8 Policies Every Church Should Have on File

1. Boundaries. Churches need to have a very clear policy on boundaries adopted by the board of oversight. This policy is about moral and financial policies, and is enforced immediately when broken.

2. “Hit By a Truck.” The very clear steps and reassignment of leadership authority or pulpit responsibility needs to be spelled out in case a tragedy or illness prevents the pastor from leading. This is true in a church with a large pastoral staff or a small staff. Who is No. 2? There have been cases when a pastor abruptly resigned on a Thursday or when an illness hit Saturday evening. To say, “That has never happened here” is not wise.

3. Security. You must have policies developed by the security team and approved by the board of oversight as to what to do if there is a breach of security or a public danger because of an active shooter. You do not want to be deciding on the spot. Many small churches have assigned no security responsibility.

4. Finances. There are still churches where one person counts or handles the money or writes the checks, and that should change immediately with written policies created by the financial team and approved by the board of oversight.

5. Emergency in the Pulpit. Even a very small church should have a person or team assigned if someone approaches the pulpit for a questionable purpose, or what to do if the pastor has a medical emergency while up front. This involves another staff person (if there is one) and a person near the pulpit who has security responsibilities. Some churches say they will play this by ear, and that is not sensible.

6. A Tragedy Sermon. The pastor must have a sermon developed to use if a tragedy of major proportions happens. No one on the Sunday after 9/11 should have been preaching on Leviticus or James or anything but verses about tragedies and comfort and God’s teaching about pain.

7. Medical Emergencies. To handle medical emergencies, it is best to have a medical person—perhaps a church member—assigned to take the lead in the sanctuary or building. You also should have several people trained to use a defibrillator. Does your church have one?

8. Legal. You need to have liability and exemption statements in the church constitution in case you get sued.

Knute Larson
Knute Larsonhttps://pastorknutelarson.com/

Knute Larson, an Outreach magazine consulting editor, coaches pastors for personal and church growth, and teaches D.Min. courses for Trinity and Grace seminaries and leadership for Moody. He pastored 43 years in Ohio, the last 26 at The Chapel, in Akron.