We recently received a letter from a church leader, and in one part he said, “It’s difficult to accept that a ‘church’ is required to perform so many tasks – policies, HIV Statement, etc“. To that I replied, “I know – we just want to have church, preach the word and get people saved – but it’s a far different world today than even 20 years ago.”
In the interests of excellence in Church Administration, and to minimize the church’s Liability, we should develop Church Policies regarding every aspect of church life, especially whenever the church’s children are concerned. When we have Church Policies, we “Respond” sweetly and Christlike to difficult situations. Where there are no Church Policies – we “React,” and usually not too well.
No one wants to do the “Detail stuff. ” But when [if] there is ever an IRS inquiry, or worse yet – an allegation of sexual impropriety made by a visitor [or even a member], that’s when “Having taken thought beforehand,” all makes sense. As we hopefully have learned from the scandals regarding alleged sexual abuses in the church, [and it's negative publicity] all it takes is the allegation of one person of sexual misconduct, and the church is in the untenable position of having to defend itself of those charges. Precious sheep, time and resources are then dissipated.
Most importantly, when followed, church policies will help us to protect our sheep from satan’s influence and attacks. It can take years to discover truth, resolve the charges, possibly a great deal of God’s monies, besides the disruption, distrust, and disintegration of the congregation. Churches we know of, have lostyears in getting past false allegations. And some have never recovered, even when the allegations were proved untrue.
The above is true in regard to every aspect of church life. Do we [as leaders] truly understand that we will one day, be required to stand before God and “Give an account for the souls of our sheep.” Heb 13:17
Church Policies are developed when we have thought through the “What if”s” about an issue. Ensuring that the leaders will respond collectively [you will all be on the same page] with the love of Christ – yet protecting church members. With Church Policies in place – we respond well to issues that we might otherwise react rather badly to. eg:
- Policy – how you would handle the situation when one diagnosed with HIV is attending the church?
You absolutely want to express the unconditional love of Jesus Christ to him/her – right?; You do want him to feel accepted and, be able to lead him to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ; But how do you plan on communicating, regarding this situation, with the rest of the church?;
How much “Interaction,” and on what basis, will he be encouraged [or prohibited] from having close/personal relationships with other church members [especially if he/she is single]?
Will he/she be allowed to date whoever he pleases within the church; courtship; marry?;
What is leadership’s [The Pastor's] responsibility to other church members, to set certain guidelines for his involvement and social interaction?
Other areas we should consider developing Church Policies:
- See our “Safe Church Policy” as regards to known or Registered Sex Offenders, who would want to attend your church, is an absolute necessity in the day in which we live
- A Sexual Abuse and Response Plan with required screening of all volunteers and employees;
- Counseling; We speak of “Disciplining” rather than counseling – it’s far more Biblical;
- Nursery; – Qualifications, authorization, responsibilities of the workers;
- Youth; – Qualifications, responsibilities with clearly written and communicated ministry/job descriptions for the workers; [eg: when/how and under what circumstances can a worker be alone with a child?]. How about never!
- Non Discrimination;
- Sexual Harassment;
- Church Vehicle(s) [Bus and or Van]; Qualifications, authorization, responsibilities of the drivers;
- Church Keys; A list of who / why / and a prohibition of loaning, or unauthorized duplication of keys;
- Use of church credit cards / prohibitions, authorization and the documentation required;
- Church financial record keeping, and receipting;
- Setting compensation packages,
- Accountable Reimbursement Policy; [meeting the IRS requirements regarding substantiation};
- Benevolent Fund; How to maintain an acceptable distribution of exempt church funds with documentation.
- Use of the church office equipment and church facilities;
- Ushers, Greeters
- Maintenance of church property and facilities; etc. etc. etc.
Believe me, I too just "want to have church, preach the word and get people saved," but we can do it far better when we have considered the "What-if''s." In a word, we won't be looking over our shoulder, wondering if we are about to get into trouble or get jumped on. The most repeated comment we get [regarding the financial and record keeping issues and Policies] is, “You have taken all the fear out of it.” To that we say, “Praise The Lord”
If this discourse is of interest to you, please review our SAMPLES manual for more information and many sample Policies, Minutes, Resolutions and Ratifications. A Disk is also available to those who purchase the manual, which will enable you to develop all of the above policies, and more. An additional set of Sample Policies, Minutes, Resolutions and Ratifications are in our Samples – Addendum Manual. We also have the Screening and Enrolling our Volunteers and Employees Manual
The above information is provided as a service to the Body of Christ by ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANCE
If you would like more information about similar issues, please consider “The Church Administration ‘How To’ Manual.” This Manual, endorsed by three CPA’s, an EA and two attorneys, was updated again in January, 2011, for the 12th time, since its original publication in 1991.
Copyright (c) 2001 By Administrative Assistance
- Reporting The Minister – W-2 or 1099?
- Ministers Credentials and the IRS
- Who Can Spend Church Monies?
- Some Say Don’t Incorporate! WHY?
- Can The Church ‘Give’ Small Gifts?