Updated January 17, 2020

Grace Lutheran Church and Christian Schools

Policy-Based Governance Overview and Implementation Plan

Comprehensive Document

Policy Manual Draft





Grace Lutheran Church Council/Elders/Pastors/Staff have made a decision to explore moving to a new governance model that aligns with our “Why” and leads us to be a strong missional church for the 21st century. A description of the change in Governance and the process we will follow are outlined below. This will be a carefully thought out iterative and inclusive process that contains many approval points and opportunities for feedback.

 As Vicar David shared in his letter to the congregation earlier this year, “Our church will live or die based on our ability to shift from an internally focused church to a missionally focused church.  In this new vision, the role of the senior pastor will change to that of a missional leader – one who can motivate and mobilize the people of God around the mission (Our Why).”

CLICK HERE to view Vicar David’s interview of President Gibson and district pastors on Policy-Based Governance

What Is Policy Based Governance?

Policy-Based Governance is a system for organizational governance that defines and guides the alignment of governance and mission (operations), setting relationships between the organization’s Stewards (church members), its Governing Board, and its Senior Pastor & staff.

Policy Governance is a specific model of governing that emphasizes

  • Values of the congregation
  • Vision of the congregation
  • Empowerment of the congregation, board, and staff


Advantages of Policy-Based Governance

  • Greater clarity about our purpose
    • Why we exist as an organization — Our Mission / Our Why
    • What difference we want to make in the world
      • What good we wish to accomplish, for whom, and at what cost
      • What we want to become
      • What goals we wish to achieve
    • Greater clarity about roles and responsibilities
      • Roles and responsibilities of
        • Congregation (Stewards)
        • Governing Board
        • Senior Pastor
        • Staff (paid and volunteer)
      • Greater accountability
        • Governing Board accountable for governing policies and establishment of Strategic Direction/Goals to be achieved
        • Senior Pastor and his team accountable for the organization’s performance in achieving The Goals that support the Strategic Direction


Key Roles

The Governing Board

  • Listens to the congregation
  • Articulates the congregation’s goals and values and sets a strategic direction
  • Creates Board Policies
  • Monitors Staff fulfillment of policies
  • Monitors achievement of ENDS


Senior Pastor

  • Leads staff (volunteer and paid) in implementing policies to achieve Goals and Strategic Direction
  • Empowers staff to use creative means to accomplish Goals that support the Strategic Direction
  • Reports to Board regularly on progress towards goals


Stewards (Congregation)


Implementation Plan

Steering Committee: Jack Anderson, Jill Saliba, Kevin DeCew, Bob Glaser, Pastor Pete Alexander.


Step 1: Launch Meeting (Completed)

  • Steering Committee meets ½ day with consultant to plan implementation
  • Church Council and Senior Staff 1-day meeting with consultant to review implementation plan
  • Town Hall Introduction
    • Church Council determines whether to move forward with “Aligned Governance and Operations” or in another direction


Step 2:  Drafting of Policy Manual (In progress)

  • Steering Committee meets 1-day with consultant to work on initial draft of a Governance Policy Manual
  • Steering Committee works to finish the draft (30 – 45 days)
  • Steering Committee meets with consultant to review the draft and make final revisions to the Governance Policy Manual


Step 3: Presentation to the Church Council

  • 1-day meeting with consultant to introduce Church Council and Staff to the Governance Policy Manual
  • Town Hall Update
    • Church Council determines whether to move forward with “Aligned Governance and Operations” or in another direction


Step 4:  Reworking of the Constitution and By-Laws

  • Steering Committee or another group appointed by the Council President does this work with the consultant available for calls/questions.
  • Consultant puts Steering Committee in touch with other congregations to provide insight and samples of the work they have done
  • Finalize the revisions to the Constitution and By-Laws, and meet with the Church Council to obtain feedback and final approval
    • Church Council determines whether to move forward with “Aligned Governance and Operations” or in another direction


Step 5: Introduction to Congregation

  • Several Town Hall Meetings are held with the Stewards to introduce new Constitution and By-Laws and get feedback.
  • Steering Committee makes any edits necessary based on feedback received from congregation.
    • Church Council determines whether to move forward with “Aligned Governance and Operations” or in another direction


Step 6:  Congregational Assembly

  • Constitution and By-Laws changes are presented to a Congregational Assembly for a vote.
  • If accepted, a Governing Board of Directors will be elected.
  • The responsibility for governing policies rests solely with the elected Board of Directors as long as it does not go against the Constitution and By-Laws.


Step 7:  Board Orientation

  • Once the new Board is elected, the consultant will lead a 1 1/2 day orientation for the new Board members.


Originally-Projected Timeline

Step 1 – March 2019

Step 2 – April – June 2019

Step 3 – June – July 2019

Step 4 – November – December 2019

Step 5 – January – March 2020

Step 6 – April 2020

Step 7 – May 2020


What about the Board of Elders?

As the ministry belongs to the congregation and not the Pastors or staff, there will always be a need for Spirit-guided servant leaders from the congregation.

Under Policy Based Governance, the only elected voting body is the Governing Board; therefore Elders are not being considered a governing body but a group with a passion for pastoral ministry and an extension of the pastoral office.

Elders, deacons and deaconesses will all be important for this ministry.

The general name for this group could be changed to “Under Shepherds,” “Ministry Assistance Team,” “Servant Leadership Team,” “Deacons” (including females) or something similar to allow for better understanding of the revised responsibilities as well as the inclusion of women.

The current Board of Elders supports the move to Policy Based Governance and looks forward to greater focus on ministry and service within the congregation.