A Guide to Effective Leadership: Policies

By Randy Richards and Gary York

Elders focus on and create policies in four key categories. Policies are kept in a regularly updated policy manual. In doing this, the elders express positive leadership as good overseers in an efficient, proactive, and productive manner.

Vision Policies

(Describing a Preferred Future)

While many can contribute to the shaping of the vision, the elders are held accountable to cast and document the vision. As it takes shape, more and more people begin to see it.

The vision is a picture of what the church is to look like in the future. It is a description of success. The elders take a God’s-eye view of the church in five or 10 years.

When creating or reviewing the vision policies it is important to give attention to the outcomes that ongoing activities produce. Will the programs and activities chosen produce this new picture of the church?

With such a vision there can be common communication and unity of purpose. By establishing a clear shared vision and setting the direction for the church toward its preferred future, the elders demonstrate effective leadership.

Process Policies

(Doing Right Things Right Ways)

These policies focus on how the elders operate. They describe the means through which the elders perform their work. Beginning with values, the elders develop and document a series of policies for norms of behavior as well as responsibilities and desired outcomes. These policies are employed to deliver and evaluate what the elders expect of themselves.

By executing their own work productively and efficiently, the elders demonstrate effective leadership.

Relationship Policies

(Delegating Responsibilities)

These policies describe how the elders empower and delegate so they can remain effective overseers.

Effective churches have strong elders and a strong senior pastor, with clearly defined responsibilities and desired outcomes for each. Policies in this category define what’s expected of the senior pastor, how he is evaluated, and how progress toward the vision is to be monitored.

By defining the responsibilities of the senior pastor and staff and empowering their efforts, and then realistically evaluating their progress toward the vision, the elders demonstrate effective leadership.

Limitation Policies

(Defining Boundaries)

These policies define what is unacceptable behavior. Collectively, they are the single greatest tool to empower the senior pastor and staff to conduct and manage the day-to-day affairs of the church. To that end they provide general constraints that define functional and operational boundaries.

The real concept behind these policies is “empowerment.” Once these boundaries are known and understood, the senior pastor and staff are empowered to take any actions necessary, within these limitations, to achieve progress toward the vision. In reality, it means the elders do not need to be permission-givers or rubber-stampers of proposed plans, and roadblocks to progress.

Setting key limitations can be very straightforward, comprehensive, and constructive for creating a higher-velocity church environment for progress. By defining good boundaries, or general constraints of what are acceptable actions and behaviors, the elders demonstrate effective leadership.

—Randy Richards and Gary York

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