Frequently Asked Questions – on Policy Based Governance
Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of St. Charles, Missouri
Accumulated input solicited from letters, town hall meetings, and the internet through 4/11/2009.
At the May 2008 Voters Assembly Meeting, the Voters passed the resolution to move forward with focused planning and effort leading to the ultimate implementation of Policy Based Governance for Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of St. Charles, Missouri beginning July 1, 2008.A committee was formed to create the manual with assistance from Kurt Bickel of Cornerstone Ministries and this manual was published on January 23rd, 2009.Modifications are in process of being made based on input from the Stewards.Meanwhile the committee will be publishing answers to specific questions or comments regarding policy based governance.
Question: The requirement of three years membership at Immanuel for consideration for the Church Leadership Team seems to be excessive, why so excessive?
Answer: Immanuel has a long history and we feel that to be successful in leadership at this level requires familiarity with our traditions and the dynamics of our congregation. As a large church, there are so many different constituencies to understand, and we think this leadership should know them all. The good news is there are many other areas for leadership within the church that would benefit from such enthusiasm and the potential for new ideas so your services would be well utilized.We would then welcome the opportunity to for you to serve on the CLT after you are comfortable with the environment and in working with the stewards.
Question: The last draft of the manual suggested that the members of the CLT only have to attend 10 church services a year along with 10 hours of bible study.Don’t you think this is shameful and unacceptable for key leadership positions within our church?
Answer: Yes, we were trying to determine a floor for standards and now agree that the CLT should strive to attend them all if possible and to commit to faithful bible study.Our real issue is of holding each other accountable and we will ask for a formal commitment in writing twice a year at CLT meetings.It is our fervent hope that these members of the CLT set the highest standards possible and so we have made such changes to the manual. Furthermore, we are asking them to be highly visible and accessible within the community.This is a serious commitment in time and should not be taken lightly as it is too important.
Question: It appears that the PBG (Policy Based Governance) is merely mimicking the corporate structure as seen in the secular business setting.Furthermore the meetings appear to closed to the general public, there appears to be no oversight and the powers appear to be consolidated.
Answer: Currently the power is diffused and dispersed between nine boards, four officers, and the Pastoral Staff not to mention the Voters Assembly. Recall that the main reason for changing governance was to get important and strategic focus and that we cannot find enough persons who are willing to be engaged in the current model.The current model worked well when things were going well financially and arguably spiritually. The current model is considered very bureaucratic and inefficient.Today we face major problems including changing demographics.The stewards indicated serious dissatisfaction with what was going on in the church. We face serious financial challenges which may result in having to reduce personnel which none of us desire.We are not making timely commitments to Child of God or Lutheran High, and have stopped making any contributions to Mo-Synod.No single group is empowered to take corrective action and so as a result we do nothing or very little.
Many think the Board of Elders is in charge (or should be) and that is a myth.That is a myth because the current constitution limits their authority to maintaining the spiritual welfare of the church and for maintaining discipline.The school board is independent and the Board of Properties or Trustees maintains the physical plant of the campus.The Parish Planning Council is a group think that is supposed to plan but their authority comes from their director positions.
Actually, we believe the proposed model is closer to the one found in the New Testament with a smaller group of committed individuals.We are attempting to unify both the spiritual and physical aspects of running a church from a holistic perspective.The policy manual reflects the will of the Stewards and is used to keep both the Pastoral Staff and the CLT faithful and in check. Finally the voters have the right in the constitution to request a special voters meeting with a minimum of twenty voting members so the voters retain their authority to intervene for what we would expect to be rather rare and dramatic situations.We agree that the business model has major weaknesses and that no model is perfect.A CLT that rubber stamps all the decisions by the Senior Pastor is dangerous but so is any board including the Board of Elders that does the same.The Voting members have the right to vote out those leaders who do not serve the interest of the congregation.In some ways, one could say that is an improvement over today’s leadership model.We have made revisions to the manual (model) that will improve transparency, communication and accountability including allowing access to CLT meetings.
Question: Shouldn’t there be more openness in the CLT, after all the church is a community? It should be treated as a democracy.
Answer: Democracy is really more of an American concept, and not a Lutheran concept.We are requiring our leaders to be more accessible and seek more input. However the effort to govern requires significant investment in time and we do not think it efficient or prudent to allow persons to be engaged in major decision making based only on a couple of hours a year. This is too much power for the relatively uninvolved or uniformed. The CLT will be representing the members with great expectations by the stewards.Those stewards who desire to be heavily involved in governance should seek to become members of the CLT.The CLT will be required to seek input.Another way to put this is perspective involving the skills and/or investment in the process of democracy is how many times President Bush has or Obama asked for your permission to send troops to Afghanistan?
Question: How many churches in Mo Synod are using PBG?Are we leading edge with this or behind the times?Are there issues with PBG by the Synod or District?Is Church discipline an issue with PBG?
Answer: Most churches of our size with a day school are using the Carver Policy Based Model in some fashion.All have some variation depending on the individual polity within the congregation.We are more of a laggard in the trend to PBG. In the Missouri Synod, the congregations are “supreme”, neither the synod nor the district impose discipline. For doctrinal discipline by the CLT, the process will always begin with the Senior Pastor (unless the Sr. Pastor is the subject)
Question: What is the relationship of the authority of the administrative elders to the CLT?
Answer: The CLT will assume the duties of the administrative elders.We would welcome those of the current Board of Administrative Elders who wish to utilize their gifts in governance serving in the CLT.It is important to understand that all the current functions of the Boards of Elders will be preserved in the new structure. They will simply be distributed in several places throughout the structure, rather than falling under one group.
Question: Shouldn’t the Elders be in charge of the Church as stipulated by Scriptures?What is the role of women on the CLT?
Answer: Actually, neither the Bible nor the L.C.M.S requires churches to have a board of elders. They are not in charge of the entire church even now according to the Constitution. It has not been that was for several generations.Somewhere along the way, a decision was made to make the Elders in charge of the Spiritual aspects of the Church only and for others to run the non-spiritual.By splitting the duties, we have lost strategic focus which is vital for a church trying to change or maintain in challenging circumstances.The effort to go to a CLT was to bring back or consolidate that strategic decision making.However if we were to restore those duties to the Board of Administrative Elders, we would have to preclude women from being involved at the highest level. We agree that women cannot be elders since scriptures from Timothy make that reference. This is only because we take the position that scripturally, the role of Elder relates to the Pastoral Office. Lutherans have always believed that the office of Pastor is in the only Biblically required office in the church. Furthermore, the current and majority of thinking at Missouri Synod does not require a church council to exclude women.We take the position that doctrine and current thinking at the L.C.M.S does not deny women the right to serve on the CLT.
We also sought counsel with other churches and consistently have found that there is unhealthy contention for authority between any church counsel and the Elders. We have experienced that within our own governance.Therefore we agreed to create a council known as the CLT and to eliminate the term elders to clearly delineate authority.The duties of the Administrative Elders and Visitation Elders as it relates to parish and pastoral care will remain under different naming conventions such as Pastoral Care Ministry Team and Parish Care Ministry Team or something similar.
Question: A mention was made of a congregation that adopted PBG and that it went drastically wrong and was forced to go back to a Voters Assembly.
Answer: There will always be examples of both the Carver PBG model and the current Donald Abdon model that did not fit with that particular church.The key concept is that the PBG will be a continual work in progress, with constant refinement to the Policy Manual. The model has to make sense at our church.Our model is already different in that we have a business manager who reports to the CLT rather than the Senior Pastor.It is widely known that this is the preferred model for the Missouri Synod.Arguably the Voters Assembly does not adequately represent the members since the numbers are quite small for a congregation.There are many reasons for this lack of participation but we recognize that we need to solicit input from as many of the stewards as possible and to have many of those participate as voting members.The Voters Assembly remains in place for the key issues and the Constitution and Bylaws remain in place so the Voters Assembly has the right to assemble a mere 20 voting members. Those rights therefore remain under our proposed structure.The reasons for changing were to restore credibility and provide focus. This change was initiated by the Visioning Process which began in 2001 and where we received widespread input to suggested changes. Governance was at the top of this list.
With regards to the failure of the model at another church, we believe that had more to do with polity than doctrine (Ablaze versus BJS).This congregation needs to set the vision and agree to it.What that vision is will be determined by the CLT representing the stewards with input from the Sr. Pastor. Our reasons for change is to provide key and needed focus for strategic issues such as should we grow and how?Do we need grow? Why or why not? How do we deal with the financial challenges before us?Etc.... What do we put in place to make whatever our decisions may be to our place in the community is a task not to be taken lightly.While there is great controversy occurring with Missouri Synod with the Ablaze Movement countered by the Brothers of John the Steadfast (BJS), it is not our goal to use PBG to promote a particular view such as Ablaze though we are clearly committed to the Great Commission, we also must follow the faithful application to teach everything Jesus has commanded in accordance with Article2 –Confession of Faith as stipulated in the Constitution.Ultimately, the leadership of ImmanuelLutheranChurch must do what is determined to be best for our congregation regardless of the Ablaze or BJS.Our policy based governance will therefore be unique to Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of St. Charles Missouri as in accordance with the general principals of C.F.W.Walters for individuality of congregational governance.
Question: Will there be any metrics put in place to measure success?
Answer: There are now as the Administrative Elders currently track attendance and contributions.Success is subject to interpretation (see BJS versus Ablaze).We will seek evidence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to help us see the ways God wants our ministries to be used.The outcomes should never be punitive and we can only hold accountable those actions which one can control.For example, a young DCE may be asked to host three gatherings of college age youth.The DCE can control the number of meetings but clearly should not be held accountable directly for attendance which is in Gods hands.We too are concerned with other congregations that use these metrics for compensation and don’t want to add that kind of potential stress to our staff. We must be very careful and deliberate to mutually create an environment that promotes Gods ministries.
Question: The school is the largest area of the ministry at Immanuel. Why is there no mention of the principal in the PBG?What is the relationship of the CLT to the principal and to the senior pastor along with business manager?
Answer: We believe that the Principal should report to the Senior Pastor in an effort to promote unity with the Church and School. We have a Church picnic, not a school picnic.We debated having the Principal report to the CLT since we agreed to have the Business Manager report to the CLT. This was an accommodation for our polity and is not consistent with other congregations who follow PBG.Nevertheless we had to do what was necessary at this juncture for the Business Manager. We currently feel that the Principal can work under the Sr. Pastor; however the CLT recognizes the importance of the Day School.We have made modifications to the Policy Based Manual to recognize that importance and also added a policy that states the CLT can request a statement of condition of the Day School in written or oral form at any time but must keep the Sr. Pastor informed of any and all communication. This promotes transparency and reduces the negative consequences of triangulation.
Question: Can you add a provision that the Sr. Pastor cannot or rescind calls?
Answer: The Constitution will maintain the provision that only permits the Voters Assembly from terminating a called position.
Question: Should the Policy Based Governance be read in conjunction with the constitution and bylaws?
Answer: The Policy Based Governance Manual shall be referenced herein to the Constitution and Bylaws of Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of St. Charles, Missouri.We will change those sections dealing with Boards and reconciling to Action Ministry Teams.Those duties do not disappear. The Boards powers are transferred to the CLT and Pastoral Staff. The duties will be task based and not meeting based.
Question: What is the plan for transition to the PBG?Will it simply crossover at some point?
Answer: The plan is to begin the transition on July 1, 2009 assuming ratification by the Voters Assembly.During the transition, we will continue to refine the manual and process to minimize disruption and to ensure ministries are effective.
Question: What about the 10% overage provision in spending? With a $3 million budget, this is $300,000.
Answer: This is only for emergency situation however to be consistent with debt provision, we reduced the number to 5%.The goal of the CLT is to pursue ministries that fulfill the vision of the congregation.