The board governance model
The Board of WPA operates under a governance model, meaning the Board guides the church through policies instead of getting involved in the day-to-day operations of the church. Here are some things the Board does and doesn’t do.
Things we don’t do
The only employee the board has is the Lead Pastor. All other staff are the Lead Pastor’s responsibility. This means when a board member volunteers in another pastor’s ministry area, they submit to that pastor’s authority.
Tell the Lead Pastor how to get things done
In fact, we do the opposite. Through Limitations defined by the Board, the Board only tells the Lead Pastor what he cannot do.
Contrary to what the name implies, these Limitations actually give the Lead Pastor a tremendous amount of freedom to execute the mission of the church however he sees fit. The opposite–giving the Lead Pastor a list of only the things he is allowed to do–would severely limit his ability to creatively enact the church’s vision and require him to constantly ask the Board for permission to do things.
Put simply, the Board is responsible for what the church will do; the staff are responsible for how it gets done.
Things we do
The responsibilities of the Board fall into three main categories: spiritual, missional, and operational.
Although the church is an organization, first and foremost, it is a spiritual entity, and we hold the spiritual over the corporate. Our role is that of spiritual servants who support our pastors, our church body, and ourselves in prayer.
The board’s primary role is to uphold and advance the church’s mission and vision. We work with the Lead Pastor to establish and clarify the church’s purpose, values, and overarching goals. Our decisions are based on ensuring we are theologically, spiritually, and missionally fulfilling these values.
It is important to note that while many of the responsibilities in this category have been delegated to the Administrator and their staff (e.g. finance, legal compliance, health and safety, risk management), the Board is still legally accountable for these things. Board members must fully review the board package each month and make sure they’ve done their due diligence.
The Board is responsible for reviewing and approving new and updated policies that guide the church’s operations. These policies cover areas such as finances, human resources, health and safety, and overall organizational conduct. Policies provide a framework for consistency and ethical behaviour.
Hiring a lead pastor
During a lead pastor transition, the Board is responsible for finding, interviewing, and ultimately recommending a candidate to the congregation. All other staff hires are the responsibility of the Lead Pastor.
The Board approves budgets, monitors the church’s financial health, and ensures that resources are used responsibly and transparently. The actual number-crunching is typically done by the Administrator and their team.
While the Administrator does the bulk of the work ensuring compliance with laws, regulations, and reporting requirements, ensuring the church operates within legal and regulatory boundaries is a crucial responsibility of the board.
The board identifies and manages risks that could affect the church’s reputation, operations, or finances. We implement strategies to mitigate these risks and ensure the church’s sustainability.
All members of the Board have an equal voice at meetings and the same voting input, regardless of what executive positions they hold or what subcommittees they sit on. The goal of the Board is to represent the entirety of the congregation, not to represent any special interest.
The Board has three executive positions that serve to ensure the effective and smooth operation of the Board.
The Chair supports the Board by ensuring the Board operates effectively. This includes reviewing agenda topics, leading meetings, and conducting Board self-evaluation and Board development.
The Chair works closely with the Lead Pastor and Administrator and represents the needs of the Board, ensures board packages are ready, and can operate as a tie-breaking vote (although extremely rare). The Chair is a signing authority for the church.
The Secretary supports the board by ensuring we keep true and accurate records of all Board and congregational meetings. An effective Secretary is able to capture important decision details, summarize conversations, and monitor the flow of the meeting.
The Treasurer supports the Board by overseeing the financial operations of WPA. The main areas of focus include working closely with the Administrator to build a yearly fiscal budget, reviewing financial reports to ensure audit details go smoothly, and signing for donation receipts. The Treasurer is a signing authority for the church.
By adhering to a governance model, the Board operates in a structured, accountable, and transparent manner, serving the best interests of WPA and the larger community it serves.