Church Governance

Journey Church Council: Council Qualifications, Role, Etc.

October 2015

A Biblical Model of Church Leadership

Throughout the New Testament of the Bible, principles of Church leadership point to one central theme: plurality. The Church is to be led by a plurality of Godly leaders. By relying on consensual agreement of Godly Council Members, selected from the congregation, the Church creates a healthy checks-and-balances of leadership direction, financial accountability, spiritual guidance, and ministry implementation.

Journey Church seeks to implement these Biblical principles across its leadership structure.

A strategy of Biblically-based policies and guidelines within Journey’s Council and Ministry Leaders, guides ministry decisions and ensure that healthy, God-honoring implementation of leadership and pastoral care is carried out.

Journey has been greatly blessed by a ten-year run of Godly leadership from a Council whose heart beats for the Kingdom of God coming on earth via the local Church. We stand at the threshold of a terrific future in great confidence, as we take new strides in developing Journey’s Leadership structure.

Policy Governance: Optimizing Council Direction and Staff Leadership

Journey’s Council Members provide spiritual oversight, direction, and leadership for the overall Church, while entrusting the implementation of that direction to ministry leaders and staff, under the leadership of The Leadership Team. The Leadership Team is held accountable for fulfilling the Council’s direction.

This system of organizational leadership, known as Policy Governance, allows the Council to focus their gifts and time on their Biblical mandate to lead and shepherd the church, while allowing Ministry Leaders (Staff) the opportunity to maximize their gifts and talents as they lead their ministries and make practical decisions on how to implement and carry out the direction provided by the Council.

How are Council Members selected?

The Council, who serve as representatives of the Church, are nominated by the congregation and undergo a prayerful screening, interview, and approval process. Approved candidates are then presented to Journey’s Partners, who have a 14-day opportunity to express any concerns directly to a nominated Council candidate, utilizing the principles for conflict resolution that Jesus taught in Matthew 18.

Once approved, Lay Council Members serve a term of 3 years with the possibility of extending for up to an additional 2 years. Council are not paid Staff; they serve as volunteers.

The completed Council consists of 7 Lay Members, plus two Pastors from the Leadership Team, providing a key link between the Council and the Staff. Each member of the Council has equal voice in the system of consensual agreement on the Team.

What does the Council do?

The tasks and responsibilities of the Council vary greatly and require discernment as they strive to keep the Church on its Biblical course. The Council works closely with the Leadership Team in tackling key issues facing the Church. These include:

  • Determining the overall vision and future direction of the Church.
  • Creating policies to define clearly church values and Biblical operating procedures.
  • Ensuring the Church’s teachings and practices reflect accurate Biblical theology.
  • Providing avenues for pastoral care, conflict resolution, discipline, and restoration.
  • Providing policy and direction on financial or risk-management issues.
  • Providing accountability to the Leadership Team, ensuring the policies, vision, and values determined by the Council are being carried out.

Members of the Journey Church Council are nominated by the congregation and undergo a robust screening and interview process before they are eligible for election to the Council. Accepting the volunteer role of a Member of the Council is not something to be taken lightly; Council Members make extensive time commitments and take on deep spiritual responsibility in leading Journey Church, and we are grateful for their selfless service on our behalf.

Council Prerequisites:
  • Cannot be nominated by self or spouse.
  • Council Members must have been a part of Journey Church for at least three years.
  • Council Members must be Partners of Journey Church (or have their Partnership in-process).
  • Must have served in a significant capacity for at least two years, preferably in a leadership role.
  • Must be known and approved for consideration by a Staff Member, a member of Journey’s Leadership Team, and/or a member of the Council.
  • Must have capacity, flexibility and availability to serve in the Council role. The time requirement varies month to month, but the minimum includes 10 monthly meetings, a retreat, and committee responsibilities.
Time Commitment for Council Members
  • Council meetings—one evening per month (no meeting in December & July).
  • Council/Leadership Team Retreat—2 days per year.
  • 4 to 6 hours (on average) per month for review of Council materials, policies, correspondence, meeting preparation, and Team conference calls.
  • In addition to the regular Council meetings, committee responsibilities may require additional hours each month, depending on the committee’s requirements.
  • If serious issues arise that require immediate attention by the Council, additional hours may be required outside of regular Council meetings. (This happens infrequently, but is a possibility.) 

Scriptural Overview of the Role of the Council

General Overview

Scripture verses that address the role of a Council Member: Titus 1:5, 9; I Peter 5:1–4; Acts 20:28–31; James 5:14

At Journey Church, our Council:

  • Carry the ultimate responsibility and authority to see that the Church remains on a true biblical course; that its congregation is being appropriately shepherded, that the Body is being fed through insightful and accurate Biblical teaching, and that the life of the Church is being well managed with the assistance of competent and Godly leaders.
  • Guard the Body of Christ against harmful influences, confronting those who are contradicting Biblical truth or continuing in a pattern of sinful behavior.
  • Shepherd the Church by being an example and role model.
  • Care about the spiritual and physical well-being of the Journey Church Congregation; pray regularly for the sick.
  • Oversee The Commons Campus as well as all ministries of Journey Church.
Specific Duties

The Council of Journey Church is responsible for the following: 

Shepherd:

  • Help plan and participate in the regular Family Updates.
  • Have a ministry in Journey Church beyond the Council.
  • Give special consideration to the health of the relationship of the Council and LT.
  • Participate in creating a positive, affirming, and healthy culture within the Council, staff, and congregation.
  • Be visible to the congregation, seen as a spiritual covering for the congregation.
  • Respond to letters/phone calls from the Church Body, Staff, or public

Oversee:

In order to fulfill their responsibility, the Council must be kept abreast of what is happening across Journey Church.

  • Hear regular reports regarding the overall numbers and financial picture of Journey Church.
  • Hear regular reports on how individual departments are fulfilling their mission.
  • Ask questions regarding staff health, operational issues, and vision achievement.
  • Hear reports on how particular problems are being handled and the status of those issues.
  • Develop understanding regarding decisions that may result in the development of a new department or ministry and understand what the implications of those types of decisions on funding, staffing, etc.
  • The Council will be kept informed of any relational issues across the organization. It reserves the right to intervene with the process if found necessary.
  • The Council is to make sure that the teaching and interpretation of scripture and administering of the Sacraments is in harmony with the Discipline Of The Evangelical Church.
  • Support the spiritual, emotional and physical health of the Lead Team members. Observe the interpersonal relationships of the Lead Team and be available to mediate any relational issues.
  • Review and evaluate teaching and curricula for Biblical accuracy and consistency with Journey Church values (Sunday Gatherings, classes, and sub-ministry materials)
  • Implement and monitor compliance with Council policy
  • Mandate ministry to the poor and distressed

Decide:

  • Providing guidance, in cooperation with the Conference Superintendent, on the success of the primary leaders at Journey; the Leadership Team. Approval of Leadership Team members.
  • Review and approve the annual Journey Church and The Commons budgets.
  • Give directives based on previously approved goals.
  • Help set vision for the future.
  • Oversee Council member elections.
  • Work with the Leadership Team in considering objective criteria for what success looks like.
  • “Trustee” responsibilities for The Commons.
  • Work with the Lead Team in any hiring or firing of key Staff positions and seek understanding of any key Staff resignations.
  • Encourage the Leadership Team, the Staff, and volunteers
  • Conduct annual review of the Leadership Team
  • Delegate to qualified assistants, Staff, and/or outside experts as needed

Pray for the Sick

  • In special circumstances, visit those from Journey’s congregation who are sick (at home or in the hospital) for private counsel
Essential Components of an Elder

The Biblical teaching on Church leadership begins and ends with the character of the individuals who are called to lead the Church.

Our evaluation of individuals who aspire to serve on the Council Journey Church includes a comprehensive process to evaluate the “Five Cs,” with the primary focus on Character.

  1. First “C”—Character (1 Timothy 3:2–7 and Titus 1:6–9)
    • Above reproach—Council members must lead by example and demonstrate a lifestyle free from patterns of sin.
    • Husband of one wife—Council members, if married, must be devoted spouses.
    • Temperate—Council members must be self-controlled, enslaved to nothing, and free from excesses.
    • Prudent—Council members must be sober, sensible, wise, balanced in judgment, not given to quick, superficial decisions based on immature thinking.
    • Respectable—Council members must demonstrate a well-ordered life and honorable behavior.
    • Hospitable—Council members must be unselfish with personal resources, willing to share blessings with others.
    • Able to teach—Council members must be able to communicate truth in non-argumentative ways.
    • Not addicted to wine—Council members must be free from addictions and willing to limit their liberty for the sake of others.
    • Not pugnacious or quick-tempered—Council members must be gentle, patient, and able to exercise self-control in difficult situations.
    • Uncontentious—Council members must not be given to quarreling or selfish argumentation.
    • Free from the love of money—Council members must not be stingy, greedy, or for sordid gain, or preoccupied with amassing material things.
    • Manage own household—Council members must have a well-ordered household and a healthy family life.
    • Not a new convert/not a new believer—Council members must not be new believers. They must have been a Christian long enough to demonstrate the reality of their conversion and depth of spirituality.
    • Good reputation with outsiders—Council members must be well-respected by unbelievers and free from hypocrisy.
    • Not self-willed—Council members must not be stubborn, or prone to forcing their opinions on others or abusing authority. They must be servant-minded.
    • Loving what is good—Council members must desire the will of God in every decision.
    • Just—Council members must desire to be fair and impartial. Their judgments must be based on Scriptural principles.
    • Devout—Council members must be devoted Christ followers, seeking to be conformed to His image. They must be committed to prayer, worship, the study of Scripture, and the guarding of their spiritual walk.
    • Holding fast the faithful Word—Council members must be stable in the faith, obedient to the Word of God, and continually seeking to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.
  1. Second “C”—Competence: Defined as specific, Holy Spirit-endowed gifts and abilities, combined with skills acquired through training and life experience. 
  1. Third “C”—Chemistry: The intangible quality of being able to “fit” within the existing Team. The ability to blend into and enrich the current circle of community and relational harmony within the Council.
  1. Fourth “C”—Courage: The ability, when needed, to enter into difficult exchanges and defend the faith, the Church, and individuals in ways that preserve and maintain the community. The ability to speak the truth in love without destructive results.
  1. Fifth “C”—Calling: The ability to sense God’s calling on one’s life for a particular season of service to the body of Christ: “I think God is in this.”
Essential Characteristics/Skills of Council members:
  • Able to keep confidential information
  • Spiritual maturity
  • Able to exhort in sound doctrine
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Team player
  • Humility
  • Conflict-resolution skills

Essential Spiritual Gifts for Council members

The spiritual gifts of discernment, wisdom, and teaching are considered foundational gifts for those who serve on the Council; however, the presence of other gifts such as leadership, administration, encouragement, and mercy greatly enhance Council functioning.

  1. Discernment

The gift of discernment is the divine enablement to distinguish between truth and error. It is the ability to discern the spirits, differentiating between good and evil, right and wrong. Scripture references are: 1 Corinthians 12:10; Acts 5:1–4; and Matthew 16:21–23. People with this gift:

  • Distinguish truth from error, right from wrong, pure motives from impure motives.
  • Identify deception in others with accuracy and in an appropriate manner.
  • Determine whether a word attributed to God is authentic.
  • Recognize inconsistencies in a teaching, prophetic message, or interpretation.
  • Can sense the presence of evil.
  1. Wisdom

The gift of wisdom is the divine enablement to apply spiritual truths effectively to meet needs in specific situations. Scripture references are: 1 Corinthians 12:8; James 3:13–18; 1 Corinthians 2:3–14; and Jeremiah 9:23–24. People with this gift:

  • Focus on the unseen consequences in determining what next steps to take.
  • Receive an understanding of what is necessary to meet the needs of the body.
  • Provide divinely guided or given solutions in the midst of conflict and confusion.
  • Hear the Spirit provide direction for God’s best in a given situation.
  • Apply spiritual truth in specific and practical ways.
  1. Teaching

The gift of teaching is the divine enablement to understand, clearly explain, and apply the Word of God, causing greater Christ-likeness in the lives of listeners. Scripture references are: Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28–29; Acts 18: 24–28; and 2 Timothy 2:2. People with this gift:

  • Communicate Biblical truth that inspires greater obedience to the Lord.
  • Challenge listeners simply and practically with the truths of Scripture.
  • Present the whole counsel of God for maximum life change.
  • Give attention to detail and accuracy.
  • Are committed to consistent personal time of Biblical study and reflection.
  1. Leadership

The gift of leadership is the divine enablement to envision the future of the Church coupled with a humble heart to serve others. Scripture references are: Genesis 12:1; Isaiah 43:18–19; Matthew 7:7; Matthew 20:25–28; Luke 22:27; John 10:3–4, 11; I Corinthians 2:9–13; and James 1:5. People with this gift:

  • Are servants by nature; eager to see the Church prevail in the world.
  • Demonstrate spiritual foresight that anticipates the work of God.
  • Allow Scripture and prayer to inform their decision-making process.
  • Impart vision to others using clear communication.
  • Can assess significant past events and their potential for impact on the present and future.
  • Are able to think creatively and apply ideas and concepts in new ways.
  • Desire accountability in fulfilling their responsibilities and meeting the needs of those they serve.

Junior Council Members

The Junior Council Member position is appointed by The Lead Team and Council. The position has no voting power but was designed as a channel for leadership development. This position is not required to be affirmed by The Journey Church Partners.