Guidelines for Revising Constitution and Bylaws
A church’s constitution and bylaws are a very important part of the congregation’s ministry. That’s why it is important to be sure your congregation’s constitution and bylaws accurately reflect your congregation’s mission and move your ministry forward.
The Nebraska District has a Constitution and Bylaws Committee in place to help congregations through the process of creating or revising these important ministry documents and to help make sure congregations are within the state laws of Nebraska.
Following are some tips on writing or revising your congregation’s constitution and bylaws.
- Plan on taking some time. Understand your current documents, understand what you want to change, appoint a committee, and follow your old constitution for making changes.
- Download Constitution and Bylaw Guidelines for LCMS Congregations by the Commission on Constitutional Matters by clicking this link, or visiting Synod’s CCM page to find an up-to-date MS Word document suitable for copying and pasting. The Commission on Constitutional Matters also provides an abbreviated version intended for small and developing Lutheran congregations.
- Study these pages: general principles, simplicity, flexibility, timelessness, purpose, confessions, mission, boards & committees.
- Send revisions/changes to the District Constitution and Bylaws Chairman for suggestions, comments, and revisions. The current chairman is Rev. Jim Rasmussen: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Wait for the Constitution and Bylaws Committee to respond to your submitted draft.
- Make suggested changes and adopt in your congregation. Submit adopted revisions to District Constitution and Bylaws Chairman for final review and submission to the Nebraska District Board of Directors for approval.
- Receive notification of approval of constitution and bylaws, attach letter to document, copy and return one copy to District Office, one copy to Constitution and Bylaws Chairman.
- Begin operating under new constitution and bylaws at next meetings of congregation, boards, council, etc.
- File new/revised constitution (WITH DATE UPON IT) in folder labeled “CURRENT CONSTITUTION.” Shred old constitutions and bylaws, or at least destroy all old copies except one which goes into an archive file, so labeled. Distribute new copies and ask members to do same with old copies.
As you revise your constitution and bylaws, consider these three areas congregations should pay special attention to:
- adequate notice given for special voters’ meetings;
- quorum number for a voters’ meetings specified (e.g. 15%, no less than ten voters) and representative of your congregation’s size;
- only biblical reasons for termination of a called church worker be used.
Thank you to the Wyoming District for sharing these guidelines with us.