We will be voting on the new by-laws revision at our next congregational meeting on April 22. You can download the proposed revision here: Download focc_bylaws_07_revision.pdf.
The following rationale for the changes can be found at the end of the above document.
The General Rationale for 2007 Proposed Revisions:
- The By-laws is a working document that needs frequent revision to improve it and to reflect changing realities (like growth in the size of the congregation) while maintaining our eternal values, denominational distinctives and accountability in leadership.
- The changes do not involve our doctrine.
- The changes do not involve our form of church government. The members of the congregation as a whole retain the authority to review and, if necessary, reverse any decision made by leaders. In addition, the congregation alone has authority to sell land or buildings owned by church.
- The changes seek to strengthen accountability structures.
- The current changes are meant to address challenges we face or may face in the next five to ten years because of:
- Growth in membership: We have over 400 participating members. As we have grown in membership, the members have delegated leadership and management to boards and staff in order for the church to continue to be effective in bringing lives to Christ and Christ to everyday life. These changes continue that trajectory while improving accountability.
- Growth in attendance: We average over 1100 in attendance. The growth in attendance creates growing complexities in ministry (e.g., multi-million dollar budgets, personnel considerations, value of property, policies and procedures, etc.) and speed of ministry.
- Multiple campuses: By the end of 2007, we plan to be one church in two locations, with other locations to follow in the upcoming years.
- Leadership structures: Currently we have two boards with differing responsibilities. We need one Board as the final arbiter in decision making (subject to reversal by the congregation) to avoid potential conflicts that impact our effectiveness in the work of the ministry.
- The Content of the By-laws: We need to address conflicting, imprecise and confusing statements within the By-laws and to increase ease of reading.
A Summary of and Rationale for Major Changes:
- General Board name change to Governing Board: The designation “General Board” refers to a board with a few elected officers and several additional non-elected members appointed by the elected officers. The name change reflects the actual nature of our Board. It also reflects the need to form one governing board for the church, rather than having two boards that might have conflicting responsibilities, authority or decisions.
- Elder Board designation change to Elders: When Five Oaks was formed, and for the first eight to ten years, there was only one board—the General Board. A team of men, the “Pastoral Team,” served as an extension of the senior pastor. The name “Pastoral Team” became confusing as our vocational pastoral staff expanded. Noting that their duties were very similar to that of Elders in the New Testament, they were renamed the Elders and their duties were more clearly defined. At the same time (or in a later revision of the By-laws), the Elders were designated a “board.” This board designation has created a potential conflict over responsibilities, authority and decisions with the Governing Board. This has been an issue of discussion and deliberation within the various By-laws Committees over the years. Several solutions have been proposed. The proposed solution in this revision seeks to designate only one governing board while retaining the distinct advantages of having Elders who deal with many important ministry issues such as membership, discipline, prayer and doctrine. Vocational pastors carry out most of the functions of elders at Five Oaks, but the elected Elders extend the personal ministry of the pastors and provide needed policies and guidelines on many pastoral and doctrinal issues as requested by the Senior Pastor.
- Major financial decisions (i.e., the general budget and capital spending) will be delegated by the congregation to their elected Governing Board: As our budgets have grown and continue to grow, the fiduciary responsibilities of Five Oaks have become increasingly complex. The ability for a large group of people to make these kinds of decisions is diminished and changes in the budget could have serious negative consequences. There is also a need to streamline the decision-making process regarding capital spending. Currently, several congregational meetings are needed to approve capital spending (i.e., to approve the costs related to a capital campaign, to approve costs related to initial plans and to spending on the final plans). In spite of the change, the Governing Board remains accountable to the congregation because (1) the members of the congregation retain the ability to call a special congregational meeting to reverse decisions made by the Governing Board and (2) the Board is dependent on the giving and, therefore, the “buy-in” of the congregation.
- The hiring (or naming) of associate pastors will fall under the same guidelines as other staff: Currently the congregation votes on associate pastors. This change reflects the changing nature of staff titles, structures and responsibilities. The Senior Pastor has the authority to hire associate pastors in accordance with the policies established by the Governing Board.
- Dismissal of the Senior Pastor delegated by the congregation to the Governing Board: Currently there are no guidelines for the dismissal of the Senior Pastor. The Governing Board, which already reviews the Senior Pastor and to whom the Senior Pastor already reports, will have the authority to dismiss the Senior Pastor. This is due, in part, to the nature of employment laws that limit the ability of the Governing Board to give details to the congregation regarding employee performance or immoral behavior. The Senior Pastor position is so integrally tied to the effectiveness of a church in its mission, that an immoral or ineffective Senior Pastor has a tragic Kingdom impact. The difficulties and congregational trauma of removing an immoral or ineffective Senior Pastor has doomed the mission of too many churches and relegated them to the sidelines of ministry in the Kingdom. This change would seek to ensure the future effectiveness of the church by delegating the authority of dismissal to the group that directly holds the Senior Pastor accountable.
- Reduction of required congregational business meetings from two to one per year: Given the above changes, one required business meeting should be sufficient to conduct the business of the church.
- Change in the quorum from 25% of members to 51% of members present: The start of a congregational meeting, the time and commitment of all who show up and the essential business of the church should not be held captive to an artificial quorum. The rationale for setting the quorum at 51% of the members present is for legal purposes, differentiating the total attendance from the quorum number that is reported in the minutes.