Some churches and religious organizations are led by a governing body. Sometimes the governing body is called a board of directors. In some instances, one of the church ministries serve as the governing body.

Occasionally, it becomes necessary to welcome new members to the governing body. When new members are added, it becomes necessary to train the new board members on the church’s policies, practices and governance. One of the best ways to equip new board members is with an Orientation Training Program.

Here is a list of topics that could be included in a New Director’s Orientation Program.

Bylaw Review – New church directors should be familiar with each provisions in the bylaws. The bylaws is the principal guidance for governing the organization’s legal aspects. The fundamental rights of members to elect church officers, vote on governance matters, choose a pastor and other essential decisions should be outlined in the bylaws. Because directors have a duty to enforce the bylaws, they must understand how the provisions work.

Business Plan – New church directors may not be knowledgeable about the strategic plans of the church. The Orientation program should inform the new directors on how the church intends to fulfill its ministry and mission. The strategic business plan may include goals, metrics and timetables for key deliverables. The new directors should study the Plans and learn how each component is connected to the duties of the board.

Policies and Procedures – Every organization operates with rules and regulations. These rules are often expressed as policies and procedures. A director should understand how these rules guide the various ministries within the church. This goes to the legal fiduciary responsibility a director has to exercise a duty of care.

Code of Conduct and Ethics – Every director should understand the standards for proper conduct. A code of conduct sets forth the guidelines for what behavior is expected of directors. Ethics guidelines prescribes when a director should abstain from certain transactions and decisions. Usually, this occurs when a conflict of interest arises.

Educational Resources – Directors should recognize that being on a church board is unlike other ministry work. The law assigns duties to directors that make them accountable to the church members and some outsiders. As a result, directors need continuous training to learn new governance techniques and stay abreast of the latest developments in the law. A new director should be made aware of what resources are available to help fulfill this duty.

Core Values – A new director should know the core values of the church in order to effectively serve on the board. The core values is the set of principles that guide the church. Because the church is a religious organization under the law, applying its doctrinal values is an important role of the board.

The Meeting Agenda – A new director should be introduced to the board agenda format and contents. Boards routinely have a pattern of information that is provided at each meeting. The agenda may include financial reports, minutes from previous meetings, proposals for new services and information on community trends. Helping a new director learn how to read the board agenda and discern the most important information is necessary.

A New Director’s Orientation Program can be an important step in the process of ensuring effective governance for the whole church. Help your directors be their best by providing them all the necessary tools to succeed.