Church boards have too many documents. Many of them are of no real use because they are written and filed but there are some basic documents that every church board should have. These documents guide the work of the board in significant ways. I would suggest four.
1. Your picture/document that reflects your clarity. As laid out in my book, Leading From The Sandbox, if you cannot explain your ministry philosophy, commitments and desired ends on one piece of paper, in one picture it is too complicated. Whether you use a sandbox, vision frame, ministry table or some other metaphor, this one picture should be able to tell anyone who asks what is truly important to your ministry and it becomes the picture/paradigm/language for explaining who you are to others.
2. Your board covenant that regulates your relationships. Board covenants are a one page document that spell out the relational commitments of board members to one another. Congregations rarely rise above the spiritual and relational commitments of board members so clarifying those commitments and living them out is key to a healthy board and therefore to a healthy church.
3. Your board policies that reflect how you operate as a board. Good boards have thought through the process they use to operate as a board. No healthy group operates without a set of implicit or explicit rules or principles for how they work together. Healthy boards have well written policies that reflect good governance principles, including how decisions are made and what even constitutes board work. These policies lay out the way you operate as a board, is the training manual for new board members and allows you to deal with rogue members should they arise.
4. Your annual ministry plan that reflects where you are going. Whether developed by staff, board or a combination of both, no congregation should be operating without an annual ministry plan which spells out where you are going. That plan then becomes the basis of a ministry assessment annually. It is your directional road map.
Boards should keep their work simple but they do need a set of core documents. These four explain your ministry, regulate your board relationships, board work and church direction.