I think that one of the best ideas that I have had since I came to First Baptist Church Plaquemine was to teach through the by-laws of our church during discipleship training on Sunday nights. Some of you, at the mere mention of such a study, immediately roll your eyes and start snoring. That is unfortunate. Some of the most interesting reading that you can do comes from the by-laws of your Church. I'll let you know why.
First, it is a very personal, historical document for you. Inside those by-laws is the heart and soul of your spiritual forefathers. In them, you will find how they viewed the church, salvation, authority, and you will get the heads up on what sorts of conflicts that they had to endure. Especially if you have the older copies of the by-laws to compare with the updated ones. You can see how your church rose to the occasion to overcome the new challenges set before her. It is personal to you because this is the church to which you belong. That alone should make it interesting.
Secondly, you will learn through your by-laws how you may be active in your church and where you may fit in. Many by-laws have every seperate committee listed and what their functions are, and how one comes to be appointed to said committee. You may find something in there that interests you. You may find areas of neglect that you may help rekindle. These are committees like benevolence, counting (somebody has to count the money), flower, nominating, transportation, and etc. Your church may have more or less, depending on its polity.
Thirdly, you will learn that you may not agree with everything in your by-laws. You may even find things in them that are un-biblical and that ought to be changed. You should, as a faithful member, bring these issues up to the appropriate people for discussion. You never know how this may affect the church at large.
In our study, I have found several things that need updating. That doesn't mean that they were bad; it means that they need to be revamped. The last time our Church updated the by-laws, we had no Student Minister. Basically, our current student minister has no "official" standing as far as the by-laws are concerned. We need to get a job description in there, how he is to be hired and let go, and etc. All we have policy for at the present time is a "Youth Council." Also, the last time that the church updated the by-laws, the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message had not yet been written. This will give us an opportunity to look at the updates in that and discuss why it was done.
Also, it gave me the opportunity to bring up the subject of elders in the church. Our church does not have elders, but it should. Currently, our deacons and myself function as the elders, sort of. Also, our policy on electing and maintaining trustees needs to be updated. The bottom line: It has been a wonderful opportunity for learning for myself and the church. I highly recommend that you look over the by-laws at your church; it will be a great learning experience for you, and I believe it will be an edifying one as well.
I am a pastor serving in my hometown of Albertville, Alabama. The greatest evidence of God's grace in my life are my wife, son, and daughter. One look at me and then my wife will tell you that her "yes" was a modern day miracle. Otherwise, I am almost completely mundane.