Introduction to the Constitution Process
The mission of the church is of vital importance. Christ’s call to make disciples is the pursuit that we need to passionately engage in as a body of believers in our world. To accomplish this no detail is insignificant. We need to constantly evaluate our ministries and their ability to build up the body. Any barrier that keeps us from accomplishing the mission needs to be held up for examination. As spiritual leaders we need to pray and ask for discernment that the ministiries of Cornerstone Church come from a place of obedience to God’s kingdom plans. Scripture teaches us that as leaders we will be called to give account for how we lead.
As we engage in the ongoing practice of accountability, we find that we have regular evaluations of individual ministries, programs, and staff. This is important and necessary to ensure the quality of these indivdual areas. However these are all interconnected in a larger frame work or structure. And our practice of evaluation should also extend to looking at the bigger structures of leadership and management within the church.
With this in mind Council decided to look at the Constitution and structural organization of the Church and initiated this process by appointing a committee on October 19th, 2009. It’s been a prayerful process, and we continue to walk carefully through it. In this document you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions about the proposed constitutional draft, a list of key leadership values in the proposed structure, as well as testimonials from other churches and organizations that have benefited from going through this process. If you’d like to explore this further, take the opportunity to examine the proposed documents (they are available to download as .pdf’s at the bottom of this page).
Constitution Frequently Asked Questions
Why make these proposed changes?
Our current constitution is limited in its ability to accommodate the needs of a growing ministry at Cornerstone Church. The desire is to clarify issues of authority and responsibility, as well as providing a framework for the ongoing development of management policies. We also want to ensure in our leadership structure that our spiritual leaders have greater authority to exercise their gifts of prayerful discernment in directing the overall mission and vision of Cornerstone Church.
Does this model give the pastor too much power?
This is an important concern, because we’ve all seen power abused. The proposed leadership structure will clarify the power that the lead pastor may exercise, as well as their responsibilities and accountabilities to the board.
Does this remove or minimize the congregation’s voice?
No, if anything this leadership structure affirms the voice of the congregation in a way our current constitution assumes, but never specifically prescribes. In the proposed documents the congregation is identified as the authority in the church, and it lines out specifically how that authority is exercised. Further, it prescribes how the board and the lead Pastor are to engage the congregation in more meaningful conversation on the mission and vision of Cornerstone Church.
Is this the perfect system?
There is unfortunately no perfect system. We are all human beings prone to sin, and to abusing the systems that are meant to protect. What this proposed system of leadership does better is clarify responsibilities and accountabilities, thus minimizing the possibility for abuse. And, if abuse does occur, it gives clear authority in regards to accountability.
Cornerstone Leadership Structure – Quick Values Check:
The affirmation, involvement and empowerment of every individual and group at all levels is vital to the success of Cornerstone Church
Decision-making proceeds from shared values, vision and mission, not unilaterally from the Board or the Senior Pastor. Decisions are made as close as possible to where they are implemented.
The lead pastor and staff are responsible for management, delivering services on behalf of members in accord with Board-stated priorities and for achieving the strategic goals within the limitations of the authorization and resources available.
Authority, responsibility and accountability are the primary components of all relationships. Limitations (of authority) and expectations (of responsibility) are the secondary components.
Each individual is responsible for creating, owning, understanding and implementing the mission or purpose of Cornerstone Church.
Cornerstone Church is results oriented. Indicators and measurements of strategic results are identified and applied. Monitoring progress towards results and monitoring compliance with limitations form an ongoing process.
“The key benefit of investing in leadership structure is the clarity that can result as roles and responsibilities are discussed and agreed upon. The introduction of policy governance at Briercrest created an opportunity to clarify the expectation the board had of the president and the expectation the president had of the board. The conversation was helpful because it enabled a new level of clarity about roles, a new freedom to work in those roles, and a new accountability to deliver in those roles. It reduced the surprises and frustration that comes about when roles and expectations are not set out and agreed upon.“
Dwayne Uglem, President of Briercrest
“The most significant value of a governance approach to church leadership structure is that it allows for the best influence at the best places. In many churches, the staff (especially the lead pastor) gives overall direction to the vision and mission of the church. This is a problem because when the pastor changes, the vision changes. Often the board (or the council) ends up managing the changing vision as staff naturally change. In a governance system, the board is responsible for setting vision, mission and strategic plan. Staff and membership have input into this but it is owned by the board. The primary role of staff (mainly lead pastor) is to implement this vision/mission. A compelling vision can be better embraced by everyone in this case. Also, when pastoral changes happen, the vision doesn’t change. So, the best influence for vision and strategic plan happens at the board level with input from staff. The best influence for membership is to give regular feedback to the board about the vision and mission of the church. The best influence for implementation of this vision and strategic plan happens at the staff level.This make sense because staff have specialized training to do the ministry of the church. Boards generally do not have this specialized training.
When governance works, the board engages membership to set visionary direction and the staff manage and implement that visionary direction.”
Dale Dirksen, Associate Pastor, Forrest Grove Community Church
“The most frequent word I hear from churches who use the Relationship Model for their governance is “clarity”. People feel much more confident when they know how authority flows in the church and how much authority they have to make decisions. The confusion and sense of powerlessness is replaced by a clear sense of direction and clear expectations of responsibility. The relationship between the pastor and the church board is strengthened with this clarity. It’s been a great pleasure to watch the difference these Biblical principles make for churches.”
Les Stahlke, Church Leadership Consultant, Author of Church Governance Matters
“For nearly four decades of pastoral ministry at various levels of church sizes and complexity, I have been struck with the importance of efficient church governance. How well a church is governed may very well spell the difference between “mission accomplished” and “mission aborted.” Instituting great church governance is hard work yet with significant payback. Time invested in assessing and enacting clearly written and articulated leadership and management for churches will prove to be time well spent.”
Dr. Les Somers, Lead Pastor, StoneRidge Fellowship Church, Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia