Church Family Meeting 2019

Make plans to join us as all three congregations gather at Four Oaks Killearn for our Annual Business Meeting on Wednesday, May 22 at 6:30pm. Coffee and dessert will be served (please note that childcare is now full). Read the elders’ letter below for more information on what will be discussed.

Dear Four Oaks Family,

At a recent retreat, the elders spent some extended time remembering and celebrating the wonderful ways God has met us and worked in our congregations over the last few years. It has truly been a season of grace, and we are unified in our belief that Four Oaks is a healthy church of three congregations that is on mission for the gospel in Tallahassee. We are full of faith — both for where God has brought us, and for where we believe he is leading us in the coming days.

One of the areas in which we believe God has given us clarity and moved us forward significantly in the last three years is in the defining of our multi-congregational model. As we have studied, deliberated, and prayed over how we might organize for mission, we have come to a place of full unity regarding some changes to our governance and organizational model that we believe are needed. These changes have necessitated a revision of our Bylaws, and we are recommending a new set of Bylaws to for the members’ consideration and vote at our upcoming Family Meeting.

 We are asking you to do the following: `

  1. Review and consider these recommended changes over the next two weeks.

  2. Email any questions you have to

  3. Attend our family meeting on Wednesday, May 22 at Four Oaks Killearn to hear more about these proposed changes.

  4. If you are a member, vote on the recommended Bylaws alongside our budget and officer slate for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

 A summary of the recommended changes:

  • The first and perhaps most significant change is in our statement of faith. We still hold to the Gospel Coalition Confessional Statement; however, we are editing and expanding Article #3 to more explicitly set forth our position concerning marriage, gender, and sexuality. We are not changing our beliefs on this issue, we are merely stating our beliefs in a more explicit way.

  • The new Bylaws are more streamlined and minimalist relative to the current Bylaws. We believe this will grant us greater flexibility to organize and govern as elders while still establishing the principles that direct our governance policy.

  • The new Bylaws "localize" membership at Four Oaks to a particular congregation.

  • The new Bylaws set forth our governance principles in a more broad way. The Lead Pastor’s role has been removed from the Bylaws. Some of the policy in our current Bylaws will now be found in another document called the Operational Standards Policy. The biggest difference between these two documents is that the Four Oaks Members must vote on changes to the Bylaws, but the Full Council of Elders (comprised of all elders, staff and non-staff, at all three congregations) has authority to change the Operational Standards. The Operational Standards Policy, which is currently being developed, will be a repository of all binding policy at Four Oaks, and it will be readily available online for members to see very soon.

What does this mean?

In accordance with our congregational model and strategy, all member voting will now be localized. This means you will continue to vote on the budget, lay elders, large property purchases, and the Lead Pastor role, but these votes will now take place on the level of the local congregation only (all members will still vote on future Bylaw changes).

We are asking the members of the church to give greater empowerment the Full Council of Elders from all three congregations to govern the church, organize its leadership structures, and set broad policy for the congregations. We believe this reflects our conviction concerning elder governance within a congregational model of church polity.

How were these bylaws written?

  1. We consulted with a number of experts on policy, particularly those experienced in multi- congregational churches.

  2. The Executive Elder team commissioned and approved an initial draft of the Bylaws, which was presented to a team of three attorneys from within our church membership for review.

  3. A new draft that incorporated their feedback was submitted to the Full Council of Elders for their feedback and approval.

  4. The resulting draft was sent to the our church’s attorneys, Middlebrook and Goodspeed, who specialize in church law.

  5. Their suggestions were incorporated, and the final draft, which has been unanimously affirmed by the Full Council of Elders, is being presented for the members’ consideration and vote.

What are the next steps the elders are asking members to take?

  1. Please review the proposed bylaws, which you can find here. For reference, you can click here to read the current bylaws (from 2015).

  2. Email with any questions. This will not only give us a chance to speak to any specific questions you may have, but will also help us better serve you in our presentation at the family meeting.

We thank God for you and for your partnership in the gospel,

Paul Gilbert, Lance Olimb, and Joshua Hughes (on behalf of the Full Council of Elders)