We, the members of Redeeming Grace Fellowship voluntarily submit ourselves to the following articles:
The name of our church shall be: REDEEMING GRACE FELLOWSHIP
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: the Word of God (Psalm 119:89). This church does here affirm 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 shall be to glorify and enjoy the God of the Scriptures (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), increase our perception of His glory through the preaching and teaching of His Word (2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Peter 3:18), and 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”, subtitled “Doctrinal Foundations Prepared by the Men of Redeeming Grace Fellowship.” We accept 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, 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 the assistance and counsel of 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.
C. Cooperation with other like-minded churches may be pursued by formally joining an association of churches. Such an organization must exist and function by the will of the churches involved. Any cooperative ties must be voluntary and may be terminated at any time. Upon recommendation of the elder(s), such affiliations may be entered into by a three-fourths (75%) majority vote of those members present and voting. Any meeting appointed for such a vote must be announced to the church on at least four consecutive Lord’s Days previous to its being held. Withdrawal from such association may be effected by the same procedure.
ARTICLE V: Congregational Voting
Although the Lord has ordained pastoral leadership as the norm within His churches, it is both Biblical and desirable that the congregation of this church take part in expressing themselves through common suffrage or consent when deemed appropriate by the elder(s) for expressing unity. Voting shall be required for the selection of church officers (Acts 6:3-5; 14:23); the formal joining or withdrawal from an association of churches; any change to the “Statement of Faith” held to by our church, the amendment or alteration of this constitution in any fashion; the initiation or termination of the support of missionaries, pastors, deacons, and any other church employee; and any other matter deemed as appropriate by the elder(s) for expressing unity within the church. All voting will be previously announced and performed at regularly scheduled church meetings with the elders of this church present or represented at the time of vote. All members in attendance may vote if they so desire.
ARTICLE VI: Membership
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, shall be eligible for membership.
A. Reception into Membership: Admission to the membership of our church shall 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 elder(s) describing how the Lord saved him/her. If the elder(s) is/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/her testimony with the church in a public meeting. Any questions or objections should be taken to the elder(s). If no legitimate objections are brought forth or those brought forth are resolved, the applicant shall be immediately added to the assembly. It is important to note that the early church did not require new converts to wait during a season of proving before being added to the church (Acts 2:41).
B. Termination of Membership: Membership may be terminated when physical death requires it; when a member transfers to another church; when a member voluntarily desires to have his/her membership terminated, provided he/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 overseers and pastors) and deacons (Philippians 1:1; 1Timothy 3:1-13). It is the duty of the church to seek and discover 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 (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). These men are called overseers because they have oversight of the assembly (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2; Hebrews 13:17). They are called pastor-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 shall 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 positions, he is under the spiritual and moral obligation to make this fact known to the other elder(s) and/or church. In the event of irreconcilable differences 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 shall 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 (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. Election – 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. Consent must be secured from any individual being considered for the eldership before his name is presented to the congregation for consideration. The nominee and date of the vote will be announced on at least four consecutive weeks at regular meetings prior to a congregational vote. At least three-fourths or 75 percent majority will be required for approval of the nominee to take up the office.
6. Ordination – In a regular or specially scheduled meeting of the church, the individual having received the confirmation of the congregation shall be ordained by the existing eldership of the church and/or elders from other churches. The hands of all participating elders shall be laid upon the new elder and prayer offered in his behalf (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.
C. Deacons:
1. Ministry of Mercy – The ministry of mercy in our church and community is 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 shall minister the Word of God (Acts 8:35), administer this church’s benevolence funds (1 Timothy 3:8), and render counsel to those in need of help. They shall 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 shall carry the responsibilities of administering the business affairs of the church (1 Timothy 3:8). It shall be the responsibility of the deacons to prepare the church budget, annual financial reports and any other necessary business reports and receipts. Account balances, revenues and expenses shall be monitored and maintained by the deacons of the church and compiled into an annual financial report that shall be presented to the church at an annual business meeting. It shall also be the responsibility of the deacons to care for and maintain the church’s properties.
3. Organization – The deacons shall organize themselves however the church determines to be best to achieve the mission of the church. The elder(s) or the deacon(s) may designate any specific deacon or group of deacons to specialize in some particular deaconate function.
4. Election – 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 being presented to the congregation for consideration. Those who are possible candidates and the planned date of the election will be announced on at least four consecutive weeks at regular meetings prior to a congregational vote. Acts 6:3 shows the pattern of the church leaders designating the number of individuals to be selected while leaving the responsibility of choosing these individuals to the membership of the church. Our practice will involve a recommendation by the elders as to the number of deacons desired and the church will look out among themselves for qualified individuals to satisfy this number. The membership of the church shall express their selections for the diaconate by way of vote. The candidates receiving the most votes by those present and voting, and receiving the approval of the eldership shall be ordained to this office.
5. Ordination and Length of Service – In a regular or specially scheduled meeting of the church, the individual(s) having received the confirmation of the congregation shall be ordained by the existing eldership of the church and/or elders from other churches. The hands of all participating elders shall be laid upon the new deacon and prayer offered in his behalf (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.
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 when possible (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), except after diligent seeking of the Lord through corporate prayer and fasting.
ARTICLE IX: Revisions, Additions and Amendments
A. Revisions, additions or amendments of this constitution may be made only in the following manner:
1. At a specified business meeting where the intent and scope of the change has been publicly announced at least two consecutive Lord’s Days prior to the stated meeting; and
2. By a three-fourths (75%) majority of those members present and voting at such meeting.
3. With the elder/elders present or represented.
B. Article II and Article IX Section B of these bylaws shall not be repealed, amended or revised.