I grew up when Diff'rent Strokes was a popular television show. That's no big deal unless your last name is Willis. To this day I still hear those famous words popularized by Arnold: "Whatchu talkin bout Willis?" Usually they are uttered by someone looking at me as though I may have never heard it before. Yeah, right! Well this blog is what I (Willis) am talkin bout...my thoughts, observations & opinions. Enjoy...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Boards = Bad?

Is the Church Board concept really all that bad? Now, admittedly I'm playing the roll of "devil's advocate" (seems weird typing that) with this post, but it represents some things I've been pondering lately. I have pretty much always been vehemently anti-church board in my thinking. Mainly because IT'S NOT IN THE BIBLE (your bylaws notwihtstanding). It also usually provides opportunities to trump decisions by the elders because deacons (& myriad other "officers" in some churches) often out number & out vote the overseers. But, lately I've been contemplating this whole issue anew.

Consider first that the modern church is quite different in innumerable respects from our 1st century brethren. We have lots of stuff - property, buildings, land, vehicles, kitchens, gyms (oops, I mean"family life centers"), equipment, etc. We often have multi-member paid staffs too. The congregants, of course, are expected to bankroll all the aforementioned. If these things are unscriptural, why can't we have an unscriptural board to oversee them? I'm just saying (to quote a firend).

Additionally, we have witnessed the supplanting of the elders' rolls as shepherds in many ("most" would probably be more accurate) churches. This usually is a result of the delegation of such responsibilities to those employed "full time" (aka. "the staff" but not Biblical "staff" of "thy rod & thy staff they comfort me"). SWo, here's my question: Where exactly are the lines to be drawn when it comes to delegating responsibilties of church leaders? If it is acceptable and/or appropriate to give shepherding duties away, how can it be unacceptable and/or inappropriate to give oversight away too?

Might the church be better served if elders delegated anything but shepherding?

More on this later...


William Mckinley Dyer said...

1st--Is the "Im Just Saying" directed at Me b/c i use that all the time?

2nd--Not everything "Un-Biblical" is Wrong or shall we say Anti-Scriptural. Where was the command for the Synagogues? There was none yet we see Jesus, Paul and many others participating in Synagogues. So i wouldn't say that if the Church set up different organizations or boards that they are inherently evil or Anti-Scriptural. But that is not to say that they are not a detriment to the Church. If something is a detriment to the Church OR if the function of Biblical offices (elders, evangelists, etc.) are trumped by these Un-Biblical (yet not wrong) organizations then yes something needs to change. Let me just go on the record as saying Im AGAINST BOARDS

Billy Club said...

thy rod and thy staff, Ohhh, do they comfort me.... I know the ohhh is not in there, but its in there so to speak. isn't that something...you might have said something there preacher... I will wait on the more to come... so more to come

Anonymous said...

Ah... the larger the machine gets, the more you need to feed it, grease it, and tweak it to keep it going. It's really nice when you have very few of those things to bankroll.

David H. Willis said...

u know its u WMD - good thoughts bt the way.

Anonymous said...

This might not be what you were driving at, but this is what came to mind for me...
We're actually just on the other side of a restructuring of our governance model here at Fairmount. Last month our "board" (at that time deacons, elders, and staff) voted to dissolve themselves and appoint the elders and our senior minister as the "board" (this is for the ability to change by-laws).
We struggled for years (probably decades) with the problem of the deacons feeling like a rubber stamp of the elders. So, now they no longer meet to spend hours talking about whether or not to pave a parking lot. Now they meet every other month for the staff to bring the needs of the church to them and then to form out a plan of how they are going to serve and meet those goals.
When it comes to shepherding...the larger a church body gets the more overwhelming it would be for a group of elders to do all the shepherding. Our elders' focus is on guarding the doctrine of the church, casting the vision for the church, and being the spiritual directors of our body.
It's through different ministries and with the help of staff and more mature members that shepherding is carried out.
You can see our new governance manual (if you need help falling asleep) on the bottom of our home page. www.fairmountchristian.org

Gman said...

Would Acts 15 and Paul and Barnabas coming to Jerusalem be seen as coming to a "Board" of sorts?

I think there are things that are unscriptural; those that are allow for liberty in Christ as well. I think the issue gets back to the whole RM slogan - "Where the Bible Speaks - We speak ...where the Bible is silent ..." Well we allow for many opinions and methods to reach for the Kingdom.

Anonymous said...

Chiming in...

Ok, so the board is a group of eleceted officials that over see a specific area, hopefully in their expertice.

In instances where a persons expertice (maybe their daily job) gives them a ablilty to oversee an area (ie: building maintenance, sound and technology, grounds and landscaping...because we have bulidings now as opposed to temple courts.)

These people should be allowed to work together to make decisions that help the church run smoother.

They should then report the findings to the elder of that specific area so that everyone is on the same page...communication, communication, communication!

So by in large, boards are not bad because A.Not everyone is gifted in the same area nor can we know everything about everything and B. It gives people ownership and responsiblity of the church!

David H. Willis said...

Thanks Joe. I'll check out the document you mentuioned.

Badger said...


yes, boards (that is, the elected body composed of elders and deacons, and sometimes other positions) are totally unbiblical, not just because they are not mentioned, but because they usurp the leadership that the bible prescribes.

the elders should make the decisions in the church and they should be selected and recognized, not elected. take our board, for example. there are 3 elders and 5 deacons, so essentially any decision could be 'overruled' by the deacons, meaning the elders are not really the leaders.

the 'board' should be made up only of the elders, and the preacher should be an elder unless he is a traveling evangelist; if he is preaching, teaching, and shepherding then he is an elder.

the deacons should serve the church and certainly advise the elders, but not make decisions.

and there shouldn't be votes on decisions either, rather, the elders should come up with a consensus based on what the bible says and the good of the church.

but, 90% of our churches fail to do this while calling themselves 'New Testament churches'.

William Mckinley Dyer said...

Badger---i like your line of thinking. I only disagree with you on the whole the preacher is an elder if he is doing the work of an elder. I never liked that line of reasoning and here is why. I am 24, not married, no kids, still wet behind the ears as they say. I teach in the local church, i do shepherding work (pray for members, chase after those who go astray, take younger Christians under my wing to encourage them) but i in no way consider myself, nor should anyone else, an elder. You are an elder if you desire the position, meet the qualification in the Bible, appointed by the Evangelists/Other Elders and then do the work.
Other than that i feel ya and totally agree that the elders need to be the ones making the decisions and should not be getting "out voted"

SammyBoy said...

I think you run a little hard on this. Dave's original post posed the question, "Might the church be better served if elders delegated anything but shepherding?" Ya know, that's exactly what the apostles did in Jerusalem -- they delegated authority and responsibility to others, to care for day-to-day ministry stuff, so that they (the apostles) could concentrate on spiritual shepherding.

You don't think that's permissible?

Badger said...


Dude, you are totally right. I should have been more clearer about those who do the work of preaching as elders. There are some who are in the role of minister or 'pastor' who are NOT qualified to be an elder for various reasons: they are not ready, they are not willing, they are too young, they are new Christians, etc. And you are right, they should not be automatically made elders even though they may be the preacher.

I was speaking more against those churches who will not LET a qualified and willing man be an elder simply because he is the preacher.

William Mckinley Dyer said...

Badger--I gotcha and i agree with that

David H. Willis said...


Great point about the Jerusalem church. That's exactly what I'm talkin bout.

Badger said...


I don't get the bone of your contention with what I said...? I have no problem with elders delegating work to the deacons, that's how it's supposed to be done. Elders shouldn't have to decide the color of the paint or draw up the mowing schedule, they should attend to the spiritual matters.

What I'm objecting to is when ALL of the decisions-- spiritual and physical (though it's hard to draw a line between those things in the church) are made by a 'board' made up of elders and deacons, each with a 'vote'.

So, you might have to decide on allowing a questionable parachurch ministry to speak at the church and the whole board votes, even though this is clearly a spiritual matter. Likewise, the whole board, elders and deacons, get bogged down on deciding whether to pay more for 2 ply toilet paper.

The elders should decide spiritual matters and delegate other things to the deacons.

I think we're saying the same thing, sorry if I wasn't clear.

SammyBoy said...

Robert, I think it was the "blanket-ness" of what you seemed to be saying. "the elders should make the decisions in the church" and "the deacons should serve the church and certainly advise the elders, but not make decisions . . . and there shouldn't be votes on decisions either" perhaps didn't quite say what you intended it to mean -- as you showed in your latest dispatch. There's nothing in your last note that I disagree with.

I've been involved with churches in the past where the elders believed it WAS their responsibility to micromanage every aspect of church life -- it was THEIR job to decide what color paint, what pattern in the carpet, whether to have hot dogs or hamburgers at the cookout, etc. (Of course, as is sometimes the case, it was mostly their WIVES calling those shots behind them!)

David H. Willis said...

The wives of elders - now that's something to talk about in some of churches for sure! I must say, that I am currently enjoying a leadership team where that is not an issue (& I'm glad!)

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