Churches can generally organize their corporate structure in any way.  Churches independent of a denominational structure are especially free to development organizational documents that meet their own needs and beliefs.  The only limitation on non-denominational church Constitutions, By-Laws, and amendments thereto are corporate law statutes of the state of residence of the local church.

In Bogle v Sewell, Slip Op. (Mich. App. 2022) (Per Curiam) (unpublished), the trial court granted summary judgment to the congregation and against the church leadership.  The church leadership amended the By-Laws of the local independent church to forego binding congregational votes on pastor retention.  Also, the By-Laws were amended to authorize that church board members be chosen, appointed and confirmed by the Senior Pastor and the church board and not by congregational vote.  The amendments to the By-Laws were not adopted by a congregational vote.  The appellate court affirmed the summary judgment for the congregation.  Changing a congregational church to a directorship church, so the court held, could not be done because the original incorporation of the church was as a congregational church.

Congregational votes as a means of church governance are cumbersome except in small churches.  They can also be dangerous in medium to large size churches if a membership role is not credibly maintained so that qualified voters can be identified.  However, hybrid systems work well.  The congregation can be tasked with votes on momentous matters, matters of policy and some church leadership positions.  But, operational matters and salaried church staff employment should be handled by the leadership elected by the congregation.

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