There are many good reasons why a New Testament Church should have Articles of Faith, a Covenant, and a Constitution. Together they can greatly assist us in the efforts of biblically organizing and conducting the ministries which have been entrusted to us by our Head, Jesus Christ. It must be readily acknowledged, however, that these documents, despite their usefulness and precision, will avail nothing apart from the presence and power of the Spirit of God in a Church. It is with this keen awareness of our absolute dependence upon our great God that these articles are set forth.
Gospel Baptist Church is comprised of followers of Jesus Christ who have united under His Lordship in covenant commitment to one another and to our God. We joyfully and wholeheartedly submit to His authority as it is revealed to us in His holy, inerrant, and infallible written Word.
Having carefully examined the Scriptures regarding the nature and purpose of the church, and the principles whereby it is to be governed, we, the members of Gospel Baptist Church set forth the following articles, to which we voluntarily submit ourselves.
The name of this church shall be Gospel Baptist Church of West Union and shall be known in this document and publicly as Gospel Baptist Church.
The purpose of this church is to glorify the God of the Scriptures in promoting His worship, evangelizing sinners, and edifying saints. To this end we are committed to proclaiming God’s perfect law and His glorious Gospel of grace in Jesus Christ throughout the world, and to defending the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Matt. 28:19-20, Col. 3:17, Heb. 12:28, Eph. 4:11-12, Jude 3).
ARTICLES OF FAITH
The Articles of Faith, Second London Baptist Confession of 1689, Church Constitution, and Statement of Faith are accepted by its present members and shall be subscribed to and accepted voluntarily by new members as they offer themselves for membership.
We do hereby adopt as the fullest expression of our faith the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689. We believe that this historic document is an excellent summary of the fundamental truths of God’s Word. We accept it, not as an authoritative rule or code of faith, but as an aid to us in controversy, a confirmation of what we believe, and as a means of growing together in grace. In this Confession the members of our church will have a body of Divinity in small compass and by means of Scriptural proofs will be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in them (1 Peter 3:15).
Jesus Christ is Lord and Head of this church. His will as expressed in the Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, is the sole authority in matters of faith and practice. Gospel Baptist Church is a congregational church led by elders. We recognize the authority of Christ is vested in the whole congregation (Galatians 1:8–10; Matthew 18:15–20) and that Christ has prescribed that local congregations be led by godly men who have been duly appointed to lead and oversee the church (Titus 1:5–11; 1 Timothy 1:4–5). The elders carefully give spiritual direction to the church for the joy of each member (2 Corinthians 1:24) and the members submissively follow the leadership of and obey the elders so that the elders may do their work with joy (Hebrews 13:17).
Deacons serve the church in various capacities at the direction of the elders, focusing predominately on the physical needs of the church. (Acts 6:1-3)
The church is subject to no other ecclesiastical body, but is associated with churches of the Southern Baptist Convention for purposes of fellowship, consultation and cooperation. This, and any other voluntary associations with other bodies shall not infringe on the rights of this church. When it is thought desirable to have fellowship, consultation, and cooperation with local churches of like faith and order, this church may join itself to an association of churches. Upon recommendation of the elders, such affiliations may be entered by a vote of the members at any members’ meeting. Withdrawal and termination from such associations may be affected by the same procedure. All votes will be cast by a public raising of the hand or by standing. All votes require at least a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting (abstentions do not count as votes) to pass.
Section 1: Requirements for Membership
To be considered for membership in this church, a person must be a disciple of Jesus Christ, and give Biblical evidence of regeneration through their lifestyle. The prospective member must also voluntarily and willfully submit to the membership process as discussed below in Article V Section 2. Such a disciple must be baptized in obedience to Christ following his or her conversion, and commit wholeheartedly to follow Jesus Christ as Lord in accordance with Scripture. Each prospective member must agree to submit to the teaching of Scripture and must promise to keep the commitments expressed in Article VI found below.
The elders shall be responsible for determining each person’s qualification for membership. In making this determination, they may rely on a person’s profession of faith, the character of their lifestyle, and such other evidence, as they deem appropriate.
Section 2: Membership Process
Any believer seeking membership at Gospel Baptist Church will be required to complete the following procedures: communicate their desire to the elders, attend membership classes, read and agree with the church constitution and the statement of faith for Gospel Baptist Church, and fill out an application for membership. In addition, each prospective member must also meet with two or more of the elders for a membership interview. This interview will include questions regarding his or her basic Christian experience, doctrinal beliefs, and seriousness of intention to support wholeheartedly the total ministry of this church, and to live for Christ in accordance with our church covenant.
Letters of recommendation from other churches will not be considered when looking at a prospective member.
If any current member in good standing of the church has objections or concerns about a prospective member, they can be brought to the elders attention at any point throughout the membership process.
Once the candidate has completed the aforementioned steps and has been approved by the elders, the candidate(s) will be presented to the members of the church. The elders may recommend a candidate for membership to the congregation at any members’ meeting of the church. The candidate may be received into membership upon acceptance of two-thirds of the members present. All votes will be cast by a public raising of the hand or by standing. All votes require at least a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting (abstentions do not count as votes) to pass.
Once a candidate is received into the membership of Gospel Baptist Church, he or she automatically and immediately relinquishes any and all duties, responsibilities, and roles in other churches and automatically and immediately surrenders their status of membership in other churches. New members are formally welcomed into the church at the next Lord’s Supper service. They are also encouraged and given the opportunity to share their testimony with the church family.
Section 3: Forms of Membership
A. REGULAR — All who are received into the membership of the church on the above mentioned conditions shall be considered members in good standing until such status is changed by one of the conditions set forth in Article V, Section 4.
B. OTHER — The membership status of individuals with differing abilities, shut-ins, Christian workers, and others whose relationship to the church involves special consideration and circumstances, shall be considered by the elders on a case-by-case basis. The elders will then make appropriate recommendations to the congregation and a vote will be taken when appropriate. Two-thirds of the members present must be in agreement with the chosen method to proceed. All votes will be cast by a public raising of the hand or by standing. All votes require at least a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting (abstentions do not count as votes) to pass.
C. INACTIVE — These members will not have the right to hold offices within the church, teach, vote, or participate in the Lord’s Supper. Inactive members can be reinstated upon recommendation of the elders and vote of the congregation consisting of two-thirds of the members present. The vote will be taken by public show of hands or by standing. Members that are considered inactive are those that meet one of the below situations or scenarios.
The member no longer resides in the immediate area but desires to retain their membership in this church. This intent must be presented to the elders.
Members who have been absent from the gathering of the church for a period of 3 months without cause. Upon six months of absence or sporadic attendance they will be dropped from the membership roll. Examples of absence with cause include but are not limited to military deployment, college attendance, temporary job transfer, illness, etc.
Members that substitute attendance at Gospel Baptist Church for attendance in other congregations for a period of three months. After six months of sporadic attendance they will be dropped from the membership roll.
Members that come under some form of church discipline, not plainly egregious enough for excommunication, and the member is unrepentant, and/or the member has not begun steps towards reconciliation, and/or the situation is not rectified within a period of six months. If repentance, reconciliation, and rectification is not occurring, has not occurred, or is not possible then the church will follow the procedure for excommunication as stated in Article VII, Section 2.
Section 4: Termination of Membership
A member may be removed from the membership of Gospel Baptist Church by:
A. TRANSFER — We understand that at times, members of any local body must make a decision in regards to moving their membership away from their current church. Members of our local body are free to transfer their membership to another church at any point as their conscience and spiritual walk leads them. Before transferring their membership, the member must notify the elders of their intentions. This will allow the rest of the congregation to be notified and have the individual(s) removed from the membership roll.
B. REQUEST — At times a member may request to be removed from the membership roll. If this occurs, the member must notify the elders of their intention so that the congregation can then be notified and the individual(s) can be removed from the membership roll.
C. INACTIVITY — If a member becomes an “inactive member” they may be removed from the membership roll after a period of time. See Article V, Section 3.
D. EXCOMMUNICATION — It is right and in harmony with the Scriptures for the congregation, upon recommendation of the elders, to remove from this fellowship any person who persists in holding false or heretical doctrine; or who obviously and persistently lives inconsistently with his profession; or who lives in violation of the law or public morals; or who walks disorderly; or who persists in disturbing the unity and peace of this church (Matthew 10:15; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,11,15; Romans 16:17). Excommunication will follow the procedures outlined in Article VII, Section 2.
DUTIES AND PRIVILEGES OF MEMBERSHIP
Scripture instructs Christians to live together in fellowship within local church bodies. In order to fulfill Scriptural responsibilities in following Christ according to His will, it is incumbent on every believer to unite with other believers in submission to the lordship of Christ in a local church.
Section 1: Means of Grace
All public and private means of grace, such as honoring the Lord’s Day, faithful attendance at the stated meetings of the church, daily systematic reading of the Bible, and private and family worship shall be urged upon our members.
Section 2: Marriage and Family Life
Marriage is ordained by God and is exclusively a covenant relationship between one biological man and one biological woman (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6, 1 Corinthians 7:2). Because God has ordained marriage and defined it as the covenant relationship between one biological man, one biological woman, and Himself, Gospel Baptist Church will only recognize marriages between a biological man and a biological woman.
Further, the pastors and staff of Gospel Baptist Church shall only participate in weddings and solemnize marriages between one biological man and one biological woman. The facilities and property of Gospel Baptist Church shall not be used to host any weddings or marriage celebrations except for those that are between one biological man and one biological woman. In addition, at least one of the individuals (bride or groom) must be a member in good standing of this local congregation and the couple will be required to undergo marriage coaching with one of the elders prior to their wedding. Christians who are married to each other are to relate to each other not only as husband and wife but also as brother and sister in Christ.
Christians who are married to unbelievers should strive to influence their homes for the glory of God by commending the gospel and demonstrating its power in their lives according to apostolic instructions found in 1 Corinthians 7:12–16 and 1 Peter 3:1–7.
Unmarried Christian adults should live faithfully to Jesus Christ in all of their relationships and use the opportunities their singleness affords them for the advancement of the gospel and the prosperity of the church according to the apostolic instructions found in 1 Corinthians 7.
Section 3: Home Government
The church expects its members to follow the Scriptures in regards to home government. God has required that godliness in the home have a high priority in every life. The home holds a central attention in God’s Law and is the object of frequent exhortation in the New Testament. Husbands are expected to rule their homes with gentleness but firmness. They are to love their wives sacrificially with a Christ-like love and are to give leadership to the spiritual vitality of the home. Wives must be subject to and respectful of their husbands as to the Lord. Parents should train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4) by holy example, catechizing, consistent education, and firm, loving discipline (including the careful, measured, biblical use of the rod of correction—Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; 23:13–14; 29:15). Children must reverently honor and obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1–3). These primary responsibilities, prayerfully executed, will honor the name of Christ in the community and strengthen the cause of Christ in generations to come.
Section 4: Missions and Witnessing
It is the duty of every Christian and of every church of Christ to seek to extend the Gospel to the ends of the earth and to make disciples who will, in turn, make disciples (Matthew 28:18–20). Evangelistic and missionary efforts are the natural consequence of regeneration (Psalm 51:10–14). “Preach the Gospel” is a frequently repeated command of Christ. It is the duty of every child of God to witness by word, deed and lifestyle. Personal efforts to make disciples for Christ are expected of every member. Beyond this, we are committed to cooperative efforts for sending the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
Section 5: Principles of Giving
It is clearly taught in Scripture that Christians are to support the work of the Lord by systematic, proportionate and sacrificial offerings made through the local church. This is set forth in both positive command and favorable example (Malachi 3:8–11; 1 Corinthians 16:1–2; 2 Corinthians 8 and 2 Corinthians 9). Hence we pledge ourselves to contribute regularly, faithfully and sacrificially to the support of this church in recognition that all that we have has come to us from God and He is worthy of being worshipped with gifts and offerings (Psalm 96:8). This faithful giving to the local body is to be given in accordance with the member’s conscience. No member is expected to give beyond what he or she feels called to contribute while remaining a faithful and wise steward of the finances the Lord has blessed them with.
We give because we have been given much in Jesus Christ. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Section 6: Christian Liberty
We shall require of each other in our daily responsibilities and relationships loyal obedience to all those moral precepts established in the Word of God (Hebrews 10:24, 25). However, where God has not prohibited certain practices in His Word, the Christian has liberty to participate in them with discretion and care. The following principles must always guide the Christian’s exercise of these liberties:
A. FEAR OF GOD — As the servant of Christ, all actions must be motivated by love to God, and all objects must be used for His glory. The term “liberty” is often used as a cloak of malicious self-indulgence, which is sin (1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Timothy 4:4,5; 1 Peter 2:15,16).
B. LOVE OF BRETHREN — Though no man may dictate to the Christian’s conscience, the welfare of fellow saints must always deeply affect his decisions. In a spirit of serving the brethren, he must do that which he judges will edify them and prevent their stumbling (Galatians 5:13; 1 Corinthians 10:23; 1 Corinthians 8:9).
C. COMPASSION FOR THE UNCONVERTED — Use of liberty must always be regulated by its effect upon sinners, and that behavior chosen which is likely to win some (1 Corinthians 9:19–22).
D. WATCHFULNESS OVER THE SOUL — Though free in conscience to use all of God’s creation, carefulness in practice is demanded because of remaining lusts. Where the Christian judges himself weak through lust, he must abstain in order to persevere in the faith (1 Corinthians 9:23–27).
Section 7: Support of Church Officers
It is the duty of every member to respect the appointed officers of the church. Church members should recognize that the elders and deacons who serve among them do so by the authority of God’s Word and for the spiritual welfare of the whole body. Therefore every member should encourage and pray for the elders and deacons in their respective ministries.
Specifically, members should be ready to assist the deacons in protecting the unity of the church and caring for the practical needs of the membership and community at large. This includes a willingness to use personal gifts and resources in caring for others. It also includes helping the deacons be aware of needs in the church and community, and cooperating with them in practical ways to assist them in fulfilling their responsibilities (Acts 6:1–7).
It is the duty of every member to recognize that God gives to His church men to serve as spiritual leaders who give oversight to local congregations. These elders of the church are to be “esteemed very highly in love because of their work” (1 Thessalonians 5:12–13). Members are to submit to and follow them because they keep watch over the souls of the congregation as those who must give an account to God for their ministry (Hebrews 13:17). Every member is admonished by God’s Word to encourage the elders to fulfill their duties, “with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).
Church members are called to follow the example of the elders as far as warranted by the Word (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; Philippians 3:17; Hebrews 13:7), to stand by them, in all their trials and afflictions, defending them in all good causes, as far as in them lies (2 Timothy 1:15, 4:16), and to avoid exposing their weaknesses, remembering that the prosperity of the Gospel depends much on their good report.
Section 8: Controversy
Any matter involving controversy within this church, within the officers, or between the congregation and the officers, if it threatens to cause dissension and injury to the welfare of the church, must be called to the attention of the elders as soon as possible by any member of the congregation aware of the situation.
The Christian life is a life of discipleship, which means that it is to be characterized by godly discipline. This includes self-discipline which involves training oneself for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7) as well as the corporate discipline that comes through being united to a local church. Church discipline is both formative and corrective.
Section 1: Formative Discipline
Formative church discipline comes through the teaching of God’s Word, the example of Christian living, and the mutual ministry of every member of the body of Christ. It has as its goal the instruction of disciples, the transformation of their lives, and their edification in love (Ephesians 4:11–13; Romans 12:1–16; 1 Corinthians 12:4–27). Formative discipline has a sanctifying influence. Every member should be satisfied with his/her God-given ministry, and thus we shall all grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:7–12). Formative discipline utilizes the gifts and talents of each member, whether young or old, for the edification of all.
As members of this church we recognize our obligation to honor, serve, worship, praise and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ in all that we say and do (1 Corinthians 10:31). Jesus Christ is the head of the church and, therefore, its Lord and Lawgiver (Ephesians 1:22; Isaiah 33:22). Those who truly love Him will endeavor to keep His commandments (John 14:15). In His Holy Word our Lord calls believers to perform certain duties toward one another. Some of these duties are:
To love one another sincerely in deed and truth (John 13:34, 35; Romans 12:9; 13:8–10; 1 John 3:18).
B. To labor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).
C. To work for the edification and spiritual benefit of the whole body so that we all may grow to spiritual maturity as a holy temple in and for the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:12, 26; Ephesians 4:12, 29; 2:21, 22).
D. To watch over one another for good (Philippians 2:3,4).
E. To pray with and for one another (James 5:16).
F. Not to neglect the assembling of ourselves together, for the celebrating of divine worship, and thereby to promote one another’s spiritual benefit (Hebrews 10:25; Acts 2:42).
G. To contend unanimously for the faith and truth once delivered to the saints, in the purity thereof, according to the Holy Scripture (Psalm 93:5; Zechariah 14:2; 1 Corinthians 14:33–40; 11:2).
The above duties, when faithfully performed by every member, will have a positive, formative effect upon the whole assembly. With the blessing of the Holy Spirit we will all be enabled to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The following section is provided in the event of the failure of formative discipline as set forth above.
Section 2: Corrective Discipline
Corrective discipline is called for when any member, regardless of office or position, is guilty of disorderly or divisive conduct or holding to heretical doctrine which is contrary to the church’s standard of life and doctrine as expressed in our covenant or confession which are based on the Word of God. Reasonable efforts shall be made through personal counsel and admonition to resolve difficulties, correct errors, and remove offenses before any further disciplinary action is taken. Where possible all such communication should be face to face.
When individual and private counsel and admonition have failed, the matter must be brought to the attention of the elders, who will then shepherd the process according to the instructions of God’s Word (Matthew 5:23,24; 18:15–18). In extraordinary circumstances, at the discretion of the elders, a matter may be taken directly to the church, according to the apostolic instruction of 1 Corinthians 5 and Titus 3:10–11.
The goal of such discipline should be:
- The repentance, reconciliation, and spiritual growth of the individual disciplined (Hebrews 12:1–11; Matthew 18:15–17; 1 Corinthians 5:5; Galatians 6:1);
- The instruction in righteousness and welfare of other Christians, as an example to them (1 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Timothy 5:20; Hebrews 10:24–25);
- The purity of the church as a whole (1 Corinthians 5:6–7; Ephesians 5:27; Revelation 21:2);
- The good of our corporate witness to non-Christians (Matthew 5:13–16; John 13:35; Acts 5:10-14); and
- And supremely the glory of God which is manifested when His holy character is reflected to the watching world (Deuteronomy 5:11; John 15:8; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:12).
The following are elements of corrective discipline:
A. SUSPENSION — If a member has publicly sinned, but shows hopeful signs of repentance, including submission to the admonitions of church officers, then severe discipline, such as excommunication, would be improper. Nevertheless, serious offenses may not be overlooked altogether, lest God’s enemies multiply their blasphemies, other saints be emboldened to sin, and the offender is harmed by a failure to test his own soul and appreciate the gravity of his offense. Therefore, at the discretion of the elders, less severe terms may be imposed upon a member—such as public rebuke, or by being moved to a status of inactive upon the membership roll in accordance with Article V, Section III. The latter consists of a temporary suspension of the rights to attend the Lord’s Table, to serve publicly in the church or vote in congregational meetings. Those who submit to such discipline are to be wholly forgiven and received as brethren. All such actions shall be reported to the congregation.
B. EXCLUSION — If a member is habitually absent from the stated meetings of this church without just cause, or is unwilling to resolve conflicts or settle differences in a Scriptural manner, or requests severance of membership, he or she may be excluded from the membership, following Article V, Section 4 above, at the recommendation of the elders and vote of the congregation. All votes will be cast by a public raising of the hand or by standing. All votes require at least a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting (abstentions do not count as votes) to pass.
C. EXCOMMUNICATION – The most serious step a church can take in corrective discipline is to remove a member because of unrepentant sin. In extraordinary situations when a member has sinned publicly, scandalously or divisively and without biblical repentance (2 Corinthians 7:8–12), the elders may call upon the church to excommunicate that member immediately (1 Corinthians 5:4–5; Titus 3:10–11). In other situations that call for corrective discipline, when restoration is not secured by the processes required in Matthew 18:15–18, further steps must be taken to correct offenders. Written charges shall be given to the accused offender if he requests a hearing with the elders. The elders shall meet with the accused, unless the person refuses to appear. After a fair and impartial hearing of all the witnesses accessible, and all facts ascertainable, the elders must form a judgment. If they believe the accused to be guilty and deserving of severe biblical discipline, they shall make a recommendation that the offender be excommunicated at a duly called congregational meeting. The congregation will have the right to decide if the offender is to be excommunicated through the taking of a vote. All votes will be cast by a public raising of the hand or by standing. All votes require at least a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting (abstentions do not count as votes) to pass. Excommunication always has at its end the glory of God, the purity of the body of Christ and the restoration of the offending party.
D. RESTORATION — It is the joyful duty of the church to forgive and restore to membership those persons who give satisfactory evidence of being repentant (2 Corinthians 2:6–8; 7:11). The elders shall meet with and seek the restoration of those who have been excluded or suspended when they (the elders) have judged that the aims of the discipline have been accomplished. Such action is to be reported to the church. Upon recommendation of the elders the congregation shall have the right to restore an excommunicated person by a majority vote of the members present and voting at a duly called members’ meeting. All votes will be cast by a public raising of the hand or by standing. All votes require at least a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting (abstentions do not count as votes) to pass.
Section 1: General Statement
Jesus Christ alone is the head of His church (Col.1:18, Matt. 28:18-20). However, as head, He has ordained that individual churches should be blessed with the spiritual rule and ministry of special office bearers (Phil. 1:1). Therefore, it is the duty of the church to seek to discover from among members in good standing those men to whom Christ the Lord has imparted the necessary gifts for office bearing. The Lord’s appointment is recognized by not only the inward conviction of the individual involved, but also by the approval of the church observing the possession of those gifts and graces required, and by Scriptural definition of the office.
While it is always the desire of the congregation to come to one mind regarding those who should be appointed to serve as office bearers in the church, no less than two-thirds of the members present shall be required for the election of an officer. The vote will be taken at a members’ meeting by public show of hands or by standing. Elders are ordained by Christ to lead in the administration of local churches (Philippians 1:1; Acts 6:1–7; 14:23).
Deacons are appointed to care for the temporal needs of the congregation (Acts 6:1-3)
Section 2: Eldership
The elders shall be comprised of biological men who satisfy the qualifications for the office of elder set forth in 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:6–9. No elder shall hold the offices of both elder and deacon. Subject to the will of the congregation, the Elders shall oversee the ministry, business and resources of the church. In keeping with the principles set forth in Acts 6:1–6 and 1 Peter 5:1–4, the elders shall devote their time to prayer, the ministry of the Word (by teaching and encouraging sound doctrine), and shepherding God’s flock. This includes maintaining an accurate church role. The church shall recognize men gifted and willing to serve in this calling, in accordance with the constitutional provisions on elections. These men shall be received as gifts of Christ to His church and set apart as elders.
The elders shall take particular responsibility to examine and instruct prospective members, examine and recommend all prospective candidates for offices and positions, oversee the work of the deacons and appointed church committees, conduct worship services, administer the ordinances of baptism and communion, equip the membership for the work of the ministry, encourage sound doctrine and practice, admonish and correct error, oversee the process of church discipline, coordinate and promote the ministries of the church, and mobilize the church for world missions.
The elders are, further, to ensure that all who minister the Word to the congregation, including outside speakers, share our essential convictions. The elders may establish ministry positions or committees to assist them in fulfilling their responsibilities. The membership shall approve all candidates to fill the positions of senior and executive pastor.
The senior pastor shall act as moderator for all elder meetings and shall also elect one of their number to serve as moderator of the members’ meetings.
While Gospel Baptist Church does not financially support all elders, it is the responsibility of the congregation to make provision for the financial support of elders. 1 Timothy 5:17 encourages the support of “elders who rule well” (oversight) but, “especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” Thus a congregation may choose to support more than one elder in the various duties of that office but should place priority on the senior pastor role. (1 Tim. 5:17-18, Gal. 6:6-7)
This financial support and meeting of material needs should go, first and foremost, to the senior pastor and it should be the desire of the congregation to provide in such a manner that does not require the senior pastor to be bi-vocational. Upon the adequate support of the senior pastor the congregation may choose through the taking of a vote and at the recommendation of the senior pastor to begin the process of providing the same support, either in part or in full, toward any additional elders. All votes will be cast by a public raising of the hand or by standing. All votes require at least a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting (abstentions do not count as votes) to pass.
All elders hold equal authority beneath Christ in all matters pertaining to the church. All elders will seek unity in all decisions and will strive to uphold unity among the eldership and the congregation.
For purposes of compliance with the nonprofit corporation laws of the State of Ohio, the elders shall appoint biological men in good standing to serve as the officers of the corporation. (See “Church Corporation” — Article 6 of By-Laws.)
Section 3: The Senior Pastor
The senior pastor shall be an elder and will hold the position as “first among equals” in regards to the other elders. It will fall on this elder to lead the other elders and congregation in keeping the mandates of Scripture. This elder will also be considered the primary teaching/preaching pastor. This elder is to be supported in accordance with Article VIII, Section 2 above. He shall perform the duties of an elder described in Section 2 above, and shall be recognized by the church as particularly gifted and called to the ministry of preaching and teaching. His call shall be defined as per Article 3, Section 3 of By-Laws. He shall preach on the Lord’s Day, administer the ordinances of baptism and communion, and perform such other duties that usually pertain to that office, or as set forth in the constitution. In the absence or incapacity of the senior pastor, the executive pastor shall assume responsibility for his duties, any of which can be delegated.
Section 4: Executive Pastor
The executive pastor shall be an elder. He shall perform the duties of an elder described in Section 2 above, and shall be recognized by the church as particularly gifted and called to the ministry of preaching and teaching. His call shall be defined as per Article 3, Section 4 of By-Laws. He shall assist the senior pastor in the performance of his regular duties and shall perform any other duties that usually pertain to the office of pastor, or as set forth in the constitution, or which may be specifically assigned to him by the congregation. In the absence or incapacity of the senior pastor for defined periods of time (such as sabbatical or illness), the executive pastor shall assume the responsibility for his duties under the oversight of the elders.
Section 5: Additional Pastors
As God blesses the church it may become prudent to call additional men to the role of elder. These men shall perform the duties of an elder described in Section 2 above, and shall be recognized by the church as particularly gifted and called to the ministry of preaching and teaching. Their call shall be defined as per Article 3, Section 4 of By-Laws. They shall assist the senior and associate pastors in the performance of their regular duties and shall perform any other duties that usually pertain to the office of pastor, or as set forth in the constitution, or which may be specifically assigned to him by the congregation. In the absence or incapacity of the senior pastor and executive pastor for defined periods of time (such as sabbatical, illness, retreat, conference, etc), the elders shall assume the responsibility of their duties until the return of the senior or executive pastor.
Section 6: Deacons
The office of deacon is described in 1 Timothy 3:8–13 and Acts 6:1–7. The church shall recognize, in accordance with the constitutional provisions on elections, men who are giving of themselves in service to the church, and who possess particular gifts of service. These members shall be received as gifts of Christ to His church and set apart as deacons. Deacons shall care for the temporal needs of members, preserve unity, attend to the accommodations for public worship, and encourage and support those able to help others and those with gifts of administration.
The deacons are responsible for the disbursement of funds received by the church for benevolent needs. The deacons shall assist the church in maintaining a fund for benevolence, reporting on its use to the elders, treasurer, and finance committee at their request, and reporting to the church its total receipts and total disbursements.
The deacons, with the agreement of the elders, may establish unpaid administrative positions or committees to assist in the exercise of their duties.
Section 7: Resignation and Termination of Elders and Deacons
A. An elder’s or deacon’s term of office may be terminated through voluntary resignation or as a result of church discipline as discussed in Article VIII, Section 7.
B. If any officer (elder or deacon) shall make voluntary application to be released from his office, the relationship between the officer and church may be terminated by the congregation in ninety days from the date of notice of intention, or in a shorter period of time, if it is mutually agreed upon. This is to ensure an adequate opportunity for the smooth transition of duties and responsibilities for which the officer is responsible. In the instance of voluntary resignation, the individual will automatically be considered a member in good standing of the congregation.
C. If any elder or deacon is to be removed from their office as a matter of church discipline, the matter must first be brought to the other elders and then to the congregation. To effectively remove the offending deacon or elder will require that it be recommended by the other elders and the congregation must vote to remove the individual from office. Removal will require two-thirds of the members present to vote in favor of doing so. All votes will be cast by a public raising of the hand or by standing. All votes require at least a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting (abstentions do not count as votes) to pass. Upon removal, the individual will be consider to be an inactive member and additional disciplinary steps will be taken as necessary. As with any members falling under church discipline, the steps for discipline laid out in Article VII, Section 2 are to be followed.
However, in regards to elders the additional caveat(s) will apply: the elder in question cannot participate in the decision regarding themselves beyond providing a defense for themselves and the charges leading to their removal must be on the basis of evidence that can be validated by two or more witnesses (1 Timothy 5:19).
The work of this church is financially dependent upon the voluntary gifts of God’s people. The finance committee, shall be responsible for the orderly administration of the annual budget and all financial disbursals and receipts. Before the members’ meeting in November, the finance committee will work to prepare a budget that will finance the mission and ministries of the church. When this budget is approved by a vote of the congregation, it shall be considered the basis for the current liabilities. No adjustments are to be made to the budget that exceed 2% of the annual budget without the consent of the congregation.
The fiscal year of the church shall begin _ and end ___.
This church shall be considered dissolved when its membership concludes that it can no longer fulfill its stated purpose of existence. This must be decided through a unanimous vote of the membership present and voting at a members’ meeting (abstentions do not count as votes). All votes will be cast by a public raising of the hand or by standing.
In the event of dissolution, no donor, member, officer of the church, or private individual shall be entitled to share in the distribution of any assets of this church. Any assets of the church upon dissolution shall be used to pay any outstanding debts. Any remaining assets shall be equally divided among the missionaries or ministries supported by the church at the time of dissolution or shall be given to another church of like faith and practice, holding to the theology which accords with and is within the sphere of the church’s doctrinal statement of faith, or other similar religious organization.
Amendments to the Constitution may be adopted by a two-thirds majority vote of the members present at a congregational meeting, provided that such amendments have been distributed by the officers in written form at least two weeks prior to the congregational meeting. All votes will be cast by a public raising of the hand or by standing. All votes require at least a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting (abstentions do not count as votes) to pass.
Section 1: Notice of Meetings
Elders will notify the congregation of upcoming members’ meetings at regular worship services on the two successive Sundays immediately prior to the meeting. The elders will also supply members with an agenda at least one week prior to the meeting itself. In an emergency, a meeting may be called on shorter notice by making an effort to notify each member of the time, place and purpose of the members’ meeting.
Section 2: Number of Meetings
Members’ meetings shall be held every three months on a quarterly basis for the reception of reports and the transaction of such other business as may properly be brought before the meeting. The adoption of a budget for the upcoming year shall take place at the members’ meeting in November.
Section 3: Schedule and Content of Meetings
The members’ meetings shall take place in a quarterly fashion and will review the previous quarter while maintaining a focus upon the upcoming quarters. No business for the current quarter in which the members’ meeting takes place will be discussed unless it is a matter of great urgency to the operation of the church itself or is regarding an urgent need that has arisen in the life of a member of the church.
Section 4: Method of Calling Meetings
It shall be the right and responsibility of the elders to call all members’ meetings. When special or emergency members’ meetings are called, there must be notice given to the members of the congregation as to the purpose.
Section 5: Responsibility for Meetings
The elders shall arrange the details of all members’ meetings and see that all possible preparation for their successful conduct is made. All members’ meetings of Gospel Baptist Church shall follow the principles outlined in Robert’s Rules of Order, Revised. The clerk will ensure that all minutes are recorded and filed away so as to be accessible in the future. If the clerk is not present it is the duty of the moderator to ensure that the minutes are recorded and given to the clerk to file.
Section 6: Quorum for Transaction of Business
The voting members present at any constitutionally called members’ meeting shall be considered a quorum for the transaction of business. To pass, all motions must receive an affirmative vote equaling no less than two-thirds of the members present. The vote will be taken by public show of hands or by standing. All church officers shall be voted upon by a public show of hands or by standing.
Section 7: Voting Age, Requirements, and Procedures
All voting members must be eighteen years of age or over and be considered an active member. Members considered to be under the other category may vote on a case-to-case basis as deemed wise by the elders and the members of the congregation. Inactive members will not be able to participate in any vote until such a time that they are considered to be an active member again.
All votes will be cast by a public raising of the hand or by standing. All votes require at least a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting (abstentions do not count as votes) to pass.
Section 1: Principles
The process for church elections shall be interpreted and carried out to fulfill the following principles: Substantial prayer, both individually and corporately, should be an integral part of the election process; Nominations should proceed with the support of the elders; All candidates for church office should be treated with the grace, kindness, and honesty appropriate in evaluating fellow members; The election process shall express that spirit of mutual trust, openness, and loving consideration that is appropriate within the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Section 2: Selection of Officers
The election of officers shall be held at a members’ meeting of the church. Names of nominees to serve as elders or deacons shall be presented by the elders at the previous members’ meeting (providing that previous meeting occurred at least six weeks prior), and the election shall proceed as directed by the moderator. The elders should seek recommendations and involvement from the general membership in the nomination process.
Any member with reason to believe that a nominated candidate is unqualified for an office should express such concern to the elders. Members who cannot in good conscience affirm a candidate should express their objection to the elders as far in advance as possible before the relevant church members meeting.
The moderator shall declare elected all men receiving no less than two-thirds of all votes cast for the office of elder or deacon; abstentions will not be considered as votes cast. The persons elected shall assume their respective offices, immediately, upon election, unless another date has been specifically designated.
Section 3: Calling of the Senior Pastor
In the calling of any man to this position, the same basic process of calling an elder must be followed. In addition, however, the church must be given adequate opportunity to assess the preaching gifts of any potential senior pastor and, before being asked to express its judgment, must receive assurance from the elders that, having interviewed the man concerned, they are in no doubt as to his wholehearted assent to the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689, the church constitution, and the statement of faith. Notice of the nomination of a man to be elected to membership and called as senior pastor (which shall include, if necessary, election to membership of him and his wife if he is married) must be given at two Sunday morning services following the nomination, prior to the vote at a members’ meeting.
Section 4: Calling of Executive Pastor
In the calling of any man to the position of executive pastor, the same basic process of calling an elder must be followed. In addition, however, the church must be given adequate opportunity to assess the preaching gifts of any potential associate pastor and, before being asked to express its judgment, must receive assurance from the elders that, having interviewed the man concerned, they are in no doubt as to his wholehearted assent to the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689, the church constitution, and the statement of faith. Notice of the nomination of a man to be called as executive pastor (which shall include, if necessary, election to membership of him and his wife if he is married) must be given at two Sunday morning services following the nomination, prior to the vote at a members’ meeting.
SENIOR AND EXECUTIVE PASTOR
Section 1: Duties of the Senior Pastor
First and foremost the role of the senior pastor is to adhere to the role of elder described in Article VIII, Sections 2 & 3 of the church constitution. To ensure that everything done by the church in terms of spiritual work (i.e. teaching, preaching, evangelism, etc.) is under the Scriptural banner of Christ and in keeping with the doctrines espoused by this congregation, the additional duties of the senior pastor will be as follows: overseeing the various ministries, outreaches, and events of the church. The senior pastor will also oversee the spiritual direction, growth, and health of the church.
The senior pastor will rely on the other elders, deacons, and any number of qualified, willing volunteers to assist him in these tasks. At the discretion of the elders, these may include the formation of committees to assist in the planning, implementation, and oversight of various ministries.
Section 2: Duties of the Executive Pastor
First and foremost the role of the executive pastor is to adhere to the role of elder described in Article VIII, Sections 2 & 4 of the church constitution. To ensure that everything done by the church in terms of physical work (i.e. operations, logistics, resources, etc.) is done in a manner pleasing to Christ and with the goal of supporting the ministries of the church, the additional duties of the executive pastor will be as follows: overseeing the legal, financial, and logistical needs of the church, interacting and interfacing with strategic partnerships (i.e. CABA, SBC, G3, etc.), overseeing community engagement (website, social media, etc.), and to oversee the physical direction, growth, and health of the church.
The executive pastor will rely on the church clerk, treasurer, finance committee, and any number of additional qualified, willing volunteers to assist him in these tasks. At the discretion of the elders, these may include the formation of committees to assist in the planning, implementation, and oversight of various operational needs.
CLERK AND TREASURER
Section 1: Duties of the Church Clerk
The Clerk shall keep a record of all business transacted at the various members’ meetings of the church, keep an accurate record of the membership, and carry on all necessary and related correspondence for the congregation. In addition, the clerk will work to assist the executive pastor in caring for the physical direction, growth, and health of the church.
Section 2: Duties of the Church Treasurer
The church Treasurer is to be responsible for the keeping of an accurate, electronic financial record of all funds identified with the church, reconciling monthly statements, monitoring and safeguarding church accounts, attending to any filings required by the Internal Revenue Service, as well as maintaining records of individual contributions. Eligible candidates to the office of Treasurer must consist of either:
A member in good standing possessing abilities in financial stewardship and accounting practices, willing to voluntarily serve in this position.
A paid Certified Public Accountant to handle or oversee the proper discharge of all the above referenced duties.
The Treasurer shall work with and report to the elders and Finance Committee. An assistant Treasurer may be appointed to assist in these duties. The Treasurer, along with the executive pastor shall ensure that a financial audit is conducted once a year by a certified public accountant. In addition, the clerk will work to assist the executive pastor in caring for the physical direction, growth, and health of the church.
The Finance Committee shall be comprised of the senior pastor, executive pastor, the treasurer and at least one deacon. Their duties include working with the elders to prepare and recommend to the congregation an annual budget. After it has been approved by the congregation, this committee shall work in conjunction with the executive pastor to oversee the administration of the budget throughout the fiscal year. Working to the best of their ability to ensure financial stability, and to help safeguard against unforeseen circumstances, the committee shall meet no less than twice per year, with no more than six months between meetings.
The church will comply with the laws of the State of Ohio for Corporations Not-for-Profit (or non-profit organizations) in regards to formation, legal representatives and officers required, and accounting practices.
To ensure legal and financial compliance in all areas not directly against the commands of scripture, the church reserves the right to use the services of a lawyer, accountant, or other professional in any matter that cannot be handled by the elders or membership directly.
Amendments to the By-Laws may be adopted by a two-thirds majority vote of the members present and voting at a members’ meeting, provided that such amendments have been distributed by the elders in written form at least two weeks prior to the members’ meeting.