Church board membership is a ministry that should guide the higher calling of a church and not be a ministry to decide the color of the front door, Don D. Brewer, director of the Disciples Care Network told 50 attendees at a resource group session on Friday, July 31 during the 2009 General Assembly.
“Board meetings should be like a worship service where you invite the Spirit to be a part of the process,” he said, “Not, just ‘oh, we have time for a prayer now!”
Boards are meant to provide long-term guidance to paid staff including the senior minister. “It is not tactical. It does not tell Mrs. Smith how many meals to cook. It should decide if the dinner event is in line with the long-term strategy the church has agreed to.”
Brewer said all churches have a life cycle that rise to the top of a curve that “can then drop if the board allows it.” The trick, he said, is to constantly reinvent the church to keep from reaching the top of the curve and then declining.
Being a Board member is not an honor or a pleasure, it’s hard work, Brewer told the group. “I don’t know why anyone would want to be a board member!” he said, drawing laughs. But, he continued, you do it because “you know it can make a difference in the lives of people.”
Brewer cautioned that Board membership has legal responsibilities. “The Board, not the minister, nor the trustees, has the ultimate legal and fiscal responsibilities because each congregation has its IRS 501c.3 not-for-profit declaration.
“This is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. You cannot give it just part-time attention to fulfill the legal public trust of the 501c.3 status.”