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A Church and its Bylaws

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  • A Church and its Bylaws

    I just stumbled upon a copy of our Church's Bylaws that we updated about 8 years ago, when I was new at this Church.

    It's always interesting to me to read a Church's bylaws because they often reveal what previous problems that were in that Church.
    Rather than deal with issues in a Godly manner, people tend to add a Bylaw prohibiting an action, or attempting to concrete a policy or directive.

    One of the first things I like to do is to help a Church clean up their Bylaws, because they often inadvertently prevent the Church from being the Church by their unanticipated consequences.

    Silly example --- one Church had a problem with the youth pastor using the Church van as his own personal vehicle.
    Rather than deal with that problem by talking to him, they came up with a Bylaw prohibiting the Church van from being used unless it was occupied by at least 3 persons.
    That meant that the Church's food distribution to the needy was handicapped unless the driver violated the "3 person rule".
    What about picking up the elderly for Church services? The driver would have to get 2 others to ride along so he could go pick up senior adults?
    Yeah, really silly.

    The "Constitution & Bylaws" - the Constitution should state "who we are" and the Bylaws should state "how we do Church".

    What brought this to my attention was the fact that the first 2 years I was here - somebody always seemed to bring up "Well, the BYLAWS state....."

    God has been good, and has been blessing us, and there has been unity.... it has literally been YEARS since I've heard anybody mention "The Bylaws".

    To me, that's an excellent thing!
    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

  • #2
    AND, when asked how long a Constitution and Bylaws should be - my favorite answer is "like a pair of pants - long enough to cover the subject, but not so long that you trip over them".
    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

    Comment


    • #3
      The last church we attended, and the denomination I grew up in, had a long list of things you had to promise not to do in order to become a member. I became a member when I was 12 at a the church in which I was brought up, and the list was the same as at this last church. As an aside, I withdrew my membership in about 1987, for other reasons.

      Anyway, while we were going to this more recent church, a young man wanted to become a member and had to agree to the whole list. One of the items is that you are not allowed to attend a movie theatre, which I recall as a kid being forbidden. This young guy agreed to this, and when I found out about it, I was quite disturbed because the pastor of the church regularly went to movies, even on Sunday afternoons.

      I could never figure out how he got away with it, and why the church had not changed some of those outdated rules 60 years later. The same denomination, btw, allows both women as preachers as well as in other positions of authority, so "change" doesn't seem to be an issue with that if it suits their purposes.


      Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by mossrose View Post
        The last church we attended, and the denomination I grew up in, had a long list of things you had to promise not to do in order to become a member. I became a member when I was 12 at a the church in which I was brought up, and the list was the same as at this last church. As an aside, I withdrew my membership in about 1987, for other reasons.

        Anyway, while we were going to this more recent church, a young man wanted to become a member and had to agree to the whole list. One of the items is that you are not allowed to attend a movie theatre, which I recall as a kid being forbidden. This young guy agreed to this, and when I found out about it, I was quite disturbed because the pastor of the church regularly went to movies, even on Sunday afternoons.

        I could never figure out how he got away with it, and why the church had not changed some of those outdated rules 60 years later. The same denomination, btw, allows both women as preachers as well as in other positions of authority, so "change" doesn't seem to be an issue with that if it suits their purposes.
        That sounds more like the "Church Covenant"? And, yeah, we could not go to the movies or play with "playing cards". (Old Maid was not considered "playing cards", but was a gateway drug )

        In the Summer, the community would have "summer movies" for the kids --- $5.00 for the WHOLE SUMMER for any daytime movie. I always missed out on that. Maybe THAT'S why I am no longer a Fundamentalist Christian!
        "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

          That sounds more like the "Church Covenant"? And, yeah, we could not go to the movies or play with "playing cards". (Old Maid was not considered "playing cards", but was a gateway drug )

          In the Summer, the community would have "summer movies" for the kids --- $5.00 for the WHOLE SUMMER for any daytime movie. I always missed out on that. Maybe THAT'S why I am no longer a Fundamentalist Christian!
          Yes, cards were forbidden to us as well. The game of choice was Rook, which has 4 colours and 13 numbers. After I was married and my parents would visit, we would play canasta with them, and my Dad would play cribbage with Mr. mossy. So I guess they relaxed their rules a little as they got older.

          I remember missing all the Disney feature cartoons in the theatres. The first movie I was allowed to go to in a theatre was The Sound Of Music, and I was 13. When I met Mr. mossy we went to the drive-in to watch Gone With the Wind, and my parents were scandalized.

          The current name of the "rules" is The Covenant of Christian Conduct. I don't remember what it was called years ago.


          Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by mossrose View Post

            Yes, cards were forbidden to us as well. The game of choice was Rook, which has 4 colours and 13 numbers. After I was married and my parents would visit, we would play canasta with them, and my Dad would play cribbage with Mr. mossy. So I guess they relaxed their rules a little as they got older.

            I remember missing all the Disney feature cartoons in the theatres. The first movie I was allowed to go to in a theatre was The Sound Of Music, and I was 13. When I met Mr. mossy we went to the drive-in to watch Gone With the Wind, and my parents were scandalized.

            The current name of the "rules" is The Covenant of Christian Conduct. I don't remember what it was called years ago.
            Yeah, so I always encourage a Church to make the Constitution and Bylaws as brief and to the point as possible, not trying to anticipate every possible situation that may occur.
            In addition to those documents, there should be a Policies and Procedures Manual which would spell out the things that would be subject to change.

            And our "Church Covenant" (when I was a kid) forbid (forbade?) the "use of alcohol as a beverage".
            "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

              Yeah, so I always encourage a Church to make the Constitution and Bylaws as brief and to the point as possible, not trying to anticipate every possible situation that may occur.
              In addition to those documents, there should be a Policies and Procedures Manual which would spell out the things that would be subject to change.

              And our "Church Covenant" (when I was a kid) forbid (forbade?) the "use of alcohol as a beverage".
              I looked the Manual up online just a few minutes ago, and alcohol is still forbidden, as is the use of other drugs. The movie theatre thing is not specifically listed, but there are instructions that no movie or tv or other entertainment that is not "faith-based" or wholesome, etc., should be allowed in the home. There is also the stricture against "dancing that detracts from spiritual growth and break down proper moral inhibitions and reserve", which is the same as when I was a kid. I remember not being allowed to do square dancing in phys ed in grade 5.

              No alcohol, no gambling, no, smoking, no membership in secret societies, etc., all is the same, pretty much as when I was a kid.


              Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by mossrose View Post

                I looked the Manual up online just a few minutes ago, and alcohol is still forbidden, as is the use of other drugs. The movie theatre thing is not specifically listed, but there are instructions that no movie or tv or other entertainment that is not "faith-based" or wholesome, etc., should be allowed in the home. There is also the stricture against "dancing that detracts from spiritual growth and break down proper moral inhibitions and reserve", which is the same as when I was a kid. I remember not being allowed to do square dancing in phys ed in grade 5.

                No alcohol, no gambling, no, smoking, no membership in secret societies, etc., all is the same, pretty much as when I was a kid.
                In the South, they know better than to try to prohibit smoking. In the old days, pretty much nobody would be able to join the church.

                But, yes, I got a written note to excuse me from "dancing" - and it was, in fact, square dancing. It's amazing I turned out as wonderful and intelligent and amazing as I did!
                "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

                  In the South, they know better than to try to prohibit smoking. In the old days, pretty much nobody would be able to join the church.

                  But, yes, I got a written note to excuse me from "dancing" - and it was, in fact, square dancing. It's amazing I turned out as wonderful and intelligent and amazing as I did!
                  All I know is that I can't square dance, or dance any kind of way, to this day.

                  I would have liked to have been able to dance with my husband, but his instructions for dancing are akin to his instructions for driving a stick shift.

                  I can't do that, either.


                  Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mossrose View Post

                    All I know is that I can't square dance, or dance any kind of way, to this day.

                    I would have liked to have been able to dance with my husband, but his instructions for dancing are akin to his instructions for driving a stick shift.

                    I can't do that, either.
                    I've shared before, I believe, this strict "control" stuff in my Independent Baptist Church caused me to rebel in my youth and go visit a Southern Baptist Church.
                    My Independent Baptist Pastor had MANY TIMES preached how liberal and unbiblical the Southern Baptists were, so I decided THAT was "my crowd" if I am to stay in Church.

                    The Church I visited was an SBC Church, but the Pastor was a sound and Bible-based as they come, and he NEVER condemned other denominations from the pulpit - he preached Jesus.
                    It is HIS boots I often wear now when I preach, and he was the model for who I am in Christ.
                    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The strangest thing in our bylaws was that the Pastor had to be re-approved by vote every 2 years. We finally got that removed on the last go 'round. (The previous pastor that was removed by God [he passed away] made it harder to get rid of it)
                      "What has the Church gained if it is popular, but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?" - A.W. Tozer

                      "... there are two parties in Washington, the stupid party and the evil party, who occasionally get together and do something both stupid and evil, and this is called bipartisanship." - Everett Dirksen

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Littlejoe View Post
                        The strangest thing in our bylaws was that the Pastor had to be re-approved by vote every 2 years. We finally got that removed on the last go 'round. (The previous pastor that was removed by God [he passed away] made it harder to get rid of it)
                        I've heard of that --- and I suspect that's because of a previous pastor being a problem. Rather than rely on Matt 18:15-18, let's just vote to throw the bum out! (Or NOT vote to keep him)
                        "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

                          I've heard of that --- and I suspect that's because of a previous pastor being a problem. Rather than rely on Matt 18:15-18, let's just vote to throw the bum out! (Or NOT vote to keep him)
                          Strangely, our church had not had an issue like that...at least not until the last pastor. Our 1st 2 pastors were greatly loved and always re-upped by over 90% of the church. Since this was a church plant when it started in the mid 90's, I suspect it came from experiences in the previous church...

                          The vote was always by secret ballot and it was "Keep the Pastor? Yea or Nay." The first business meeting I went to that the vote was taken I was like...?what!?!?...I'd never heard of such a thing.
                          "What has the Church gained if it is popular, but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?" - A.W. Tozer

                          "... there are two parties in Washington, the stupid party and the evil party, who occasionally get together and do something both stupid and evil, and this is called bipartisanship." - Everett Dirksen

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Littlejoe View Post

                            Strangely, our church had not had an issue like that...at least not until the last pastor. Our 1st 2 pastors were greatly loved and always re-upped by over 90% of the church. Since this was a church plant when it started in the mid 90's, I suspect it came from experiences in the previous church...

                            The vote was always by secret ballot and it was "Keep the Pastor? Yea or Nay." The first business meeting I went to that the vote was taken I was like...?what!?!?...I'd never heard of such a thing.
                            Yeah, and I always wondered about the "secret ballot" thing --- a man has a right in criminal law to face his accusers, but not in Church?

                            And, it's way too easy to "secret ballot" against something 'just because'.
                            "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Littlejoe View Post
                              ...Since this was a church plant when it started in the mid 90's, I suspect it came from experiences in the previous church......
                              Yeah, THAT, too!!!!

                              "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                              Comment

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