While examining corporation documents for televangelist churches, Trinity Foundation investigators discovered that many televangelist churches were eliminating church member voting rights. These documents frequently used the phrase “the corporation elects to have no members.”
By vesting all decision-making power in a board of directors which are often hand-picked friends or employees, pastors consolidate power in their organizations and eliminate church member oversight.
As a result, congregations are denied the opportunity to approve church spending or to vote on the removal of abusive pastors.
To document these trends, Trinity Foundation established the Governance Project, a database providing information on how religious organizations are governed.
We explain the different forms of church government in the article Governance Project: Documenting Financial Transparency and Board Governance in Church and Ministry Leadership and provide contact information for pastors and ministry leaders that have questions about how their organizations are listed.
The acronym NIBM stands for Number of Independent Board Members. This information is disclosed on a Form 990. Regular religious non-profits are required to file a Form 990 with the IRS but churches are exempt.