Imagine a member of your church’s board has engaged in behavior that violates the church’s understanding of Scripture. In doing so, they’ve probably also violated the qualifications for serving on the board. In cases like this, the congregation or board may determine that the individual must be removed from office. What do you do next?
Start by reviewing your church’s bylaws to see if there is any provision dealing with the removal of a board member. If there is such a provision, it must be followed.
If the church bylaws do not address this issue, then check state nonprofit corporation law if the church is incorporated. It may contain a procedure that will guide you in the removal of the board member.
If your church is incorporated under your state nonprofit corporation law, your bylaws will almost always take precedence over the nonprofit law. So, by addressing a matter in your church bylaws, you eliminate the application of your state nonprofit corporation law in most cases.
Church bylaws often contain vague language when describing the grounds for removing a board member. An example would be unscriptural conduct. Obviously, there may be strong disagreement about whether particular behavior is unscriptural or not.
It’s important to refer to a group or body that has the ultimate authority to conclusively determine such issues. For example, if your church bylaws permit board members to be removed for unscriptural conduct, or on the basis of some other vague standard, then be sure to specify that the church board, or some other specific body, such as the church membership, shall have the final authority in determining whether or not such a standard has been violated. This will reduce the risk of litigation and of a civil court becoming involved in a church’s decision to remove a board member.
Excerpt from Essential Guide to Liabilities and Duties for Church Boards, available on ChurchLawAndTaxStore.com.