The board of trustees is the governing body that represents the interest of the patrons of a church. Members of most trustee boards are elected by vote of the congregation. The board assumes responsibilities as a whole as well as assigns specific duties to individual members.
Trustee boards are typically in charge of budgetary matters within a church. The board defines a budget and appropriations at the beginning of each year and develops a uniform system to accept offerings and donations, pay bills and make purchases. All revenues and expenditures are documented by the board and evaluated periodically during trustee meetings.
Development of new ministries and outreach programs usually falls to the pastor or other church clergy, although the board of trustees plays an important role in supporting these efforts. For example, if a congregation member is interested in starting a Bible study program, he must first ask the pastor and later, if the program requires financial backing, it may be discussed before the board. To foster a cohesive environment, the board must understand the philosophy and missionary goals of the church.
Another role of the trustee board is to maintain the building and property owned by the church. In many cases, trustee boards make policy decisions regarding whether or not outside organizations may rent and use space within the church. The trustee board may also be tasked with assessing property insurance liability risks and ensuring that the church is in compliance with neighborhood and zoning regulations.
Most church trustee boards appoint officers from within. The highest officer is the president or chairperson, who prepares the agenda and presides over each meeting. In some churches, the president is given the legal authority to enter into contracts on the institution's behalf. The vice president assumes the president's duties in his absence. The secretary provides clerical support and keeps track of meeting minutes, and the treasurer prepares budgetary reports and ensures financial accuracy.