There are many reasons why a visible New Testament church should have a statement of faith, a covenant, and bylaws. 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 desired
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 sovereign and holy God that these articles are set forth within these bylaws (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:15). We, the members of Grace Baptist Church, do ordain and establish the following articles, to which we voluntarily submit ourselves.
Article I-The Name
Article II-The Purpose
Article III-Church Government
Article IV-Church Officers
Article VI-Church Boards
Article VIII-Congregational Meetings
Article IX-Church Membership
Article X-Christian Conduct
Article XI-Church Discipline
Article XII-Council of Appeal
Article XIII-Church Corporation
Article XVI-Association of Churches
ARTICLE I — THE NAME
The name of this church shall be “Grace Baptist Church of Bossier City, Louisiana, Inc.” The trade name of this church shall be “Grace Baptist Church of Bossier.”
ARTICLE II — THE PURPOSE
The purpose of this church is to glorify God by exalting the supremacy of Christ through God-centered worship, equipping the saints through expository preaching and teaching, edifying one another with sacrificial love, and evangelizing the lost with the life-transforming gospel.
ARTICLE III — CHURCH GOVERNMENT
CHURCH AUTHORITY: Jesus Christ is Lord and Head of this church. His will, as expressed in the Holy Scriptures of both Old and New Testaments, is the sole authority in matters of faith and
CHURCH POLITY: The government is vested in the body of members who compose the church as further defined in these bylaws. The church is subject to no other ecclesiastical body; however, it is associated with churches of like faith and order for purposes of fellowship, consultation and cooperation. Any such voluntary associations with other bodies shall not infringe on the rights of this church.
ARTICLE IV — CHURCH OFFICERS
Section 1: General Statement
Jesus Christ alone is the Head of His church. However, as Head, He has ordained that individual churches should be blessed with the spiritual rule and ministry of special office bearers. There-
fore, it is the duty of the church to seek to discover those to whom Christ the Lord has imparted the necessary graces and gifts for office bearing. The Lord’s appointment is recognized through the understanding of the biblical definition of the office, the inward conviction of the individual involved, and the approval of the church, as it observes the possession of those required graces and gifts. It should be the desire of the congregation to come to one mind regarding those office bearers to whom they must submit in the Lord, but should such unanimity not be fully realized, a majority vote of the membership present and voting at a duly called meeting shall be required for the election of an officer. Christ has ordained that the administration of local churches is to be by pastors/elders and deacons (Acts 14:23, 6:1-6; Philippians 1:1).
Section 2: Eldership
The eldership, as undershepherds, is responsible for the spiritual ministrations of the church, the implementation of church discipline, the watch-care of the souls of the members (as those who
must give account to God), and the oversight of the church in all its ministries and functions. All elders shall be men in full communion with the church, of mature judgment, of unquestioned
Christian character, loyal to the Word of God, able to teach sound doctrine, devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ and the spiritual welfare of the church, and in full agreement with the Statement of
Faith of our church. They shall be ordained as elders at the earliest convenience after their election. All elders, to one degree or another, are engaged in pastoral work and are equal in power, authority, and rule (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:7, 17). As such, all elders may be called pastors. However, within the parity of the eldership there is diversity. Thus, some elders are more specifically set apart for prayer and ministry of the Word (Acts 6:2-4; 1 Timothy 5:17).
A. Requirements of the Eldership (It shall be required of all elders to):
i. Maintain the qualifications for the office of elder, as found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.
ii. Mutually respect and submit to the other elder(s) in the fear of God and in the love of Christ, realizing that this is not his church or work, but Christ’s.
iii. Give of his time, talents, and finances to the church wherein he holds office.
iv. Attend all stated meetings, functions, and activities unless providentially hindered.
v. Periodically and systematically review and evaluate his performance, with regard to his responsibilities and divisions of labor.
B. Responsibilities of the Eldership
i. General Responsibilities - The elders shall have the general oversight of all the church’s affairs.
ii. Membership and Discipline - The elders shall give leadership in receiving applicants for church membership. Likewise, they shall lead in the administering of biblical church discipline to offending members, in accordance with Article XI. They shall watch over the souls of the flock as “those who will give an account (Hebrews 13:17).” They must be persistent in prayer for, and in the visitation and instruction of, the membership and its families.
iii. Church Directors - The elders shall appoint all group leaders. These, in turn and upon request, shall be responsible to present to the elders, for their approval, all proposed teachers, leaders, and teaching materials.
iv. Pulpit Supply - It shall be the duty of elders to supply the pulpit with men whose ministry in our church shall be consistent with the Statement of Faith of this church.
v. Grievances and Suggestions - The elders shall receive and dispose of any grievance,
suggestions, or recommendation by any members of this church. Upon the presentation of 10% of the members of the congregation of a signed, written petition setting forth an issue, the elders shall take action as necessary to convene a special meeting of the congregation within twenty-one calendar days to address and dispose of the issue.
Section 3: The Method and Requirements for Election of Elders and Deacons
A. Except for the pastor (who may be called from outside the church), all officers shall have been a member of the church for a period of at least one year before being placed in the nomination process.
B. Consent must be obtained from the nominees before their names are placed before the congregation.
C. The term of church officers shall begin upon their election and shall continue until they die
or until they disqualify themselves from the office.
Section 4: Nomination of Officers
Each year, two months prior to the Annual Meeting, a Nominating Committee shall be constituted. This committee shall consist of the existing elders and other members to be elected by the elders from the congregation to serve on this committee. It shall be the function of this committee to review the biblical requirements for elders and deacons and then to go over the list
of male members in good standing, to consider whether or not new names should be presented to the congregation for nomination as elders and/or deacons. Recommendations may be made to
this committee from any member of the church, provided it is done so in writing and with prior permission of the individual being recommended. This committee shall notify the church of all nominees for said offices two Sundays prior to the Annual Congregational Meeting or, if the need arises, two Sundays prior to a specially called meeting for this purpose or for calling a pastor from outside the congregation. In the event that there is a need for a full-time pastor from outside the church, the elders shall work with the deacons to form a Pulpit Search Committee (PSC), consisting of no less than five and no more than seven officers and/or members of the church. The PSC shall consider one man at a time to invite for presentation to the congregation as a pastoral candidate. If there are those in the congregation who have scriptural grounds
for objecting to any of the nominees, they shall personally bring these to the attention of the elders no later than one week prior to the congregational meeting. At the congregational meeting the elders will present the nominees to the congregation for the proper action. Each nominee shall be voted on separately and independently from the other nominees. Each nominee for office must receive a majority vote of the membership present and voting at a duly called congregationalmeeting.
Section 5: Deacons
The diaconate shall consist of all this church’s duly elected deacons. The deacons must be men who evidence the personal and domestic qualifications as set forth in Acts 6:3 and 1 Timothy
3:8-13. They must first be tested (proven) men, in full communion with the church, being sober in life, having a good reputation, and able to comfort the poor and oppressed as convenient.
A. Requirements (It shall be required of all deacons to):
i. Maintain the qualifications for the office of deacon, as found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 (cf. Acts 6:3).
ii. Mutually respect and submit to the other deacon(s) in the fear of God and in the love of Christ, realizing that this is not his church or work, but Christ’s.
iii. Give of his time, talents, and finances to the church wherein he holds office.
iv. Attend all stated meetings, functions, and activities unless providentially hindered.
v. Keep open communication with the elders at all times.
vi. Create a division of labor among the deacons in areas where their individual giftedness can best be utilized. NOTE: This division of labor is not meant to negate or intrude upon those mutual duties that are required of all the deacons.
vii. Periodically (once a year) and systematically review and evaluate himself in his responsibilities and divisions of labor. Each must be a deacon indeed, and not just a deacon in name.
i. General Responsibilities - deacons are responsible for the business and secular affairs of the
church, which are to be administered with spiritual grace and in cooperation with the elders. They shall be watchful to assist the elders in every possible way.
ii. Ministry of Mercy - The ministry of mercy in our church and community is a specific
responsibility of the diaconate. The deacons shall see that the widows, the sick, the sorrowing, the aged, and the feebleminded receive spiritual and physical comfort. They shall minister the Word of God in administering the church’s benevolence funds and in rendering counsel to those
in assistance. They shall be vigilant in seeking and pursuing opportunities to do good, especially to those of the household of faith.
iii. Business Affairs - The deacons, under the oversight of the elders, shall have general
executive powers to administer the business affairs of this church. It shall be the deacons’ responsibility to work in preparing the church budget and submitting it for the elders’ approval before presenting it to the church for adoption each year. When the congregation has approved the budget, it will be the deacons’ responsibility to oversee the administration of it. The duty of caring for and maintaining the church’s properties shall belong to the deacons and others on an “as needed basis.”
iv. Limitation of Powers - The deacons shall not encumber, lease, transfer, sell, or purchase any real estate or movables to, by, or for the church except by the express authorization conveyed by a majority vote of the membership present and voting at a duly called congregational meeting. No obligation shall be incurred to spend over $5,000.00 above the annual budget without the approving vote of the congregation at a duly called congregational meeting.
ARTICLE V — ORDINATIONS
Section 1: Ministers of the Gospel
It is our hope that Spirit-filled men will be called out from among us to proclaim the gospel of the grace of God. When such men are evident, the church can commission such men by giving a license that imparts no authority, but expresses the conviction to other churches that the bearer possesses graces, gifts, and capabilities which indicate a call to the gospel ministry. The church can revoke the license at any time or withhold it until it thinks the licensee is ready for ordination to the gospel ministry. When there is a prospective candidate (i.e., licensee) for ordination to the ministry, the elders shall guide that person in his theological studies and ministerial preparation. If one of our licensees, in the exercising of his ministerial gifts, is called by another church to be its pastor, the said church may request this church to ordain the licensee. Whether for another church or our own, the elders shall then call a council of pastors/elders to examine the qualifications of the candidate. It shall examine the soundness of his conversion, the godliness of his walk, the soundness of his doctrine, the degree of his graces and gifts, the extent of his training, and the blessing of God upon his labors for Christ. If the council heartily recommends that the candidate be ordained, the church may approve the recommendation by a majority vote of the members present and voting at a duly called congregational meeting. The elders, under the principles set forth in Article XI, shall have the power to exercise discipline, even to the revocation of this church’s ordination or license.
Section 2: Installation of Elders
In a regular worship service of the church, the presiding pastor shall ask the newly elected elder(s) the following questions:
A. Do you believe in and submit to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as originally
given, to be the inerrant Word of God and the only infallible and authoritative rule of faith and
B. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Statement of Faith of this church as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures, and do you further promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with any of this system of doctrine, you will, on your own initiative, make known to the other elders the change which has taken place in your views since the assumption of this ordination vow?
C. Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of this church and believe it is in conformity with the general principles of biblical polity?
D. Do you accept the office of pastor/elder in this church and promise faithfully to perform all the duties thereof, to endeavor by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the gospel in your life, and to set a worthy example before the church over which God has made you an overseer?
E. Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
F. Do you promise to strive for the purity, peace, unity and edification of this church?
After the elder-elect has answered all the questions in the affirmative, the presiding pastor shall ask the members of the church the following question:
Do you, the members of this church, acknowledge and receive this brother as a pastor/elder, and do you promise to yield to him all that honor, encouragement and obedience, in the Lord, to which his office, according to the Word of God and the bylaws of this church, entitles him? (If so, the members answer by raising their right hands).
After the above-mentioned action, the presiding pastor shall invite forward the elders of our church and invited pastors/elders from sister churches. They shall place their hands upon the head of the new elder and set him apart with the laying on of hands and prayer. One Pastor appointed beforehand shall lead in the prayer of ordination. When prayer is concluded, the ordaining pastors/elders shall take the newly ordained elder by the hand and give him the right hand of fellowship into the holy office of the eldership. The presiding pastor shall then say: “I pronounce and declare that_________________ has been regularly elected, ordained and installed as an elder in this church, agreeable and according to the Word of God. As such, he is entitled to all encouragement, honor and obedience in the Lord. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Following this, the people shall be exhorted to esteem and obey those whom God has placed over them.
Section 3: Installation of Deacons
In a regular worship service of the church, the presiding pastor shall ask the newly elected deacon(s) the following questions:
A. Do you believe in and submit to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as originally given, to be the inerrant Word of God and the only infallible and authoritative rule of faith and practice?
B. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Statement of Faith of this church as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures; and do you further promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with any of this system of doctrine, you will, on your own initiative, make known to the elders the change which has taken place in your views since the assumption of this ordination vow?
C. Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of this church and believe it is in conformity with the general principles of biblical polity?
D. Do you accept the office of deacon in this church and promise faithfully to perform all the duties thereof, to endeavor by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the gospel in your life, and to set a worthy example before the church over which God has made you a servant?
E. Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
F. Do you promise to strive for the purity, peace, unity, and edification of this church?
After the deacon-elect has answered all of the questions in the affirmative, the presiding pastor shall ask the members of the church the following question:
Do you, the members of this church, acknowledge and receive this brother as a deacon; and do you promise to yield to him all that honor, encouragement and obedience, in the Lord, to which his office, according to the Word of God and the bylaws of this church, entitles him? (If so, the members answer by raising their right hands).
After the members of the church have answered in the affirmative, the presiding pastor shall invite forward the elders of our church and invited pastors/elders from sister churches. They shall place their hands upon the head of the new deacon and set him apart with the laying on of hands and prayer. One pastor appointed beforehand shall lead in the prayer of ordination. When prayer is concluded, the pastors/elders shall take the newly ordained deacon by the hand and give him the right hand of fellowship into the holy office of the diaconate. The presiding pastor shall then say: “I pronounce and declare that _____________has been regularly elected, ordained and installed as a deacon in this church, agreeable and according to the Word of God. As such, he is entitled to all encouragement, honor and obedience in the Lord. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Following this, the people shall be exhorted to esteem and follow those servants whom God has placed among them.
ARTICLE VI — CHURCH BOARDS
Section 1: Monthly Meetings
The elders and deacons shall hold their respective meetings monthly.
Section 2: Quorum and Call for Meetings
A quorum for an operating body (e.g., elders or deacons) shall be two-thirds of the total number of members. Such a body shall meet at the call of its chairman, or at the request of any three of its members.
Section 3: Duties of the Church Clerk
The church clerk must be approved and appointed by the elders. The clerk shall keep records of all business transacted at the congregational meetings, current membership, and necessary and related correspondence of the congregation.
Section 4: Duties of the Church Treasurer
The treasurer shall deposit all church funds in a bank account, or accounts, as instructed by the deacons, which accounts shall be opened and maintained in the name of the church. He shall disburse the same at the direction of the deacons. He shall make monthly reports to the elders and deacons and an annual report to the congregation at the Annual Meeting. He shall submit his
books for annual audit at the end of the fiscal year and at such other times as he may be directed to do so by the elders and deacons. He may be required to furnish a bond, the amount of which shall be determined by the elders, and the cost of which shall be paid by the church. Imm-mediately following any service, he shall see that all offerings are counted and that a record of them is maintained. An assistant treasurer may be appointed to assist in these duties.
ARTICLE VII — COMMITTEES
Section 1: Finance Committee
The Finance Committee serves as a subcommittee of the deacons and shall be comprised of some or all of the deacons as is needed, the treasurer, and, if necessary, up to three additional members who are recommended by the Nominating Committee. After being approved by the congregation in accordance with the criteria set forth under Article IV, Section 4., this committee is to assist the Treasurer in overseeing the administration of the budget. Their duties include preparing and recommending to the congregation an annual budget.
Section 2: Missions Committee
The Missions Committee shall be comprised of the elders and up to three additional members to be recommended by the Nominating Committee. After being approved by the congregation in accordance with the criteria set forth under Article IV, Section 4, their duties shall include leading the church in supporting and participating in responsible mission activities and efforts.
Section 3: Nominating Committee
The Nominating Committee will follow the criteria set forth under Article IV, Section 4.
Section 4: Pulpit Search Committee
The Pulpit Search Committee will follow the criteria set forth under Article IV, Section 4.
ARTICLE VIII — CONGREGATIONAL MEETINGS
Section 1: Notice of Meetings
Notice of all congregational meetings shall be given at regular worship services on the two successive Sundays immediately prior to the meeting. In an emergency, a meeting may be called on shorter notice by notifying each local member of the time, place, and purpose of the congregational meeting.
Section 2: Number of Meetings
A congregational meeting shall be held annually for the reception of reports and the transaction of such other business as may properly be brought before the meeting. A congregational meeting shall be held in October and shall be called the Annual Meeting. The adoption of a budget shall take place at the Annual Meeting.
Section 3: Method of Calling Meetings
It shall be the right and responsibility of the elders to call all congregational meetings. A written request to call a congregational meeting, stating clearly its purpose, signed by 10% of the members of the church in good and regular standing, and presented to the clerk, shall require the elders to call such a meeting. When special congregational meetings are called, there must be notice given to the congregation as to the purpose.
Section 4: Responsibility for Meetings
The elders shall arrange the details of all congregational meetings and shall see that all possible preparation for their successful conduct is made. One of the elders shall serve as moderator of all congregational meetings.
Section 5: Quorum and Voting for Transaction of Business
The voting members present at a duly called congregational meeting shall be considered a quorum for the transaction of business. Votes cast, yea or nay, by voting members present shall be the only votes considered for determination of the vote. All church officers shall be voted upon by written ballot. Eligible voting members are any members of the church eighteen years of age or over, in good regular standing.
ARTICLE IX — CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
Section 1: Requirements for Membership
The membership of this church shall consist of those who have given a credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and have been baptized by immersion upon that profession. Any person who demonstrates repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been subsequently baptized, and who expresses substantial agreement with the Statement of Faith, Mission Statement, Ministry Distinctives, Church Membership Covenant, and Bylaws of this church shall be eligible for membership.
A. Upon Confession of Faith
Any person who meets the above-mentioned requirements can apply for membership to the pastor or one of the other church officers, preferably an elder. A time and place shall be set for a meeting with the applicant, and no less than two church officers, one being an elder, shall attend. The applicant shall be questioned as to his or her conversion, doctrinal beliefs, and seriousness of intention to support wholeheartedly the total ministry of this church. Following the interview, the applicant shall be required to attend the new member’s class and sign the record of membership agreement.
B. By Letter
Any person desiring to unite with this church shall apply for membership to the pastor or one of the other church officers, preferably an elder, and obtain a letter of recommendation and transfer from the evangelical church of which he or she was a member. Upon presenting such letter, or a promise thereof, to officers of the church, the applicant shall be examined concerning his or her conversion, doctrinal beliefs, and seriousness of intention to support wholeheartedly the total ministry of this church. Following the interview, the applicant shall be required to attend the new member’s class and sign the record of membership agreement.
Section 2: Forms of Membership
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 IX, Section 4.
The membership status of invalids, shut-ins, military, Christian workers, and others whose relationship to the church involves special consideration and circumstances, shall be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Section 3: Procedure of Receiving New Members
When the interviewing church officers are satisfied that an applicant gives a credible demonstration of faith and meets the requirements for membership, they may present the person(s) for membership to the church. At a regularly scheduled worship service, the applicant(s) shall be called to stand before the church and answer the following questions:
1. Do you acknowledge yourself to be a sinner in the sight of God, justly deserving His wrath and displeasure, and that you are without hope apart from His sovereign mercy?
2. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the only Savior of sinners; and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the gospel?
3. Do you resolve and promise in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit that you will endeavor to live a life worthy of a follower of Christ?
4. Do you promise to faithfully support this church in its worship and work, to the best of your ability?
5. Do you submit yourself to the government and discipline of this church, and do you promise to seek its purity and peace?
If each answer is affirmative, the congregation shall then receive the applicant into membership by a majority vote of the members present and voting. With these questions, the applicant covenants to support and be subject to the government and discipline of this church, under the Lord Jesus Christ and His infallible Word. The right hand of fellowship will be extended to the applicant as a member in full communion with this church.
Section 4: Termination of Membership
Association with the local church is a voluntary, responsible decision and commitment. It is the duty of every true Christian to be identified with a local assembly and to be a member, thereof, in good standing. The church recognizes the voluntary nature of this relationship and that it is terminable at will by the individual Christian. Membership in the church may be terminated by one of the following ways:
A. Upon the death of the member.
B. Upon issuance of a church letter of transfer to another church and the member’s joining another church of the evangelical faith.
C. Upon withdrawal of fellowship by the discipline of the church, as provided for in Article XI Section 2.
D. Upon the request of the member, who is not under suspension or in the process of corrective discipline.
ARTICLE X — CHRISTIAN CONDUCT
Section 1: Means of Grace
All public and private means of grace, such as regular attendance at all the stated services of the church, daily systematic reading of the Bible, and private and family prayers, shall be urged upon our members.
Section 2: Government of the Home
The church expects its members to follow the Scriptures in home government. God has required that godliness in the home have a high priority in every life. The home holds a central position in God’s Law and is the object of frequent exhortation in the New Testament. Men are expected to rule their homes with gentleness, yet firmness. They are to love their wives with a Christlike love. Women must be subject to their husbands. 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 discipline (including the use of the rod of correction: Proverbs 13:24, 22:15, 23:13-14, 29:15). Children must reverently obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1). 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 3: Missions and Witnessing
It is the duty of every Christian and of every church to seek to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. 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 life and word. Personal efforts at witnessing for Christ are expected of every member. Beyond this, we are committed to common efforts in sending the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47).
Section 4: Principles of Giving
It is clearly taught in Scripture that Christians are to support the work of the Lord by systematic and proportionate giving to the local church. This is set forth in both positive command and favorable example (Malachi 3:8-11; 2 Corinthians 8 and 9). Hence, we pledge ourselves to systematic giving for the support of this church, proportionate to our income, according to the principle in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2.
Section 5: Christian Liberty
We shall require of each other in our daily walk and conversation 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. The following principles must always guide the Christian’s exercise of liberty:
A. Fear of God - As we are the servants of Christ, all of our actions must be motivated by love to God. Likewise, 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 8:9, 10:23).
C. Compassion for the Unconverted - Use of liberty must always be regulated by its effect upon sinners, and that behavior must be 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 6: Support of Church Offices
It is the duty of every member to respect the God-appointed officers of the church. The scriptural duties of church members toward their pastors, elders, and deacons, as well as other ministers and teachers, are as follows:
A. To pray for them, that God would open a door of utterance unto them, to unfold the mysteries of the gospel (Ephesians 6:18-20).
B. To obey them in the Lord (Hebrews 13:17-22; 1 Peter 5:2-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-14).
C. To follow their example and footsteps, as far as warranted by the Word (1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1; Philippians 3:17; Hebrews 13:7).
D. To stand by them, in all their trials and afflictions, and defending them in all good causes. In 2 Timothy 1:15 those of Asia turned away and were blamed for not standing by the Apostle Paul.
ARTICLE XI — CHURCH DISCIPLINE
Section 1: Formative
Formative church discipline is set forth through the teaching of God’s Word, the example of Christian living, and the mutual ministry of the members 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 12:1-6; 1 Corinthians 12:4-27). Formative discipline has a sanctifying influence. Every member should be satisfied with his or her God given ministry; thus, we shall all grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:7-12). Formative discipline utilizes the 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 32:22). Those who truly love Him will endeavor to keep His commandments (John 14:15). In His Holy Word our Lord has entreated believers to perform certain duties one toward another. Some of these duties are as follows:
A. To love one toward another without offense or hypocrisy (John 13:34-35; Romans 12:9, 13:8-10).
B. To labor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).
C. To endeavor for the edification and spiritual benefit of the whole body that they may all grow up to be 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, thereby promoting 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 14:30-33, 11:2). The above duties, when faithfully performed by all, will have a positive, formative effect upon the whole assembly; and 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 always has for its aim the glory of God, the welfare of the church, and the restoration and spiritual growth of the offender. Corrective discipline is called for by disorderly conduct or heretical doctrine. Disorderly conduct includes living in violation of the Law of God or public morals, walking unruly, and/or persisting in disturbing the unity and peace of the church. Heretical doctrine is defined as a primary doctrine related to salvation which is contrary to the church’s standard of life and doctrine. Doctrines related to salvation include those pertaining to the Trinity; the person, work, deity, humanity, virgin-birth, atonement, and all-sufficiency of Christ and Christ alone; salvation by grace alone; justification by faith alone; and all other things which are essential to the salvation of the soul. Reasonable efforts shall be made through counsel and admonition to resolve difficulties, correct errors, and remove offenses before any further action is taken. No offenses shall be brought before the church until the instructions of Christ have first been followed (Matthew 5:23-24,18:15-18). The following are elements of corrective discipline:
If a member is absent more than half of the Sunday worship services for a three month period without just cause, following all responsible attempts by the elders to restore the member (Heb. 10:25b), he or she may be removed from the membership at the direction of the elders and by a majority vote (2 Cor. 2:6) of the membership present and voting at a duly called congregational meeting.
B. Public Censure and Suspension
If a member has publicly sinned but shows hopeful signs of repentance (including submission to the scriptural admonitions of church officers), severe discipline, such as excommunication, would be improper. Nevertheless, serious offenses may not be overlooked altogether, lest God’s enemies multiply their blasphemies, lest other saints be emboldened to sin, lest Christ come
against the church with the sword of His mouth (Revelation 2:16), and lest 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, such as public rebuke, or suspension of member-ship may be imposed. Suspension of membership consists of a temporary suspension of the rights to attend the Lord’s Table, to serve publicly in the church, or to vote in congregational meetings. Those who submit to such discipline, upon a credible repentance, are to be wholly forgiven and received as brethren. All such actions shall be reported to the congregation.
When restoration is not secured by the process outlined in Matthew 18:15-18, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, and Titus 3:9-11, further steps must be taken to correct offenders. Written charges shall be given to the accused offender if he requests a hearing. 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 recommend-ation that the offender be excommunicated at a duly called congregational meeting. The congregation shall have the right to excommunicate a member by a majority vote of the membership present and voting at a duly called congregational meeting. In the event the congregation should not vote to excommunicate at the meeting, the congregation shall remand the matter to the Elders for disposition under paragraph B. above, or upon a motion of a member at the meeting dispose of the matter in some fashion based upon a majority vote of the members present and voting. Excommunication always has as its end the glory of God, the purity of the body of Christ, and the restoration of the offending party.
It is the duty of the church to forgive and restore to membership those persons who give satisfactory evidence of repentance (2 Corinthians 2:6-8). The elders shall meet with those who have been publicly censured or excommunicated when they 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 a censured or excommunicated person by a majority vote of the members present and voting at a duly called congregational meeting.
ARTICLE XII — COUNCIL OF APPEAL
If any matter involving controversy within this church, among the officers, or between the congregation and the officers, threatens to cause dissension and injury to the welfare of the church, it must be called to the attention of the elders. If the elders fail to resolve the difficulty so as to allay dissension, any such matter may be taken to a Council of Appeal (Acts 15:1-29). A Council of Appeal shall consist of no less than three and no more than five pastors from outside of this church, who pastor churches of like faith and practice. They shall be mutually agreed upon by the elders and the dissenting party. The council shall equally hear all who wish to address it, evaluate the situation, determine the source and cause of the problem(s), make recommendations of biblical actions to be taken by all, and report its findings and recommend-ations to the church. This council shall have no authority over the church. Its only purpose is to adjudicate in matters so as to affect peace and reconciliation and then report its findings to the church. After having done this, the Council shall be dissolved.
ARTICLE XIII — CHURCH CORPORATION
In compliance with the laws of the State of Louisiana for Nonprofit Corporation, the church shall from its members in goodstanding elect at least three (but not more than seven) church officersto serve as corporate directors. They shall serve for aterm of one year and perform such services as required by law. They shall be nominated by the Nominating Committee and voted upon at the annual business meeting. Those elected shall select “a president,a secretary, and a treasurer” for purposes of carryingout their required services.
ARTICLE XIV — AMENDMENTS
Amendments to Bylaws may be adopted by a majority vote of the members present and voting at a duly called congregational meeting, provided that such amendments have been distributed by the elders in written form at least two weeks prior to the meeting.
ARTICLE XV — FINANCES
The work of this church is financially dependent upon the voluntary contributions of God’s people. Before the annual congregational meeting, the elders shall obtain from the deacons an estimate of the needs of the several divisions of the work and a prepared budget, detailing the proposed expenditures for the coming year. When this budget is approved by a majority vote of the congregation, it shall be considered the basis for the current liabilities. No elder, deacon, individual, committee, or board is authorized to make changes in its provisions or to make unauthorized disbursements without the consent of the congregation, except as provided in Article IV, Section 5, B., iv. Contributions with specific designation by the contributor that are not in support of existing adopted efforts of the church will be respectfully returned to the contributor. Any new effort may be presented to the elders for consideration and under their direction be presented to the congregation for consent at a duly called congregational meeting. The fiscal year of the church shall begin January 1 and end December 31.
ARTICLE XVI — ASSOCIATIONS OF CHURCHES
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 associations of churches. Upon the recommendation of the elders, such affiliations may be agreed upon by a majority vote of the membership present and voting at a duly called congregational meeting. Withdrawal from associations may be affected by the same procedure.