The highest level document for any church or non-profit organization would certainly be the by-laws. I periodically get requests for input on writing or updating by-laws. Of course, I always direct them to the Resources area of my site, where I’ve included a sample of a full set of by-laws. Check it out HERE.
A good set of by-laws should contain:
Name and Purpose – What’s the name of the church and its purpose?
Membership – How does one become a member of the church? What does membership include?
Congregational Meetings – How often does the congregation meet and for what purpose?
Fiscal Year – Does the church use a calendar year or have some other period it considers to be its fiscal year (September to August, other?)?
Church Leadership – How will the church be led? What’s the leadership model (staff led – elder protected, elder led, other?) and how does it work? You hear a lot about Carver Policy Governance as a leadership/governance model. You can check this out HERE. What are the duties of the senior pastor? Other church staff?
Annual Budget – How is the annual budget prepared? How is it approved?
Amendments or Revision – How are the by-laws revised? Who has to approve changes to the by-laws?
Related Documents – Are there other policies or procedures that relate to the by-laws or that are referred to in the by-laws?
That’s it for the most part. Your by-laws should be pretty high level. More detailed policies and procedures should be documented elsewhere in your management system.