Note: The following guidelines are for the formation of church policies and management that I developed about 7-8 years ago. What are your thoughts on it? The Three Pastors The pastors will be equal in authority, responsibility, accountability, and pay. 1) Policy decisions (excommunication, property purchase, church spawning, equipment purchase, etc…) will be decided by majority vote of the pastors. In the event that one pastor is unavailable/incapacitated and a non-emergent decision must be made before all pastors are available, but the two remaining pastors cannot agree, then the two available pastors and the deacons will vote on the issue. If only one pastor is available when the decision is needed then that pastor will make the decision. 2) Emergent decisions (natural disasters, hospitalization, vehicular breakdowns, stranded people, life and death, etc…) that cannot wait will be made by the pastor or pastors present at the time. 3) Pastor’s pay (if any) will be 10% of church offerings up to an absolute maximum of $12,000.00 monthly. This total includes any additional benefits (travel allowance, pastorium, etc…). Pastors will be considered self-employed and will be personally responsible for providing individual benefits (insurance, retirement, education, etc…), and resolving personal tax and finance issues. 4) These pastors will not be confined/restricted to specific duties (youth minister, music minister, finance minister, etc…), but will also not be restricted from acting in a primary capacity in any given ministry. 5) The pastor’s will be able to step in and “fill the gap” should another pastor be unavailable or incapacitated to avoid unneeded breaks in service. To facilitate this, there will be regular communication between the pastors and the following procedures will be enacted: a) There will be at least one meeting weekly between the pastors to discuss assembly business and ministries as well as individual ministries that each pastor has taken on. This meeting will be in addition to any social or assembly gatherings. b) There will be at least one meeting every two weeks between the pastors and the deacons (note: this meeting will not be conducted concurrently with the pastor’s meeting described above) for discussion of assembly business, ministries, and general review of the deacons’ areas of responsibility. Management of church funds and handling of offerings 1) There will be a box/basket/container kept in an accessible but not obvious (not where everyone can watch who gives what) area and will have a closed top with a smaller opening to deposit items. 2) The offerings will be counted by two people after every assembly. The treasurer/administrator and one other or an elder and one other if the treasurer/administrator is unavailable. 3) As soon as is feasible the funds will be deposited after being counted. 4) The funds will be deposited in an account with no less than three names including those of the pastors but should include the deacons as well. The account will require two signatures to withdraw funds and/or will give notifications of all withdrawals to all those listed on the account. 5) There will be no record kept of who gives, what they give, how much they give, or how often they give. 6) No funds will be earmarked for specific purposes. The total will be managed for the needs of the body as those needs present. 7) If a need is presented to the church, all plausible efforts will be made to meet that need, but every feasible effort will be made to avoid handing out cash. a) If it is money that is specifically needed, a check or money order will be made out by an authorized individual to the creditor or organization requiring the funds. A receipt will be required, but only to insure that the one with the need has a record of payment. b) If it is a material need (food, shelter, transport, clothes, etc…) then the need will be met by an assembly member. This is not restricted to the pastors and deacons. The member meeting the need will go with the person to purchase the materials or get the items from assembly stores. c) If a person/family/group makes multiple requests over time, then one or more pastors will counsel those involved and review the situation with the intent of providing a long term solution. d) If counseling or application of long term solutions is rejected, then no further assistance will be provided. Tax status More research is needed to determine best feasible tax status for a specific assembly, but non-profit status is not an option. Meeting times 1) Hard times and locations for meetings will be set prior to the meetings. 2) The primary assembly will meet once every two weeks on Saturday morning. 3) The small groups will meet no less than once a week in addition to all other assembly meetings. Appointing Pastors and Deacons (1 Timothy 3:2-12) As pastors retire, die, or are called to move on to other ministries, new pastors will be appointed after review by the remaining pastor/s and the deacons. When possible this will be done before the leaving pastor moves on. Pastors (Elders) will be chosen by the following qualifications: 1) Blameless – not actively living in sin (adultery, illegal drug use, idolatry, etc…) 2) Husband of one wife – Ideally, he will have only been married once, but if he has a prior divorce then he cannot be supporting (alimony, child support, etc…) or managing two households (no children with divided custody). Remarried widowers will be treated as having one wife. 3) Temperate (does things in moderation and with thought), calm, not prone to argument, and not concerned with having what others have. Active addicts (meaning those engaging in their addiction), those who are prone to unneeded conflict or who argue for the sake of arguing, and those whose primary concern is money or keeping up with others are ineligible. 4) Well behaved and hospitable even to others who are not. 5) Able to teach – He is not required to have the gift of teaching, but must be able to teach effectively. 6) One who rules his own house well – If he is married, his wife should be interviewed as well. He should be observed with his wife and children (if any) in a relaxed setting. Unless his wife has been given a specific calling to work, her primary responsibility is to support her husband and family (the fact that a woman is a deacon’s or pastor’s wife does not mean that she is assuming a ministry position and she will not be expected to assume church duties. 7) He must not be new in faith and should have some experience with leadership/ministry with in the assembly. Formal education can be helpful, but will not be a requirement or deciding factor. 8) Must have a good testimony – The world hates those who follow Jesus, but we should give no unnecessary cause for complaint. The pastor/deacon should have a good reputation. Ideally a pastor should come from within the assembly or a sister assembly since this would mean they are a known individual and most of the requirements will already be known. Deacons will be chosen from within the assembly as they are needed. Counseling 1) All counseling will be handled in as gentle and loving a manner as is possible and functional. 2) On the spot counseling will be handled by the individual who sees the need for it. 3) A pastor will not counsel women or youth without another adult (preferably of the same sex) present or nearby (close enough to get there within seconds). When possible the person being counseled will have their parent, spouse, sibling, or another member of the body present with them. 4) No doors will be closed during counseling sessions. 5) Appointments will be made known to the other pastors. If there is no other pastor available then appointments will be made known to the deacons. Facility Work Environment 1) At no time will a man and woman work alone in an assembly facility unless they are related (husband/wife, brother/sister, father/daughter, mother/son, etc…). 2) Unnecessary power usage (Ac, heat, lights, etc…) will be terminated when the facility is unoccupied. 3) Short term employees/services will be hired as needed (determined by the pastors) if the work cannot be done by members of the body. 4) There will be no long term employees and the number of short term employees will be kept below the number of employees at which federal/state regulations mandate who can or cannot be hired. If there is no set minimum number at which government mandates apply then all pertinent mandates will be adhered to as much as biblical principle allows. Conducting the primary assembly 1) The primary assembly will begin and end with prayer. a) This will signal to the assembly that the gathering has begun. b) It will help to focus the assembly on what the Holy Spirit has to say. c) It will lead by example as prayer should be a constant activity in our lives (1 Thessalonians 5:17). 2) There will be no offering taken as offering containers will be present in the facility for those who wish to give (as has been previously covered). 3) Any invitation that is given will be done without musical accompaniment. We are to appeal to their conscience and not to their emotions. 4) While the assembly will have a set start time it will have no such restriction for the end of the assembly. When the message/s and the worship are done the assembly is done. Note that this could also mean a short assembly as well. 5) The rows/seats/pews will set far enough apart that a large adult can walk between them without having to adjust stride or turn sideways. a) This will create a more open atmosphere and will reduce the tendency to hide in the crowd or to feel lost in the crowd. b) It will also limit the number that can be seated, but this is not about numbers. c) Every row will be offset so as to create space for wheelchairs and strollers. 6) There will be only one teacher (not always the same person), but space and time will be given for discussion, clarification, and prophecy (which will be tested). Conducting the small groups The meetings will be conducted in homes or other casual gathering areas (parks, etc…) 1) The meeting will begin with prayer for the same reason that the general assembly will. 2) There will be no offering taken. If a person wishes to given they may do so at the general assembly. Provisions will be made for those who wish to give, but have time restrictions where they cannot attend the general assembly. 3) The small groups will be attended by pastors/deacons on a rotational basis. a) This will serve to ensure that teaching remains biblically sound. b) It will allow for assisting of teachers who may be having a difficult time and/or to correct those who are unable to teach (a warm body or a good effort is not enough). c) It will help to isolate (and prayerfully correct) false teachers before greater damage is done. d) It will aid in the identification of those who have leadership gifts (prophecy, teaching, etc…) with in the body as well as allowing for the observation of assembly members in a less formal environment.Establishing this procedure at the beginning will help to avoid giving the impression of ‘targeting’ specific individuals later on.