The Board

You may also like...

100 Responses

  1. OCDan says:


    A big hearty AMEN to this post. Most, NOT ALL, boards a re just rubber stamps of friends of and for the pastor.

  2. Michael says:


    Had to get this one off my chest…

  3. OCDan says:

    One more thing about those boards. We wonder why all this craziness happens in churches. I know, MLD would say it is the congregations fault for not walking out, but the board also has blood on its hands. Blaming the sheeple is only part of it, these boards are a joke in many cases. Protect the flock, yeah right, protect the pastor and his cronies and their salaries and perks.

    Again, we wonder why Christianity is in the state it is in this country.

    Start washing feet and stop worrying about your 900K salaries and Rolex watches, yeah, I am talking about Franklin and Raul, and you might see a change.

  4. Scott says:

    Gee whiz, that sounds just like the government. The foxes guarding the hen house 😉

  5. OCDan says:

    Good for you Michael.

    I really mean this when I write it. I love this board. While we have many POVs here, it seems everyone genuinely gets along. I also can read that the comentariat actually cares and there is no question in my mind you have a heart for God and His people, esp. the underdogs.

    Oh, if all of us Christians had that heart, Michael, you would never have another blog to write except for the glorious things, not child abuse in Asia or overpaid CEOs masquerading as pastors.

    This blog is one of the few that offers refuge on the internet from all the nuttiness that can be Christendom in the U.S.

    A dear brother in the Lord once told me that this country has a very unique Christianity. The longer I live, the more I begin to see the wisdom in his comment and not for the good.

    I wonder if it is a reflection of our heritage and the narcissism explosion in this country.

  6. OCDan says:

    One last point for the day.

    Why do you suppose all these boards just rotate the same guys through the hierarchy even when they are termed off? They just wait a year or two and get back on. Tangentially, why do you think these guys always end up on each other’s boards. You’ll see some guy on a board and he lives across the country. What is that about? You scratch my back,… Oh well, you get my drift.

  7. Papias says:

    Good post Michael.

    The pastor of the CC I attended (In Kansas) mentioned once that he went out to California for one conference or another reason and that he had a “board meeting” while surfing with his buddies. He tried to make it seem like that was the way these meetings should happen – all casual.

    Of course when I asked about financial and elder accountability it was turned on me.

    All is well and good until you ask that leadership have some accountability and then the fangs come out.

  8. Nonnie says:

    “Nothing to see here, folks….just move along.”

  9. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    #3 OC Dan,
    ” I know, MLD would say it is the congregations fault for not walking out, ”

    That is in no way my first choice resolution. My first choicce woulf be to lobby to have the congregation run the church through the board – not the pastor run the church through the board.

    I think the congregation should make the pastor walk out before they do. I am all for stay and fight.:-)

  10. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I am the president of my congregation and I probably receive 10 emails a day from the pastors and staff and at least that many from the congregation.

  11. Papias says:

    MLD – Are any of those letters asking for a new congregation president? 🙂

  12. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    the ones from my wife 😉

    I have had 2 2 yr terms as VP and I am in the 2nd yr of my first term as Prez – but I may bow out next June – it’s a young man’s game.

  13. Steve Wright says:

    The “board” is now the true arbiter of ethics and standards in American corporate Christianity, not the Bible.
    That seems like quite a broad brush. Boards, like pastors, are as good as the people who hold the position. And as I have said many times, the laws of the land today (which we are to follow) necessitate certain organizational structures.

    And I am sure that most Board members in most churches are looking to the Bible for authority and to the Lord for guidance in any decisions they make.

  14. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    And I am sure that most Board members in most churches are looking to the Bible for authority and to the Lord for guidance in any decisions they make.

    We look to our constitution and by laws 😉

  15. Michael says:

    The laws of the land don’t preclude congregational input and open meetings.
    They should demand them.

  16. Steve Wright says:

    I dealt with one specific comment.

    It was “The “board” is now the true arbiter of ethics and standards in American corporate Christianity, not the Bible.”

  17. Michael says:

    It’s a broad brush…but when dealing with independent churches it becomes more like a fine point pen…

  18. Em says:

    waking up slow today (old people do that) – saw this post and wondered what’s with the pumpkin pie in a black crust?

    isn’t the rationale behind the big salaries, “if this man were using his talents in the outside world, he’d command way more money than we pay him?”
    deluded at best…maybe these enterprises are simply communism under a blanket of white… do these guys know that? bet they’d be the first to condemn the communist way of life and, yet, isn’t that what we see here? seems like it to me this morning, but then i thought i saw a pumpkin pie in a black crust up there 🙂

  19. Steve Wright says:

    but when dealing with independent churches it becomes more like a fine point pen…
    Or an insult to a lot of Godly brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Whether conservatives rail on “the government”, liberals rail on “corporations” or any other role that is filled by human beings, we are simply expressing bigotry.

    We are an independent church. And our Board consists of very wise, Godly, loving people.

  20. filbertz says:

    I served on one such board for a season. There was only one decision in several years for which we had actual input and felt our opinions and voices counted. The pastor was torn between the options, so he brought it to us. I think because it obligated the church to an outlay of at least two million dollars, he didn’t want to own that one alone. After much discussion, we decided to move ahead and make the purchase–but it was a stream-lined process conducted over a couple weeks, not months. Because it was an exception and not the rule, I realized how little oversight the elders/deacons had over the balance of decisions and finances. It was one of three primary reasons I eventually left the church.

    On the other hand, I have watched other boards accomplish little or nothing, or openly contest everything with the pastor or staff. There is no perfect model because people are involved.

  21. Anne says:

    “And I am sure that most Board members in most churches are looking to the Bible for authority and to the Lord for guidance in any decisions they make.”

    I would have more confidence in that statement re: boards elected by congregations rather than those appointed by pastors. Otherwise it strikes me as more of “Trust us -we’re God’s specially anointed”. Just my personal bias which was partially formed by experiences similar to Papias’ in #7.

    IMV it is a “good ole boy” vs. “public servant” dynamic I’ve seen in city, county, state government especially in my beloved state of NM. Leaves a bad taste in my mouth…

  22. Michael says:

    When conservatives rail on the government and liberals rail on corporations, both have some sort of factual basis which they base their railings upon.

    As someone who has spent the last 15 years dealing with independent churches I will agree that there are some that work.

    There are a whole bunch that don’t.

    The key to finding solutions in government, corporations, and the church is to recognize that all three have issues…

  23. DavidM says:

    RE: #1 “Most, NOT ALL, boards a re just rubber stamps of friends of and for the pastor.”
    If you are talking specifically about CC churches, that may be true, but that is a very broad generalization. How do any of us know what “most” church boards are like?
    Having been a pastor for 30 years, I can say that the board of elders in our church has always been the ones to set salaries (mine included), and to ensure that the church finances are in order. They are nominated, subject to congregational approval. We’ve had a few lemons over the years, but overall a very good group of good men.
    Our annual church business meetings are open to the congregation. Anyone who wants one can have a financial report, and we answer the questions from the congregation.
    I would NOT want to have the authority to set my own compensation because I don’t trust myself! I also do not want my cronies to be the “board”. What do they know about my congregation??

  24. Anne says:

    “There is no perfect model because people are involved.” Ain’t that the truth! So progress not perfection, slow and steady 🙂

  25. Anne says:

    #22 Exactly, Michael!

  26. Francisco Nunez says:

    Steve makes a good point on #16. Although we’re seeing more churches reconsidering whether official 501C status is truly necessary , boards still have their place in the day to day church ops.

    This said when selecting board members I find it quite helpful to select people who are firsthand witnesses of one’s life and ministry as this helps us truly stay accountable. If these board members are Christ honoring men sometimes there can be some friction but that is not necessarily a bad thing when there is mutual submission to one another. In fact it is part of the sharpening process that helps us grow and stay accountable. I will also say that the work of the Lord is too great to have “yes men” only on board as this blesses no one and is a spiritual liability, not only for the congregation but for the lead elder. Furthermore although there is nothing inherently wrong with having out of town pastors on a local board there can often be a disconnect when all are comprised solely of out of town members as they can be out of touch with the true needs of the local fellowship and community. The out of town board only dynamic can also exacerbate things when local church conflicts arise as the default conflict resolution methodology often is damage control and not necessarily doing what honors Christ.

    There other question I often hear is “should board members meet the qualification of elder and should women be allowed to serve on the board?” I think there is plenty of leeway here as the NT doesn’t mention anything about “board member” requirements. I actually find that our sisters would do a much better job than some of us on a board.

    Good food for thought Michael. Thanks for posting this.

  27. Steve Wright says:


    1) I pastored a church plant that was not a 501c3. I highly recommend against that today. In fact, I have some pretty direct questions for any church trying to do so today – who knows maybe I was doing it wrong but I wonder, given the laws of the land, how they are holding assets and other such issues.

    2) We have a woman on our Board and she is a tremendous blessing besides also bringing the female point of view when valuable (as it was recently when we had to deal with an abusive husband who was unrepentant and whom we ultimately kicked out – my first and only such action of excommunication)

  28. Francisco Nunez says:

    Thanks for sharing Steve. Great news. I hope that other churches come to the realization that our sisters have a part and can be a blessing on boards.

    I would look forward to hearing your experiences and point of view on the 501C the pros and cons if this someday. Next time I’m in your neck of the woods I’ll give you a heads up and look forward to connecting for a meal together. Hopefully before the end of the year. blessings

  29. Steve Wright says:

    Anne, a slight counter to your point would be that the pastors and leaders of the church probably know a lot more about people than a general congregational vote. The guy we excommunicated was one of the most popular guys in the church and no doubt would have won any congregational vote he might have sought.

    I have other examples as well (private, confidential)….again, comes down to “no perfect system” but once more the bias is either:

    A) Pastors really want a yes-men crony system (at least the independent church pastors)

    B) or pastors take seriously and want what is best for the church’s health: Spiritually mature, Godly people who have shown themselves over the years as faithful to God’s people and service at that church,

    Pick your poison…

  30. Steve Wright says:

    Sounds good Francisco. 🙂

  31. Steve Wright says:

    And as long as we are talking what is “BIblical” – could Papias or someone else with the knowledge weight in on when democratically elected elders began in the Church?

    I know in the Bible it is all about appointment. When did it become the Biblical thing to have an election?

  32. Anne says:

    You make very good and valid points, Steve. I think that if pastor appointed boards are to truly be successful and accountable, they need to appoint folks from within their local congregation and community. Having a board made up of only one’s pastoral peers, many from out of town or even out of state can also create another kind of poison, an insulated echo chamber. I applaud your efforts to increase transparency and accountability in your own church!

  33. Pam Kulwiec says:

    I keep writing, deleting and rewriting a comment. I’ll just say this: I was the administrator for several years at a CC church here in San Diego. The board was entirely made up of yes men. I rarely saw anyone contradict in any way anything that the pastor wanted to do or spend.

  34. A Friend says:

    Yup, what a scam.

    Exactly how Chuck Smith set it up.

    “The Board” is the default for blaming anything and everything the bad pastor does.

    You need to expose the Board Members and publish their names to the stuff.

  35. Papias says:

    Steve – Some see Acts 14:23 as an example…your mileage may vary.

    From Vines:

    “Strong’s Number: g5500 Greek: cheirotoneo

    Appoint, Appointed:

    primarily used of voting in the Athenian legislative assembly and meaning “to stretch forth the hands” (cheir, “the hand,” teino, “to stretch”), is not to be taken in its literal sense; it could not be so taken in its compound procheirotoneo, “to choose before,” since it is said of God, Act 10:41. Cheirotoneo is said of “the appointment” of elders by apostolic missionaries in the various churches which they revisited, Act 14:23, RV, “had appointed,” i.e., by the recognition of those who had been manifesting themselves as gifted of God to discharge the functions of elders (see No. 2). It is also said of those who were “appointed” (not by voting, but with general approbation) by the churches in Greece to accompany the Apostle in conveying their gifts to the poor saints in Judea, 2Cr 8:19.

  36. A Friend says:

    It often doesn’t work out the way Steve Wright paints it.

    I have faith in Human Nature. Even the so-called “good guys” corrupt the process by choosing those they like b/c they are human and don’t like to be contradicted or challenged.

    This then sows to Group Think and sows in the direction of the Lead Pastor’s desires and the Group becomes monolithic and any dissent is punished either overtly or passive aggressively.

    Steve thinks he has the “best interest” of his “flock” in mind…but I guarantee you he is human and often times does what his own heart desires and then influences his “Board” to rubber stamp what he decides he wants to do.

    That’s Human Nature…it’s how things are.

    Steve is probably a good example in general on many things, but he’s still a human being and he’s not “specially anointed” and not that good a guy.

  37. A Friend says:

    You have three models in the “bible”

    1. Theocracy

    2. Jesus Model

    3. Paul Model

    Jesus Model is probably the best since he was God…I’m guessing….

  38. A Friend says:

    “Do not call yourselves Teacher/Pastor…you are all brothers…you are all equals. In fact, if you want to be the greatest, be the least…be the Servant of All and don’t do things like Boards and Hierarchy’s like the World does…do the opposite…that is the Kingdom of Heaven”–Jesus Christ.

    But, most won’t do that b/c it doesn’t jive with their Human Nature and their ambition and their (even passive aggressively and hidden) desire for power and control over “their” “ministry”

  39. A Friend says:

    Argue all you want, defend the Human Nature constructs which feed the human flesh all you want. It just supports my thesis about the reality of things even more.

    You example exactly what I believe to be true about Church, Religion and “Christianity”

  40. A Friend says:

    ….your actions and practices are your True Belief and your true Sermons…and many are learning from it.

    You are what you are…it is what it is.

  41. everstudy says:


    Re: “The guy we excommunicated was one of the most popular guys in the church and no doubt would have won any congregational vote he might have sought.”

    The CRC that I was an elder at would not have allowed a congregational vote on an excommunication. That would have been a decision by the council (elders and deacons).

  42. Steve Wright says:

    papias – I would find that a stretch….I would refer to Titus chapter one and couple Paul’s instruction with the fact that a lot of the characteristics that are supposed to be found in an elder might be unknown to the general congregation.

  43. Steve Wright says:

    Actually “a friend” I am grateful for our Board on many occasions rising to my support in times of conflict (a Board I had zero input in putting together I might add).

    If my personal interest was my guide, I’d still be making money in the business world….unlike a lot of guys, pastoring was a pay cut and pastoring this particular church was quite a family sacrifice. I was on pace to have our house paid off by the end of this school year before our oldest went to college. Instead, I have a refinanced mortgage with about 14 years left on it.

    And it is this Board, and not the rest of the church, who knows that sacrifice, “a friend”

  44. Papias says:

    Steve – Johnnie Mac would agree with you:

    There are some interesting points to be made between elders being appointed versus voted in. Some see both methods in use: A man is brought to the attention of the church leadership (if there are no issues), then the church is asked for input or concerns (if there are no issues), then the man is appointed to the office of elder.

    Your point about the characteristics is interesting in the sense that these qualities are generally outward facing , so they would be evidence to the church of the qaulifications of the man to be an elder. The church MUST know the man who is an elder in their congregation. No where does this approve of a man being an elder of a church who is not a member of the church much less not living in the area.

    The concept of a leader appointing other men to be elders without at least tacit approval of the church is anathema. The risk to the church is that they could lose their voice if a pastor decides he wants to “go sideways”.

  45. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Our elders are chosen by the pastors

    But our board is separate from the elders. The elders are there to support the pastor in the pulpit. To be a spiritual and practical support body in his ministry.

  46. Steve Wright says:

    Outward facing, yes, except Papias often only the pastor knows what is taking place behind close doors once the spouse or children feel the need to share with him what the guy is really like.

  47. Jtk says:

    So the other ways this can be done are:

    -the congregational model.

    -the Presbyterian/elder-led model

    -the Moses/papal model

    Can we not agree that we’ve talked about problems in all 3 of these systems on the PP?

  48. Andrew says:

    CC will defend their form of church government by using the Old Testament equating the pastor to Moses or a king David (Don’t touch God’s anointed) basically twisting the Bible like a pretzel. But when they attempt to use the the NT they say church governance is not clear. If you mention congregational involvement they refer you back to the old testament with the Israelite’s grumbling in the wilderness and Moses again. So one thing I know is not in the old or new testament is this CEO vision casting corporate pastor which is pretty much standard practice today. That is just not in the Bible, however I am convinced the principles in the Bible forbid this type of church governance.

  49. Rick Ritchie says:

    The problems noted in the post are packaged together because they are found together in many independent churches.

    But I think if you want solutions, they need to be considered individually.

    I prefer the members of a board to be chosen by the congregation. I don’t know if this is a Biblical model or not. But I think that it is likely to increase accountability.

    I like minutes to be kept.

    I like for there to be few barriers to entry into the leadership, if people are qualified. Many would be qualified for some positions, fewer for others.

    That said, I think that good leadership calls for deliberation. Good planning calls for deliberation. Even where you have a governance structure where all the big decisions are voted on by the congregation, I think the proposals should be written by leadership most of the time. I prefer the meetings where this kind of planning goes on to be closed meetings, so that people are free to speak freely and brainstorm. If others are watching, people begin to speechify instead. Let them speechify, if they need to, when defending the actual proposal. If they have to worry about listeners, then they have to defend all sorts of ideas that may never finally be proposed. It bogs down the process. It is one thing to be accountable to defend actual proposals. It is another to have to be on the defensive in the early stages of brainstorming. I’ve been in classes where they taught brainstorming, and one of the rules was to brainstorm first, critique later. Having onlookers brings critique in too early.

    This doesn’t address what is going on in the Calvary Chapel kind of board. But I fear that those who have been burned by that kind of leadership might over-correct. More transparency is good where it has been absent. Printed minutes. Detailed budgets distributed before congregational meetings. Committee chairs explaining how they came up with their plans. All good things. Perfect transparency? Hmmm. Matthew 18 moves in the direction of transparency, but many matters only become public if they are not resolved. Having everything automatically public doesn’t fit that model.

  50. Josh the Baptist says:

    Jtk – True. All are flawed systems full of flawed people trying to do the impossible.

    I have deep convictions towards congregational polity, as I am assume Steve and others have towards their polity.

    God gave David very, very specific instructions on Temple worship, but gave no such instructions on New Testament worship. You do your best to take the biblical principles, apply them in your culture, and hope for the best. As long as at least one human is involved, their will be problems. Probably more so with each human after that.

  51. Jtk says:

    Steve Wright,

    I’d love to hear more about your non 501c3 church sometime….

    And I agree with you, ANY system fails (or succeeds) depending upon the character of the governance.

    If I was trying to find a church, I would do the best to find out the character of the pastor and the elders (or whatever system). THAT is the most important and telling thing…..

  52. Papias says:

    Steve – Sounds like you have a person in mind and not just an example.

    Yes, friends may not know what’s going on in someone’s life: we had a family stay with us for a few days in April and now they are getting divorced – we didn’t have a clue that there were issues, much less did they say anything to us.

    I think we can agree that there is no perfect way to choose men to lead the church. Men who want to lead – their lives should be judged against the Scripture and then get input from leadership as well as the church ratifying the decision or not.

  53. Jtk says:

    Does the PP skew towards congregational governance? I know Michael, you’ve hinted that way for yourself….

    I’ve heard so many horror stories from pastors and their wives who’ve been manipulated from bossy boards and congregations….heard too many, but never seen a blog for them…

    But of course, there’s no pausity of those stories of Moses model abuse here either….

  54. Michael says:

    I have a friend who was recently railroaded by a bad deacon board…there are drawbacks to all these systems .
    Having said that, I believe in having as much input as possible from the congregation.
    The NT is clear that everyone in the congregation is gifted in some way.
    It is also clear that the church is a fellowship and not a corporation.
    Everyone has the right and responsibility to know and participate in the governance of the fellowship.

  55. Josh the Baptist says:

    Congregational polity gives each member a chance to be a scoundrel instead of just the pastor.

  56. Steve Wright says:

    I think it would be helpful to not speak of something as a “Calvary Chapel kind of Board” – does anyone hear really think John MacArthur or Rick Warren have anyone on their Boards that is a persistent “no” to what those men want to do with the churches they pastor? I’m talking to the point of thwarting whatever it is JM or RW might be proposing.

    Or if they do…that the guy sticks around long? 🙂

    One of my seminary professors who was a Baptist pastor said he always wanted unanimous votes on anything the church proceeded to attempt – or else they did not proceed. He them proceeded to explain how to deal with that stubborn guy who always was against the majority and thus stopped them with his dissenting vote from getting anything done.

    Again…not a “CC type of Board”

  57. says:

    Awfully convenient when boards can’t fire a pastor.
    Like guys teaching about “trusting in the Lord,” but not living it.
    If boards are so Godly (and they can be), why not give them power to fire you?
    Why are most if not all CCs not trusting the Lord about that?
    And why oh why do CCs blast everyone else/other ministries, but NEVER deal as publicly with abuses in their own house?
    You’d think such a fetish with Moses would’ve uncovered at this point God killed him before entering the promised land.
    Now, watch all the dodging and misdirection about to ensure.

  58. says:

    I can’t believe I bought into thinking the poor church was so backward and ignorant until WE (CCs) figured it out. I’ve got PLENTY of Chuck and other teachings which a fair listening to would support that statement, at least when speaking of, alluding to, insinuating about, and even directly attacking everyone else.
    I know, I know, I’m “bitter,” it’s my fault.

  59. Michael says:


    I don’t know of any board that doesn’t have the authority (on paper) to fire the pastor.

  60. Steve Wright says:

    As Michael and others know, I am strongly against the return to the pulpit of pastors who commit adultery. In fact, only the testimony of a Bob Sweat keeps me from an emphatic permanent disqualification…but Bob is an outlier and also speaks of a multi-decade restoration process.

    That said…the adulterous pastors that shortly are back pastoring almost exclusively involves setting up shop in another church (welcomed in by a buddy..CC or otherwise), or more often starting their own shop down the street.

    So someone, Board or otherwise, drives them out of the church they were pastoring when they could not keep their pants on. That’s been the case around Southern California in multiple examples.

    (and my Board has the authority and the procedure laid out publicly online to fire me…or any other pastor here)

  61. brian says:

    I think a well-balanced board is a good thing for a church, I also think a congregation has a right to know expenditures for salaries but I do not think they should know each pastors compensation in some ways because Pastors should not have to give up privacy in some areas if that makes any sense. I do appreciate what you are saying Michael. I will admit I am at times very envious of people who make really good wages and I focus to much on money.

  62. Eric says:

    I think describing the pastor-controlled independent congregation as “Modes model” is a poor term. Moses was like the pope in charge of a whole denomination.

    The models vary both in who has power within the congregation and who has power within the denom.

    In Australia, I see all four opposites existing:
    Pulpit > pews; Head office > local ch (Anglican, Catholic, etc)
    Pulpit > pews; Local ch > head office (most Pentecostal)
    Pews > pulpit; Local ch > head office (Baptist, Ch of Christ, Brethren, etc)
    Pews > pulpit; Head office > local ch (Uniting)
    along with many variations.

  63. Dan from Georgia says:


    Keep on stirring the pot! The church sorely needs people like you to do this! (esp considering the stupidity and shortsightedness that passes as Christian behavior these days from some pastors and churches).

  64. says:

    (As Steve well knows), CCs are affiliated with the pastor – should Steve’s board fire him (which would be a first for me, ever), the “church” would have to re-affiliate.
    For the record, I don’t know Steve so I won’t bloviate about our awesome he is, but neither do I have anything negative to say.
    When a CC is setup such that the senior pastor is the chairman of the board (final authority), he hand-picks his cronies (not all CCs, but MANY), how is THAT being mutually submissive.

  65. says:

    Oh Steve,
    Thanks for answering while not attacking, seriously.

  66. Chairman of the Board is not the final authority – at least not because he is chairman.

    Working on a church board is hard work. I know my pastor has told me he could get much more done without a board, and I have asked him if he is serious – he says yes. But he follows up with it’s not his call to be “in charge: – he is to be a leader.

  67. I wonder how many people can see the difference between being “in charge” and being a leader?

  68. A Friend says:

    Good to hear Steve Wright. You seem to model some good things…and you responded rather well today and took the punches and didn’t return fire which you typically do. Maybe you’re growing as a true “Pastor” and Servant.

    That’s always been my big beef with you…you often respond how I would respond…which in my estimation is not very Jesus-Model or pastorly.

  69. Mark says:

    If your church just allows elders to be nominated from the congregation, then you will generally get men who have been around a while, who by that time will have their entire families involved. Therefore, these same men will be very reluctant to openly oppose the senior pastor’s opinion, lest they be shunned and their wives and kids have to change churches and lose all their church friends. If the elder is a local businessman who depends on a lot of personal networking contacts, like a realtor or insurance agent, there is no way he is going to risk his livelihood over a controversial church decision. He’s a 99% YES vote to back the pastor (1% might abstain).

    If a church really wanted an independent board to oversee important decisions and be willing to make the tough calls, including disciplining the senior pastor, they would have a majority of OUTSIDE board members.

    But churches don’t want that. They want the insiders to have the power and influence. Maybe because they fancy themselves as that powerful insider some day? Thoughts?

  70. This gets pretty ridiculous – since when has a church board been set up to be a watchdog over the pastor? in many cases if we are a watchdog over anyone it’s the congregation who may want to set up wacky ministries on their own.
    I have served on boards at 3 different churches and never did I have the feeling we were there to watch over the pastor and to keep his hand out of the cookie jar. (first off, we don’t let pastor have access to the cookie jar because it is not a part of his call.
    We are there to offer help and support to each other and the congregation

    Mark – I came from that kind of church at Ocean Hills in 2004 when Skip replaced the elder board with his “outside” board. And he said the same thing you said. He said that since he was such a high profile character that a church board of lay members could not hold his feet to the fire in the area of accountability, because they would be lost in his celebrity.

    He needed outside guys of equal stature to hold him accountable.

  71. Steve Wright says:

    Truth…coupled with willingness, duty, and the fear of the Lord (and no fear of man) is the way that celebrity is brought down.

  72. I wonder how many who say they are accountable to their board actually subject themselves to an annual performance review?

    I have done the past 3 reviews of my pastor of which I report it back to the board. The pastor then goes off and does the performance review on the rest of the called staff who then in turn do the reviews of their staff.

    At the end, I report to the congregation that pastor has had his review and that all staff have had their reviews.

    Perhaps some here would like to share their experience having been reviewed or if you have done such reviews yourself.

  73. Bob says:

    What I have found in all, yes I wrote all, organizations with boards is this; The board exists to protect the rights of two groups, the ones who put them into power and its members.

    Boards of corporations are no different than those of a church. While the idea and “fiduciary” responsibility of a public corp’s board is to protect the rights of its shareholders in reality it doesn’t work that way at all. They normally vote to protect and back the direction of the CEO or the individual who has the most influence and therefore power. Additionally rarely do individuals just retire and walk away from their board positions after a short time. It is not untypical for members to make a career out of their positions. They enjoy position, power, status and more while on the board.

    So why would we think a church board would be any different? Yes in rare cases boards vote against the chairman, but a skilled chairman, in all situations, knows how to position, direct and manipulate things. It’s the skill which got them there in the first place.

    While churches should be different I find both experience and history says otherwise.

    This is why we need a Messiah!

    One might think that I would advocate no boards (or whatever one might call their accountability process), and if so they would be wrong. These processes are the best flawed methods God has given us to corporately protect the innocent.

  74. “So why would we think a church board would be any different?”
    A church board doesn’t get paid – that is a big difference.

    I think some here may project the bad things they would do if they had some sort of power. My position as prez has no power at all – power over what?

    The lady who was prez 4 or 5 yrs ago left after 1 term – the guy before me left after 1 term and as I said yesterday, I will probably leave after 1 term (at the request of my wife who doesn’t like me working so much on church business.)

    Of course the PP is built on church dissatisfaction. I take a more positive view that in by far the majority of cases, the things discussed about pastors and boards just does not exist.

    My pastor has flaws, like we all do – we once suspended him for 7 months – but the man is 100% what a pastor can be – a flawed man called of God.

  75. Steve Wright says:

    MLD – Every year we have each pastor take their turn leaving the room and the rest of the pastors and the Board then talk freely about him, sharing compliments and concerns etc.We do this even if there really is not much we end up saying – in other words it happens to every pastor, every year, regardless of whether anyone wants to say something or not.

  76. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve – does that mean you don’t talk to the person about these compliments and concerns?
    Sounds like gossip to me 😉 just kidding folks … kinda.

  77. Francisco says:

    Similar to what Steve does, we also do annual self-evaluations and as well as written peer reviews where we sit down and discuss the evaluations. Although to some people this may seem awkward we have found this process to be a valuable tool and it has been encouraging. We also encourage those who serve alongside us to submit evaluation forms on us that they can keep anonymous, if they so wish. We have found that when the members of the church see that her shepherds are open to evaluation and critique people are not only more open to share their hearts but also open to receive correction when necessary. As shepherds we certainly want to be approachable by the body but also be able to approach others who often seem unapproachable. Also we have found that in Spanish speaking congregations people which is our case that people are often more timid to share with their pastors in general when they see or notice something that could be improved. Culturally we’ve found that people in English speaking bodies are generally more assertive than Latin American churches. Ultimately we’ve found this approach has given people a way to provide us with feedback that we would not have otherwise. I certainly would encourage doing annual pastoral reviews as it can serve as a valuable tool. This said it should be used to assess and bless, not to tear down the pastors.

  78. Bob says:


    When I read your process I became a bit uncomfortable, not about the receiving critique, but the potential for those present to take the discussion beyond some limits to, as MLD posted, gossip.

    I highly believe in critique, but about what and where are the limits?

    If you have multiple pastors then a private gathering of pastors should freely discuss topics where agreement are necessary. These are normally the agreed upon basics of doctrine and practice. One pastor shouldn’t teach the cup in one way and another in contradiction to him. You get the idea.

    But when it comes to personality, and other more esoteric areas where do you draw the line?

    Do you agree on how leaders should dress, tattoos, the cars you drive, maybe one is getting a little fat or has bad breath? Hey maybe the group doesn’t like how the children are being raised or the schools they attend.

    The old leaving the room thing is full of dangers and as numbers grow power struggles will grow with them.

    Interesting and I think I prefer MLD’s church methods to the “leave the room idea” and let’s talk about Bob.

  79. Anne says:

    #75 What is the rationale behind that??? SMH in confusion. I’ve always thought a good rule of thumb is to never say anything about someone behind their back that I wasn’t willing to say to their face.

  80. Steve Wright says:

    I really thought….really thought…after all these years you all would assume that I was not talking about a gossip session behind someone’s back. Especially since I was responding to a comment about churches doing pastoral evaluation.

    But yes, people….we then bring each pastor back, myself included, and all talk together. I’ll get out the felt boards next time. 🙂

    I also don’t believe an ambush session is very spiritual…that there is value (if there were a concern) in folks discussing what and how they are to share criticism when warranted before everyone gangs up on someone..

    Of course, I did not jump to the conclusion that MLD was promoting ambush sessions.

    (I also thought that jumping to the gossip accusation was sort of frowned on around here…)

  81. Michael says:

    Our good friend Francisco has shared his pastoral review form.

  82. Anne says:

    I’m not jumping to a conclusion of gossip at all here, Steve. And I understand completely about evaluations in both secular and ministry environments calls for some discussion of employee progress or lack thereof “behind their backs” for future discussion face to face with them. I’m just having a hard time seeing the reasoning when it involves ones peers and fellow laborers as pastors. And from what I’ve seen in both business and ministry being part of similar types of meetings, too often things get said, alliances are formed, lines are drawn in the sand that effect those “out of the room” that are meant to be hidden and not open to input from the one outside the room.

  83. Anne says:

    I’ll give you an example of one such meeting I was at re: whether to bring an assistant pastor on to teach a class at CCBC. Some of the concerns brought up were his weight (although he was thinner than their supreme leader) in mocking terms and jokes, whether he was aligned with the new guard or the old guard, his blue collar tentmaking job that he held to support his growing family was joked about and more. The agreed to let him teach a class, but I still had to hear jokes etc about him when he was not around. I was still too much a coward to say anything. Apparently he did get wind of it though and began to even make jokes about himself in their prescence. He could graciously laugh at himself, was one of the best teachers I met there, especially in relating to students who also were not OC picture pefect. And now he and his family are living happily in another country. But the way he was spoken about by his elders, “betters’ still breaks my heart. Stuff like this was even worse in women’s ministry 🙁
    I’ve read here how you do many things differently than where I was serving, so that is why I’m wondering about that method. Because it struck a personal nerve. Thanks for interacting with me.

  84. Bob says:


    “I really thought….really thought…after all these years you all would assume that I was not talking about a gossip session behind someone’s back. ”

    No, actually I would expect you would run the process fairly. My comment is about the dangers of such a model and how a well defined process that, as the organization grows, is well documented and provides recourse for the one being talked about.

    There’s an old saying, “The pathway to hell is paved wit the best intentions.”

    It seems to me organizational and leadership abuse has its roost in no fair means of recourse for the parties involved. The Bible is full of documented processes and the whole church tradition is how these are interpreted into application.

    Again, I don’t think you are holding a gossip session and I don’t believe MLD is saying that either. Its about the next guy or when the temptation of your position grows and due process is not available to one wronged.

    Please don’t feel wronged.

  85. Bob says:


    Good form!

    Who gets to fill out the senior pastor’s form and does the whole church get to see the results?

  86. Francisco says:

    In response to #85

    Bob our fellowship is a plurality of elders led so we evaluate one another with the same standards and we all sign off on the final forms on each other. All copies are retained. We’ve found that the actual peer review discussions have been very helpful and encouraging. We find that people are more likely to communicate what they truly see and feel when they take the time to write things it out as opposed to only communicating verbally. These sessions also help build pastoral unity even when there are differences of opinion on certain areas. It allows us to get to the heart of the matter on things “that matter”. Also we find that accountability begins with fellowship and healthy discussions with the people you serve alongside.

    The first year we did evaluations everyone in the church could see them. Although we still encourage people in the fellowship to submit a form if they wish to evaluate or share a concern (they can remain anonymous if they wish), now only the Board, elders, and our Nathans see the final reviews.

    Again the purpose for these evaluations is simply to challenge and encourage one another as shepherds in a good way. It is simply just a tool but certainly not a perfect one.

  87. Anne says:

    Great stuff, Francisco!!

  88. Bob says:



    “We find that people are more likely to communicate what they truly see and feel when they take the time to write things it out as opposed to only communicating verbally.”

    I agree when things are put in writing the subject becomes much more serious.

    Paul did say something to Timothy about elders being more transparent so they (the congregants) would fear. So would making the written evaluations available for all to see even make them a bit more serious and important to the elders?

    I find I like churches which publish a detailed financial statement, including salaries, far more honest than the whom hide the details. But that’s my personal preference.

    Thank you for publishing the form.

  89. Francisco says:

    No Problem Bob.

    We haven’t felt a need to post the completed pastor evaluations on the internet but if a member were to ask to see them we wouldn’t be opposed to them seeing hard copies of them. We prefer for people to go talk or share feedback with the pastor in question first.

    We actually do have a formal process in dealing with grievances or accusations against the elders if made by 2 or more witnesses and if things were to continue unresolved. We have put together an independent outside board (Court of Nathans) that would be called in to hear the accusations, investigate, and make a final decision in accordance with 1Tim 5:19-20. Although the men on the Nathans Court have no authority over the fellowship they do have the authority to remove me or any of the other unrepentant elders in our fellowship from the pastorate should our board call them in and if stepping down is in the best interest of the church. The Nathans are comprised of other local pastors in town who know us and our ministries. We choose them because although we fellowship with them they would chose doing what’s best for the church.This was something that we agreed and to from the get go and also agreed to step down graciously should we be asked to by this group. It is our desire that this provision never have to be used but it is in place in case God help us it ever did have to be implemented.

    A few of my pastors friends don’t’ think it’s necessary to have a formal grievance process is necessary the way we have it but we at least we agree that the pastorate is holy ground and it should be treated as such. I think the author of Hebrews said that Moses trembled with fear before the presence of God and we should too. I believe that for this same reason the apostle James warned that not many of us should desire to be pastor/teachers.

    Finally we have Michael and Steve to tank for encouraging us in putting this provision together.

  90. Michael says:

    Now if we can just clone Francisco 1500 times, my work is done… 🙂

  91. Francisco says:

    Excuse my typos Bob, I meant to say “we have Michael and Steve to thank for encouraging us in putting this provision together”

  92. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve, I said I was joking.

    I don’t know for sure what our HR lady does – but if it’s up to me, no one else sees the evaluations. This is an HR issue.

  93. Francisco says:

    I received a couple private emails and one call last night regarding this thread and specifically with regard to the accountability provision mentioned earlier and how that affects the autonomy of the local fellowship.

    Our belief is that the local church should be automonous with no other outside interference from another church. The outside accountability board serves a very limited and specific provision to carry out accountability for our leadership while in no way compromising local church autonomy.

    Ultimately there can still be automony and accountability. These are both good things.

  94. Andrew says:

    This idea of church autonomy is over stated in my opinion. It seems to be derived more from a business understanding (limited liability) than from a spiritual understanding of the church. All true churches are incorporated into one body of Christ into the universal church. What affects one local church affects us all. I’m just getting really tired of all this talk about the total independence of everyone’s church particularly CC churches. It just seems like the folks that are saying this are ones that want to protect themselves and set themselves apart. To me we are all too much interconnected. Now with this in mind, I don’t think having board members from out of town in your local church makes any sense at all. This isn’t about accountability. This is about a friends and family plan. Before any church does this they better make sure they know who their members are and start treating them as such. But then again many of these so called independent churches don’t have membership because their idea of membership is with the out of town pastors on their board.

  95. Josh the Baptist says:

    Andrew, church autonomy has nothing to do with limiting liability. You are looking at things through the lens of your ex CC. The vast majority of autonomous churches are not Calvary Chapels. They don’t operate like your old Calvary Chapel. Church autonomy is a spiritual and biblical conviction, that it is the proper way to do local church. It also has nothing to do with being disconnected from the Universal Body of Christ. The vast majority of autonomous understand that they are only a small part of the body of Christ and cooperate together with that larger body in some way.

    I don’t care if you think Churches should not be autonomous, but I’d rather you be properly informed about it.

  96. Andrew says:


    You may be right that there is a Biblical conviction about church autonomy. But that is not exactly what I am seeing posted in this forum and elsewhere. I admit I may be biased by my own experience. I liked Bob’s comment in #84 about whole church tradition being formed by Biblical convictions. My point is that the church governance I see happening in many churches today is coming more from the business world than anything to do with the Bible. I like Michael’s last comment in the post:

    “Never mind that the Bible knows nothing of this type of governance”.

  97. Josh the Baptist says:

    Right, my disagreement with what you were saying centered around your use of the term “church autonomy”. There are tons of different types of churches that fit under the autonomous label. Most are probably congregational, and not run by a board. My conviction is that is the right way to do it: Autonomous / Congregational.

    The hand selected board does seem ripe for abuse, but again, all types have shown abusive tendencies.

  98. Andrew says:

    Josh, I think we are on the same page.

  99. Francisco says:

    Thanks Josh for your response and expanding a little on local church autonomy. I think that you, Andrew, and I are all on the same page. blessings

  100. A Friend says:

    “Now if we can just clone Francisco 1500 times, my work is done”

    Amen. Good dude who is listening and trying to do the right thing and being a good example connected to Calvary Chapel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Phoenix Preacher

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading