One of the biggest difficulties faced by a church board occurs when the pastor, congregation, or other board members decide that individual board members should be removed from the board. In many instances, there is no effective means of removing board members without costly litigation.
Recently, several church members sought to have two church board members removed because of perceived moral failures. The board anticipated a quick and smooth process. However, the church’s bylaws were not very clear about how to remove board members, and the targeted board members, perceiving a personal vendetta, fought back. Tension between the two factions escalated, and a lawsuit was filed with the hope of driving the entrenched board members into a quick resignation. But the opposite effect occurred. The targeted board members dug in and the matter went to trial. After two years of litigation, the church was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and barely survived. While the facts behind the dispute were tragic, the costs of resolution were caused, to a great extent, by an inadequate process set forth in the church’s bylaws for removing board members.