Constitution Questions

We are excited to step into the next chapter of Mission Bible Church!

As our church has grown we have realized a need to adjust our constitution.  

Here are some FAQs that will hopefully bring clarity to the reasons behind the proposed new constitution. 

FAQs

QUESTION: If it ain’t broke, why fix it? 

Aren't things going well? Why do we need to revise the entire constitution now?

ANSWER: Our original Constitution and By-laws were well designed for us when we initially planted 40 years ago but

has to be revised to scale with the current size of staff, congregation, and multiple campuses of Mission

Bible Church. Though it served our congregation for over four decades, and though key amendments and

adjustments were made to the original document over the years, MBC's governing document was most

effective when our church was one campus being led by one pastor alongside a board of deacons, and

serving a small congregation. The revised Constitution and By-Laws positions primary church direction in the

Elder Team's leadership and establishes clear lines of accountability from the Executive Council and

membership. We feel this effectively follows the leadership model found in the New Testament allowing

direction from our pastoral staff, while infusing checks and balances to protect the church.


QUESTION: The revised Constitution mentions the term "Elder." What is the difference between an Elder and a Deacon?

ANSWER: In the New Testament, the office of Elder (also known as pastors or bishops) was held by those who exhibited

biblical qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9) and operated as the spiritual leaders within the local

church. Deacons were those who had similar qualifications (1 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:7) but who served as a vital

support staff logistically enabling the ministry of the Elders in their teaching and spiritual direction.


QUESTION: What will be the biggest change in how Mission is governed?

ANSWER: Currently we have two leadership groups directing the church: The Pastoral Staff and the Administrative

Board (made up of Deacons and the Lead Pastor). When we were young, the spiritual direction had to be

shared between one Senior Pastor and the Administrative Board. As the staff grew, and more spiritual

direction was placed in the hands of the hired pastors throughout the week, the efficiency and effectiveness

of the shared spiritual leadership between staff and deacons waned. The revised Constitution and By-Laws

aim to resolve that issue. The Elder Team (pastors who have met specific qualifications) will lead in concert

with the guidance and wisdom of the Executive Council (currently our Administrative Board). The church

membership authorizes the Lead Pastor to lead. The Lead Pastor is responsible to hire pastoral and support

staff members to accomplish the mission of the church. The Deacons serve on the Executive Council

assisting him in this task and hold him accountable.


QUESTION: Does one have to be a pastor in order to be on the Elder team?

ANSWER: Scripture describes the role of Elder as pastoral in nature, but Scripture does not specify that Elders have to

be vocational in their role. In other words, a person could work as an engineer as his job while serving as an

Elder at Mission. This person's role would be "pastoring" even though that wouldn't be his 9-5 profession.

The Elder Team can be made up of vocational and non-vocational ministers.

How are those in leadership held accountable? What are the checks and balances?

The Executive Council is intended to both provide wise counsel to the Lead Pastor / Elder team and the

group who holds them accountable. They will participate in a quarterly review of staff reports (submitted to

communicate growth, challenges, questions, etc), approving the church budget each year before

presentation to the membership, and setting staff salary. Pastoral staff is not able to be terminated by the

Lead Pastor without Executive Council approval. If a Lead Pastor has to be removed for moral or legal

reasons, or fails to satisfy his role at Mission, it is the Executive Council who would be responsible to bring

articles of removal to the membership. Additionally, new additions to the Executive Council will have to be

confirmed by church membership before beginning serving.


QUESTION: How are those in leadership held accountable? What are the checks and balances?

ANSWER: The Executive Council is intended to both provide wise counsel to the Lead Pastor / Elder team and the

group who holds them accountable. They will participate in a quarterly review of staff reports (submitted to

communicate growth, challenges, questions, etc), approving the church budget each year before

presentation to the membership, and setting staff salary. Pastoral staff is not able to be terminated by the

Lead Pastor without Executive Council approval. If a Lead Pastor has to be removed for moral or legal

reasons, or fails to satisfy his role at Mission, it is the Executive Council who would be responsible to bring

articles of removal to the membership. Additionally, new additions to the Executive Council will have to be

confirmed by church membership before beginning serving.


QUESTION: In the previous Constitution and By-Laws, there was a section on same sex marriage that was

removed in this revision. Why?

ANSWER: We made the Same-Sex Marriage amendment to our Constitution and By-Laws as same-sex marriage

became legalized as a protection from litigation. This, at the time, made sense in light of the fact that our

church affirms the traditional Christian definition of marriage being between a man and woman (and

therefore our staff wouldn't officiate a same sex wedding). Also, the measure of adding Constitutional and

By-Law amendments was recommended by Christian defense firms. Upon further review, however, we don't

believe this section belongs in the Constitution and By-Laws. Firstly, an official Constitutional and By-Law

statement will not effectively shield an organization from litigation. If refusal to officiate a same sex

wedding leads to Mission being sued, it will be done on the grounds of such action being seen as a

discriminatory refusal of rights. A much stronger defense to such litigation would be the fact that same sex

weddings are not the only weddings we refuse. Because we use Scripture as our source material for

protocol, we also refuse to do weddings of Christians who aren't ready to be married, or Christians who

desire to marry non-Christians. To date, we have refused to officiate far more heterosexual weddings than

homosexual weddings on the grounds of Scripture. The precedence for wedding refusal has already been

set. Additionally, we find the place for an official statement on wedding policy better located in our Staff

Manual than in the church Constitution and By-Laws. If we wanted to use the Constitution and By-Laws to

clearly convey what areas of societal sin we are clearly against, the Constitution and By-Laws would be

significantly longer. Wedding policy has its place in our documents, just not our governing document.


QUESTION: Is there anything else that is a notable change?

ANSWER: Yes! The revised Constitution and By-Laws are designed to scale with a growing church on multiple

campuses. A good rule of thumb is that as an organization grows in complexity, steps to simplify

processes are imperative. Two areas that we needed to update were quorums and membership. We are a

church that values "membership" but we acknowledge that we haven't done a great job in conveying the

desired outcomes of membership at Mission. People have stayed on the membership rosters long after

moving out of town or ceasing to attend our church. Trying to satisfy a quorum for any church business can

be a daunting task in light of this. At Mission we desire the vehicle of "membership" to drive people deeper

into service, participation, and accountability. Rather than membership simply being a status that remains in

spite of participation, the revised Constitution and By-Laws calls upon an annual membership renewal.

Active members will be required to re-sign the membership covenant within two weeks of our annual

business meeting each November. Our belief is that this will drive members into more intentional growth,

accountability, and intentional participation. Mission Members will be more likely to participate in the annual

business meeting. Those who participate in making key decisions for Mission will have just recently

recommitted themselves to growing as a disciple at Mission. And rather than tracking down those who no

longer desire to participate as members at Mission, they are able to simply opt out of signing the covenant.

Quorums make sense in smaller governing bodies at one location. Mission has grown beyond this

expectation due to size and the fact that we are now multi-site. Decisions will be made with a majority vote

of the members in attendance of a duly called business meeting.


QUESTION: What document or pattern was used to develop this proposed bylaw and constitution changes?

ANSWER: Good question.  We asked Pastor David Jankowski to draw upon fifty years of ministry experience with church constitutions and studying other church’s constitution / by-laws for additional insight.  Additionally, the flow and skeletal structure of the revised constitution is based upon MBC’s old constitution. 


QUESTION: You indicate the major need for change was membership quorums, and membership status.  Couldn’t those areas have been changed in the current set up without a total re-write? 

ANSWER: Though key areas that needed to be re-written were quorums and membership status, the paradigm shift of church polity was a large enough shift that a complete revision was necessary.  As we combed through the constitution we realized that we could make changes to the old document every couple of years and still be running into the same problems that this new document addresses.  Our desire, instead, was to craft a simplified, more succinct, and biblical document.  Our hope is that by appropriately aligning the roles of Elders and Deacons with their new testament descriptions, as well as infusing levels of accountability, we will be able to lead better, serve our church better, and scale into the next phase of our church’s life better.  



QUESTION: The Administrative  Board will be eliminated and an Executive Council will be established. The Council will have no voting rights other than approving new Council members and the termination of the leaders upon the Lead Pastor’s recommendation.

ANSWER: 

    1. Not completely accurate.  The Council maintains the control on budgetary limits, budgetary approval, removal of Lead Pastor, approving new Elders, approving new council members, and setting salaries for staff / approving of salaries for new staff.  
    2. This leadership design does significantly reduce the amount of votes necessary to conduct business.  That is on purpose.  The goal is to lead thru consensus.  I believe that will be nothing but a win for our church leadership on the council, on our staff, and for our church family.   Because we have a hired team who are paid to lead full time throughout the week, it makes the most sense to allow them to lead over their areas of expertise.  


QUESTION: The Council members will report to the Elders, the Council will advise the Elders to determine the ministerial staff and Elder positions and the Elders will select the Executive Council. Sounds a lot like choosing your own boss. You pick me and I’ll pick you.

ANSWER:  Actually it is more like this: The membership votes to approve their leaders on the Executive Council.  The Executive Council advises the Elders.  The Executive Council is responsible to the congregation who voted for them to hold the Elders accountable, and remove the Lead Pastor when necessary.  The Executive Council reports to the membership the budget they have approved, etc.  In some ways, this isn’t that different from our current model.  The staff suggest Deacon candidates, the Board votes to affirm them for a membership vote, the congregation votes on said candidate.  One might argue that this sets up a scenario where the staff will only suggest board members who are rubber stampers who are all yes -men.  I would argue that in 23 years of my personal observation of MBC deacons, and in 42 total years of MBC history, that has never been the case.  Certainly any model can fall apart, but this has not been our weakness historically.  


QUESTION : To whom will the Elders be responsible to, the Lead Pastor? And to whom will the lead pastor be responsible to, the membership? Who will represent the membership?

ANSWER: The Elders are responsible to the Lead Pastor and the accountability of his decisions lies in the membership and Executive Council.  Their job is to protect the mission and vision of the church and can choose to refuse funding of the budget he leads with or financially resourcing the staff he chooses.  The Executive Council are ultimately the ones he is responsible to in light of the fact that they can bring the Articles of Removal to the membership.  


QUESTION: Currently expenditures over $7500 not included in the budget need membership approval. That is not mentioned in the latest revision of the by-laws. If there is a change it should be mentioned.

ANSWER: The board did not want that to be included in the revision, so it didn’t make the final cut.  


QUESTION: In the old version, the Treasurer would make expenditures by the authority of the Administration Board. How will these approvals be handled in the new version of the by-laws. If the Elders are responsible for expenditures then an Elder should be the only one to approve an expenditure for the areas of that Elders responsibility. 

ANSWER: All the revision shifts is the authority that affords the Treasurer the ability to make expenditures.  The Elders will be making those decisions for the church similar to the current Admin Board, therefore it makes sense for them to be the one working in concert with the Treasurer.  I hear what you’re saying with regard to elders only approving expenditures for their area of responsibility, and that will most likely be the majority scenario, but this group will lead together (again, similar to our current board) and in concert with the counsel of the Executive Council. 


QUESTION: Why was there not an added requirement for multi-campus representation on the administrative board?       

ANSWER: We definitely want representation on the board from our campuses, be there 2, 3 or more in the future.  We didn’t think it wise to hardwire a ratio of representation (from each campus) in the constitution for a few reasons.  One primary reason is that we may have a campus that is distance prohibitive.  If we have a campus in Arizona, expecting them to provide a member for the Executive Council may not be reasonable.  In the short run, our value will continue to be having local campus representation on the board.  We don’t believe this value necessarily needs to be spelled out in the constitution.  Such a change certainly could be a future amendment, however, if the church deems necessary.  


QUESTION:  Elders, Qualified and selected individuals …  Who is selecting them?

ANSWER:  Article I Section VI A. sufficiently and concisely describes this.  Part of our objective is to allow the document to be structured enough to provide guidance and stability but not so deep into the minutia that future pastors have no room to bring their leadership style to the table.  This is an example of that.  My desire is that the clear aspect of this is that future Elders are selected by the Lead Pastor’s staff, biblically qualified to lead in this capacity, and who satisfy the service requirements.  That succinctly lays out the process and who selects Elders while leaving room for other variables to be selected by the Lead Pastor (time of year a new Elder is selected, ceremonial process of welcoming new Elder before the congregation, etc). 


QUESTION: Because of the wording “or other elder approved ministry” (maybe not now, but leaves open) that anyone not even associated with MBC could be an Elder at MBC.  It could be John Doe from Idaho as long as that person has been in ministry for 5 years or more with elder approval.

ANSWER: I think this may not be as confusing in practice.  The clear assumption is that these are individuals connected to Mission Bible Church, seeing that this is Mission Bible Church’s constitution.  Pastor Erik should be one of the elders even though he hasn’t served at MBC for 5+ years.  He has served in other ministries for that amount of time.  Similarly, when choosing a lay elder, they may have moved to Grundy County from Idaho, but if at “Idaho Community Church” they functioned in a ministerial capacity for 5+ years they would qualify.   5+ years of service, either here or elsewhere, affords us the ability to vet them for character, chemistry, and competency.  It gives us the tools to see whether they would be an effective shepherd at Mission.  The approval from the Elders for ministry experience that lands outside of Mission Bible Church is a safeguard to make sure the ministry experience was in fact proper preparation for Elder leadership.  



QUESTION: Article 1 section 1B,C and Article 1 section II, A, refers to authority and selection of members to the Executive council. Since according to your cover letter describing an Elder, does that mean that all Pastors at MBC (8 pastors) will be the Elders governing the church ministries and selecting the executive Council, Treasurer, Financial Secretary, elder positions ? (This is vague and unclear)

ANSWER: The short answer is “no.”  Not every pastor will be qualified for Elder leadership.  They must have served a minimum of 5 years in an approved ministry (if outside of Mission), and be selected based on gifting (Article 1 IC).  This is a process for a multi-pastoral staff.  Though biblically they fall into the classification of a pastoral Elder, and though they certainly will impact the direction of the church (as Dave allowed myself and other staff to do in assisting him with decisions for the church under his leadership), our Administrative Board did not want to automatically assign the leadership responsibilities of “elder” to someone brand new to ministry.  Thus, the first five+ years of leadership is a training and proving ground which will be helpful in selection of future Elders.  


QUESTION: I see later on in Article 1 section VI a reference to Elder Board.  Is the Elder Board a different group than the Elders?  I see Elders (all Pastors of MBC) responsible for some things and Elder Board (selected individuals) responsible for other things.  I see a minimum of 4 but no maximum.

ANSWER:  Artice I 1C / VI A.clarify this that the elder board is a group of vocational and nonvocational pastoral shepherds with 5 years experience who are selected by the current Elder board.  The importance of the number is the minimum.  We didn’t feel comfortable for less than 4 in this group.  As God blesses, and wisdom warrants, we could have more than 4.  Depending on how many campuses we have, that number will go up.  Since we certainly would expect the campus pastor to be one of the Elders, it would be unwise to limit the number of campuses we could plant based upon a maximum number of Elders on the Elder Board.  


QUESTION: Why change the name administrative board to executive council? 

ANSWER: Mainly to better identify the function of the board.  "Executive Council" denotes both the role and importance of this group.  They provide wise counsel to the pastors while also having the executive role of accountability for the pastors. 


QUESTION: Why are you removing the word deacon from the entire document?  Deacons are a biblical position of service in Acts and should be preserved this this document.  Instead they are executive “council members”.

ANSWER: Scripture uses diakonos for the biblical position of "servant" in the church.  Diakonos is one of the odd words translators decided not to fully translate (similar to baptize - dunk, or gospel - good news).  Had they translated the word (instead of transliterating it to "deacon"), we would have the roles of "Elders" (for pastors) and "Servants" (those who aid the pastors).  With "Executive Council Members", we are aiming to capture the function of the deacon / servant while clarifying the importance of that role.  Some find the term "servant" as a demeaning descriptor, so rather than be confusing (by saying "servant," or unclear - using "deacon" to mean something other than a servant) we are using a term that addresses the actual function of this greek word in new testament church polity.  


QUESTION: (part 1 of 3) Under the present constitution, the administrative board is to review the church roll at least annually and revise it, as necessary.  Under the proposed bylaws members must sign a membership covenant every year.  This new plan seems cold and harsh rather than shepherding the flock.  It takes away any personal contact to see how they are doing or if we can help in some way. 

ANSWER: Not exactly.  The current constitutional process has Deacons send a letter to those who haven't attended (for up to a year's time) to see if they are still a part of MBC.  That doesn't equate to great shepherding (more on that below), so the proposed Constitution isn't replacing a healthy system for a cold non-shepherding one, it simply affords every member the opportunity to renew their covenant with the church (and all that it means) every year.  It would be easy to forget what one initially agreed to in their church membership.  This allows every year, every member to recommit themselves to the things we value in a disciple.  So the trade is ongoing membership without any specific renewal or accountability for one that affords members a chance to continue as members (and make key decisions for the church) if they still desire to embrace what it means to be a member.  


QUESTION: (part 2 of 3) There is no easy way to enforce it other than if you don't get a signed covenant back, take them off the roll.  Then what? Does that person have to go through the membership class all over again to become a member?  Where is Grace?  

ANSWER: This process is to keep those who want to continue leading in the business department of the church (budget, church leadership election, etc.) connected to doing so, and a clear way to remove one self if that is not longer their desire. One either renews their membership within two weeks of the annual business meeting or does not.  We will begin reminding folks at the end of the summer to do so and will continue to, up until the do date.  The process will be abundantly easy to accomplish and can be done several different ways.   Though not specified, one possible process for becoming a member, if a person had let their membership lapse, could be the following:

        (1) If a membership has been lapsed for more than a year, re-Discovering Mission may be in order.  After being away from actively attending, participating, etc. in a church for more than a year, one can find a lot has changed.  Re-taking the Discover Mission class would be wise.  That is currently the same policy we have if someone has removed their membership.   

     (2). If membership lapsed within one year of the covenant renewal deadline, an individual would simply have to meet with a deacon again.  This would be a level of shepherding making sure all is going well with the person, or perhaps address any issues the former member may have had leading to letting their membership lapse. This is not currently practiced and would be a new, perhaps more grace filled, approach.  


QUESTION: (Part 3 of 3)This seems to be a man-made rule to get away from being a shepherding church.  

ANSWER: That is accurate.  It is man made, but so is church membership.  We do not have church membership explicitly spelled out in the Bible.  Church membership, in its current form, is a modern construct and most definitely man made.  Now, that doesn't make it bad or "un-biblical", just that the construct itself is not called for in Scripture.  At Mission, members have a serious responsibility regarding the approval of how we fund ministries (the annual budget), who we hire as Lead Pastor, who we bring onto the Executive Council, etc. 


QUESTION: I would agree that we need a better way to handle the membership role.  Also disconnecting the quorum from the membership role number will make congregational meetings much easier.  But I would think that there should be a minimum number of members required to hold a meeting. Otherwise, you could get a small number of members show up, and change the course of the church without a good representation of the membership.

ANSWER: The quorum conversation was a lengthy one.  We really wanted to zero in on what would be best for the church in the long run.  One of the realities we were seeing is that churches that are growing beyond 1000 were less likely to maintain the governing process of having lay members be a part of church wide decisions at all.  This is because, as an organization grows (church or otherwise) in complexity, fewer and fewer decisions are made by the overall body.  That is one trade off of becoming a larger church that certainly has its challenges.  Our desire was not to throw the baby out with the bath water.  We value the role of the lay person as an active member and participant.  We value their contribution and ownership of our church's major moves.  The way the revised Constitution is written, the membership have ample opportunity to show up and be a part of this process.  We increased the amount of time necessary to alert the congregation if any constitutional changes were to be voted on because we wanted to assure the best membership representation for something so important.  We lined up the membership renewal as a lead up to the annual meeting as a fresh reminder of one’s role in that process.  My hope is that we have better participation than before, not because we pleaded with folks to attend in order to satisfy a quorum but rather because they had freshly recommitted themselves to the work of the church by renewing their membership covenant.