Constitution and Bylaws
Board Governance and Church Leadership
Women in Leadership
Throughout the Library of Scripture
The church board is both a group of directors (the language of governance) and a group of elders/deacons. The Board of Directors describes their mandated legal responsibilities, and the biblical language of elders/deacons describes their spiritual responsibilities.
These roles are distributed through the Board of Directors (serving as overseers), the pastoral staff (providing pastoral care, discipleship, and spiritual shepherding), and through our ministry partners in the variety of work they do.
An elder is essentially a wise and experienced leader who can guide and lead others. A deacon is essentially a servant. A pastor is one who cares for and nurtures people. There is a great deal of overlap in these words. Board members function as "wise servant-leaders" who are responsible for Living Word Community Church. Pastors are staff members, who also are "wise servant-leaders" entrusted to carry out the mission of our church.
The Board of Directors, as a group, under the leadership of Jesus, the head of the church, have the spiritual authority to lead Living Word. The Board hires staff to advance the strategic purposes of God, delegates authority to the Lead Pastor and staff, and holds the staff accountable for faithful and fruitful ministry.
While there are a number of small changes, the primary change is to eliminate two different groups on the Board - the elders and deacons and combine them into one. Each board member will function in the role of elder/deacon (wise servant). For an explanation of the work of elders and deacons, see the report on Church Governance and Church Leadership. Every board member will also have a term limit, whereas right now, elders serve for life.
Living Word is a non-profit spiritual organization known as a church. There are many best practices for these types of organizations, as well as several requirements for how those organizations function. In 2016-2018, the Board made changes and incorporated new best practices. There are more best practices that require the proposed changes to our Constitution and Bylaws. In addition, we believe it is a very biblically solid way to structure our Board for the future.
We intended to make these changes in 2020. With the disruptions caused by the pandemic, the Board decided to wait to propose additional changes until we were past the worst of the pandemic. We are at a strong and healthy place as a church. Our search for the next Lead Pastor will be for a person to work within the proposed Board structure.
The only two leadership roles not open to women according to our current Constitution and Bylaws are a position on the Board of Directors and as Lead Pastor. The Constitution change will allow us to propose gifted and biblically qualified women to become a member of the Board. It would also allow for a suitable woman candidate to be presented to the congregation if a future Lead Pastor search committee believes they have found such a candidate. Approval of any presented Lead Pastor depends on the affirmation of the church membership.
There have been different interpretations of what the Bible says about women in leadership, as well as intense emotions about how to interpret various passages. It is not a matter of what the Bible says, for the Bible seems to say different things about women in leadership. Instead, it is a matter of interpreting and relating what are apparent inconsistencies. We have a full report that explains the interpretation we believe resolves these issues and is a good one for the future of Living Word. We acknowledge that dedicated followers of Jesus have different interpretations on this theme, as they do on many issues.
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