Effective trustees will function as Christian stewards of property God has entrusted to the congregation. This includes supervising and maintaining both the physical property of the congregation and gifts made to the congregation so that the ministries of the congregation can be effective and all legal requirements related to the property are satisfied.
Spiritual Gifts and Qualifications Helpful for the Job
- Trustees benefit from having one or more of these spiritual gifts: servanthood, helping, discernment, leadership, administration, and giving. The chairperson should show evidence of prior effective ministry leadership, especially in the area of stewardship of assets, and this leader should exhibit evidence of active and growing discipleship.
- Useful knowledge and skills for this position are knowledge of property and asset management, ability to listen to and communicate with people of all ages and the ability to work with other ministry leaders. The chair should show prior ability to preside over meetings, the ability to delegate responsibility and to follow up to complete tasks.
- Trustees should show genuine interest in responding to the hopes and concerns of people in the community and show willingness to partner with community interests.
- The congregation’s committee on nominations and leadership development may establish specific standards for this position.
Responsibilities of the Chairperson
- This leader guides the work of the trustees throughout the year, including preparing and communicating the agenda for meetings, leading the meetings, following up on plans by assigning responsibility for implementation and coordinating both routine and special maintenance of church property, including endowments, trust funds, and gifts made to the congregation.
- The chairperson should maintain a healthy and growing spiritual life.
- This person needs to become familiar with disciplinary and legal requirements related to church property and with United Methodist resources and organization.
- This person should consult regularly with the pastor about property matters.
Responsibilities of the Committee
- This team, subject to the direction of the charge conference, has oversight and care of all local church property, buildings, and equipment to further the mission of the church. This work is done in consultation with the pastor.
- This team and individual trustees need to engage in spiritual practices that build attentiveness to God’s will and direction. Church administration and attentiveness to daily affairs can distract the team from the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Trustees need to hold one another accountable to the mission and vision of the church.
- Trustees receive and administer all gifts made to the congregation and make certain that trust funds of the congregation are invested properly.
- Trustees ensure that the Articles of Incorporation of the congregation are kept up-to-date.
- Trustees annually review property, liability, and crime insurance coverage on church-owned property, buildings, and equipment. They also review personnel insurance for protection against risk and consult with the pastor-parish relations team about other personnel insurance.
- Trustees conduct an annual accessibility audit of buildings and grounds to discover and then work toward eliminating barriers that impede the full participation of all people.
- The team submits annual budget requests to the committee on finance for property maintenance and improvement and new property purchases.
- Trustees are accountable to the charge conference and the church council. The term “trustees” as used in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church may be construed to be synonymous with “director of corporations” when required to comply with law.
- Talk with the nominating committee, the pastor, and others to understand their hopes and dreams for the way that trustees can advance the congregation’s vision for ministry. Talk with people in the congregation and community about current issues and concerns related to the use of the church property.
- Set aside time for prayer. Express your concerns, joys, and observations to God, and listen for God’s direction for your leadership and for your congregation.
- Study Guidelines for Leading Your Congregation, 2017-2020: Trustees and participate in training experiences.
- Convene the first meeting of the board of trustees within thirty days of the beginning of the calendar year to get acquainted, assess needs, and make plans for the year.
People and Agencies That Can Help
- Your pastor, people in your congregation and your community who are involved in issues related to investments and church property.
- InfoServ, the information service for the church, provides current information about United Methodist resources, programs, and staff services. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: infoserv.umc.org.
- General Council on Finance and Administration has resources for legal information and risk management (insurance); www.gcfa.org.
- Discipleship Ministries, P.O. Box 340003, Nashville, TN 37203-0003; (877) 899-2780; www.umcdiscipleship.org.
Web and Print Resources
- The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 2016 (Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 2016)
- Celebrating the Offering by Melvin Amerson and James Amerson (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2007)
- Creative Giving: Understanding Planned Giving and Endowments in Church by Michael Reeves, Rob Fairly, and Sanford Coon (Discipleship Resources, 2015)
- Discipleship Ministries, www.umcdiscipleship.org/leadership-resources/church-leaders; toll free 1-877-899-2780; email, email@example.com
- Extraordinary Money! Understanding the Church Capital Campaign by Michael Reeves (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2007)
- Fruit for Celebrating the Offering by Melvin Amerson and James Amerson (Createspace, 2012; available from Cokesbury)
- General Council on Finance and Administration, www.gcfa.org
- Guidelines for Leading Your Congregation, 2017-2020: Trustees (Cokesbury, 2016)
- Interpreter, www.interpretermagazine.org
- Safe Sanctuaries®, www.umcdiscipleship.org/leadership-resources/safe-sanctuaries
- A Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri Nouwen (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2011)
- What Every Leader Needs to Know, www.upperroom.org/bookstore (small booklets are useful for individual study or as an outline for a one-hour workshop: Spiritual Leadership by Michael Bealla; Leading Meetings by Betsey Heavner; Mission and Vision by Carol F. Krau, and Leading in Prayer by Betsey Heavner)