Creating a Healthy Leadership Board in your Church

Healthy churches have healthy boards. Regardless of the term (elder board, board of directors or leadership board, etc), it is invaluable to have a team of men and women who keep their finger on the pulse of the church. Leadership boards should be made up by individuals who love Jesus, the mission of the church and the pastor (in that order), who are called and gifted to help the church move forward.

One of the greatest challenges of creating healthy boards is determining who should be on the board. There are scriptures that define what the heart of church leadership should look like (1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:7), but selecting the right people can certainly create anxiety, especially due to the decisions they are tasked with. For example, most leadership boards hire or fire the lead pastor, determine the salary of the lead pastor, approve the annual budget and sign off on building projects or acquiring property. So yeah, it's a lot of responsibility. 

Whether your church is installing its first leadership board (or whatever the term) or ready to add new members, having a good process is helpful and can result in finding and appointing the right people. The key word is "process," which means, develop and follow protocol and take your time. Here are a few best practices:

  • Shoulder tap the people who understand the mission and vision of the church
  • Do they support the lead pastor and leadership of the church?
  • Make sure candidates are vested financially (do they financially support the church)?
  • Is their marriage stable? Is their spouse all in? 
  • Do they have a background in leadership, organizational structure or budgeting? 

Once you select your candidates, I suggest a first interview to determine final candidates. Here are seven questions for you (the interviewee) to ask. I have added a blurb after each question for context. Don’t expect the candidate to provide the perfect answer (by the way, my blurbs aren’t the perfect answers either). 

These questions should work in two ways. It provides the candidate an opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions; but it also gives you the opportunity to share key roles, responsibilities and expectations of a board member. Go off script when it makes sense, but keep the focus concise. The overall purpose of the questions is to create a conversation between you and the candidates, so you can hear their heart. 

Question #1: 

In your opinion, what is the mission and vision of our church? 

Understanding mission and vision is vital for healthy leadership boards. Our research at The Unstuck Group shows that 27% of non-profit board members said that their “fellow board members lack a strong understanding of the organization’s mission and strategy.” If board members don’t fully comprehend why we exist and operate, they’re going to regularly make off-target suggestions and become frustrated when their misguided expectations are unrealized. This is an opportunity to hear their thoughts about why your church exists and where they believe it's headed. It is also an opportunity to share your church's vision in detail. 

Question #2: 

Do you believe everyone in the church should have a voice in the decision making of the church or should that be reserved for the leadership of the church alone? 

Some people lean towards “let’s ask the church what they think.” Churches, large or small, shouldn't operate this way. Democratic flavored leadership gives everyone the same voice, including unbelievers, those who are not spiritually mature and those who are not qualified to lead. Board members need to understand the weight of their responsibilities, meaning, their decisions can (and will) impact the entire church (e.g. hiring a lead pastor, selling property, acquiring debt, etc). Vision and mission based decisions need to be made by prayerful, discerning people who understand the ministry, mechanics and money of the church. 

Question #3: 

How would you define the purpose and role of the Leadership Board? 

The board should support and pray for the mission and vision of our church and protect major policy. The board approves the annual budget and provides accountability to those authorized to execute the budget. The board should also ensure the lead pastor is taken care of financially and stays healthy, both physically and spiritually. The role of the board is not to lead the church or determine vision. While the board (and/or other leaders) can and should speak into the vision, the lead pastor is the lead visionary. 

Question #4: 

What do you think the role and relationship between the lead pastor board should look like? 

In some churches, the role of the the board is to make sure the pastor is "doing their job." While accountability is important, the greatest responsibility of the board is to empower the pastor to lead. They must be ready to pray for, support and follow the direction and leadership of their pastor. When this is missing, division begins to set in, and will eventually leak into the church. The lead pastor and the board must serve and function as a team, always seeking the best interest of the church and the mission. When that happens, the church is positioned to see God do great things. 

Question #5: 

Many of the decisions at our church are determined by a majority vote by the Leadership Board. While everyone is encouraged to express their opinion and view, can you leave the room as a team player when your opinion or view isn’t agreed upon by the majority? 

Board members should be expected to be participative and vocal, but also understanding their voice may or may not be supported. As board members, they must learn to agree to disagree. It is helpful to glean from all of the wisdom and knowledge in the room, but at the end of the day, board members have to trust the Holy Spirit to lead the consensus of the group. If a board member can't agree with the consensus and leave the room as a team, they shouldn’t be on the team. 

Question #6: 

What do you love about our church and our current vision? 

This is an opportunity to hear the heart behind the desire to serve. Hopefully, the desire to serve isn’t about fixing everything they think may be broken (if that's the case, you don't want that person in the room). Healthy board members should be excited and want to be a part of what God is doing at your church. They should see serving as a board member as an opportunity, not an obligation. Opportunity wants to serve. Obligation has to serve. There's a big difference. 

Question #7: 

Lastly, do you have any doctrinal or theological questions or concerns? 

Candidates should be given an application with pre-work, which should include reviewing your statement of faith and doctrinal stance. They should note their agreement on the application before the interview (which is one factor to determine if they get an interview). However, I would still end with this, just to reiterate the importance of being in agreement with your doctrine, statements of faith, and policy. 

You can find other best practices about developing healthy leadership boards, check out The Unstuck Group. 


  1. Establishing a strong church is an admirable goal. Many of us struggle to make the transition from aspiration to reality. I prepared this manual to assist church leaders in taking action to improve their church's health and obtain the results they desire. I served as a church leadership coach for a megachurch in California for a few years. Several smaller congregations looked to this church for help, support, and direction. My position exposed me to a variety of churches, some of which were healthy and others were not. The leaders would seek advice and support from me with specific difficulties, but as I dug deeper, it became increasingly obvious that the difficulties were usually masking larger problems.



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