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A Great Church Needs Great Trustees

By Alan Hough | 26 January 2016 | Comments (1)

A great church needs great trustees

A good church is made up of a number of ingredients, but a key one—often overlooked—is the need for good trustees.  Good trusteeship is much more than a legal requirement or title and more than a ‘rubber stamp’ for decisions taken elsewhere.  Good trusteeship works to ensure that the church is effective in achieving its main purposes but also well governed with risks properly understood.  These goals should be compatible and not—as sometimes happens—competing.

The Bible speaks about great church as being the body of Christ.  In Romans 12 we read “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”  1 Corinthians 12 re-enforces that imagery “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ…… If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.”

These two passages tell us that ALL the parts of the body are necessary; ALL belong to each other; ALL suffer together and ALL rejoice and are honoured together.  Good trustees have a positive role to play within that body: one that is important, necessary and to be honoured.

A trustee’s role is that of broad governance and management including taking responsibility for:

  • Finance: maintenance of proper records and preparation of annual accounts.
  • HR: staff appointments, job descriptions, payroll requirements, appraisals and so on.
  • Risk management: understanding key risks and considering plans to offset or mitigate risk.
  • Policy ownership: putting appropriate ‘good practice’ policies in place (or as required by the Charity Commission).

Sometimes the balance between effective church and good governance is weighted too heavily in one direction.  Really good trustees, working within a leadership team (including elders and spiritual leaders), are able to steer the church towards its main aims within a framework of good governance.  If the balance is distorted, trustees can have no role to play at all or—at the other extreme—have such tight control that the church seems led more by legislation than by New Testament wisdom.

Ephesians 4 sums it up: “speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”  That includes trustees!

Stewardship recognises the importance and some of the difficulties that come with the role and runs training courses for new (and not so new) trustees.  See our website for details.


For links to other useful information, see:

Posted by Alan Hough

Alan has an accounting background having worked in “the City” for more years than he cares to mention. He now works as an advisor and consultant to a number of Christian churches and charities seeking to help them better understand and embrace their finances.

On a good day, you might find him on out on his bike or at White Hart Lane cheering on his beloved Spurs.


Buluma Robert

November 27, 2019 3:42 PM
It is true that churches have conflicts due to mistrust especially among the pastors and the treasures

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