Removing a Church Board Member
What to do when someone must be removed from office.
Last Reviewed: February 28, 2020

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.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

Posted: February 1, 2019

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Last Reviewed: February 28, 2020

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