by Bishop Mark Narum 3/1/2015
Raise your hand if you like to read instructions? Do you find great joy in perusing an owner’s manual? If you, like many people were vigorously shaking your head, no – then you probably would not spend any time reading a constitution. I have to tell you that I am the same way – but I recently found what I believe might just be a gold-mine while reading through our model congregational constitution (alright, that is an exaggeration but I have to tell you I do think what I found is good!)
I was preparing to co-lead a workshop for church council members. A number of pastors and congregations had made the request as a way to help those unfamiliar with church leadership think about what they had been elected by the congregation to do. So what is a council member called to do? Is there anywhere that lists duties and responsibilities ? The short answer is yes, the congregational constitution.
The first nugget of gold is in Chapter Four – which defines the congregation. “The Church is a people created by God in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, called and sent to bear witness to God’s creative, redeeming, and sanctifying activity in the world.” Notice the church is people, it is created by God and has a specific purpose – to bear witness. These words define who we are and what we are to be about. They profess that our purpose is to live out what God has initiated. If what we are doing does not fit within these boundaries then a church council should be asking, “Why are we doing it?” (Whatever “it” is!).
I am going to hold off until my next blog post for the second nugget of gold I found in the constitution (that is a teaser). In the meantime, I invite you to ponder: “In what ways does your congregation align with the constitutional definition? How does it fall short? How might you engage conversation within your congregation about its purpose?”