Initially, the mission team needs written approval from the elders or leadership board of the church to create or form a missions team. Then, the first task of the designated missions team formation leader will be to draw up a charter document. Different churches may call this charter document different things; but, they all fulfill the same function.

This charter document might be called:

  • missions team bylaws
  • missions team policy
  • missions team guidelines
  • missions team charter
  • or some equivalent.

This formative document normally would include sections with some detail in categories such as these:

  • biblical basis of missions
  • definition of missions for this church
  • definition of missions terms for this church
  • qualifications for missions team membership
  • composition and term of missions team membership
  • job description for officers and/or sub teams of the missions team
  • extent and source of missions funds
  • budgeting principles of missions funds
  • criteria for selection of missionaries or missions ministries to support
  • parameters of support for approved missionaries or missions ministries
  • framework for short-term missions
  • authority, roles, and responsibility of the missions team with respect to church leadership, including accountability

We encourage churches and missions teams to adopt two levels of documents. The first or primary level would be the bylaws or team policy framework which should rarely be changed. The second level of documents would be working guidelines and practical process documents which can be changed more frequently as needed. Changing guidelines or process documents should not require as thorough a review or complicated approval process. It is a mistake to keep adding more and more sections to the basic missions policy documents over the years every time a new issue or difficulty arises. Then it grows like the US tax code and is very difficult to change. Keep the most crucial structural document solid and little-changed. Then maintain process and other decision-making guidelines documents more adaptable and fluid as the need arises.

Again, your church tradition and ethos may dictate exactly what and how those documents function. Respect the system! Make the most of whatever opportunities the Lord gives you. There are plenty of sample church policy documents available through the website. Just do a quick search.