(Reprinted from The Rescue Mission Manual, by Dr. William Paul, c. 1950)

The mission should be organized under the laws of the particular state in which it is located and it should be organized as a religious and benevolent, or charitable institution.

Board Structures

Preferably the mission should be organized as an association and the association should be made up of interested individuals, sound in the faith, and members of an evangelical church. The association should further be representative of different denominations in which no one or two denominations have a preponderance of membership.

Generally speaking, a gospel or rescue mission association is made up of Christian people who contribute annually to the cause, although all contributors ought not to be automatically members of the association:

  1. A group of interested individuals numbering from 7 to 70 selected from churches which have been interested or should be interested. This kind of an association is generally self-perpetuating. It has the advantage of a small and easily assembled organization of usually deeply interested people: hand-picked, as it were.

    It is hazardous in that a small clique or discontented group can sometimes "run away" with the organization and its properties. Eccentric religious groups have sometimes "captured" this type of association and it is often done by a determined minority. Under this plan the superintendent has less security. From this small group is elected the board of management, and one-man domination as a director may cause the superintendent considerable trouble.

  2. A second plan followed by many missions organizes into an association from 75 to, in some cases, 300 or 400, virtually interested people from a large number of churches. This plan has the advantage of interesting more churches and more individuals.

    The board of directors is generally larger, ten to eighteen members, and because of the widespread interest on the part of so many churches and people, the mission organization is more stable and the chance of a small group getting control is practically eliminated.

    There is, however, the danger that too large an organization becomes unwieldy, and unless the annual meeting is made interesting, attendance may be small.

  3. A third plan is to request the church to appoint corporate members in proportion to the size of the church and in every case to include the pastor if he desires to serve. This plan gives representation of two members: pastor and one lay member from the small churches. Membership in the corporation in larger churches is usually on the basis of one corporate member to each 200 or 300 in the congregation. This gives proportional representation. Missions organized under this plan have sometimes attained representatives from 150 churches and corporate membership of 500 to 600 people. This plan anchors the mission in the church; and where it has been followed conscientiously, has resulted in substantial and adequate support.

    This plan has some difficulties. Ministers change frequently. Approximately 1/7 seventh of the membership will change each year. It requires continued effort to maintain interest but it brings its financial rewards if followed.

    The association should own the title to the property; should meet at least annually at a given date fixed in the Articles of Incorporation, should elect the board of directors and ought to elect the superintendent. All transfers of real estate property should have the approval and authority of the corporation.

Other Considerations

In any one of the three plans the board of directors should consist of not less than seven, nor more than 24 members. The objection to a small board of seven or ten is the inability to secure a quorum. The objection to a large board of 24 is that it becomes unwieldy and many members take no interest at all. Studies which have been made indicate twelve is the most efficient number of Directors. Jesus selected twelve disciples. We can follow His example in all things. Since members of a board may be out of town or ill or have other appointments, a board of 15 directors will usually result in twelve active Directors. Again, we are operating on the basis Jesus established with His disciples.

Directors should be elected on the basis of rotation. If there are twelve, four should be elected each year. If there are thirteen, five. Some Articles of Incorporation provide that a director may serve only one term of three years and is not subject to re-election until some subsequent year. This, they claim, clears the board of objectionable "timber" and brings new life into the board.

It is open to a very serious objection in that it automatically removes certain directors whose interest and contributions to the work are outstanding. Some of the older missions have kept men on the board for 25 years, or more. Those directors have made a life-long service to the mission and inevitably they have remembered the mission in their will. They have the additional advantage of being familiar with the whole history and movement of the rescue missions.

The short term, or limited term, director may bring into the mission a lot of new and untried ideas that can cause untold trouble. As stated before in this manual (it will bear stating again), men of good standing and acknowledged leadership make the best members of a board of directors. Beware of little men of little minds. Beware of the "agin-er," of the man who rides a hobby. Generally speaking, the bigger the man is, the more cooperation the superintendent will get if he is on the right track. Directors who are "meddlers" or have "plenty of time on their hands" have broken the hearts of some superintendents.

Generally speaking, ministers do not make good members of a board of directors. They have their own church work-task of financing their own institutions, and are apt at times to bring in a denominational slant The board of directors should have some younger men, some middle-aged, and certainly some older men. Missions have a great deal to do with the aged.

Care should be taken not to include men who are known to be hostile toward labor. This does not meant hat we must take men on the board on the basis of capital or labor, but there are, among some wealthy churchmen, men who are known as "labor baiters." Where women and children are a large part of the constituency and, especially in neighborhood missions, women should be represented on the board.

The board of directors should meet at regular periods and preferably once a month. In some boards of directors, provision is made for the directors to meet quarterly and an executive committee to meet in the two months intervening. This plan has some objections which are evident. The executive committee may do things only the board should do.

The board of directors should be divided into committees: a Real Estate Committee, sometimes called the "Property Committee"; a Finance Committee, which takes care of and supervises the Financial Drive or Program; the Gospel Committee, which is the Committee of Services. Some boards have additional committees and, of cource, special committees are appointed for special functions.

The officers should be a President, a Vice President, a Secretary and a Treasurer. Some missions combine secretary and treasurer. This is not recommended.

All members of the corporation or association and all members of the board of directors should be members in good and regular standing in an evangelical church.

Suggestions for Better Superintendent/Board Relations

The following suggestions may help the superintendent to maintain cordial relations with the members of the board of directors and the association:

  1. The association determines the policy of the mission and the program. The Articles of Incorporation which, as stated above, should be broad enough to give the directors authority to receive properties and to use them. The board of directors executes the policy and the program of the association. The superintendent administers and puts into operation the program of the board of directors. The board directs the superintendent; not the superintendent, the board.

  2. The superintendent may lead and should be the leader, but he ought never to lead contrary to the will of the board, or the policy of the association. A clear understanding of his functions and position and conscientiously following the actions of the board will save the superintendent controversy and trouble.

  3. Most difficulties between executives and boards of directors have resulted over little things. Things become important only when we make them important.

  4. An executive should be willing and able and big enough to make concessions where principles are not involved. There may be things the superintendent wants and feels he needs, that he could get along without.

  5. Mission work is a soul-saving business. Things, equipment and properties are of only relative importance. Many a mission superintendent has wasted his time in controversy with members of his board. He might better spend that time winning some soul to Christ and drop the question in controversy as of no very great importance.

  6. The wise superintendent will understand his mission and his place in the scheme of things, and will never do anything he believes the majority of his board of directors would ever object to. That is the highest type of obedience.

  7. In every controversy with members of the board, the association, ministers of churches, or members or the staff, the superintendent should analyze carefully his own heart and motive and ask the following: "Am I trying to carry my point? Is this conceit? Am I standing up for my prerogatives? Is what happens to me more important than what happens to the work? Does self stand between me and Jesus?" This philosophy I have personally followed for 42 years and have never had a controversy with a single member of my board of directors. Such a program will result in a blessed and happy ministry.