Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday Read and Learn: About Manuals

Whether termed "session manuals", "manuals of operations" or "policies and procedures manuals", many churches put together a document that is meant to collect all the information about the way the church does its ministry. I just finished revising a lengthy manual like this for my (very large) Presbyterian church in Houston.

One of the goals of the revision was to create a standard format for describing the ministry areas and committees that have been created by the session. Before the revision, each group wrote their own description which made it difficult to find information. Some wrote succinct entries and others included lengthy descriptions of their programs, goals and objectives. Having a standard format will make it easier to update these descriptions in the future when the ministry or committee may change its membership or responsibilities.

After much discussion, the small group that worked on our revision decided not to include descriptions of programs and to list members of committees by title or role (i.e. Executive Pastor, Elder for Pastoral Care, lay member, etc) instead of by name.

We also discovered a hoard of guidelines for different administrative areas of the church and handbooks for employees and parents for different programs. Deciding that it was important to have all of this material in one place, we included it in the master document. A "reader's digest" version will be posted on the web that will have links to most of these documents so anyone can find them.

Does your church have a manual like this? Does anyone use it or is it left to gather dust in a drawer?

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