The importance of structure
There is an old adage that states, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. How true this rings when a church finds itself in crises. The Bible is clear that everything should be done in order (1 Corinthians 14:40), and yet so many Christians seem allergic to the tools that help to bring that consistency and order. In pursuing excellence (Colossians 3:16-17) in the context of God's glory, knowing why we have policies and how to write them is extremely important!
Good policy provides safe and secure boundaries for God’s people to stay united and true to their beliefs. Good policy instructs us on how we should act when we find ourselves in foreign territory. Many would say the Bible is our policy document and to a great extent I would agree. Written policy should reflect and underscore biblical principles and guide our behaviour when facing any number of modern day issues. We are inherently aware that we need to act in a Godly manner, but how does that manifest itself when we are faced with difficult and often harmful situations? The Bible was not written in our time and consequently does not deal specifically with the legal and legislative issues we face today. However, the underlying principles the Bible teaches are still valid for today and we need to understand how we fit those values into the complexity of our present age.
At a minimum a church requires a Constitution and By-laws. It is not practical to place all of the operational policies in the By-laws. Policies are often subject to change and this change is much easier to accomplish within a policy document as opposed to a change to the by-laws. In the case of our church we recently built a new building. We had a good building security policy but it did not work effectively in our new building. It was a simple matter of our Deacon of properties modifying our existing policy to fit the new circumstances.
One of the valuable lessons we have learned as a church leadership team is that we always need to think out of the box and have policies in place before they are required. Nothing is more problematic and less transparent than writing policy guidelines in the middle of a conflict. Ask yourself; “If a particular issue were to happen, how would we handle it? Challenge your leadership team to a brainstorming session of; what could possibly happen and are we prepared?
Do you have a good conflict of interest policy? If not, how do we define an action that is in conflict with good governance. Do you have a strong facility use policy? If not you may not have adequate protection against an inappropriate use of your facilities.
Finally good policy documents are a legacy passed on to those that follow us in leadership. As leaders we have all faced difficult and trying situations. We can learn from these difficult moments and craft policy to pass on to the next group of leaders. We do a great service to those that follow if we can leave them with clear and concise policy.
Our CBC leadership team makes time to review our policies and create new ones as issues come to mind. Often times we turn to other churches and ask if they have a specific policy on a particular issue and if they would be willing to share. I believe this is an area in which we as fellow TGC-BC members could be of great assistance to one another. If your leadership team is looking for policy in any area simply email us at the link below. We will work with you to locate written policies on that issue. Likewise if you have developed policy in an area many of us may not have considered as yet, please pass that along as well. Let’s communicate!