Two Church Government Proposals
December 4th, 2020
I am writing to you to communicate two vital items of church business. The first is the proposal of our church bylaws. The second is the proposal of adding four additional members to our current Leadership Team (some churches call this team a Board of Directors or Board of Elders).
Our aim is to give the congregation at least thirty days notice to become familiar with the proposals and give any feedback, affirmations, or express concerns before making both proposals official. While we have spent time on and off over the past eighteen months thinking through these changes, we know we’re not perfect. We also don’t want to make these decisions in a vacuum or without your knowledge, hence this letter. At the end of the day, we endeavor to maintain an honest and balanced partnership between the congregation and those entrusted with overseeing and leading the congregation. We’ve intentionally taken a slow approach to this and have consulted many different pastors and officials inside The Anglican Mission in America (AMiA). After more than a year of work on this, we finally feel that we have a church government structure that will work for us today as well as for many seasons of growth and development ahead of us..
I know everybody loves church business, so I’ll keep the need to know portion of this as short as possible. At the bottom of this email are some lengthier comments in case you’re interested and want more details.
- Bylaws. Here is a link to the proposed draft of our bylaws. We’d like to officially adopt them in early January 2021. These bylaws are a draft and a proposal. While not perfect, they are our best effort to date to try to put some safe guardrails around the various aspects of our ministry that could become problematic if not defined in a healthy way. After thirty days, if it seems good to you, us, and the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28 reference), our Leadership Team would like to officially adopt these bylaws on January 3rd, 2021.
- Leadership Team Additions. Our Leadership Team currently consists of Cass Staffel (Treasurer), Tom Nolan (Secretary - he keeps really good notes!), Mickey Conrad, Jake Aschbacher, and Drew Witt (President). Since last Fall, we’ve been discussing, praying, and discerning who would best serve our church in this role. We’d like to officially put forward to you Adriana Rios, Yvonne Miller, Christopher Mendoza, and Tiff Leavitt. After thirty days, if it seems good to you, us, and the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28 reference), our Leadership Team would like to officially welcome Adriana Rios, Yvonne Miller, Christopher Mendoza, and Tiff Leavitt to our Leadership Team to serve a three year term beginning on January 3rd, 2021.
Next Steps From You
- Bylaws. Please take a look at the bylaws. If you have any questions, please reach out to me. If there are no major concerns or stop signs along the way, we will take that as a green light and adopt them on January 3rd, 2021.
- Leadership Team Additions. If you know of any reason why Adriana Rios, Yvonne Miller, Christopher Mendoza, or Tiff Leavitt shouldn’t be considered for oversight leadership in our church, please reach out to me. We’ve known these individuals for many years, and to our knowledge, they reflect the character of Christ and are filled with the Spirit of God. To us, they are who they say they are and have demonstrated authentic character in Christ through both the hills and valleys. With that said, if there’s anything secret that you know about them that we don’t, please use this time to let us know. If there are no major concerns or stop signs along the way, we will take that as a green light and officially welcome them to the Leadership Team on January 3rd, 2021.
Three Common Questions
1. Why are we just now adopting bylaws?
When we planted the church in June of 2012, we operated as a PAC (Parent Affiliated Church) in the Assemblies of God. Per the Assemblies of God, PAC churches operate under their Parent Church, which in this case was Gateway Fellowship in Helotes, Texas. I helped plant the church with John Van Pay in 2007, and they sent us out in 2011 to plant downtown. From 2012-2015 we operated under Gateway’s bylaws. John Van Pay (Gateway Pastor) and Tom Crick (Gateway Board Member) joined myself, Cass Staffel, and Eric Asel in creating a temporary Board until the church could grow to a point to self govern by creating bylaws and a new board.
After a time of mutual discernment, in 2015, Grace Northridge adopted us under their covering with The Anglican Mission in America (AMiA). At the time, Grace Northridge welcomed me (Drew) and Cass Staffel onto their version of a board (Abbey Council). We essentially became a “PAC” under Grace and operated under their bylaws within AMiA.
During 2018 and 2019, the leadership of AMiA began discussing with me the possibility of Gathering Midtown becoming a “Mission Church” (stand alone) and no longer being a “Chapel” (their version of a Parent Affiliated Church). In July of 2019 Gathering Midtown became a stand alone “Mission Church” with The Anglican Mission in America (AMiA). At that point we came out from under Grace Northridge and began to work through what our bylaws should be.
A lot has happened in our ministry (and the world!) since the Fall of 2019, and it has just taken us a lot of time to think through the weighty responsibility of setting up church bylaws and the precedent it sets.
2. What are the goals of these bylaws?
I hope we never have to use them. It’s a bad day when you have to pull out the bylaws and slap them on the table. Our aim is to create and maintain a healthy and growing church, culture, and team of leaders who are focused on the mission God has given our church. The bylaws exist to provide clarity for all of our health, specifically in times where tough decisions need to be made. As one of our consultants said to us in this process, “bylaws should reflect the relational reality you already have, not dictate it.”
3. What is the Leadership Team?
The Leadership Team is made up of a group of volunteer leaders in the church, along with key pastors, who together oversee the big picture and keep things on the up and up.
Paul warns us not to rush to lay hands on people (1 Timothy 5:22). In other words, don’t get in a hurry to appoint spiritual leaders! We’ve heeded that advice and have slowly been building this team over the years. Today, we hit a significant milestone in the life of our church by being in a place where we can faithfully expand it to a diverse and multifaceted representation of our church.
Moving forward, each Fall, as team members roll off because of term expirations, the congregation will nominate people to consider and interview for the vacancies of the Leadership Team. Over time, we think this will become a healthy way for the congregation to have a significant voice, influence, and insight into the oversight of our church.
The majority of people on the Leadership Team will be from the congregation, meaning non-paid employees of the church. In church leadership, there is always a tension to maintain, and that is the tension between the “called” and ordained clergy, and representative leaders from the congregation. Some denominations fall on either extreme. I’m a middle way type of guy, and I’m excited about creating an even greater culture of mutual discernment and partnership with this model.
That’s over 1,300 words on church government. I’m sure that’s enough for now.
We invite you to reach out to us if things are unclear or unfamiliar. If you have any questions, please ask!
I close most letters with this, and I mean it - I am SO grateful to know you, love, and serve you as a pastor,