Transition from Bylaws to Policies and Procedures can be difficult to understand and implement. Most all church bylaws contain forms of policies and procedures written in “bylaws language” and mostly hidden from any active use.

Policies defined: Policies are usually a general statement that relates to the church’s (congregation’s) position on a particular subject. A policy is a managerial decision that defines the church’s attitude on a matter ahead of time before such information is needed. Policies coincide with the routine operations of a church.

Procedures defined: Procedures are the means for which a policy will be implemented and how a policy will be effectively carried out. Procedures are usually developed by administration with sensitivity to the desires of the church once the policy has been set.

  • Values for Having Policies and Procedures
  • Helps implement a church’s goals, mission, purpose and priority statements.
  • Serves as an organizational aid and a management tool.
  • Useful in producing consistent, coherent and compatible decisions for church leadership to do good Kingdom work.
  • Helps identify and delegate responsibilities for quality and protection.
  • Assists in training new personnel and enlisted leadership.
  • Provides a positive and clear quality of the planning and budgeting process.
  • Helps with accountability to making or routine decisions.
  • Offers a rationale for explaining decisions that are made.
  • Helps focus any debate on the basic principle or policy behind specific decisions rather than on details – thus reducing controversy during church business meetings.
  • Reduces areas of possible risk to staff, volunteers and the congregation.
  • Helps the church to be better stewards of time, talent, and resources.

Policies and Procedures are an extension of the Bylaws and are considered and equally important document to the church. However, the Articles of Incorporation and the Bylaws will always take precedent over a Policy and Procedure Manual.

Once the need for Policies and Procedures has been determined it will require several forms of extraction to begin. One extraction will be to remove all policy and procedure statements from the current Bylaws. The second extraction will be from the church minutes compiled by the church clerk over the last decade or since the last revision of the bylaws. Look for all policy-like directives that were changed by the congregation during routine business conferences action.

This writer recommends that a three ring binder with six dividers be used when relocating all extracted information. The six sections will represent the six types of Policies and Procedures categories needed in most churches. They are: PERSONNEL, LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT, FINANCIAL, FACILITIES, GENERAL ADMINISTRATION, and MINISTRY. All extractions and new policies and procedures can be located behind one of the dividers and help build your complete manual.

When compiling the extractions and creating new policies and procedures it is good to cross reference the policies with their area of interest found in the Bylaws. Remember, Policies and Procedures are an extension of the Bylaws and need to be considered official documents of the church.

The Standing Bylaws Committee/Team may wish to be the style writers for the Policies and Procedures Manual so the wordage and understanding is parallel to the style and language reflected in the bylaws. However, the Standing Bylaws Committee/Team is NOT to be responsible for the content, application or amendment of any Policy or Procedure. That role needs to be empowered to other Standing Committees/Teams/Groups, such as: PERSONEL: Empowered by the Personnel Committee; LEADERSHIP& MANAGEMENT: Empowered by the Church Council; FINANCE: Empowered by the Finance Committee; FACILITIES Empowered by the Building and Grounds Committee; GENERAL ADMINISTRATION: Empowered by Church Administrator/Staff; MINISTRY: Empowered by Church Staff/Deacons/Missions Organizations.

Empowering the responsibilities of the Policies and Procedures assures the use of and the validation of the document. Bylaws should always be difficult to amend and requires usually a 2/3 Majority vote by the congregation; Policies and Procedures, empowered by a committee/group can be amended by the congregation by a simple majority vote. Both Bylaws and Policies and Procedure changes are the responsibility of the congregation to approve, uphold and appreciate.