How To Eat an Elephant - By Kathy Coggins

You know the old saying:
“How do you eat an elephant?”
“One bite at a time!”

Currently, there is a board appointed committee that is tackling the large project of creating a policies and procedures manual. This manual will serve as a “best practices” for our church on most repeating administrative tasks — everything from who gets keys to the church to how we manage our finances. It also is designed to protect the church and its members — including policies on how to keep our children safe and insure our money is handled well. Its purpose is to be a guide to all leadership of the church. Since we are a congregationally-led church, whose leadership is distributed widely across our membership, our leadership rotates regularly. This document would mean that new leaders have a central place to look for guidance on how to manage the administration of the church. They would not have to “re-invent the wheel” each year, trying to figure out the how/what/why of caring for the church.

Policies and procedures is a living document. Not meant to lock us into an unchangeable system, it can be adjusted “as we go” through a board vote—as circumstances change, as better information or newer leadership styles emerge. But first, we need a document to work from as our base.

Currently, a committee of three is crafting the document—based on extensive research that has been done for over a year now. We have consulted with other churches, with the regional and general church, with lawyers, accountants and other experts in a wide variety of fields. And so the committee is beginning the daunting task of assembling all this information into one central document. The document will seem large—in fact, we have discovered that it needs at least 10 separate sections to adequately cover what we need. As writing begins, the committee will bring in people one person or group at a time—based on their leadership experience — to help us craft and review (for example, current and past treasurers will be consulted about finance… Sunday school teachers and youth group leaders, about children’s safety policies, etc).

Ultimately, the entire congregation will be invited to review the document—one bite (er, chapter) at a time. Everyone will have opportunity to give input to the committee, before the committee officially brings the document to the board. But first, the writing. Know that this work is unfolding, and know that if you feel strongly about a specific area of leadership or policy, then you are welcome to contact Kathy (the Board chair and a committee member), and she will make sure it gets included in the discussion process and research.

Look for more information in the spring about how we will all review this document together as a congregation (one bite at a time) over the