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Churches: The role of trustees and spiritual leaders

By Stephen Mathews | 4 January 2012 | Comments (6)


One of the frequent questions that we are asked at Stewardship is about trustees in churches, and how that role interacts with those of the spiritual leaders; ministers, pastors, elders etc. This issue can create confusion and even at times tensions between people. As a result it is an important issue for those involved in church leadership to understand.

The confusion and tension comes out of what the church is; not only a community of Christians working together to evangelise, love and disciple principally governed by the teaching in the Bible but also, very often, a charity governed by UK law. The Charity Commission has guidance for trustees and the Bible has principles for good leadership. These need to work together if the church is to be well governed in both aspects.

It is important in each church setting to work out how these leadership principles are best achieved. This will depend on the type of structure a church has, and who the individuals are in the team. We find that when these are understood and there are good relationships between the people on the team, the different roles work well to support each other and achieve good spiritual direction and good legal governance. Where there is misunderstanding or poor relationships (and one tends to lead to the other), there can be gaps or frictions leading to problems in either or both of the spiritual and legal leadership of the church.

If you want to read more on this area, please refer to our free briefing paper entitled 'Guide to churches on spiritual leadership and trustees'. If you think your own church could improve in this area we do recommend you humbly ask God for help, seek to understand the others in your team and work to see this resolved in line with the teaching of Ephesians chapter 4. If you would think it may help to speak to one of Stewardship’s Consultants, who have practical experience of being involved in both spiritual leadership and trustee roles, please contact [email protected]

Posted by Stephen Mathews
Stephen is a Senior Consultant at Stewardship and has spent over 25 years in the accountancy profession. Stephen is a trustee for a number of small Christian charities and has been involved in various church leadership roles for over 20 years.


Kehinde adeloye

December 11, 2014 9:43 AM
I will like to have some interaction with you how to solve problem of a church when boadr of Trustee become a big nuisance in the church of God
kehinde Adeloye

Mark Bennett

February 10, 2015 3:17 PM
Hello - I am trying to access the above link?.. ??Guide to churches on spiritual leadership and trustees'.
Unfortunately it is inaccesible. Could you send me a copy as soon as possible please.

Much appreciated

Mark Bennett

Charles Ellis

July 16, 2017 1:14 AM
I am trying to find out if there are qualifications for being a trustee we have a member wanting to be a trustee and he has been married 3 times and his wife now has two daughters are not married and one just had a child,and the other one will have a child in 6 weeks neither are married ages 19 and 17.I am not judging just don't wont to give the church anything for people to down us for .

Stephen at Stewardship

July 19, 2017 9:24 AM
Thank you for your questions. None of the issues outlined disqualify the individual from becoming a trustee. There may, however, be reasons for carefully assessing whether it would be helpful, as the character and reputation of trustees remains an important factor in the public perception of the charity's management.

In a church context this can work 'both ways' . The New Testament is full of failed people who are changed by encountering the love of God and become world changers. Experience shows this isn't limited to the early church.

However, it is certainly helpful that good leadership is shown by people, whether organisational or family, who are coming into leadership roles; whether spiritual or legal. If there is little or no indication that is the case then the person may not be able to add that and work well in the trustee team.

We recommend that all new trustees take part in Stewardship's Trustee Training in order to build from a solid foundation. Find out more at

Antoinette Stapleton

October 24, 2017 10:56 PM
I am trying to access the link guide to church leadership and trustees, unfortunately I could not access it. Have you a copy that I could have as soon as possible.


Antoinette Stapleton.

Eva Obeng

November 29, 2018 4:48 PM

I ma trying to access the role of trustees and spiritual leader for my church, but not successful. May I have a copy as soon as possible please.

Kind regards

Eva Oben

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