Report of the
Study Committee on
Credentials and Multi-Staff Churches
EDITOR’S NOTE: As a growing number of our churches were adding additional staff (and particularly pastoral staff), Conference appointed this study committee in 1998 to examine how our Principles of Order address staff that are not the senior pastor. The Committee made various proposals in subsequent years and concluded their work in 2007.
The study committee met four times during the year to wrestle with the issues relating to multiple staffs. After due consideration the committee presents the following material:
The committee proposes that a distinction be made between “pastoral staffs” and “church staffs.” “Church staff” would be an all inclusive term that would refer to any church employee. The “church staff” would be comprised of the pastoral staff as well as others. The “pastoral staff” would be comprised of only those individuals who hold or are seeking to hold credentials with the BFC. Only those individuals who are seeking or hold credentials with the BFC would be called “pastor” on the local level. If the individual does not hold credentials or is not under the care of the Ministerial Candidate Committee, that individual could be called, for example a “director” or “coordinator” but not a “pastor” or “minister.” For instance, the church staff would include sexton, secretary, director of children and youth, choir director, organist, director of women’s ministries , pastor etc. The pastoral staff would include, Pastor of children and youth, Pastor of music, etc. The Pastoral Staff would not include a director of youth or a choir director.
The purpose of the differentiation is to set forth clearly those who hold credentials with the BFC or who are seeking credentials with the BFC and those who do not hold credentials with the BFC nor are seeking credentials with the BFC. Individuals who are in training for, or aspire to, any pastoral position would be encouraged to come under the care of the Ministerial Candidate Committee when they sense their call to ministry.
The local church would make a decision as to whether the position that is being filled is to be filled by one who is serving in the capacity of “director” or “pastor.” For one to serve as “pastor” one would have to meet the qualifications or be preparing to meet the qualifications set forth in the Faith and Order for a “minister” in the BFC. He would also have to be seeking or hold credentials with the BFC.
One who is a member of a church staff but not a pastoral staff would be considered a layperson. One who is a member of a pastoral staff would not be considered a layperson even if he is not yet ordained. A woman would be eligible to serve on a church staff but be ineligible to serve on a pastoral staff.
One who serves on a pastoral staff of a BFC would not be eligible to serve as a lay delegate to Annual Conference or serve on denominational boards and committees under the category of layperson.
One who serves on a “pastoral staff” could only be eligible to serve in the category “ordained minister” on denominational boards and committees. If an individual is not yet ordained, or has not yet had his previous ordination recognized by the Bible Fellowship, he would have to wait until he is ordained or has had his previous ordination recognized before he could serve on denominational boards and committees.
The Committee recommends the following:
1. Second Reading Material: (The material in bold italics is the second reading material. The appropriate point of insertion in Article 401-1.7 is included.)
Article 401- 1.7 The Board of Elders shall be the channel of communication between the particular church and the fellowship of churches and its organizations. The Elders shall nominate from their number of the congregation and shall elect the appropriate number of delegates based on congregational membership as follows:
1-299 members 1 delegate
300-499 members 2 delegates
500-749 members 3 delegates
750-999 members 4 delegates
When congregations have more than one delegate, the Board of Elders shall designate one delegate as “First Delegate” for purpose of pulpit supply procedures. In the event of death, resignation, or removal of the First Delegate, another First Delegate shall be designated from among the remaining delegates.
A man serving on a pastoral staff is not eligible to serve as a lay delegate to Annual Conference.
2. First Reading Material
Whereas, there are individuals who are not ordained or whose previous ordination has not been recognized by the BFC and who are serving on pastoral staffs of the BFC, and
Whereas, because they are not ordained or have not had their previous ordination formally recognized by the BFC and they have been allowed to serve in lay capacities within the BFC, and
Whereas, in the local church, they function more in keeping with ordained ministers than they do as laymen, and
Whereas, Annual Conference has recognized the value of having lay representation in its delegates to Annual Conference, and its membership of Conference Boards and Committees, and
Whereas, having individuals who serve on pastoral staff occupy lay positions on a Conference level violates the spirit, if not the letter, of having lay representation, and
Whereas, having individuals who serve on pastoral staffs occupying lay positions at the Conference level may be a deterrent from their seeking credentials with the BFC, therefore be it
Resolved, That the material in bold italics be added to the Faith and Order, Article 510 General Rules of Elections and Resignations:
Article 510 – General Rules of Elections and Resignations
510 – 1 Categories
(1) There are three categories of nominees for election to board, and committees. They are ministers, elders, and laypersons.
(2) Pastoral Staff members are not eligible to serve in the categories of elders or laypersons.
3. Resolved, any person serving on a pastoral staff of the BFC and who is presently occupying a lay position on a Conference Board or Committee be allowed to serve out that term but is ineligible to be reelected or reappointed to any lay position on the Conference level.
4. Whereas, the Faith & Order assumes that a church has but one pastor, and
Whereas, many of our churches have more than one pastor on its staff, and
Whereas, there is confusion when the Faith and Order speaks of the pastor as to whether all that is said applies to only the “Senior Pastor” or all members of the pastoral staff, and
Whereas, there is confusion when the Faith and Order speaks of the responsibility of the delegate when a church is without a pastor, if those responsibilities can be altered when a church has another member of the pastoral staff on the scene, and
Whereas, there is confusion as to the status of individuals who are called “pastors” in the BFC but do not have credentials with the BFC, and
Whereas, churches have other individuals in their employ who are ministering in the life of the church which are not considered pastors, therefore be it
Resolved, that the Committee to Study Credentials and Multi-Staff Churches be charged with developing legislation for “church staffs” and “pastoral staffs” to be included in the Faith and Order.
Committee to Study Credentials and Multi-Staff Churches; LeRoy S. Heller, Chairman; Calvin T. Reed , Secretary; Robert S. Commerford, L. James Roberts Jr., Ralph M. Soper, Jacob J. Susek, Jr.