In the area of natural gifting it is good to identify what would help. Perhaps people representing the following disciplines: Finance, Law, Building (e.g. surveyor), Social Work, Teaching would be a good start.
Another role trustees can fulfil is to ‘keep their ear to the ground’ in the church. Sometimes elders are held in high regard by the people and thus be slightly removed from them, even if that is not their wish. The trustees are usually less conspicuous; few people will even know who the trustees are as they fulfil a supportive role ‘behind the scenes’. Thus they can sometimes be aware of opinions before the elders.
What about the elders?
If possible there should certainly be one or more elders to help bridge between the two bodies. But care must be taken to ensure that the majority of trustees are not paid by the trust, nor are any of their relations.
Management of the ministry
Trustees are usually busy people. Those who serve the church well are often successful in their jobs and have busy family lives. So, being trustees of more than one trust makes it inappropriate for them to be very involved in the detail of any particular ministry. They are there to give support and appropriate oversight.
To accommodate this the charitable Trust Deed or the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the company should be written to allow significant delegation to be made to appropriate management bodies. It is then possible to appoint a body of people for a particular ministry who can give specialist input. For example we used to have a ministry among women who have been trafficked, particularly from West Africa and Eastern Europe, into the Brighton sex industry. So we appointed a support group which included two policemen and a psychologist, being relevant disciplines to help the ministry team carry out their work effectively and in safety.
Currently in CCK we are restructuring to have one management team delegated by the elders and trustees (legally accountable to the trustees) to have executive responsibility to oversee all aspects of our social ministries and for each ministry to have its own non-executive support team to provide the specialist knowledge and support. Thus the trustees delegate appropriate levels of responsibility to the management team, whereas the support teams are purely advisory.
In the final part of this series we shall consider some of the benefits and pitfalls of partnering with others.