What does it mean to be a Congregational church?

It is important to understand that First Christian Church of Oceanside is a Congregational church. That means two things:

Primarily, it means we are not governed by our denomination, rather we govern ourselves as a congregation. As a church, we are accountable to our denomination in many ways, but we make our own decisions about how to run our church. This makes us distinct from other traditions who may be governed by a hierarchy of regional and national bishops or elder boards (like Episcopal or Presbyterian churches), or may not be answerable to any earthly authority beyond themselves (like non-denominational churches).

A benefit (and responsibility) of being self-governed is that members of the congregation have a voice in our governance. This is one reason we practice membership. We always want to hear from members about how our church is functioning, but you express that voice formally by voting at congregational meetings. At our annual meeting on the last Sunday in June, we approve our Board of Directors and our budget for the coming fiscal year. We also occasionally meet to make important decisions, like amending our church Bylaws or appointing the pastor.

When does voting occur?

Our regular annual congregational meeting is the last Sunday in June, immediately after church. All votes are decided by a simple majority, with the exception of any proposed changes to the Constitution and the approval of a new minister, both of which require a two-thirds majority.

Who is eligible to vote?

In accordance with our Constitution, voting privileges shall be accorded to members (those who have placed membership) who have shown an active interest through attendance, service, or giving for at least the most recent 12 months. These guidelines ensure that those who are making important decisions about the church have demonstrated a sincere and faithful commitment to our church.

Who is eligible to serve as a board member or deacon? 

Eligibility for leadership in the church requires meeting a higher bar of character, commitment, and calling than membership alone. In accordance with our Bylaws, board nominees must be members who show evidence of growing in the Christian life through: a) conduct according to the teachings of Christ, b) promotion of good will inside and outside the church, c) regular attendance at church, d) regular financial support of the church, e) willingness to fulfill service assignments in the church, and f) evidence of the skill or potential to lead. For a deeper understanding of this subject, please read “How can we know if someone is called to leadership?”

What does the Board of Directors do?

The Board of Directors governs our church. Depending on the role each Board Officer plays, this includes setting policy for the church, overseeing the finances and business of the church, and fulfilling the duties of Eldership.

What do the deacons do?

Deacons serve in the church in a wide variety of ways, most visibly by helping with Sunday services: preparing communion, greeting visitors, ushering, helping with Baptism, etc.

How are board positions nominated prior to the congregational meeting?

Every April, the Board assigns a Nominating Committee in accordance with our bylaws. Any church member may nominate another church member to the board by contacting the church office or the Nominating Committee. The Nominating Committee meets as often as necessary during May and early June to receive nominations for vacant board positions, to ensure that all nominees are qualified according to the bylaws, and to ensure that all nominees are willing and able to serve. The Committee makes its recommendations to the full Board at the June Board meeting. The approved Board slate then goes to the congregational meeting for final approval on the last Sunday in June. Nominations may also be made at the congregational meeting, by any member, with the prior consent of the nominee.

How is the budget proposed prior to the congregational meeting?

Every April, the Board assigns a Budget Committee in accordance with our bylaws. The Budget Committee meets as often as necessary during May and early June to build a realistic budget to advance the ministries of the church. The Committee makes its recommendations to the full Board at the June Board meeting. The approved budget then goes to the congregational meeting for final approval on the last Sunday in June.

When do the new board and budget take effect?

The new fiscal year begins on July 1st and the new Board of Directors meets that same month.