This website comes out of 25+ years of studying this subject of the Church and Discipleship.  This website represents the KingsWay Church’s current understanding as to what the Word of God means in practice to the Church collectively as the visible Body and Bride of Christ. This website represents our statement of Faith in practice of being the Church.  

We believe to be the Church means understanding our true identity in Jesus as Lord.  Disciples of Jesus must understand the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Messiah) in their lives as King and Head of His Church.  The Church must be about intentional Discipleship and members being a Disciple!  The Kingdom of God begins in us at our spiritual birth!  Faith being the key to Heaven or Eternal Life and a true spiritual birth by Baptism in the Holy Spirit!  The Word of God and the Holy Spirit coming together in us (mankind) based on a promise from God our Father.  By Faith, those who ask Jesus to forgive them of their sins and who place their trust of Eternal Life in Jesus will receive eternal life.  Jesus who is Lord then becomes our Savior and King and Head of His Church – visible and invisible!

We believe the Word of God the Bible was written so that we could know for sure that we have Eternal Life and know God personally.  We believe the Word of God to be without error and the final Authority for the Church.  The 66 Books of the Bible designates 2 offices in the Church as a plurality of Elders and Deacons.  This means the Church will be led by Elders as overseers of the visible Church under Congregational Authority.  

The Bible written over 1500+ years allows every person to know the Word of God for themselves.  We understand from the Word of God this to be the priesthood of the believer.

This website, in writing, here is not without error yet represents our best understanding of the Word of God as the Holy Spirit teaches us and guide us into all Truth.  The KingsWay Church believes by putting the most important things down in writing about how the Church conducts and orders their business brings accountability between the 3 components of the Church:  Elders, Deacons and the Congregation.  Like the Word of God written to us, everyone knows the agreed upon Church Order for the Congregation or Church to follow and hold each other accountable to the Word of God.  

This website can begin the conversation about the need for accountability in Churches today.  The Life on Life non profit ministry would love to schedule an appointment time to be your moderator to facilitate this KingsWay discussion.  In addition, we desire to help any Church apply what KingsWay sees as Biblical principles!

The KingsWay Church Constitution and by-laws will identify key components to bring in and execute accountability and Church order within any Church who see that these principles will work.  Yes, KingsWay believes this framework will preclude many of the issues we see happening in many Churches today.  

A formalized KingsWay Church Constitution follows next with an enclosed Elder library of written comments on important matters impacting the Church and agreed upon by the Church.  

The KingsWay Church         

Constitution and By-Laws

(Adopted _________, _____, 20___)

Note:  formulated over 30+ years and written over a period of 15+ years as the Lord provided understanding.  

ARTICLE I – NAME, PURPOSE AND GOALS 

SECTION 1 – Name 

The name of this church shall be:  The KingsWay Church (John 14:6).

Source of Truth and Practice for the Church:  The Word of God the Bible.  Foundations:  Ephesians 4:11-16.  Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists and Pastor-Teachers.    

Importance and Purpose of a Constitution:  Establishes Accountability and Order and provides a “living document” as to what the Congregation recognizes from the Head of the Church:  Jesus the Christ (Messiah) and Lord who became our Savior and King forever.     

This recognition and understanding God’s will for our life and Church can only happen as we individually call upon Jesus as Lord of our lives and trust in Jesus alone who becomes our Way, our Truth and our Life:  A Holy Spirit driven life.  

Trusting in Jesus (God the Son) by Faith alone and a Holy Spirit driven life begins immediately when we respond by Faith and receive Jesus into our lives.  John 3:6 says that which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of Spirit is spirit.  Jesus is the gift of Eternal Life given to us by the finished and completed work of Jesus the Christ (Messiah) who died on the cross and was buried and rose again on the 3rd day (Sunday) as payment of our sin debt in full.  That which is born of the Spirit results in righteousness given to us by God, the Father.  God the Holy Spirit gives us a new spirit and we become a new creation.  

Our new Life and new Identity is found only in Jesus Christ.  A Holy Spirit driven life begins at this point of Faith in Jesus:  Baptism symbolizes the finished work of Jesus:  the gospel or good news!   

The Congregation becomes one Body together as the Bride of Christ and all shall have a voice recognizing the Holy Spirit in them called a vote in this Constitution.             

SECTION 2 – Guiding Principles 

The Centrality of the Word- Under the Godhead, the Bible is the authority for the faith

 and practice of the church. The teaching and precedents laid in Scripture should 

 underlie all the church is and does. All members have a responsibility to study God’s

 Word for themselves and participate in ensuring that the church follows its teachings.   

 No church can do the will of God that does not know the Word of God.  (John 1:1, 2

 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 4:12).

Congregational Authority- Under the Godhead and His Word, the congregation is the

 principal  authority of the church. No one leader or group of leaders should supplant the

 will of the congregation.  The Congregation recognizes and follows the voice and seeks

 the will of the Lord and expresses their recognition with a vote.  (Mathew 18:7, Acts 6.5, 

 Ephesians 4:16, Colossians 2:19).

A Plurality of Elders- There is no such thing in the Bible as a Senior Pastor. From the very beginning of the establishment of elders in the local churches of the New Testament era, they were always in the plural (Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23). The people should never focus their hope on any one person but Jesus. He is the Chief Shepherd of the church (1 Peter 5:4).

The Gifting and Training of all Believers- Every believer has a spiritual gift, and many

 have speaking gifts. Those gifts need to be cultivated and developed. 1 Corinthians 14

 provides for 2 or 3 different men to address the body at any one meeting, and there is

 no reason that they have to be the same 2 or 3 every week.  How does the body know

 who can be a good Elder if they have never heard them speak?  Every believer should

 seek to understand and fulfill their ministry.  (Ephesians 4:11-13). 

Anybody Can Start a Ministry- Members are encouraged to initiate ministries

 whenever they see a need and feel a call to meet it. The body is not dependent upon

 the elders to allow, begin, and run a ministry. Any member can get together with any

 other member to begin a ministry. However, Elders should be allowed access to the

 ministry to help insure its consistency with the constitution and by-laws.  (Ephesians 

 4:11-13).  

Fellowship is Ministry within the Body- The biblical basis for ministry within the body

 is found in Ephesians 4:16. “from whom (Christ) the whole body, joined and held 

 together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, 

 makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (ESV) “Joints” are the 

 connections between individual parts of the body. These parts all work together to help 

 the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. The church cannot be the church without

 fellowship. The church should be very intentional about helping its members connect 

 with one another.

Deliberate and Intentional Evangelism- All evangelism is relationship evangelism, but

 with that relationship the gospel must be shared verbally. All Christians need to be

 trained to share the gospel within their network of relationships.  (Mathew 28:18-20).    

A Church Small Enough to be Family and to Develop People- In order to reflect the

 Church’s commitment to the importance of ministry within the body, the church should

 be small enough to retain a family spirit and the ability to train its members.     

“Megachurches” do not sufficiently provide for this need for a broad cross section of

 fellowship and the development of new leadership. When the church grows beyond that

 point, it shall seek to form an additional church.  Mathew 13:30-32, 49 a concept or

 thought of being more pure.    

ARTICLE II – STATEMENT OF FAITH

  1. GOD –There is one living and true God (Deut 4:35), eternally existing in three persons- God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19).   These are one in nature and essence (Rev 4:8). However, they execute distinct but harmonious offices in the work of creation, preservation, and redemption.
  1. GOD THE FATHER – God the Father is an infinite and personal spirit (John 4:24), perfect in power (Ex 9:16), holiness (Is 6:3), wisdom (Psalm 104:24) and love (1 John 4:8).  He is actively involved in the affairs of men (Prov 20:24).  God answers prayer (James 5:16). He works out the events of history according to His own sovereign plan (Eph 1:11).
  1. GOD THE SON – God the Son is Jesus Christ who has eternally existed with the Father (John 1:1). He came to earth in the flesh as the Living Word of God (John 1:14).  He was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:18) and born of a virgin (Is 7:14).  He was fully God (Titus 2:13) and fully man (Heb 2:14).  He was tempted in all points as we are, but never sinned (Heb 4:15).  He offered Himself voluntarily to die on the cross for our sins as our substitute (Rom 5:8; Phil 2:5-8). He rose from the dead bodily and ascended to the right hand of the Father. From there He continually makes intercession for believers (Rom 8:34).  He will one day return to earth in power and glory (Mark 13:26).  
  1. GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT – God the Holy Spirit has eternally existed with the Father and the Son (Gen 1:2).  He is a personal being with a mind and thoughts (Rom 8:27) and who both speaks with (1 Cor 2:13) and beyond words (Rom 8:26). He was active in creation (Ps 104:30). The Holy Spirit reveals and glorifies Christ (John 16:14) and applies His saving work to men (Titus 3:5). He convicts them of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8) and draws them to Christ. Through Him believers are regenerated (John 3:6) and baptized into Christ’s body (1 Cor 12:13).  They are indwelled by the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:22) from the moment of their conversion (Rom 8:9).  He comforts (Acts 9:31), guides (John 16:13), teaches (John 14:26), and seals them until the day of redemption (Eph 4:30).  The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to men as He wills (1 Cor 12:4-13) for the building up of the body of Christ (Eph 4:12).  He is the ultimate author of the Scriptures (2 Peter 1:20-21). 
  1. THE BIBLE – The Bible is the written revelation of God to man (1 Cor 2:13; Rev 1:1).  Its books were divinely inspired and without error in the original manuscripts (2 Tim 3:16).  It is the final authority on all matters about which it speaks (2 Peter 1:20,21).  It contains the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament (2 Pet 3:14-16). 
  1. MAN – Man was originally created in the image of God (Gen 1:26), but through his own deliberate choice sinned and brought upon himself the consequences of separation from God.  This historic fall brought upon all men death and condemnation (Rom 5:12).  They inherit a sinful nature and are sinners by birth, choice, and practice (Ps 51:5; Rome 3:23; Rom 2:1).  As such, they are unable to please God in their natural state (Romans 6:8; 1 Cor 2:14). They are responsible for their choices and actions (Romans 14:12).  
  1. SALVATION – Salvation is entirely a work of God’s grace (Eph 2:8, 9) and is not based upon any human merit (Titus 3:5) or the performance of any religious observance (Gal 5:6).  It is a free gift (Rom 6:23).  Christ Himself with all that He is and does is that free gift (1 John 5:11, 12). He purchased our salvation by dying on the cross for our sins (1 Cor 15:3) and rising from the dead (2 Cor 5:15).  All who repent of their sins and turn to Him in faith as Lord and Savior  (Mark 1:15) trusting in His finished work alone for their salvation thus receive Him and His salvation as that free gift (John 1:12).  They are born again (1 Peter 1:3) and sealed until the day of redemption by the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30).  Since eternal life is a present possession (John 6:47), it is unbroken (John 10:28).  Thus, true believers are eternally secure (1 Peter 1:5).
  1. ASSURANCE OF SALVATION – All who are born again of the Spirit can be assured of their salvation from the very moment at which they trust Christ as their Savior and Lord (John 5:24). They may receive continued assurance throughout their Christian life (Heb 6:11).  The Word of God (1 John 5:13), the witness of the Holy Spirit (1 John 4:13), love of the brethren (1 John 3:14), and the general practice of ongoing righteousness (1 John 2:5, 6) all contribute to give the Christian this assurance.
  1. THE CHURCH – Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, which is His body (Eph 5:23; Col 1:18).  It is composed of all true believers everywhere (1 Cor 12:13).  Believers are to unite together in local expressions of that body (Acts 11:22). The local church assembles regularly for worship, prayer, teaching, fellowship and the celebration of the ordinances (Acts 2:42). Christ commanded His church to proclaim the gospel to the whole creation (Mark 16:15), and then to disciple the believers by baptizing them, and teaching them to obey His commands (Matt 28:19-20).
  1. THE ORDINANCES – Christ gave two observances to the church as ordinances to be practiced until His return.  The Lord’s Supper pictures the Christian’s personal appropriation of the death of Christ for their sins (1 Cor 11:24).  Water baptism pictures the identification of the believer with His death, burial, and resurrection (Rom 6:3-5). Neither are a means to salvation (1 Cor 1:17).  As testimonial pictures (1 Cor 11:26; 1 Peter 3:21), they are for believers only (1 Cor 11:29).  
  1. LAST THINGS – Christ will one day return to the earth visibly and bodily (Acts 1:11). Eventually, there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked (Acts 24:15).  The righteous will inherit eternal bliss, and the wicked will inherit eternal punishment (Matt 25:46). 

ARTICLE III – MEMBERSHIP

SECTION – 1 Membership Requirements

Although local church membership is not specifically mentioned in the New Testament, it is implied from its mention of accountability (Matt 18:15-20; 1 Cor 5:1-5) and organization (Phil 1:1). Those who feel called to adult membership must give their salvation testimony to the Board of Elders.  All prospective members 18 years of age or older are then required to attend a class on church membership (John 5:39). They then make a profession of faith at a public meeting of the church (Matt 10:32) and are presented by the elders as candidates for membership.  If they have not ever received believer’s baptism as a form of obedience, they should be baptized at this time as part of their membership covenant (Matthew 10:32, 33; 28:19, 20).

Children under the age of 18 are encouraged to make a profession of faith as soon as they have trusted Christ (Matt 19:14) and follow the Lord in believer’s baptism. When they reach the age of 18, they must take the church membership class, and will be presented to the church as new members.

SECTION – 2 Privileges of Members

All members 18 or over shall be able to vote on the business of the church.   While the church may bring in those from outside its membership to minister to the body on a temporary basis, only members of the church shall be allowed to become part of the regular teaching or music ministry of the church  (Eph 2:21,22; 1 Cor. 3:9-17). 

SECTION 3 Responsibilities of Members

To strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness and comfort; 

To promote its prosperity and spirituality; 

To attend its services regularly; 

To sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines;

To give it a sacred preeminence over all institutions of human origin; to give faithfully of time and talent in its activities; 

To contribute cheerfully and regularly, as God has prospered them, to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel throughout all nations; to maintain family and private devotions;

To train their children according to the Word of God; 

To seek the salvation of their kindred and acquaintances; 

To walk circumspectly in the world; 

To be just in their dealings, faithful in their engagements, and exemplary in their conduct;  to avoid all gossip, backbiting and unrighteous anger; 

To abstain from all forms of activity which dishonor our Lord Jesus Christ, or cause stumbling to a fellow believer or hinder the winning of a soul to Christ; 

To be zealous in their efforts to advance the cause of Christ, our Savior; and 

To give to Him preeminence in all things,

To encourage one another in the blessed hope of our Lord’s return;

To watch over one another in brotherly love; 

To remember each other in prayer; 

To aid each other in sickness and distress; 

To cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech; 

To be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Savior, to seek it without delay,

Upon moving, to unite with a church of like faith as soon as possible.

SECTION 4 Termination of Membership – 

  1. Personal Request – A person may remove themselves from membership by their own request. 
  1. Membership in Another Church- No person shall be a member of this church and another at the same time. The church will mail a letter of membership standing if requested in order to aid in the transfer of membership to another church (1 Cor 16:3).

3.   Prolonged Absence – A member may be removed from church membership

                             by an unexplained absence from its regular meetings for a period of 6 months 

                             (Hebrews 10:24,25).

  1. Death
  1. Church Discipline – Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).  Preventative self-discipline is the goal of church’s ministry.  Restoring such self-discipline is the aim of the corrective discipline exercised by the body. 

Corrective discipline should be practiced only for those offenses that are clear violations of biblical absolutes. Such practices listed in Scripture include sexual immorality, greed, idolatry, drunkenness or substance abuse, verbal abuse, swindling, idleness, gossip, and intentional divisiveness (1 Cor 5:11; 2 Thess 3:10-12; Titus 3:9-11). Church discipline is not to be practiced for differences of opinion on doctrinal or practical matters not spelled out in this constitution and by-laws. Nor is it to be carried out for differences of opinion and practice involving the personal stewardship of time and resources (Rom 14:5; 2 Cor 9:7).  

Church discipline should follow the steps outlined in Matthew 18:15-17, dealing with the problem at the level at which it presents itself, making every effort to involve no one other than those already involved.  Private sins are best handled privately, while those that, by their nature, have become common knowledge should be handled before the body (“actually reported” 1 Cor 5:1). 

If a member of the body refuses to repent of their sin when confronted by an individual and then one or two others (Matt 18:15-16), the matter shall be brought before the elders as representatives of the church (Matt 18:17).  If the offending party refuses to listen to the elders, the congregation is informed in a closed meeting of its membership.  In this meeting, the congregation is instructed as to the basic facts of the situation and of the elders’ recommendation to withdraw fellowship from the offender for a specified period. This is defined by Paul as “punishment inflicted by the majority” (2 Cor. 2:6). A two-thirds vote by secret ballot is required for such action. 

Though normal fellowship is withdrawn, individual members are encouraged to seek out the disciplined member with attempts to admonish, counsel, and restore them (2 Thess 3:14-15;1 Cor 5:9,11).  The offender is still allowed to attend services, but not to partake of the Lord’s Supper since the Lord’s Supper is a picture of fellowship (1 Cor 10:16-17; 1 Cor 11:27).  Nevertheless, the offending party is still considered to be a brother or sister (2 Thess 3:15).  The goal of such discipline should be the restoration of the offending brother or sister.

If, after the specified period of time, the offending party still refuses to listen to the church regarding their sin, another closed meeting of the congregation (“when you are gathered together” 1 Cor 5:4) shall be called. The congregation shall be informed that the elders recommend that the individual is to be considered as a lost person and is being removed from the membership of the church (Matt 8:17; 1 Cor 5:2, 5, 7, 13; 1 Tim 1:20). A two-thirds vote by secret ballot is required for such action. The offending party would then become a candidate for the church’s evangelistic efforts. 

Those involved in church discipline should attempt to correct those overtaken in a spiritual fault with gentleness and humility (Gal 6:1; 2 Tim 2:25).  Those not involved in the original sin should listen with an open mind to all sides before passing judgment (1 Cor 6:2).

ARTICLE IV – CHURCH GOVERNMENT

The church belongs to Christ (2 Cor 10:7) and He is Lord of both the visible and invisible church (Eph 1:22).  The church shall therefore always endeavor to determine His will (Col 1:19). When Christ left the earth, He communicated His will for the church to the apostles through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:2). Under the inspiration of the Spirit, the apostles wrote their portion of the scripture (2 Pet 1:21). Therefore, the Bible is the final authority for all matters of faith and practice for the church (Acts 20:27; 2 Tim 3:16). 

Section 1- Governing Bodies and Officers

THE CHURCH CONSTITUTION

This church constitution contains the principles upon which the church is organized and shall be governed.  It represents the current interpretation of the church about what the Bible says about church government. In addition to being a legal document, it is also the basis upon which individuals agree to become members of the church. All members of the church shall be bound by its provisions. 

THE CONGREGATION

Under God, His Word and His Spirit, the congregation is the authority of the church. Each member of the body has a direct connection to Jesus, the Head of the church, and participates in its growth (Eph 4:16;Col 2:19). 

The congregation of __________________ Church is an autonomous unit governing its own affairs and is not accountable to any ecclesiastical authority. The New Testament says nothing about abiding officers for the church except at the local level (Phil 1:1). 

Such officers serve and lead at the direction of the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28), but the qualifications, gifting, and ability to serve and lead are recognized by the congregation (Acts 6:3, 5). Ordination represents the authority of God as it is expressed through the local congregation.  Even the apostle Paul was ordained for special mission work through a local congregation (Acts 13:1-3). As such, the congregation is the authority responsible for the election, retention, discipline, and dismissal of all Elders and Deacons. They are also the final authority in admitting, disciplining, and dismissing its members (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Cor 5: 1-4). 

They shall also elect the Church Moderator, its Secretary and Treasurer, and certain members of the Church Committee (1 Cor 6:4; 16:3; 1 Tim 5:20).  (See the section on the Church Committee below.)

The congregation shall approve, at the annual meeting, a line item budget for the year.  It shall also approve any building programs proposed by the leadership.  No indebtedness shall be incurred by the church without the express approval of the congregation in a business meeting. (1 Cor 16:3).

ELDERS 

The Board of Elders shall be responsible for the spiritual oversight of the church (Acts 20:28). Their ministry is to oversee the work of God by insuring its doctrinal and moral purity (Acts 20:28-31). Their job is not necessarily to lead or direct all the work, just to oversee it. They shall empower each member to fulfill their ministry and be good examples in fulfilling their own (2 Tim 4:5). Any junior ministerial staff shall be directly accountable to the Board of Elders.

They shall make recommendations to the Church Committee for any budgetary concern having to do with the body’s need for spiritual growth. In addition, they shall present to the congregation any proposed changes to the membership of the church either by addition, discipline, or removal. 

To insure that one man doesn’t “run” the church, no one shall be an officially elected Elder until there are at least 25 members and 2 men willing to take that role. Thereafter there shall be no more than one additional Elder recognized for every 25 additional members. 

Elders shall be members of the church and meet the qualifications set forth in 1Timothy 3 and Titus 1. 

The office of Elder is an office and a work and not a perpetual title (1 Tim 3:1). Elders shall retain their office for a three-year term unless they are prevented from fulfilling their obligations through moving, job or family responsibilities, sickness, death, or church discipline. Elders begin their term with their election at the annual meeting. 

At the conclusion of their term, if they so desire, they shall come before the congregation at the first annual meeting following their current three-year term to be reaffirmed by secret ballot.  They may be reaffirmed through an affirmative vote of two thirds of the membership present at that meeting.  

Any Elder who is elected in the middle of a term begins his three years at the next annual meeting. 

The church may elect men from outside the church to fulfill certain roles in the church and be on the Elder Board. They shall be subject to the same rules as elders elected from within the body. The church may also elect to hire staff who will not be members of the Elder Board. 

DEACONS

The Board of Deacons is responsible for the temporal affairs of the church (Acts 6:1-6).  They shall be responsible for the decisions and administration of benevolence (Acts 6:1-2), and they shall oversee the care of the building and grounds. They shall make recommendations to the Church Committee regarding any budgetary concerns, such as building projects, to help them fulfill their ministry. 

At least 1 rotating member of the Board of Deacons shall assist the Treasurer in counting the money received from all church offerings.

Deacons shall be members of the church and meet the qualifications set forth in 1Timothy 3.

Deacons shall likewise serve for three-year terms unless prevented from doing so by moving, job and/or family responsibilities, sickness, death or church discipline. Deacons begin their term with their election at the annual meeting. Any Deacon who is elected in the middle of a term begins his three years at the next annual meeting. 

MODERATOR

The Moderator shall moderate all the business meetings of the church. He shall assist all members of the congregation in bringing their concerns before the body in a decent and orderly manner (1 Corinthians 14:40).  He shall vote only when his vote is needed to determine the outcome of an election. 

The Moderator shall be a member of the church who is familiar with Roberts Rules of Order. Ideally, he shall not be a member of any church board or the Church committee. In the absence of such a person, someone else may serve in this capacity.

The Moderator shall be elected at the annual business meeting for a three-year term unless prevented from doing so by moving, job and/or family responsibilities, sickness, death or church discipline. A moderator who is elected in the middle of a term begins their three years at the next annual meeting. 

TREASURER

The Treasurer shall be the custodian of the church’s funds. They shall supervise receipts and expenditures; shall render an annual statement to the membership on the financial condition of the church; and shall prepare and submit any reports required by law. They shall make the books available to any member at their request within a reasonable time period.

The Treasurer shall be a member of the church and one who can be trusted to be honest and faithful (Prov 16:11; 1 Cor 4:2). Ideally, they shall not be a member of any church board or the Church committee. In the absence of such a person, the role may be filled by someone other than a paid staff member.

The Treasurer shall be elected at the annual business meeting (1 Cor 16:3) for a three-year term unless prevented from doing so by moving, job and/or family responsibilities, sickness, death or church discipline. A Treasurer who is elected in the middle of a term begins their three years at the next annual meeting. 

SECRETARY

The Secretary is the record keeper of the church. They shall issue notice to the membership of all congregational business meetings and maintain the minutes of those meetings. They shall have charge of all papers, archives, and records; maintain an up-to-date membership roster; and shall provide reasonable access to any such records to any member in good standing. 

The Secretary shall be a member of the church and ideally not a member of any board or the Church committee. In the absence of such a person, the role may be filled by someone other than a paid staff member.

The Secretary shall be elected at the annual business meeting for a three- year term unless prevented from doing so by moving, job and/or family responsibilities, sickness, death or church discipline. A Secretary who is elected in the middle of a term begins their three years at the next annual meeting. 

CHURCH Committee

The Church Committee represents the entire congregation in the handling of its affairs.  For legal purposes, the Church Committee shall be the directors and officers of the corporation. They are responsible for the screening and nomination of its officers to the body and the proposal of its annual budget. They shall also be responsible to determine whether a quorum is present in each business meeting.  

At least two months prior to the annual meeting in January, the Church Committee shall solicit names from the congregation for potential Elders and Deacons. They shall then evaluate the biblical qualifications of those individuals. They shall place in nomination at the annual meeting all the qualified names for each office from within the membership. However, only one name shall be placed in nomination for any position to be filled from outside the church membership. The Church Committee shall make recommendations to the congregation regarding any proposed change in the membership of all church boards, including its own. 

Members of the congregation shall present to the Church Committee these names to be considered for nomination no later than November 30th in each election year for the following annual meeting in January. A simple majority of this board is required to put a name in nomination for election at the annual meeting. 

The Church Committee shall also make recommendations to the congregation regarding the status of any paid staff.  Any changes in pastoral role, hours, or compensation shall be recommended to the congregation by the Church Committee. The Church Committee shall also determine the number of Deacons needed to serve the church properly. 

The Church Committee shall not dictate vision or attempt to settle disputes among the Elder or Deacon boards except to clarify the roles of the paid staff. Non-ministerial staff shall be directly accountable to the Church Committee.

The Church Committee shall also present to the congregation the annual budget for its approval. When the church reaches 100 members, it shall be responsible to secure an independent audit of the business records of the church once every 5 years, and at other times it deems necessary.

Church Committee members shall be members of the church in good standing. It shall normally consist of 7 church members, 4 from the general congregation elected by the congregation, and 1 member of the Elder Board chosen by the Elder Board and 2 members of the Deacon Board chosen by the Deacon Board.  If the church shall have under 25 members, the congregation itself will serve as the Church Committee and vote together on all its concerns.

The 4 members of the Church Committee chosen from the congregation shall be elected at the annual meeting to serve a three-year term unless prevented from doing so by moving, job and/or family responsibilities, sickness, death or church discipline. A member of the Church Committee who is elected in the middle of a term begins his three years at the next annual meeting. 

Section 2- Conducting the Business of the Church 

A majority of the church membership constitutes a Quorum for business meetings.

THE ANNUAL BUSINESS MEETING

The annual business meeting of the congregation shall be held each year in the month

            of January. Its purpose shall be to elect the officers of the church, to approve the annual

            budget, and to officially remove names from the membership of the church. Other   church business may also be transacted at this time.

The exact date and time of the meeting is to be determined by the Church Committee

 and they shall so notify the congregation at least one month in advance. At that time,      

the Church Committee shall publish the proposed budget for the year as well as its lists

 of nominees for church officers. The Elder Board shall publish the names to be deleted

 from the church membership and the reasons for their removal. 

Voting for the election of all church officers shall be by secret ballot.  

Paid staff members and their relatives shall excuse themselves from the discussion of 

 their compensation during the annual meeting.

The congregation shall vote on the candidacy for each officer nominated. Each candidate must receive a two-thirds affirmative vote of the members present to be elected to office. The number of elders elected must not exceed the ratio permitted by the constitution (see the section on Elders). Elder vacancies will be filled by those receiving the highest number of affirmative votes. 

The latest revised edition or Robert’s Rules of Order shall prevail at all business meetings, except when those rules are directly contrary to this Constitution and Bylaws.

SPECIAL BUSINESS MEETINGS 

Special business meetings may be called from time to time for purposes not expressly

            provided for in the annual meeting.  Examples of such purposes include votes for the

            addition, hiring, and removal of paid staff, the election of elders and deacons to fill partial

            terms; church discipline; the initiation of building programs or other expenses not 

            covered in the annual budget, reception  

            of new members, and amendments to the church constitution.

Special business meetings may be called at any time by either the Elder Board or the Church Committee, provided that the congregation is notified in writing at least one month in advance of the meeting date.  A written request that the Elder Board or Church Committee convene a special business meeting may be made by any of the membership that present such a request accompanied by the signatures of a majority of the membership. 

ARTICLE V – AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS

These by-laws may not be amended when the church membership is under 50 people. This insures a measure of stability for the original vision and the protection of any property the church has acquired.

When the church has a membership of 50 and over, any member of the church in good standing may propose an amendment to this constitution and by-laws. The member proposing the amendment is required to submit a copy of the amendment to the Board of Elders and to the Church Committee. The Church Committee shall then call a special business meeting with the required one month notice. The proposed amendment shall then be distributed to all the members for their review.

Voting on the amendment will be by secret ballot. If two-thirds of the membership

            approve the amendment, then the constitution and by-laws shall be revised to reflect the

            new changes.

ARTICLE VI – DISSOLUTION

In order to dissolve this organization, the Church Committee must present a resolution recommending that the organization be dissolved to the active membership. A proposal for dissolution may be considered at an annual or special business meeting of the active membership only after thirty-days-notice in writing is given to each member in good standing. The resolution to dissolve shall only be adopted upon receiving at least 80% of the votes by members present at such a meeting. This organization shall not be dissolved if over 20% of the members in good standing dissent.

No part of the net earnings or assets of the church shall ever incur to the benefit of any donor, member, director, or officer of the church, nor shall any private individual be entitled to share in the distribution of these assets. Upon dissolution, these assets must be distributed to one or more evangelical Christian organizations recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as being organized exclusively for religious purposes. These organizations shall be recommended by the Church Committee to the congregation and decided upon by a majority vote during a special meeting of the church’s remaining members. 

Elder Library begins here:

A Brief Overview of Authority in the Church as found in the New Testament

Just what exactly does the New Testament say about where authority resides in the local church? As it does with many subjects, much of what can be determined about authority in the local church comes from the sketches we have of New Testament examples rather than direct commands. Though the Scriptures do not tells us all we would like to know, it says more about church authority than many Christians think.

Many church leaders quickly declare that the church was never designed to be a democracy. Without question, it is true that the New Testament makes it clear that the church is not to be led through the democratic rule of fallible men.  It is clear from the Scriptures that Jesus Christ is the Head of the church (Eph 5:23). Whatever else headship implies, it speaks of authority and leadership. Christ is the Head over all rule and authority anywhere (Col 2:10). He is the top of any discipleship pyramid.  Never, at any time, has He delegated that authority to another (Matt 28:18). He Himself planned to build His church (Matt 16:18).  

Though He would leave the earth physically, He planned to be present in the person of the Holy Spirit.  He would not leave the disciples as spiritual orphans (John 14:17-18).  The disciples were to wait for the coming of that Spirit before they attempted to do anything (Acts 1:4).  Since Christ was present through His Spirit, none of the apostles was the Head of the church.  From the very beginning the Spirit-filled apostles were an equal plurality under His Headship.  He gave His final instructions to them as a team (Acts 1:4) and they stood up together as a team on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14).  Peter and Paul were probably “natural” leaders among them but they never refer to themselves by a title any more specific than that of “Apostle.”

The Apostles were given orders by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:2). They were also given the keys of the kingdom and the power to bind and loose (Matt 16:19).  This probably referred to their authority to open the kingdom to the Gentiles and to their ability to be used by Jesus as the vehicle of the message of the forgiveness of sins. This authority is directly related to the ministry given them by the Holy Spirit (John 20:22-23). But where does their authority lie now that they are all dead and gone?

The apostles transferred their authority to the Scriptures. Jesus intentionally gave us commands to be communicated through them (2 Peter 3:2). He told them that His Spirit would help them remember His teachings (John 14:26) and would also guide them into the truth of their perfect application (John 16:13). The apostles were, then, men moved by the Holy Spirit who spoke from God (2 Peter 1:21). The apostles understood that their writings were to be on a par with the other Scriptures (2 Pet 3:15,16). 

Since all Scripture is inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16), we can trust its authority and what it says to accurately convey the will of God to the church. It is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. 

However, the Bible does not tell us whom we should ordain as an elder in our churches. It does not discuss all the decisions an individual church needs to make. And the apostles are not here to consult. But God has given the church today four other groups to help.  

God uses individual Christians today to guide the church by His Spirit.  The Christian’s very body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 6:19). Because of the anointing of the Spirit, the individual Christian depends upon the Holy Spirit as His ultimate teacher (1 John 2:27). Each believer is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (1 Cor 12:7). That manifestation of the Spirit in the individual Christian helps to fit and hold the body together (Eph 4:16). Rulings by elders alone cannot do that. So every individual Christian has a role to play in helping the church be what it needs to be. No Christian spiritually outranks another, for we are all brothers (Matt 23:6-10).

Since God has placed His Spirit in every Christian, it is only natural that the local church congregation have ultimate authority in the local church. Wherever the church is gathered, Jesus promises to be “in their midst” (Matt 18:20). Just as 1 Corinthians speaks of individual Christians as being the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19), it also speaks of the church body as being a temple of the Holy Spirit as well (3:16). 

God also uses Elders to guide the church through the Spirit. The selection of elders does not come through a hierarchy of man. It is the Holy Spirit who selects overseers (Acts 20:28). Since the Lord through the Holy Spirit is still the Head of the church, it would not be surprising to find a plurality of elders in New Testament churches. None ever seemed to have more authority than the others (Acts 20:17; Philippians 1:1; 1 Tim. 5:17).

Another group God uses to guide the church through His Spirit are the Deacons. Deacons were to be men full of the Spirit (Acts 6:3). It is clear that they were to have some leadership authority for their particular sphere of ministry. The apostles “put them in charge” (vs. 3). They were to be full of wisdom. Decision-making is implied. They were to be “servant-leaders.” The apostles did not expect to lead them in their particular task.

Unlike the Scripture, the congregation, elders, deacons, and individual Christians are not inerrant. Yet each of these groups has a manifestation of the Spirit for a reason. Perhaps the inter-working of each group should stand as a check and balance upon the others. Beyond these groups, no other external authority is mentioned for the local church. Paul addressed his letter to the Philippians to the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi (the congregation), with the overseers (elders), and deacons (Phil 1:1).

Acts 15:22 mentions apostles, elders and congregation participating together in choosing men to accompany Paul on his trip to inform Gentiles of the decision of the Jerusalem council, but it does not mention their respective roles in that process.  Perhaps the construction of verses 22 and 23 implies a balance of responsibility. But 2 Corinthians 8:19 suggests that congregations as a whole were responsible for selecting the men that accompanied Paul in the administration of financial gifts for the churches. Even if the elders of these congregations picked these men, at the very least, the elders represent the will of the congregation as a whole. That suggests at least some measure of congregational authority. 

The parallel construction of Matthew 18:15-20 with Matthew 16:17-19 makes it appear that Jesus envisioned a time when the local church congregation would replace the decisions of the apostles in non-doctrinal matters pertaining to each local church. Jesus bestowed upon the congregation the same keys of the kingdom and the power to bind and loose that He gave the apostles. They have the responsibility to spread the gospel and are the final authority in matters of church discipline (Matt 18:17). It is interesting that the elders are not expressly mentioned in this disciplinary process (Matt 18:15-18). 

An example of church discipline is given in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5.  There church discipline was conducted when the congregation was “assembled” (1 Cor 5:4), not by a group of elders conducted behind closed doors. It is clear from this verse that the congregation was vested with full authority for this decision. Punishment was levied by a “majority” of the congregation (2 Cor 2:6) and not by any small select group. Again, congregational authority is implied.

Another authority given to the local congregation was the ability to recognize the presence of the Spirit in the men who would be its leaders. The only clear example in the New Testament of the mechanics of a church actually choosing some leaders is found in Acts 6:1-6.  There the congregation chose the candidates and the apostles ordained them.  

Many are quick to point out that these men were deacons and not elders. Actually, the passage does not indicate that they were endowed with any particular title, but it does seem probable that they were the prototypes for the eventual office of Deacon. 

Was this beginning example of a congregation choosing other leaders for the apostles to ordain to be a pattern for the first century church? Or was this just to be the pattern for the selection of deacons alone? Was the process to be different for choosing elders? 

Did the apostles choose the elders themselves? It has been argued that the apostles set a precedent for this by choosing their own replacement for Judas in Acts 1.  However, it was the Lord Himself who chose Judas’ replacement through the supernatural method of casting lots, not the other apostles. So if this passage has any bearing on choosing elders for today’s local church, then we need to be drawing lots!  As it turns out, the Lord Himself handpicked all the apostles, including Matthias and Paul, through His own presence expressed in one way or the other.

The fact that this procedure was not used for selecting the men in Acts 6 for the indicates that the casting of lots was not expected to be the normative process for the choosing of other church offices. It was now expected that men could recognize other men who were filled with the Spirit. The entire congregation was entrusted with the task of selecting men who met this criteria. So God’s Spirit at this point seemed to be working through the congregation too, and not just the apostles.  The entire congregation selected the men and the apostles ordained them. 

The Greek word for “ordain” in the New Testament means “to appoint.” It does not necessarily refer to the actual choosing.  It is bestowing authority on behalf of the body of Christ. Paul’s own missionary calling by the Holy Spirit was verified by others and he himself was ordained by the laying on of hands (Acts 13:1-3). 

Paul did commission men like Titus to ordain elders in different cities (Titus 1:5), but it is unlikely that Titus actually chose the men himself.  He would not have been familiar enough with the men in all these cities to know who was qualified. It is much more likely that Paul simply gave Titus a list of the qualifications necessary to give to the churches to help guide them in their selection. 

Though elders are to lead the congregation, it would seem that they are to lead by congregational authority. This does not mean that the congregation tells the elders how to lead. It simply means that the congregation is to recognize and verify the Spirit’s moving in calling men to be a leader. The church constitution should be set up to reflect the congregation’s authority in choosing their leaders, defining their roles, and determining their status (full-time, part-time, sabbatical, etc.).  Any change in a leader’s status should go before the congregation for their approval, for that is their God ordained role. 

The specifics of every potential situation need not be included in a constitution, just the guiding principles. The guiding principle here is that the elders serve as leaders by the mandate of the congregation.  Any changes to that mandate should issue from the congregation as well. That should not be the decision of the other elders. Each elder has his own individual mandate from the congregation.  

Many churches are set up where the elders virtually control their own membership. They often serve as a nominating committee for their own group. When this is the case, they are not accountable to the congregation. The lack of accountability for elders often produces in them spiritual blindness (2 Cor 10:12). 

Elder boards usually have problems operating when at least one of three situations exist.  

  1. Some men become elders who are not spiritually qualified.
  1. The elder board is too diverse, and there are strong differences of opinion on how things should be run. They become immobilized by their differences.
  1. The elder board is not diverse enough, and they have no vision or willingness for any change. They become immobilized by their unity.

Having an independent Nominating Committee that screens the names of potential elders can prevent the first occurrence. They can keep a new and/or unknown and spiritually unqualified candidate from rising to leadership, just because the congregation might be the type that never votes against anything or anyone.

Having the right makeup on the committee can go a long way in preventing either the second or third situation.  When the elder board itself functions as this committee, as they do in some churches, they often will, in the name of unity, only place men in nomination that will not “rock the boat.”  Sometimes, however, the boat needs to be rocked!  Situation number 3 can result.  

If, on the other hand, there are no elders on the committee, the members elected by the congregation may nominate men who want to make drastic changes without understanding the underlying costs and consequences.  Situation number 2 may come to exist. They may nominate only men whom their friends in the church support.  Elders, after all, are part of the congregation as well, and not some separate entity outside of it.  They deserve some representation on this committee.

I prefer having a nominating committee with an odd number, say 5, where 2 members are elders elected to the committee by the elder board, and 3 that are at-large members elected by the congregation in their annual meeting.  If there is a man that the at-large members want to nominate as elder that the two elders oppose, they can overrule the two dissenting elders, 3-2.  However, if an elder succeeds in convincing only one of the at-large members to vote with them, the 3-2 vote will be reversed. 

Remember that this committee would only be empowered to make recommendations to the congregation they represent for their ultimate approval in a business meeting. It is not the committee that is the authority here. It is the congregation.  Because these congregational votes are so important, I prefer having a moderator that is completely neutral and not part of either the elder board or the committee.  His job would be to help the body exercise its will, and not to push through the agenda of either the elders or the committee.

I realize that when one talks about all of this for a while, it sounds so political and cynical.  But there is a very spiritual, God-honoring side to all of this, too.  It helps the body function as a unit, something many bodies are lacking.  

O

Elders are our leaders (Heb. 13:7), but they are to lead primarily by example and not “lord it over” those in their charge (1 Peter 5:3). They are to be occupied with shepherding (1 Peter 5:2). Elders today are often involved in making decisions for everyone else’s ministry.  This is much easier to do than having their own. Often, they are threatened by anyone else in the church that would like to initiate a ministry. They are threatened by others’ success. Their position becomes more important to them than the actual ministry of the gospel itself. So they “blackball” anything new that comes along.

But in doing so, they violate the concept of the presence of the Spirit within individual members and thus suppress the proper function of the body. They set themselves up as the final authority in the church, and as having all the spiritual gifts.  Instead, they should be overseers (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2) who manage the affairs of the church (1 Tim 5:17 NIV).  A good ruler does not attempt to be everything for everybody. He is not the minister of the church. All the members are ministers. He simply oversees the spiritual integrity of the church.

Elders rule by congregational authority.  This is implied in 1 Tim 5:20, where those elders not living in victory are rebuked before the congregation. If elders can control their own membership, they effectively evade their accountability before the congregation.  The congregation’s choice for elder can be vetoed. When elders are only accountable to themselves, there is the very real danger that a “good ol’ boy network” will evolve. It was a danger that Paul alluded to in 2 Cor. 10:12.

A balance of authority is no guarantee of a good church.  If no one is following the Spirit and walking by faith, it won’t matter how a church is organized! But a balance of authority helps insure that if there are good leaders in the church, they can be put in the position to which they are called and equipped by the Holy Spirit Himself.