What is the Appropriate Membership on an Executive Committee of Council?

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I have a question about the appropriate membership on an executive committee of Council. I am the newly elected president and one member has raised concern that our executive committee includes both of our pastoral staff, one of whom is not an ordained pastor (he is on the path to becoming a commissioned pastor). The elected council members include the President, Vice President and one deacon. The concern raised is related primarily to the number of staff (2) vs. the number of elected members (3). That said, I am open to comments related to the appropriateness of a part-time staff member who is neither an ordained pastor nor a commissioned pastor sitting on an executive committee. I find nothing in the Church Order addressing executive committees. Thank you.

 

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Admin

In our church we have a full council (elders and deacons) as well as a small 'Administrative Council'. I'm assuming your 'Executive Committee' is analogous to that.

Our Admin Council is similar to yours in that it normally includes the chair of council, vice, and clerk as well as the senior pastor and our part-time operations manager. I don't see any problem with a non-pastor/elder/deacon being on the admin team, but I suppose a legitimate point could be raised about whether staff (pastor or not) should be voting or non-voting (what's the fancy name for that again? can't recall).

In our case, voting power never really seemed to be an issue we thought about. Our small admin team operated on a consensus basis, and most of what we did seemed to be either monitoring implementation or making recommendations to the full council which was the vote that really counted anyway. Our administrative council was more of a working group; the real decision-making power is with the full council.

I'm sure others can give a much better church order explanation of how it should work (Henry DeMoor's excellent Church Order Commentary likely covers this) but hopefully this perspective helps a bit in the meantime.

Thoughts from others?

Participant

I would like to affirm Tim's comments and add our own experience. 

We have 2 Pastors (one Min of the Word and one commissioned) both are "ex-officio" (there is your term Tim) aka non-voting.

We have a Chair, Vice-chair, Clerk, Vice-All (all elders) the Chair of the Deacons and Chair of Administration comm (who is not an office-bearer).  We also have a recording clerk also ex-officio who handles the minutes and some communication. We have given the Executive a mandate with some limited decision capacity and minor spending ability. The significant decisions remain with council and they receive reports of each Exec meeting and they are asked to approve the work done. We, like Tim, operate on a consensus basis with open discussion. It has worked out fairly well with the key elements being trust and good communication. 

We meet with Executive each month, and the Elders each month and Council about 5 times a year. 

Blessings

Our church uses a three level structure that seems to work well.  Full council consists of all elders and deacons, about 30 that meets 3 times per year to approve and deal with major items that need full council approval to present to congregation.  

Just as deacons are a "ministry" our elders are also assigned into ministry areas based on their gifts (Care, Youth, Worship, Adult, Seniors, Outreach, Admin).  Each have their own meetings and pastors attend them or not at their own discretion. The Admin ministry is effectively our Executive Committee (Chair, Vice-Chair and Clerk) plus our bookkeeper and our office admin person and meets monthly - no other staff.  The bookkeeper and office admin provide input, all Exec level decisions are made by the three council members.

We also have a Leadership group that consists of 2 deacons plus one elder from each ministry area plus pastors that meets monthly and does most of the business of the church - so about 12 in total.  The Admin/Exec team also prepares the agenda for the Leadership meetings, etc. and decides when items are small enough for them to handle on their own and when things should be referred to leadership. 

The goal here is that our pastors provide extremely valuable input but we want them to not focus on administration - so they don't run anything and in terms of voting they are 3 out of 12 at Leadership, they do not attend Exec/Admin meetings.

Lastly (to give the whole picture) consistory meets 4 times per year to look at teh "bigger picture" of the spiritual well-being of the church, overall direction, bigger ministry questions etc.

In terms of this question, it is probably relevant to note that there is an ecclesiastical and civil law component to the question.

Church Order, Article 37 "...Although full consideration shall be given to the judgment expressed by the congregation, the authority for making and carrying out final decisions remains with the council as the governing body of the church, except in those matters stipulated otherwise in the articles of incorporation or by law" indicates that councils are also bound by civil and criminal law. (see also Church Order, Article 32, Supplement, Article 32-d) Since Duncan CRC is in British Columbia, the Society Act, etc. is applicable in this instance, and in particular Duncan CRC's Constitution & Bylaws. 

The elders and deacons are the directors of the corporation under civil law, and form the council under Church Order. The executive committee which may include elders and deacons constitute the officers of the Board under civil law. As noted below, the pastor may be part of the executive committee as an elder, but has ex-officio status being an employee, i.e. an non-voting member under civil law.

There may be occasions where the executive committee and/or board/council need to go into executive session which would require the staff/employees, i.e. pastors, etc. (non-voting members) to leave the room. Executive session is not the same thing as mutual censure. 

 

Thank you everyone for your helpful and enlightening comments. I can now provide clarity and direction to our Council and staff on this matter of executive committee membership and appropriate functioning.

James van Hemert