Today, let’s cover the following aspects of building the team:
1 Qualifications of Service
2 Make up of Team
3 Selecting Team Members
4 Selection versus Nomination
5 Team Member Service Term, Rotation and Size
6 Role of Ex-Officio
#1 Qualifications of Service
Most often, candidates are vetted against 1st Timothy 3:3-5. Team members must not be a lover of money and must manage his own household well. With this in mind, observe:
Team members should be a member of the church for at least two or three years. The longer the better, particularly if you are a startup – it takes quite a while to “watch” people and to get to know them and to see the following:
Their commitment to Christ, Christian behavior, their faithfulness to the church in terms of doctrine, attendance, serving and financial support.
You will also get a feel for whether or not they would approach the role as a seat of influence and power or as an opportunity to serve others.
#2 Make Up of Team
Obviously, you need wisdom on this team. You need spiritually mature, faithful Christians as previously described, but you also need certain skills on your team.
From a practical standpoint, you need a well-rounded team based upon individual training and experience. You need at least people with some of the following experiences:
Banking or Finance
The latter three don’t necessarily have to have accounting or finance expertise, but a mind for people and business. Assess the skills needed relative to the ones you have and plot a path accordingly.
#3 Selecting Team Members
Pray. Seek the Lord about the candidates He wants serving on this team. Learn about faithful members with spiritual gifts of giving, administration, leadership, or service that have skill set/experience you’re looking for on the team.
Talk. Pastor, Team Chair and/or Finance Staff have an initial conversation about potential candidates. Ideally, a few months ahead of the next team member roll-off. As a side note here, Pastoral discernment has a role here. Oftentimes, Pastors have the spiritual gift of discernment. If something in his spirit is telling him something’s not right, then take heed.
Approach. Ask potential candidates about serving on the finance team to survey interest and availability. Ask them to pray about it. Give a high-level overview and answer questions. Let them know what the next step is. Assuming a candidate wants to move forward, then…
Interview. Pastor and Team Chair should “interview” the person with 1st Timothy 3 in mind. Get their views on giving. Go over the objectives of the team and get their thoughts. Ask if they have any observed possible improvements from an outsider perspective. Always take the opportunity to learn where the finance ministry may be improved.
#4 Selection versus Nomination
This is really an extension of 3…
Because the nature of the skill sets needed on the team are somewhat specialized, I recommend selection by the Pastor and Finance Team Chair. You may not get the particular skill set you need from congregational nominations. This is normally not an issue where trust exists. If it helps, vet the selected candidates chosen by Pastor and Chair in a team meeting setting.
However, I realize sometimes it is important for the congregation to have someone “representing” them on the team. Therefore you may want to allow the congregation to nominate one individual to serve on the finance team. Define their role on the team as one of stewardship and accountability from the church’s perspective. And as such, this position should be in the public eye – participating in the presentation of reports, updates or proposals to the congregation.
Another thought to consider is to always have a current member of the Deacons on the Finance Team. Preferably the Chair or Vice-chair of the Deacons. The advantages of this are – they’ve been vetted already, Pastor and church trust them, they’re in touch with church families and deacons are generally nominated by church members.
This doesn’t mean the deacons are involved in decision making, they are there to serve families, not approve finance decisions. Nonetheless, it can prove beneficial to keep the deacons in the loop. Let them know stuff before the church knows. Ask for feedback when needed.
#5 Team Member Service Term, Rotation and Size
As to length of service, I recommend staggered three-year terms. By staggered, I mean no more than one member roll off the team per year. Continuity in this team is extremely important. The first year is basically learning the ropes in order to contribute more in the second and third years. Should you have someone need to roll off the team before their three-year term is up, I suggest replacing them with a former team member for the remaining term.
As to size, it really depends on size of the church and skill sets desired and available. I recommend the number of Ex-officio’s plus 3 at a minimum. Fall in the range of 5 to 7 total.
# 6 Role of Ex-officio
Now to address a subject that is often not fully understood – that of the role of the Ex-officio. This just means a particular person serves on the team by virtue of their office. The Pastor is the Ex-officio of the Finance Team as a matter of the office he holds. If the church has a CBA or Finance Secretary, often they are on the Finance Team because of their position as well. As such, term limits do not apply to ex-officio members.
Confusion often comes into play in that people believe that an Ex-officio cannot exercise a vote, but that is not true. They can vote unless the church bylaws state otherwise. Just decide if not addressed in the bylaws.
Personally, I don’t really like being formal with votes in terms of taking a vote and recording it simply for majority rule to get a particular proposal approved. I believe it works much better for everyone to verbally give a yay or nay and then move forward as a team. If someone isn’t on board or has reservations, then the matter needs further clarification for unity purposes.
At the end of the day, the team should follow the lead of the Pastor to defer or move ahead.
In closing –
There is no one perfect way to set up the team. There should be variations based upon the uniqueness of your own church.
In my next post, we’ll take a look at what a Finance Team Meeting might look like.