More Than A Board Meeting Once A Year
“Some of the greatest leaders you could hope to meet.” – Chip
Greetings and peace, friends. In reviewing the General Conference Church of God (Seventh Day) Southwest District’s, GC COG7 SWD, list of Ministry Partners, the time has come to focus on the SWD Board. The SWD Board Members and the SWD Ministry Directors are the ones with whom the Superintendent works most Directly. It gives me great satisfaction to be called a Ministry Partner with them. My intention is to share something about their role as defined by the GC COG7 and SWD Operations Manual. Incidentally, the majority of the SWD Operations Manual on Districts and Local Churches is taken directly from the GC COG7 Bylaws. So, a reference is not being made specifically to the GC COG7 Bylaws in this post. It is there by virtue of the District Operations Manual being primarily a quote from them. Then there are Appendices in the SWD Operations Manual that goes into more detail on specific topics.
SWD Board Members work with the District Superintendent and guide the changes that will facilitate the best opportunities for District Ministries, Churches, Pastors, and Leaders to fulfill the Great Commission and the command of ministry to which each yields for the honor and glory of God, the edification of the Church and the work of the gospel. The SWD Board Member often serves as the representative voice and heart of those they serve, being sure their message is heard by the ears that need to hear it most.
The SWD Operations Manual includes the following statements under “2. Districts, Section 4. District Board”.
Section 4. District Board
- The district board shall assist the superintendent in leading the district consistent with its assignment, the Conference Bylaws, and directions from the Conference President.
- The district board shall be comprised of a minimum of three members in addition to the district superintendent; at least one member being a minister.
- District board members shall demonstrate the characteristics expressed in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:6-9.
- The district board shall determine the number and manner of electing district board members.
- District board members shall serve three-year, staggered terms.
- The district board shall meet at least annually, and when convened by the district superintendent or by a majority of the board members.
- District boards shall appoint a standing appeals committee of three members. Members who are disciplined may appeal to that committee in writing for an acquittal or reduced penalty within fourteen days of their notification of discipline through their District Superintendent.
- All district board policies are subject to review and approval by the Conference Board and President.
The GC COG7 SWD Board consists of seven (7) Area Directors (formerly called Area Representatives) and one (1) Ministerial Representative. The GC COG7 Bylaws stipulate one of the District Board Members must be a minister. Therefore, partly because the position has been a long standing position on District Boards and partly because making a position for the required Minister to be on the District Board meets the requirement of GC COG7 Bylaws, the SWD Board has chosen to keep a Ministerial Representative on the Board. The Ministerial Representative position is not required. Having a Minister on the District Board is required. So, it is automatically covered in the SWD. Also, it adds another consultant in matters related to Ministers, Pastors, and Leaders of Local Churches.
Also, in the “Appendix B, SWD Positions and Job Descriptions” it includes the following.
Positions and Job Descriptions
The Area Director’s identity, responsibility and function are as follows.
- The Area Director is a District Board Member, is responsible to the District Board and Superintendent, and collaborates with the District Superintendent and any organized Pastors Groups within the geographical area of the Director’s responsibility to achieve common vision and goals.
- The Area Director should recruit and appoint other leaders to serve with him/her to form a Leadership Team to accomplish the responsibilities and functions of the Area Director’s role. It is recommended that Pastors Group Presidents be included in the Area Director’s Leadership Team.
- The Area Director makes quarterly visits or, because of the number of churches served being too many, consistent regular contact with each congregation in their assigned geographic area to discuss congregational activities, evangelistic programs, inter-congregational activities (i.e. Super Sabbath events, conferences, retreats, camps, etc.), financial plan participation, objectives and programs of the General Conference.
- The Area Director collaborates with the SWD Ministry Directors to facilitate their ministries in the Area served by the Area Director.
- The Area Director collaborates with the Ministerial Representative to coordinate meetings of the pastors and lay leaders in their assigned geographic areas to facilitate and plan inter-congregational activities.
- The Area Director represents the District Board and GC COG7 at congregational and inter-congregational events (i.e. quarterly meetings, dedication services, conferences, retreats, camps, etc.) within the assigned geographic area;
- The Area Director meets with Local Church Pastors and Local Church Boards on a frequency compatible with the Area Director’s abilities (annual meetings with each congregation’s Pastor/Leader and Local Church Board are recommended) to learn
- a) the Local Church’s vision and goals,
- b) how Local Church vision and goals compliment GC COG7 vision and goals,
- c) the Local Church’s Ministries and how they reflect
1) in-reach (discipleship, Bible-based, spiritual formation, Sabbath-celebrating, and fellowship),
2) up-reach (worship and Christ-centered), and
3) outreach (service and evangelism),
- d) if the Local Church is developing a welcoming attitude,
- e) areas of felt need by the Local Church Leaders,
- f) how strong is the financial partnership between the Local Church and the GC COG7, and
- g) where the District and Local Church can better work together for the common goals in the cause of Jesus Christ.
- The Area Director should identify with the Vision of the GC COG7, develop a vision for the way things could be better in the area being served, and write down the large goal that would allow them to achieve the vision and smaller goals that will take the area they serve to the large goal. The Large Goal that would achieve the vision and the smaller goals that will accomplish the Large Goal should be written and shared with the Superintendent.
- The Area Director should attend the annual SWD Board meeting, monthly conference calls when scheduled, and report, at least quarterly, to the District Superintendent with respect to their activities and the activities of the local congregations in their assigned geographic area. The quarterly report is often covered in phone, email, and personal visits with the District Superintendent and/or District Board more frequently than quarterly. A written quarterly report is required only upon request by the Superintendent or Area Director.
- The Ministerial Representative is a District Board member and assists the District Board and Superintendent in matters related to Local Leaders, Pastors, and Ministers in the District by serving as a liaison between the documented Ministers, Pastors, District designated Local Leaders, and the District Superintendent.
- The Ministerial Representative should recruit and appoint other leaders to serve with him to form a Leadership Team to accomplish the responsibilities and functions of the Ministerial Representative’s role. Where Pastors Groups exist, the Presidents of those groups should be included in the Ministerial Representative’s Leadership Team.
- The Ministerial Representative should identify with the Vision of the GC COG7, develop a vision for the way things could be better in the District, identify the large goal that would allow them to achieve the vision, and choose smaller goals that will allow the District to the accomplish the large goal and vision. The Large Goal that would achieve the vision and the smaller goals that will accomplish the Large Goal should be written and shared with the Superintendent.
- The Ministerial Representative collaborates with the Area Director to coordinate meetings of the pastors and Local Leaders in the assigned geographic areas to facilitate and plan inter-congregational activities.
- The Ministerial Representative represents the District Board and GC COG7 at congregational and inter-congregational events (i.e. quarterly meetings, dedication services, conferences, retreats, camps, etc.) within the District.
- The Ministerial Representative collaborates with the District Superintendent to schedule annual or biennial pastoral / leadership retreats or regional pastoral fellowships.
- The Ministerial Representative is available to assist any documented minister or Local Leader, serving in the capacity of the Pastor’s office, in the district as needed.
- The Ministerial Representative reports, at least quarterly, to the District Superintendent with respect to his activities, which report shall be satisfied via written reports, participation in monthly SWD Board conference calls, or direct communication, i.e. phone, email, face to face, etc., more frequently than once per quarter with the Superintendent.
The SWD Board Member is one of the most active service positions in the Southwest District. Depending upon the personality of the Area Director he or she may accomplish these responsibilities in several ways. The Area Director and Ministerial Representative can serve as consultants to those being served, much as a coach helps those for whom they are responsible to reach their highest potential. The District Board Member may choose to build a team of Ministry Partners with whom they engage actively carrying and sharing the administrative processes and responsibilities like everyone else. The District Board Member may choose to set forth an agenda and metric to inform those being served what protocols are expected and how those being served can receive the best services of the District Board Members office. Another role of the District Board Member is to carry the needs, messages, and input of the Local Church to the District Board, Superintendent, and General Conference President. The District Board Member may choose to organize their administration in cooperation with the Pastors and Leaders of the Churches they serve. Or, they may use a hybrid mix of some or all the above.
It is my opinion there is no position of service more exciting than the office of being a SWD Board Member. It is diverse. Victories abound and tragedies lurk around every corner. Successes are common and so are obstacles and barriers that challenge operations to be little more than failures. SWD Board Members build strong relationships with Pastors, Leaders, and Local Church Boards they serve. Being a SWD Board Member is a people-person assignment. I would think only someone called to serve others would find joy in being a SWD Board Member. I am thankful to say, the SWD Board Members are some of the most joyous people I know. They rule by a diplomatic balance of law and love, of grace and accountability, and by shared joys and concerns with those they are serving.
SWD Board Members are called by God to service and gifted administrators. To be sure, there are more gifts used by the SWD Board Members than the gift of administration. But the gift of administration is certainly one that is used often. Also, many of those with whom they work as Ministry Partners likewise share the gift of administration with them.
Don Steward writing for the Blue Letter Bible website offers the following in response to the question, “What is the gift of administration?” I think, his discussion wears well on the covering of the SWD Board Members.
“The Bible speaks of another God-given spiritual gift that can be developed-the gift of administration:
And God has appointed these in the church . . . gifts of . . . administrations (1 Corinthians 12:28).
Administration involves the ability to rule in the church and to govern the things of God. Scripture points out that administrators – church leaders – are to be shepherds, not tyrants. John gives an example of a person who did not exercise proper leadership:
I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church (3 John 9,10).
Right leadership prevents disorders in the church:
And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you (1 Thessalonians 5:12).
Peter encouraged the leadership to be examples:
Nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:3).
Those who lead must be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over business (Acts 6:3).
In listing the qualifications of a leader in 1 Timothy 3:1-13, the Apostle Paul included a warning:
Not a novice, lest being puffed up by pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil (1 Timothy 3:6).
This warning is vital to church order. An individual may have the ability to administrate in business, but that does not mean that he can or should administrate in the church. Gods ways are not the ways of the world, and certain practices that are routinely done in the business world have no place in the church. Moreover, a new believer should not be given the authority overruling the things of God no matter how talented he may be in the business world.
Thus, an administrator has a gift that preserves order in the body of Christ. He must exercise the gift to rule the church as a leader, not as a tyrant. The gift can be developed, as should the administrator’s growth as a Christian.”