Constitution

PREAMBLE:
We, the members of Redeeming Grace Fellowship, voluntarily submit ourselves to the following articles:

ARTICLE 1: Name
The name of our church is: Redeeming Grace Fellowship. This name may be changed only by the elders, in consultation with deacons and all members of the congregation.

ARTICLE II: Foundation, Purpose, and Priorities of Ministry
A. The foundation of this church is the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11), and its infallible rule for guidance in all its affairs is the Word of God (Psalm 119:89). This church affirms its faith that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of Almighty God (2 Timothy 3:16).

B
. The purpose of this church is to glorify and enjoy the one true living God (1 Corinthians 10:31; Philippians 4:4), according to the teaching of His Word.

C
. The priorities of ministry of this church flow from the worth and beauty of Jesus Christ, who is the full expression of God’s glory (Revelation 5:12; John 1:18; 2 Corinthians 4:6). We exist to exalt Him in worship (John 4:23), to show forth His glory through the preaching and teaching of His Word (2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Peter 3:18), and to spread the knowledge of Him by evangelism, missions, and loving deeds (1 Peter 2:9; 3:15; Matthew 28:18-20; 5:16).

ARTICLE III: Articles of Faith
Our Church has defined our doctrinal beliefs in a document we have entitled “Statement of Faith” We use this document not as an infallible rule or code of faith but as assistance to us in doctrinal definition. Here the members of our church have a body of theology in compact form with Scriptural proofs, so that they may be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in them (1 Peter 3:15).

ARTICLE IV: Affiliation
A. We acknowledge no ecclesiastical authority other than our Lord Jesus Christ, who is Head of the church (Ephesians 5:23), and who directs the affairs of His church through the Holy Scriptures.

B
. We believe that local churches can best promote the cause of Jesus Christ by cooperating with one another (Acts 15:27-34; 16:1-3; 1 Corinthians 16:3; Galatians 1:2; Philippians 2:25; Colossians 4:7-11, 16). This church may and does cooperate with other like-minded churches in matters of mutual interest and concern. We may seek assistance and counsel from other churches in matters of special concern to us, but the decision of no other entity, church, group of churches, or association shall at any time be acknowledged as binding on our church.

ARTICLE V: Elder-led Decision Making
All major decisions in this church will be made by a plurality of elders in loving communication with the members of the church. Congregational voting may occasionally be employed when deemed appropriate by the elders as a way of expressing and establishing unity. Before a plurality of elders is established at this church, decisions will be made by the leadership on the ground through consultation with elders from other trusted churches and other godly men.

ARTICLE VI: Membership
Biblical membership will be pursued in this church after a plurality of elders has been established. Any person who professes repentance toward God and faith in the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21), who has been baptized as a believer by immersion, and who expresses a willingness to be committed to and submit to the doctrines, aims, and government of this church, will be eligible for membership.

A
. Reception into membership: Admission to the membership of our church will be done according to the following guidelines: Any person desiring to become a member of this church must submit an oral or written testimony to the elders describing how the Lord saved him or her. If the elders are confident that the applicant presently meets, or will meet the requirements for membership upon being baptized, the individual will be asked to share his or her testimony with the church in a public meeting. Any questions or objections from the church body should be taken to the elders. If no legitimate objections are brought forth or those brought forth are resolved, the applicant will be added to the assembly.

B
. Termination of Membership: Membership may be terminated at physical death; when a member transfers to another church; when a member voluntarily desires to have his or her membership terminated, provided he or she is not under church discipline; when it is found that a member is spiritually lost and willfully remaining unrepentant; or when disciplinary measures demand that a member be excommunicated.

ARTICLE VII: Church Officers
A. General Statement: Jesus Christ alone is Head of the church (Colossians 1:18). He governs His church through office-bearers whom He appoints and who are endowed by His Spirit with the gifts and graces needed to accomplish their work. Office-bearers in the church are of two kinds: elders (also called “bishops/overseers” and “pastors” in the Scriptures) and deacons (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-13). It is the duty of the church to pray for, seek, and establish among its members those to whom Christ the Lord has imparted the necessary gifts and qualifications for office-bearing.

B
. Elders:
1. Plurality – Although it is true that a new or small congregation may actually be without an elder  (see Acts 14:1-23; Acts 16:40) or may only have a single individual with the gifts requisite to his being recognized as an elder, the Scriptures indicate that normally there should be a plurality of elders in the local church (Acts 20:17; Philippians 1:1; James 5:14, Titus 1:5). These men are called “overseers” because they have oversight of the assembly (Acts 20:28: 1 Peter 5:2; Hebrews 13:17), and care for each individual’s soul. They are called “pastor” and “teachers” because they have been given to the church “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry”, by way of shepherding and teaching the flock (Ephesians 4:11-12; Acts 20:28). Though the elders must be equal in authority, they may be specialized in function, as it is recognized that God gifts and burdens each man in different ways and measures.

2. Qualifications
– The qualifications for a man chosen to fill the office of elder are clearly set forth in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, and various other portions of Scripture. Any man called to the eldership must be able conscientiously to affirm his agreement with and support of the “Statement of Faith” and the constitution of our church. Should he at any time move from his position, he is under the spiritual and moral obligation to make this fact known to the other elder(s) and the church. In the event of irreconcilable differences or disqualification, he may be required to step down from his office.

3. Responsibilities
– All elders are pastors of the flock (Acts 20:28). They are responsible for the oversight and shepherding of the flock. They will give account to God for the performance of their ministries (Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:2-3). While every elder must be able to teach (1Timothy 3:2), some will be more engaged in formal and public teaching, while others will be more engaged in private teaching, admonishing, and governing (1 Timothy 5:17).

4. Support
– In view of the fact that the responsibilities of the eldership are numerous and great, the Scriptures make provision for the financial support of elders. 1 Timothy 5:17 encourages the support of elders that rule well in oversight, but especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. Thus a congregation may support more than one elder in the various duties of that office, but should place priority on the teaching function.

5. Selection
 – The normal procedure in the New Testament for the selection of elders is the process of recognition (Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 3:1-13). For this reason, the congregation normally will look first among its own members for elders; however, the Lord may present the opportunity for the church to acquire elders from outside the congregation. In such a case, extreme caution should be used to avoid introducing an unqualified man into the leadership of the church.

6. Ordination
– In a regular or specially scheduled meeting of the church, the individual appointed for eldership will be ordained by the existing eldership of the church and/or elders from other churches. The hands of all participating elders will be laid upon the new elder and prayer will be offered for him (Acts 6:6; 13:3; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6).

7. Length of Service
– The Holy Spirit equips and places elders in the church (Acts 20:28). Therefore, the church will not arbitrarily fix either the number of elders or their term of service. The church should pray for and seek to maintain at least two elders at all times.

C. Deacons
:
1. Ministry of Mercy – “Ministries of mercy” generally refer to care for physical needs of the local church and the community around us. Ministries of mercy in our church and community are the responsibility of all members of our congregation (James 1:27), however, this is a special responsibility of the deacons (Acts 6:2-3). They may occasionally teach the Word of God (Acts 8:35), but their primary concern should be with material needs within the church, assistance with the church’s finances, and counsel to those in need of help. Deacons should be diligent for opportunities to do good, especially to those who belong to the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).

2. Business Affairs
– The deacons may assist the elders in administering the business affairs of the church (1 Timothy 3:8). Among the responsibilities of the deacons may be the following: preparing the church budget, annual financial reports, and any other necessary business reports and receipts. Account balances, revenues, and expenses may be monitored and maintained by the deacons of the church and compiled into an annual financial report that will be presented to the church at an annual business meeting. It may also be the responsibility of the deacons to care for and maintain the church’s properties.

3. Organization
– The deacons will be organized  however the elders determines to best achieve the mission of the church. The elders and other deacon may designate any specific deacon or group of deacons to specialize in some particular deaconate function.

4. Selection
– The normal procedure in the New Testament for the selection of deacons is the process of recognition (Acts 6:1-7; 1 Timothy 3:8-13). According to Acts 6:3, which is generally recognized as pertaining to deacons or at least a precursor to this office, these are to be men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom. While physical abilities and skills may be an important characteristic for those holding this office, the Scriptures clearly reveal that the candidate’s spiritual qualifications are of supreme importance. Consent must be secured from all individuals being considered for the diaconate before they are appointed.

5. Ordination and Length of Service
– In a regular or specially scheduled meeting of the church, the individual(s) will be ordained by the existing eldership of the church and/or elders from other churches. The hands of all participating elders will be laid upon the new deacon and prayer for him (Acts 6:6; 13:3; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6). The Holy Spirit equips and places deacons in the church (Acts 6:3). Therefore, the church will not arbitrarily fix either the number of deacons or their term of service. The church should pray for and seek to maintain a plurality of deacons at all times.

ARTICLE VIII: Debt
Though borrowing and lending are not necessarily viewed as sin in the Scriptures (Matthew 5:42; Psalm 37:21; 112:5), debt is recognized as something to be avoided (Proverbs 22:7). This church has and does affirm its belief that God is our ready provider for all that He has determined for us to undertake (Philippians 4:19; James 1:17; Psalm 81:10). This church is not to take any debt upon itself (other than that which is paid in full on a monthly basis).

ARTICLE IX: Revisions, Additions, and Amendments
Revisions, additions, or amendments of this constitution may be made only by the church’s elders or in-church leaders before elders have been officially appointed.