Policies for a Church – sample

To support a “soccer field” model for the board and staff

…Let us not make policies just to make them!
… Many of them have already been formed by practice! How have you formed the budget in the past? If it worked well, describe it simply and adopt it as a policy.
How have you set budget? Do not reinvent the process steps every year — make it a policy.
How have you hired part-time of full-time staff? Was it a good process?
… While the constitution and bylaws are the first important documents of the church, not considering the most important, the Bible, the policies are second and can be changed by the board itself. The policies are not just details of how you do things or how do you set up a men’s breakfast, for instance. They are abiding rules that the whole church must follow, so they relate to important procedures.
They are ways of the church, best practices, and are mostly for the board to make in conjunction with the pastor, one of its members of course.

Examples (in the order the of the sample constitution items)

Article 5. Membership
The policy should simply state what profession of faith means and how a person gives that – often to the church itself or to at least two members of the board or to a membership commission!
The policy should also state if there is a class to be involved in before being received as a member and if any coming out of membership or partnership is desired.
The policy can also state how a person is received as a member and presented to the church. Is it in a service or just by mail or just an announcement?

Article 6. Property
A policy would tell how the properties committee presents a proposal to the board about purchase or a major project, and when it needs to go to the congregation or membership.

Church by-laws

Article 1. Membership
Covered under constitution.

Article 2. Government and leadership
Under Resources, a policy for how a team or committee for finances is appointed by the board of oversight. Normally this would say if the chairman needs to be on the board, which is a good practice. I would also say that the pastor and the chairman could suggest a number of people to be on the team — normally that would be approved by the board of oversight.
…Same thing if there is to be a building or properties team that deals with expansion or purchases. Again they report to the board. Normally such a team does not deal with ways of cleaning the building or daily issues, which are usually under someone interested with administration who is on the staff or adjunct staff.

The pastor.
There should be a policy about an annual review of the pastor by the board –normally three or four are designated for this, rather than a whole board.
And a very brief policy about how any of the staff are hired. The steps can be easy until when the board is involved.
Under the nominating committee a policy should be given for how a vote is taken.
Most churches now have a policy of voting yes or no to a name rather than selecting between good people and “eliminating” some of them! (No one should go home from church a loser!)

How is the decision made to cancel church in a snowstorm? Who?
How are Sunday school teachers and youth staff approved?
Is there a policy about alcohol at a church event?
Can the pastor be someone who has been divorced in the past? A staff person?
What is the policy for an honorarium for a guest speaker? For mileage?
Is there a clear policy that any staff in the future report to the pastor and the  pastor reports to the board of oversight?
Clear steps related to church restoration and discipline should gradually be in the policies. It is actually required by some states that a new member understands steps of restoration and discipline when he joins, or else he can sue if he were disciplined and claims it was a surprise.
There should be a policy about full-time employees and health insurance or vacation time or retirement program.

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