Are Your Governing Documents a Blessing or a Headache?

In CPR Connects by Anna GolladayLeave a Comment

by: Gregg Carlson

Convergence has spent the last decade learning from and working alongside local congregations. We have also discovered that some of the things that worked prior to 2020 (and the post-Pandemic era) no longer work today. Prior to the pandemic, we observed many churches with committee structures and governance systems that were unwieldy and often created barriers within the church to facilitate change. These years following the pandemic have illustrated that these outdated governance systems are an impairment to a healthy church.

Here are a few examples. I recently worked with a church that felt as though they would need an additional 40 adults to join the church just to fill all the slots in their community that were mandated by their bylaws.  Another pastor told me his committees are not at all effective and in order to get things done, the pastor informally talks to 2- 3 recognized leaders to get permission to move forward with the work that the committees formerly handled. In a third congregation, a board of trustees holds control over $3 million dollars of reserves and endowments. This board does not provide reports on the funds to the church. They do not support to the annual budget with the money but will transfer funds when a crisis arises. Their church constitution has allowed them to operate in this way for many years.

Are any of these scenarios similar to the ones you are facing in your own congregation? Perhaps you are facing other scenarios that feel just as overwhelming.

It is likely long past time to look at your church’s by-laws, constitution, and/or operating documents. Your church might have been far larger when your documents were created. The way that your finances operated in 1999 may no longer support your current situation. Your church has been tasked to respond to the needs of the world. You are asked to remain flexible in the face of challenge and to act when the spirit demands it.

Are your governing documents allowing you the kind of flexibility required? Do you have the necessary transparency and accountability in your systems? Are you finding that your best leaders are spending more time in endless committee meetings instead of engaging with the community you have been called to serve?

Convergence can help. We have a blend of solutions that can be tailored to your congregation.

Our suggestions include:

  1. Enroll in “Turn Your Board into a Dream Team.” This course is led by Cameron Trimble and features the work of Dan Hotchkiss.
  2. Coaching – Convergence can partner you with a coach that can work directly with your leaders. Their guidance will help revise, update, and right-size a practical, accountable, transparent approach to a governance plan that is organic to your local church.
  3. Not sure what you need? That’s where Assessments come in. Let us help you identify your strengths and areas where improvement might be necessary. This process will dramatically help inform any updates needed in your governing documents.

Have other questions? I’d love to have a conversation with you and your leadership.

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