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Governing Your Church

Churches are places of worship; they are also employers, charitable organizations, social service providers, youth centres, senior centres and more. CBOQ is committed to supporting your church leaders and clerks, assisting your church develop and maintain a strong board, a well-fitted constitution and more.

Responsibilities of Church Clerks

It is always a good idea to know ahead of time the way that the minutes have been taken in the past and what the best format is for your church. Often, minute-takers believe that they should record conversations and thorough discussions. These conversations and lengthy discussions usually come to a conclusion or a decision – and it is the conclusion or decision that needs to be recorded. If there are cases where details of conversation will be required later in order to see how a decision was reached, perhaps a draft longer set of minutes could be in rough for that purpose.

Keep it simple. Make sure that the following items are organized and included:

  •  A basic outline based on the agenda prepared ahead of time, and leave plenty of white space for notes. By having the topics already written down, you can jump right on to a new topic without pause.
  •  A list of expected attendees and check off the names as people enter the room. Or, you can pass around an attendance sheet for everyone to sign as the meeting starts.
  •  Type of meeting, name of the organization, date and time, venue, the full name of the presiding officer, secretary and any others who may be attending for an official reason
  •  Approval of previous minutes, and all resolutions.
  •  Inclusion of other documents and reports that are referred to in the meeting as appendices
  •  The full names of those who move and second motions and whether the motions are carried, defeated, tabled, amended, etc.
  •  If you are unsure of all the names of participants, make a map of the seating arrangement, and make sure to ask for introductions of unfamiliar people.
  •  Don’t make the mistake of recording every single comment. Concentrate on getting the gist of the discussion and taking enough notes to summarize it later. Think in terms of issues discussed, major points raised and decisions taken.
  • Use whatever recording method is comfortable for you, a notepad, a laptop computer, or a digital recorder. It might be a good idea to make sound recordings of important meetings as a backup to your notes.
  • If you are an active participant in the meeting, be prepared! Study the issues to be discussed and have your questions ready ahead of time. If you have to concentrate on grasping the issues while you are making your notes, they won’t make any sense to you later.
  • Don’t wait too long to type up the minutes, especially while your memory is fresh. Be sure to have the minutes approved by the chair or facilitator before distributing them to the attendees.
  • Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of taking minutes. Concise and coherent minutes are the mark of a professional. The very process of recording minutes can give you a deeper understanding of the issues faced by your organization along with ability to focus on what’s important.

Before discussing the membership roll it would be helpful to define what a “member” is. Each church in the Baptist distinctive has a different definition or constitutional definition of a church member. There are closed memberships and open memberships and there are churches that do not use a “members” definition to define their attenders. They may have adherents or friends or some other designation. When your church has defined for you what makes a church member, it is then the role of the clerk to keep track of that member’s or adherent’s status.

Clerks also prepare letters for transferring of membership, certificates of membership, baptism and many other tasks that are vital and detailed.

Each church should have a set of guidelines or set a policy for maintaining membership records. The list of members should be reviewed annually, regularly and consistently updated to keep track of every person’s involvement in the church whether as a visitor, active or non-active member, non-resident or adherent.  See an example policy

The Church and Ministry Information FormChurch Contact form and the Association Information Form (formerly Statistical/Church Life Reports) are vital communication tools that informs CBOQ and partner organizations of the life of the church. Each year, we request that our churches complete and return their forms to CBOQ by February 28. These forms help us understand how to better serve you, our family of churches. For a complete list of all the items that are required to complete the form, click here.


Church and Ministry Information Form is requested from churches

Churches conduct their Annual Meetings

CBOQ and Associations receive the Church and Ministry Information Forms sent by the Church Clerks.

The church clerk’s report is completed for the Annual Meeting

Minutes of the Annual Meeting are recorded

During the Annual Meeting or at a subsequent meeting, delegates are appointed to attend the Annual CBOQ Assembly in June.


The pastor, church, clerk and lay leader addresses and other information are updated on the CBOQ database.

Membership information is updated on the database to determine the number of delegates each church can send to CBOQ Assembly.

The Clerk receives the CBOQ Assembly Registration and Delegate Appointment form. The Clerk returns the Delegate Information Form to CBOQ to confirm that the delegates are duly appointed by the church.

The Clerk distributes the Assembly registration information to the delegates and visitors.


The church treasurers or accountants complete a T3010 form for Revenue Canada. This form is required in order for each church to maintain the charitable status and is a matter of public record.

Why is CBOQ interested in church membership?

Memberships increase and decrease and the statistical pages give a picture of trends, where new churches could be planted, how many baptisms we have had, the trend towards inactive status. The financial statistics show us mission givings, other church group activities, measuring increases or decreases in givings, etc. Statistics Canada, Outreach Canada, McMaster Divinity College, Canadian Baptist Ministries are a few of the organizations that use those statistics.

Nominees for Boards and Committees

Anyone who is a member of a CBOQ church may nominate people that they feel would be contributors to CBOQ and its committees. Those nominees must be active, members in good standing at CBOQ churches. The Nominations Committee may contact either the pastor or church clerk of churches where a potential nominee attends to confirm that that person is a member in good standing.

CBOQ is a family of churches. As a family, we make decisions together about our future. We do this at CBOQ Assembly, through delegates that are appointed by individual churches. The people who vote on business items at CBOQ Assembly must be appointed delegates from CBOQ churches and associations. The number of delegates each church can appoint is based on the number of church members. The clerk is the one who certifies the delegate appointments and notifies CBOQ by completing a Delegate Appointment Form each year. Without the church clerk there would be no effective way to be sure that the properly appointed delegates are registered for each church. Without delegates, CBOQ would not have a way to make important decisions together.

How are delegates appointed? Here is an extract from our General Operating By-Law #7:

(a) Voting by Delegates

A Member shall vote at all Meetings of Members by means of individual Delegates appointed on behalf of each Member.

(b) Number of Delegates

Each Member shall be entitled to appoint two (2) Delegates.

Each Delegate shall be entitled to one (1) vote. A Member shall be entitled to appoint additional Delegates in the following situations, as applicable:

  1. A Local Church will be entitled to one (1) additional Delegate for each additional fifty (50) Active Members over and above the first one hundred (100) Active Members or part thereof, with the number of Active Members of the Local Church being determined in accordance with its Official Membership as of the Membership Date.
  2. A Local  Church  will  be  entitled  to  one  (1)  additional  Delegate  provided  that  this additional Delegate is between the ages of eighteen (18) and twenty-five (25) years of age at the time of his or her appointment. [As inserted by By-law No. 4, adopted on June 7, 2018]
  3. An Association will be entitled to one (1) additional Delegate for each additional fifty (50) Local Churches situated within the boundaries of the Association over and above the first one hundred (100) Local Churches or part thereof, with the number of Local Churches being determined in accordance with its Official Membership as of the Membership Date.

Neither Directors nor Employees of the CBOQ shall be appointed as Delegates by a Member.

(c)     Term of Office of Delegates

The term of office for any Delegate shall commence as of the date of his appointment as a Delegate by his Local Church or Association, as applicable, until the conclusion of the Meeting of Members for which such Delegate was appointed. [As inserted by By-law No. 6, adopted on June 12, 2021.]

(d)    Certification of Delegates

The clerk of each Member shall certify to the CBOQ that the Delegates of the Member were duly appointed by the Member.

Keeping track of historical events for your church is an awesome duty that clerks don’t often know about. Along with the official records of yearly church memberships, annual reports, correspondence, etc. The clerks can also make a scrap book of events, like pictures of the church building, congregation, pastors and staff. Newspaper clippings, church activities, mementoes and other things can also be labelled and kept.

Items like these can be saved for the coming years and also stored at the Canadian Baptist Archives and McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton. Any records that a church sends to the Canadian Baptist Archives remain the property of the church.

Click here for some information about what and what not to archive. The Archives are more than happy to assist you in the process.

Canadian Baptist Archives

Phone: 905-525-9140 ext 23511
Fax: 905-577-4782

Resources for Church Membership

Resources for managing your church’s membership requirements and policies.

TitleCategoriesFile SizeFile TypeLinkhf:doc_categorieshf:doc_tagshf:file_type
Example Policy for Church Members, 210 KBpdfchurch-operations governancepdf
Baptism and Church Membership, 772 KBpdfchurch-operations governancepdf
Sample Property Use Policy, 165 KBpdfchurch-operations governancepdf
Responsibilities of Church Trustees, 61 KBpdfchurch-operations governancepdf
Guide to Developing a Local Church Privacy Policy, 192 KBpdfchurch-operations governancepdf
Guide to Church Incorporation, 409 KBpdfchurch-operations governancepdf
Guide to Church Constitutions, 373 KBpdfchurch-operations governancepdf
Guide to Child Safety, 371 KBpdfchurch-operations governancepdf
Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, 264 KBpdfchurch-operations governancepdf