Should The Pastor Be A Church Board Member?

Should The Church Pastor Be A Church Board Member Or Will This Create A Conflict of Interest?

The question of whether or not the pastor should be a board member is a difficult one. On the one hand, the pastor has experience and knowledge that could be invaluable to the board. On the other hand, there is a potential conflict of interest if the pastor is a board member.


There are pros and cons to both sides of this argument, and ultimately it comes down to what will work best for your church. Below we will explore some of these pros and cons in more depth so you can make an informed decision for your church.

Whether the Pastor Should be a Board Member in A Church Ministry

Whether the parish pastor should be a member of the Board of Trustees of a church organization carries with it the consideration of a potential conflict of interest. As such, it is a question that requires careful consideration of the law and its biblical principles.


US laws require that nonprofit organizations must have a Board of Trustees. If the church Sr. Pastor is a board member, there is a potential issue of having a “conflict of interest” raised in cognizance of the Trustees’ fiduciary duties.


Churches must also consider a biblical perspective in deciding who should sit on a Board of Trustees of the church, and the leadership team should be selected according to 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. The Bible makes known the spiritual marks of maturity required for any person who is a church leader. If selected correctly, they would not be seekers after power and control; they would have families who believe in and follow God. 


They will know the Bible and be able to teach it to others, and they will be respectable, exercise self-control, and be dignified. However, it is essential to remember that mistakes can still be made, and men can become church leaders who should never have been included. 


It is essential to remember not to allow the pastor to influence decisions that involve his compensation, employment conditions, or privileges.

Benefits of Having a Sr. Pastor on the Board

Benefits of Having a Sr. Pastor on the Board

1. Increased Clarity and Understanding

Having the senior pastor on the board can increase clarity and understanding in various ways.


  1. Having the pastor present allows for more open communication, as they often have insight into the vision and goals of the church. This can help the board to understand the direction the church is heading and how their decisions can help to further that mission.
  2. The pastor can provide additional spiritual guidance, allowing the board to consider better how their decisions fit into the broader context of their faith.
  3. The pastor’s presence can serve as a reminder that the board’s decisions should align with the church’s values and beliefs, ensuring that the board is held accountable for its commitments. 


2. Increased Unity

Having the senior pastor on the board can increase unity by creating a shared purpose amongst board members and by having the pastor serve as a model of servanthood and humility.


3. Improved Communication

Having the senior pastor on the board of a church can improve communication because they have firsthand knowledge of the experiences and needs of the congregation. This can lead to better decision-making, increased efficiency, and improved morale.


With the senior pastor on the board, the church can create policies and initiatives tailored to meet the members’ needs and create a more direct line of communication between the board and the pastor. 


4. Increased Accountability

Having the senior pastor on the board increases accountability because the pastor is ultimately responsible for leading the church and its members. This means the pastor must be accountable to the board and the congregation. 


5. Increased Ability to Make Decisions

Having the senior pastor on the board can increase the board’s ability to make decisions by allowing for a more balanced perspective and greater clarity of direction. 


6. Improved Ministry Board Effectiveness

The senior pastor is often the spiritual leader of the church, and having them actively involved in the decision-making process and governance of the church can ensure that the decisions taken are not just based on practical and financial considerations but also keep in mind the spiritual needs of the church and its members.  Board members may gain additional insight into developing a children’s ministry within the church.  


7. Added Protection from Legal and Liability Risks of the Nonprofit

Having the senior pastor on the board can ensure that proper indemnification provisions are in place to protect board members from personal financial responsibility in case of litigation. The senior pastor can also encourage other board members to adopt policies and procedures that reduce the risk of injury, damage to property, and incidents of child abuse. 


8. Added Oversight and Insight into Business Operations

The senior pastor can often bring spiritual guidance and values-based considerations to the table, leading to more holistic and practical solutions. Additionally, the senior pastor can oversee the budget, offer insight into church growth strategies, and help create a culture of transparency and accountability.


New churches and even small church organizations may have limited experience in governing a nonprofit and can benefit from having the spiritual support of a Sr. Pastor in knowing their roles and responsibilities as a governing board.

Disadvantages of the Pastor Being on the Board of Directors

1. It may cause conflict between the church leadership and the board of Trustees

For several reasons, a Sr. Pastor’s presence on a church’s board of directors can cause conflict between the church leadership and the board.


  1. A pastor may be more likely to approach issues from a theological perspective, while board members may prefer a more pragmatic approach based on their experience in the business world. This clash of perspectives can lead to disagreements and tension, affecting the efficiency and effectiveness of the church’s operations.
  2. Having a pastor on the board can confuse roles and expectations, as the pastor may be seen as having the ultimate authority, while board members may feel their input is not valued. 
  3. The presence of a pastor on the board can lead to a power struggle between the pastor and board members, as the board may feel they have the right to make decisions that contradict the pastor’s wishes or opinions.


2. It may cause a pastor to feel overwhelmed by Compliance Matters

Pastors are wired to shepherd a church and may feel overwhelmed by tax compliance and risk management policies and procedures. While the board members and officers of the church don’t have the spiritual needs of the church members hanging over them.  


3. It may reduce the pastor’s ability to focus on the ministry

Being on the board of directors can reduce a pastor’s ability to concentrate on ministry because it requires additional time and energy to fulfill the responsibilities of an overseer. This can take away from the time and energy the pastor needs to devote to their primary focus of teaching, pastoral care, and strategy.


4. It may reduce the pastor’s ability to be fully accountable

Being on the board of directors may affect a pastor’s ability to be fully accountable in that the board holds the pastor accountable for their decisions and actions. The board members should be there to offer advice and help the pastor to make wise and informed decisions while also ensuring that any decisions follow the mission and vision of the church.


The board also has the authority to remove the pastor if they violate church policy or do not perform their duties to the best of their abilities. New board members may need the freedom to speak openly about concerns about biblical teachings without the pastor’s presence.  


5. It may cause a church to stray from its bylaws

Having a pastor serve on the board of directors can significantly affect a church’s bylaws. In some cases, the pastor may be given veto power or the ability to override decisions made by the board. This can create an imbalance of power and make it difficult for board members to carry out their duties.

What to Consider When Choosing Board Members

What to Consider When Choosing Board Members

When choosing board members for a pastor, it is crucial to consider various factors. Churches should look for members with a solid commitment to the church, helpful life and work experience, and the ability to support the institute financially.


It is also beneficial to find members who have been church members for several years, as they have likely already formed healthy relationships with other church members. It is helpful to consider board members with experience in finance/ accounting, marketing, human resources, strategic development, risk management, law, and information technology.


When removing or adding someone to a church board, it is not wise to give a single individual the authority to decide. Instead, forming a committee to oversee finding and training board members is preferable. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should be on the board of a church?

The board of a church should be composed of members who are dedicated to the mission and vision of the church. They should have a deep understanding of the Bible, a commitment to prayer, and a passion for serving others.


Who do pastors answer to?

Pastors are the spiritual leaders of a church or religious organization, and they answer to their church’s governing body. This could be the church members, board of directors, elders, or deacons, depending on the overall structure of the church. 


Who sits on a church board?

A church board is usually made up of a group of members who are church members. The pastor and church members will usually vote to add new board members to serve on your church board.


Is the pastor the head of the church?

The pastor is often seen as the head of the church, but it is important to note that this role can vary depending on the denomination and even within individual churches. In some traditions, such as Protestantism, a pastor may be in charge of leading services, teaching classes, and providing counsel to members.


However, other denominations may have a board or council of elders or deacons that collectively serve as the head of the church. Many churches now elect a lay leader instead of a traditional pastor. In these cases, the lay leader may oversee specific aspects of running the church while still deferring to the clergy when necessary.


What are some signs of bad church leadership?

Signs of bad church leadership can vary, but some of the most common signs are a lack of accountability, and transparency, a refusal to listen to criticism or feedback, and a disregard for members’ needs.


A church leader who is not open to new ideas or willing to collaborate with others is often seen as unapproachable and disconnected from their congregation. Poor communication between the church leaders and members can also indicate something is amiss.


If there is an absence of meaningful dialogue between the two groups, it can lead to mistrust and eventually hurt the overall fellowship within the church. Lastly, if there is a disconnect between what is preached on Sunday mornings and how those values are demonstrated throughout the week, this can be another sign that your church leadership may need reevaluated. 


What are a church council’s roles and responsibilities?

A church council is a group of church members responsible for providing guidance and support to the church. They are typically elected or appointed by the congregation and are responsible for making decisions on behalf of the church.


The roles and responsibilities of a church council include setting the overall vision and direction for the church and establishing policies and procedures that will help guide the church’s operations. They also manage and oversee budgets, plan events, provide pastoral care, and create strategies for outreach activities.


Additionally, a church council may be responsible for hiring staff or volunteers to help carry out their objectives.

Is Your Church Board Protected By Liability Insurance

Integrity Now Insurance Brokers provide church insurance agents who can protect church boards from liabilities. The right insurance will protect the board and the church itself, helping to cover any legal fees that may arise in the event of a claim.


With this service, churches can have peace of mind knowing their board is protected in unforeseen circumstances. Our church insurance agents are knowledgeable about the best policies that are tailored to fit the needs of each church and its board members.


As independent church insurance brokers, we help churches find affordable coverage that meets their unique requirements. When looking for insurance for churches, it is critical to work with an experienced church insurance agency. We will protect you from liability risks most agents cannot insure against.

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