Integrity Now Insurance Brokers team evaluates clients’ coverage needs and finds effective and affordable policies. They also provide ongoing support and guidance to assure clients have the coverage they need as their organization evolves.


With their expertise and dedication to providing the best possible service, Integrity Now Insurance Brokers is a top choice for churches and nonprofits seeking liability insurance.


Contact us to request church insurance quotes and start saving money on your church’s insurance.

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