Dear Church family,
After many months of research, prayer, legal counsel, and discussion, the Constitution Committee is pleased to present a new constitution and bylaws and corresponding committee manual for our church to discuss and vote upon in January (files available at the end of this article). These documents represent the consensus of the committee after hours of research, deliberation, and prayer. Not only will these documents fulfill the requirements to become a fully-incorporated and legally-protected congregation in the Commonwealth of Virginia, they also provide a way for us to identify, train, examine, and call men in our fellowship whom God is calling to serve as a pastor (or elder), so that, in time, we can formally transition to becoming a congregation led by a team of trained and tested pastors like those we have learned about recently in Acts (and throughout the New Testament).
Below we’ve highlighted the significant changes from our current governing documents (you may see the current constitution and committee manual below). If the proposed constitution and bylaws and committee manual are adopted:
1. Our church will be fully incorporated, releasing Trustees and staff from their present personal liability as officers or employees.
2. The current Trustees, one additional trustee (to be nominated and voted upon), and the Lead Pastor will serve as the Board of Directors. Having a Board of Directors is a requirement for incorporation. The Lead Pastor will serve as president. The selection of future Trustees/directors (except the lead pastor) will be the same process as our current process for selection of Trustees (except the terms will be four years, corresponding to four Trustees, rather than the current three years, corresponding to three Trustees).
3. The Board of Directors is only given authority to handle the administrative details related to incorporation. The regular business of the church will proceed as it has in the past — i.e. motions, minutes, Treasurer’s reports, staff updates, and etc.
4. The Constitution authorizes the pastors to review the membership role at least annually and attempt to contact anyone who is not attending (excluding homebound, missionaries, military, etc.) and bring to the church a recommendation for removal from the membership role the names of those who “cannot be reached, who refuse a meeting or conversation, or who will not commit to regular, in-person participation in the life of the Church.”
5. The categories of service committees and administrative committees are eliminated and replaced with “standing committees.” The terms, number of members, and process of selection for standing committees is identical to the process for selection of the respective administrative committees currently. The standing committees will be: Nominating, Budget, Constitution and Policy, Personnel, Property, Audit, Counting, and Long Range.
6. Existing service committees will become ministry teams with a deacon representative/point of contact to call on/collaborate with as needed. Other ministry teams may be developed/created as needs arise in the future. Ministry teams will be more flexible with people being added or new teams created as needed. In the transition, existing service committees will continue to function as they do currently -- just with the added benefit of a deacon point of contact. The pastor will be able to create teams and appoint new additional team members based on the individual’s talents, gifts, experience, and interests.
7. We will have 4, rather than 6, regular business meetings annually. Meetings will occur in January, April, July, and November.
8. The roles of moderator, assistant moderator, clerk, and assistant clerk will still have one-year terms, but there will no longer be a limit on the number of years they can serve. They may be re-nominated and serve for as long as they are doing a good job and enjoy serving in this capacity.
You may review the documents that we plan to vote upon in January below. If you have any questions, notice any typos, or have any other concerns, please let us know. You may contact me at email@example.com, Cyndee Basham, committee secretary, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Chris Beckner, committee chairman, at email@example.com.
If you would like to know more about the Biblical case for formally moving toward a pastor/elder-led congregation, I highly recommend the short book, Why Elders?: A Biblical and Practical Guide for Church Members by Benjamin Merkle as a place to start. Of course, I would enjoy the opportunity to talk with you as well about any questions or concerns you may have. Thank you for your prayerful consideration of these proposed documents.
In the abounding love of our King,