In the UK, churches are considered charitable organisations. Charities are typically run by trustees and committees. In response to this legal requirement many churches in the UK began to organise themselves in this way as though they were in fact charities, clubs or society. They sought to fit the church structure into the legal frame work laid down by the Charity Commission and Company’s House; in turn many churches made their legal trustees the spiritual leadership of the church.
Here at Hope! we believe that spiritual leadership in the life of the church should be structured according to biblical principles rather than charity law. We believe that spiritual leaders should lead the church; we believe that Directors and Trustees should fulfil their legal roles. We believe that charity and company law is there to provide legal protection just as spiritual leadership is there to provide leadership, direction and protection to the church.
When you think about it, it’s strange to let a legal structure that has only existed for a few hundred years determine the structure of an organisation that has existed for nearly 2000
years! In fact we believe that this legal structure should serve the biblical principles of church and facilitate and support spiritual structures empowering the church to be the church. With this in mind, we set about to determine a structure that would maintain, without doubt, the highest levels of accountability and absolute compliance with the Charity Commission and to satisfy our legal obligations to Company’s House without it becoming the determining factor in how the church is run and organised. Our church structure is built on biblical foundations, while our legal structure is designed to empower and facilitate our spiritual leadership structure to run the church as a church rather than as a club, society or company.
To that end, we are a church that is a Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee. Let’s break that down:
First and foremost we are the Church, the body of Jesus Christ, this is our most important precept and it is this that determines the way we structure the organisation and its leadership.
Our desire is to see a 21st Century church empowered by the Holy Spirit, fuelled by divine energy, growing and impacting our region for the glory of God. Our commitment is to see true spiritual leadership rising and being developed in every corner of church life. Our belief is that spiritual leaders should lead.
Secondly we are a charity, we have charitable objectives. That is to say that our main aim is to help people rather than to make a profit. Being a charity requires that we register with the Charity Commission, who ensure that we are on track with Charity Law and that we remain a legal entity working in the UK. Our responsibility is to fulfil our obligations to OSCR (Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator). They provide both financial accountability and a legal frame work for us to operate in the UK. ( Being a charity means that we are able to claim Gift Aid, for more information on this visit the Stewardship page )
This explains the model of governance that we have chosen for our legal entity. We have Directors of the Company and Members of the Company. The Directors’ responsibilities are to keep us legal and solvent whilst the day to day running is delegated to the Lead Pastor as the Managing Director of the legal entity. The Director’s legal functions are performed through extensive reporting and regular meetings.
Being a Director is not a spiritual leadership role. In practice those that are Directors are spiritual leaders because of the work they perform on teams and in the life of the church and not through their role as a Director. In practice, those we choose as Directors are people who have shown commitment and dedication to Hope! Church, they are directors because they have been faithful at carrying the culture of Hope! Church and through their involvement in teams, connect groups and giving and/or people with skills that will help us to be more effective in our management.
Members are the democratic portion of the company that elects the Directors. Our members are made up of people who we want to have a great impact and influence on our church, Tom Rawls, Iain Duthie & Jon Cook. They also provide an extra level of external accountability for our senior leadership without needing to be involved in the day to day running of the church. They are contacted regularly, consulted frequently and honoured often as people of wisdom, insight and ability to assist us in leading the church.