Church Constitution and Bylaws — what works, what doesn’t?

conbyI’m on the Constitution and Bylaws committee of my church. We’ve had many issues over the past 5-10 years with a set of legal documents that are too complex and detailed in some areas, and don’t say enough in other areas.

For example, it states that the full slate of officers will be presented at the February voter’s meeting; our election meeting is held in May, and the new officers take effect in July. Now I’m sure many of you have been on nomination committees and know that it’s just getting more and more difficult to get people to say “yes” when called on. It used to be that we had 2 (or 3!) people slotted for most of the positions; now we struggle until the weeks prior to the election meeting to fill the slate. So the last time I was on the committee, I stood up at the February meeting and said we are working on it, and basically begged people to be open to saying “yes” if we called them. We had very few positions filled at that point.

My point is that our constitution has several things like this where it goes into details that change over time and are no longer relevant.

So … what I would like is to open this up to as many people as possible — can you send me your church constitution and bylaws? Can you discuss below what types of things should be found in them, what should not be there, what works well or works especially poorly in your church documents? What do you wish had been there?

I’ve asked this a few times in different areas of facebook and gotten some good comments back, including to look at the Synod Recommended Guidelines for constitution and bylaws. We are also looking at Bethany Lutheran in Naperville’s Constitution and Bylaws.

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