Proposed Governance Changes

At our annual meeting on Wednesday, January 17, 2024, the Rose Hill congregation will vote on whether to adopt revisions to our bylaws and governance documents. These proposed changes are the culmination of nearly three years of work by our board, and have been proposed by both our governance subcommittee and general board. 

You may find a PDF version of the proposed governance document, and a list of frequently asked questions, below. If you have more questions and would like to sit down with a member of the governance subcommittee, they would be happy to help! Contact the church office to set something up.


Below you will find some of the frequently asked questions our governance team has fielded about the new governance structure. Click on a question to see the answer.

  • A: God has done great work for His Kingdom through Rose Hill Church under its current structure for over 100 years. Though Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, many things have changed over the last century as we are now living in a post-Christian world. The elected leadership has been observing this for over a decade and agrees there is a better structure that allows Rose Hill Church to better fulfill the mission God has put on our church.


    The governance structure that is being proposed is elder-led, congregational governance. First and most importantly, we look to Scripture and find that this is the only form of church governance found in the New Testament. It has been recommended by all national and district EFCA leaders and is the most common form of governance in the EFCA and other evangelical denominations, as it has proven to be the most effective and efficient form of church leadership. Practically speaking, it moves ministry leaders into positions of authority within the ministries of their gifts, talents, passions and experiences, while allowing elders to focus on spiritual leadership rather than operational matters.

  • A: The original founders and all who have come before us have done a great job stewarding Rose Hill Church to what it is today, preaching the Word directly from Scripture and reaching many people worldwide with the gospel. Though there is nothing clearly scripturally wrong with our current model, there is no biblical precedent or example of the general board model. Also, recent research on ideal team size shows that our general board model is much too large to provide for effective and efficient decision making and focuses primarily on operational aspects of the church.  Alternatively, the elder-led model positions elders to focus first and foremost on the vision and mission that God has specifically called our church to, while empowering other members to lead and work in the ministries of their gifts, experiences, and passions.

    Consider the farmer! Today’s farmers do not use the same raw materials, techniques, equipment, etc. that they used in the past – certainly going back a few decades, but even in the last few years farming practices have continued to change as new materials, techniques and materials have been discovered. The “old way of farming” was not wrong. But it was what the farmer and the farming industry knew at that time. It's similar with church leadership; in the past we used the form of governance that we knew. But today, church leadership has come to further understand what Scripture models for church leadership, and how, through experience, churches found elder-led governance to be more effective and efficient.

  • A: Great question! The truth is that problems arise from having either too large a board or too small a board. The study of organizational leadership has shown over and over that the most effective and efficient size of a governing board is 5-7 people. With each degree of size above that the complexity and difficulty of effective decision-making increases incrementally. Board agendas get bogged down with operational issues that are much better handled at the Individual ministry level, leaving little room for the critical issues of mission and vision to be adequately considered. Thus, the most effective structure in a ministry or church is one with a smaller number of spiritually qualified elders whose primary charge is dealing with the mission and vision that God calls our church to, while charging the day-to-day ministry operations to another level of leaders that are highly qualified to lead the individual ministries.

    Under the proposed structure there will be a similar number of leaders as in today’s general board structure. In addition to the elders, other leaders will serve on ministry councils, which will be much closer to the actual ministry, working in the area of each person’s giftedness, experience and passion. This improves the effectiveness and efficiency of leadership decisions for each respective ministry.

    We thank the Lord for the leadership who obeyed the calling before us and we pray for our future leadership to run the course as well: "But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace." (Acts 20:24)

    • A: Elder-led governance is the one form of church governance that we find modeled in Scripture. The apostle Paul established the elder (also called “overseer”) model of leadership in every church that he planted. 

      Here are a few of the examples from the New Testament: 

    • After they had preached the gospel in that town and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch, strengthening the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith and by telling them, “It is necessary to go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”  When they had appointed elders for them in every church and prayed with fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. (Acts 14:21-23) 
    • Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:28) 
    • The reason I left you in Crete was to set right what was left undone and, as I directed you, to appoint elders in every town. (Titus 1:5)

    We believe God can best bless our ministry when we follow his precepts and examples.  


    It’s important to note that, just like in the early church, elders are not the only ones equipped to do the work of ministry (see Ephesians 4:11-12). The proposed governance structure will need congregants to serve on the councils and committees. The volunteer positions currently on the general board aren’t going away; rather, members of our current general board will have opportunities to serve in top ministries in the church. Even better, because of the structure their influence will be closer to the ministries in which they serve. 

  • A: We are a growing, healthy church in a culture where those attributes are not at all normal, especially in a rural context. We are very thankful for God's provision and blessings! We have been entrusted with the mission to love God, love others, and make disciples, and we believe an updated governance structure would allow us to better operate as the church we have become, as well as the church God is shaping us into.


    Our current structure tends to place a high level of focus on operational issues. The elder-led approach provides, if not demands, a high level of focus on the mission and vision God has for us. Rose Hill has outgrown the general board model, which is a blessing. Our great God is growing Rose Hill, His church, and His people! The EFCA leadership, the district's reconciliation team that worked closely with us the first half of 2023, and Rose Hill's general board have all recommended this change, and it is standard in EFCA churches. Let us joyfully move forward with God!


    If you’d like some Biblical examples of God’s people in similar predicaments of growth and restructuring, we would encourage you to check out Exodus 18:14-26 and Acts 6:1-7. 

  • A: No. Not at all. The term “congregationalism” is often misunderstood. The term congregational (or congregationalism) means that leadership of the church or ministry does not come from a higher earthly authority such as the state or a denomination. It was never meant to suggest that every member of a congregation should have a voice In every decision that comes before a church.


    Congregationalism means the congregation has the authority to govern itself without interference or control by another entity. For example, in our case the EFCA denomination does not govern our church.  We, the congregation do.  We are simply part of the EFCA because we ascribe to the core tenets of belief (our statement of faith) espoused by the EFCA denomination. Unlike in many denominations, we as a congregation hire our own pastor, make decisions regarding our own ministry, set our own budget, determine our own constitution and bylaws, etc. Just as we elect leaders to govern the day-to-day operations of the church in our current structure, the congregation will elect the elders who will oversee the operations of our church; thus, the power will still remain in the hands of the congregation.


    If you’d like to learn more about the relationship between elders and congregations work, feel free to pick up a copy of the booklet “Who’s in Charge of the Church?”, available at the welcome booth. 

  • A: No. The congregational authority in the proposed structure is almost identical to that of the current structure. The "non-elder" congregants are included in the nominating committee and 60% congregational agreement is required for elder positions. There is significantly more opportunity to have a voice in functional matters and areas that each person is uniquely passionate about through the ministry councils. 

    Additionally, congregational approval is required for these seven major areas of ministry:

    1. Approval of nominated Elder candidates
    2. Hiring of the senior pastor
    3. Approval of the annual ministry operating budget
    4. Purchase or sale or real estate property
    5. Approval of capital expenses that exceed 10% of the annual ministry budget
    6. Approval of borrowing money in excess of 10% of the total operating budget
    7. Approval of changes to the Articles of Incorporation, Constitution and Governing Bylaws

  • A: No. The proposed governance redistributes the decision-making so that spiritually qualified leaders are empowered to make the decisions in their areas of expertise and gifting. Many of the day-to-day decisions will be made by non-elder members of church councils, leaving the elders to focus on prayer, shepherding, and the mission of and vision of the church. Elder-led congregationalism (the form of governance we’re proposing) is distinct from an elder-ruled form of polity, where the elders make all of the church’s important decisions. That’s not what this is, and elder-ruled polity is incompatible with our denomination. EFCA churches are congregational.

Other Documents

Type the content for this tabs section here. This is just example text to show you what it will look like when you enter text content into this tabs section. Your unique, authentic, and appropriate text will be filled into this section.

This document gives a synopsis of the upcoming vote, giving you the WHO, WHAT, and WHYs of the new governance process. 

Download the Synopsis Here