How those ‘boring’ policy and procedure documents support ministry
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Part of the church administrator role often includes being the custodian of church policies and procedures. From how to handle benevolence requests to the proper usage of church facilities, you have a wide range of policies to manage.
If you've ever advocated for the development of a new policy or even simply the updating of existing policies, you may have received pushback from your ministry colleagues.
Policies have a bad reputation as bureaucratic paperwork that just takes up space and detracts time from actual ministry. I suppose at times that this is a valid criticism. However, here are two examples of how well-written and faithfully-upheld policies can truly support ministry.
1. Policies protect your congregation and the church
Do you have a policy and procedure for what to do if the smoke alarm goes off during service? What about whether security must be on campus during any type of gathering (from small group Bible studies to Sunday morning)? Do you have a policy and procedure for childcare check-in? Do your staff and volunteers know what to do if a child gets hurt?
We certainly don't like to think that fires, natural disasters or injuries will occur on our church property. As troubling as those situations could be, they can become unnecessarily worse if we're not prepared in advance. That's why these policy and procedure documents are useful.
You can't just stop at documentation, though. You also need to train your staff and volunteers to make sure they know the policies and are able to carry them out if needed.
2. Policies clarify expectations
What are the criteria for someone to receive benevolence funds from your church? Does your church leadership allow individuals ordained through the church to officiate a marriage if the couple hasn't completed premarital counseling? Does your church allow members of the congregation to "rent" or otherwise use the church facility for personal use (baby showers, family reunions, etc.)?
Regardless of your answers to these questions, it's important you do have an answer and that your entire staff knows that answer. You don't want someone to ask about using the fellowship hall for a wedding anniversary celebration and be told that's OK if in fact, it's not.
Cleaning up that miscommunication is awkward and can been prevented. By documenting and educating your staff on these types of policies, you can avoid situations where someone makes a promise he/she can't keep.
While policy and procedure documentation may not be your favorite task either, the process of developing and training your team on the contents of these documents supports the ministry and vision of your church. So the next time you see eyes roll when you talk about documentation, remember these two examples and be patient as you explain why these documents are so important.
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