All organizations need a system of governance to preserve order, define and cast a vision, and provide accountability between the staff and stakeholders. In the LCMS we practice congregational polity, which means that each congregation is self-governed.
Our first responsibility is always to Christ. It is His church. At the same time we believe that Christ empowers a local church to exist through the gathering of the priesthood of believers, what we recognize as the local congregation.
At St. James, we employ policy-based governance, which defines the stakeholders as those persons in fellowship who form an assembly to approve an annual budget and ministry plan and to call a Senior Pastor when necessary. Their agent for accountability with the staff is through the Fellowship Council, which consists of at least seven members of the assembly and two elders. The council forms policies with the Senior Pastor that define the desired outcomes and the policy boundaries, which allow the Senior Pastor to manage the operations of the church.