Dan was correct about the bylaws. It took time to hone them into something the elders thought worthy enough to ask you to affirm. This weekend, you did just that. Ninety-two percent of the body affirmed the new bylaws. Thank you!
After fielding some questions concerning the bylaws, I think I should share my take on why they needed updating and what the major “improvements” are.
As Dan mentioned, working on bylaws can be tough. Bylaws make a good substitute for sleep aids. It’s not exciting, and it can be arduous for a group that only meets once a week. In fact, for many years the elders met once a month for business issues, and weekly for prayer. So, over time, the day to day ministry or operations of FCC didn’t exactly reflect or line up with the bylaws. In my opinion, I believe some didn’t want to open a can of worms and start the process of updating the bylaws. No matter what the reason, the bylaws are supposed to protect us. Last August demonstrated the need for revision. Obviously, the bylaws were a problem. They had to be updated before we could move forward.
What’s improved about the bylaws?
First, you gave the elders the ability to update the bylaws without your affirmation. This is big deal. One person I spoke with suggested it was a power grab. I suggested to him that it was a flexibility grab. For example, in the bylaws you just affirmed, there’s an extremely minor typo that will be fixed next week, not at the next church business meeting. Again, this is a big deal. And, it means that all of us have to engage with the process of bringing on elders and not rubber stamp whoever is presented to you. Frankly, if we cannot trust our elders to update the bylaws, then something is terribly wrong. I submit that if we take the process of asking people to consider becoming elders seriously, then the bylaws won’t be an issue.
Second, the plurality model presented to everyone over the last few months is a major part of the bylaws. The more I consider that model, the more I like it. Obviously, we have a plurality of elders. However, you may not be aware that we also have a plurality leading our Mission, Women’s, and Center teams. Now, we’ll also have a plurality of pastor elders on staff, that support each other and hold each other accountable. The three pastors make up the staff leadership team. This team is extremely important since they lead us and the staff. And, just like the scenario where an elder decides to step down and the others stand in the gap, when a staff pastor decides to step down, the others will be there to stand in the gap and provide continuity for us. As I read the New Testament, I see a huge difference between how the church operated then and how we operate now. I believe our new model more closely resembles the New Testament church than any model used previously.
Finally, we incorporate two words new to the bylaws, but not new to the Bible. Deacon and deaconess are now a part of our culture at Faith. As I have mentioned numerous times over the last six months, we already have people doing the work of deacons and deaconesses. Now, it’s time to recognize, ordain, and provide the authority and accountability to continue on our behalf. More to come on this topic.
I should also mention that a person asked me if the elders could still fire the pastor. Interestingly, she originally planned to attend another church. She stopped attending Faith last fall, but came to the 9:00 service last Sunday because she was running late. God is good! I explained that we remain an elder led and protected church. Again, I go back to a previous point. If we ask people to serve us as elders, and we don’t trust them, then again, something is terribly wrong. We, each of us, must engage in the process of bringing on elders to serve, protect and lead. In my humble opinion, we cannot disengage from understanding the bylaws, or the process of asking elders to serve, then engage when something catastrophic happens. I cannot envision a situation where that approach serves anyone well. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to get a copy of the bylaws from Randy Gunther. Review them. Ask questions. Offer improvements. We need you.
I pray we, the sisters and brothers at Faith Christian Community, take the message we heard from Joe seriously. Lord, we did suffer, we had to trust you Lord to get us past it, and now we need to get back to doing good. Show us where you’re working Lord, we want to join you. I pray that each of us would consider and remember all that you have done for us since last August. It’s has been incredible. Praise God!
Published on July 31, 2017 @ 8:41 PM AKDT