Lighthouse Baptist Church Constitution and Bi-Laws

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CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS

OF

LIGHTHOUSE BAPTIST CHURCH - SBC

 

CONSTITUTION




 

Preamble




 

Placing our faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation, accepting the entire scriptures as our sole and perfect rule, and believing in the historic teachings and practices of Baptists; we, a body of baptized believers in Jesus Christ the Lord do hereby organize for the purpose of carrying forth the commands of Christ as set forth in the New Testament.  Deeming it wise and proper to have definite laws, that “all things may be done in decency and order”, and that the principles and doctrines of this church may be carefully guarded and maintained, be it therefore

 

RESOLVED, that beginning September 1, 2008, we shall be governed by the following Constitution and By-Laws:

 

Article I – Name

 

The name of this organization shall be Lighthouse Baptist Church – SBC.  The address is:  308 Lincoln Street, St. George, Kansas  66535-0109.

 

Article II – Purpose

 

The purpose of Lighthouse Baptist Church – SBC (Lighthouse Baptist Church) is to worship Almighty God in Spirit and in Truth according to His Word (The Bible).  We worship God by obeying His will and following His commandments.  His Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul and mind; and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  To this we firmly hold.  The Great Commission was given by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 and was faithfully followed by the early church as expressed in Acts 2:41-47, which is summarized thus:

 

          They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, to fellowship, and to the

          breaking of bread, and to prayer…and they ministered to one another…and

          God added to their number daily, those who were being saved.

 

As a church we purpose to follow this example and as the Lord adds to our number we will nurture all to develop in them a consistent Christian character.  We will provide Christian love and fellowship to encourage them in their walk of faith.  We will work to spread the Gospel within and beyond our community.  We will promote and support missionary efforts wherever God leads.  In faithfully accomplishing these things we will be a beacon in our community like a “lighthouse on the hill-side that overlooks the sea”.

 

Article III – Statement of Faith

 

This church is of the Southern Baptist association beliefs and holds to the truth of the Word as written in the Holy Bible.  We believe that the Bible is 100% true and is God inspired.

 

1.      

Article IV – Church Covenant

 

Having been led, as we believe by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and on the profession of our faith, having been baptized by immersion in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we do now, in the presence of God and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another as one body in Christ.

 

We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church, in knowledge, holiness, and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spiritually; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel through all nations. 

 

We also engage to maintain private and family devotions; to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger; to abstain from the sale of, and use of, destructive drugs or intoxicating drinks as a beverage; to shun pornography; to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Savior. 

 

We further covenant to encourage and watch over one another in brotherly love, by cultivating relationships within the church body, remembering one another in prayer, and aiding one another in sickness and distress.  We will be slow to take offence; always seeking reconciliation and mindful of the rules of our Savior to secure it without delay.

 

Article V – Elder Rule

 

Knowing that in a healthy church, the spiritually immature will usually greatly outnumber the spiritually mature, and seeking to have this church led in a Biblical fashion; we establish that this church shall be governed by a plurality of elders according to a Biblical model of elder rule.

 

 

 

 

 

 2.      

BY-LAWS

 

Section I.  Membership

 

The membership of this church shall consist of persons professing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, giving evidence of repentance and adopting and submitting to the views of faith and practice held by this church.

 

Members will be accepted by this church at the discretion of the elders in the following ways:  (1) by profession of faith and baptism, (2) by letter from a bible believing church of like faith and practice, (3) by statement of having been saved and baptized in a bible believing church of like faith and practice, or (4) by restoration.  Any members excluded from membership by discipline may be restored into full membership when they acknowledge the justice of the discipline and evidence godly sorrow and repentance for their misdeeds.  Membership may be terminated by death, transfer of letter, request, by joining another denomination, or removed due to disciplinary action.

 

We view church membership as a sacred trust that is not to be taken lightly.  It is a relationship of the utmost importance and value in the life of the Christian.  For this reason, we recognize active membership as the only viable expression of church membership.  Therefore:

 

l.  When members move they are encouraged to, as soon as possible, unite with another church of like faith and practice.

2.  If a member is to be absent for an extended period of time with intent to return to this body at the end of that time (such as college, short term mission work, military deployment, etc.) the member is expected to find a church of like faith and practice to be involved within their new location.  At that time, the elders will write a letter of Christian character to the pastor of that church requesting them to temporarily take on the spiritual shepherding of our displaced member.

3.  If a member in good standing desires to unite with another church; they have the right to request a letter of recommendation to that church.  Membership may also be terminated by action of the church, by discipline, by death, or by inactivity (shut-ins are not considered as inactive).

 

Members will, at all times, strive to keep their covenant obligations:

 

1.  Because of their work and responsibility for the church, members should respect, honor and esteem the elders.  They should pray for them regularly and assist them in carrying out the ministry of the church (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 1 Timothy 5:17).

2.  Members shall demonstrate commitment to the church and her mission by regular attendance at services, participation in the ordinances, participation in small group Bible studies and by maintaining daily personal devotions.  This is the heart of true worship (John 4:24; Hebrews 10:25).  If a member is going to be unable to attend services for an extended period of time, that member needs to advise the elders as to the reason.

 

 

 

3.      

 

3.  Members will share, encourage, support and pray for each other as members of the family of God.  They will strive at all times to maintain the bond of love and unity in the body.  This is the heart of true fellowship (1 John 1:7; Acts 2:44-47; Hebrews 10:23-25; Romans 15:5-7; John 13:34-35).

4.  Members shall promote personal spiritual growth and discipleship through Bible teaching.  This is the heart of true discipleship (1 Timothy 2:2; Ephesians 4:11-13; Matthew 18:20).

5.  Members will serve unselfishly in Jesus’ name meeting the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of those in our church, community and in the world.  This is the heart of true ministry (1 Peter 4:10-11; Matthew 25:34-40; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Galatians 5:13).

6.  Members will be intentional in the sharing of their faith (Acts 1:8) by lifting up the risen Christ (Acts 2:32; John 12:32) to all whom they know and come into contact with.  They will strive to live a life that is consistent with their faith and that honors Christ in all they do.  This is the heart of true evangelism (James 2:18; Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:15-16).

7.  Members shall contribute regularly to the support of the church and its mission, ministry and activities as they have prospered.  This is the heart of true stewardship (Malachi 3:10; 1 Timothy 6:3-10).

8. The member body confirms or sends back to the elders for reconsideration the selection of elders, pastor, deacons, church officers and other key positions within the church organization.  The annual budget, financial reports and progress/activity reports are also confirmed by the membership.

9. The church membership shall approve all decisions regarding the acquisition or disposal of church buildings, building contents (valued at $500 or more), land and vehicles.

 

Discipline

 

The purpose for discipline within the body is to maintain the purity of the body.  Its aim is the restoration of a sinning brother.  The church imposes discipline for the purpose of correcting sin and bringing an erring member back into the right relationship with the church and with God.  Galatians 6:1 tells us that we are to restore one who is overtaken in trespass in a spirit of gentleness, being mindful lest we also become tempted.  James 5:19-20 tells us that if we succeed in restoring such a one, we save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.  The overall purpose is always redemptive, not punitive.  Jesus instituted the method for dealing with a sinning brother in Matthew 18:15-17.  In this statement our Lord described the process that we are to follow:

 

1.  Go to the brother alone and tell him your complaint.

2.  If he will not listen to you, take with you one or two witnesses.

3.  If he still will not listen, take the issue to the church.

4.  If he will not listen to the church, let him be like a heathen to you and a tax collector.

 

It is important that we realize that the heathen and the tax collector were to Jesus an object of special attention for evangelism.  They were the field He most wanted to harvest (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34).  This tells us that even if we are forced to remove someone from membership, we are not to turn away from them, but minister all the more to them.

 

 

 

4.      

If a member of this church is in gross violation of their covenant vows or are living in public sin so as to bring reproach on the name of the church and to dishonor the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ; because of our love for them we as a church are obligated to bring disciplinary measures as laid out in scripture.  This is not optional; it is our sacred duty before God for the sake of the church and of the individual member. 

 

Section II.  Elders

 

Elders are to be appointed out of the body (allowing the exception of the pastor/elder) by the existing Spiritual leadership (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5) according to the qualifications laid out in Scripture (1 Timothy 3:1-7, 5:19-22; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4) and shall all remain a part of the body in regards to accountability and discipline.  Prior to the final installation, the names of any men being considered will be announced to the church body.  The church body will have a period of one week to present valid scriptural objections to any candidate.  The elders will investigate any objections; if these objections are found to be true, the candidate will be disqualified for service at this time.  If there are no objections, candidates will then be interviewed by an ordaining council after which a special service will be held so that the church body may affirm the appointee as an elder, and ordain him if needed.  The ordination and ministry of an elder is for life.  For this reason, care should be taken that this is not done hastily (1 Timothy 5:22) or out of a perceived “need” for more elders.  Only men whom God has clearly raised up shall be installed as elders.  The active role of the elder in this body is terminated by the elder moving his membership to another church, personal resignation or removal by the church body.  The individual elders shall be under the authority of the church body in regards to church discipline just the same as any other member.  However, the stricture for discipline to them is harsher because of their public office (1 Timothy 5:19-20).

Accusations against an elder should not be lightly entertained.  If two or more witnesses bring charges against an elder, the elder body shall investigate the charges.  If they are found to be groundless, the matter shall be dropped.  If the charges are found to have merit, the elder must be publicly rebuked by the elder body, in the presence of the church body.  This discipline and all subsequent actions by the church must be public and strong, so that the entire body will be encouraged to righteousness by this example.   If the elder or church body determines that the elder should be removed from his position, a vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the church’s active membership of voting members (16 years of age or older) as recorded in the church’s roll is necessary for this removal to take place.  Since it is difficult to get all members to a meeting, voting by a ballot in the mail may become necessary.

Elders are to jointly rule the church diligently and well (Romans 12:8) not lording it over them (1 Peter 5:3) but shepherding the flock as stewards of Christ’s bride.  The goal, therefore, in all major decisions is consensual unity within the body.  Thus the elders should strive to lead the congregation into that spirit of oneness that honors our Lord and shall not attempt to force the congregation into decisions against their collective will.  Neither shall the elder body make unilateral decisions regarding church property, monies, or resources that are contrary to the expressed will of the church body.

 

 

5.      

The elder body shall have the sole authority of leading this church under the direction of the Holy Spirit as under shepherds of the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  They, and the church they lead are not subject to any other body, board or ecclesiastical power and shall not, affiliate with or join with, groups that are affiliated with the National Council of Churches or any other ecumenical body or agency of such body.  All decisions of the church, and any group associated with the church, are under the direct authority of the elder body.  The elders, who are given governance in Scripture to rule, superintend, manage, oversee and guard have the authority and obligation to overrule any decision of the church and said groups that they deem to be unscriptural, doctrinally incorrect or interfering with the spiritual life of the church.  This includes any activity that takes place in or at the church property, any activity sponsored by the church and any event led by church members for spiritual purposes, or which is done under the ministry umbrella of the church.  Elders also have the responsibility to call and conduct any congregational meetings of the church for conducting business whenever they deem them necessary.

The number of elders is determined by the number of qualified members (who are able and willing to serve) in the church body with the number usually being around 3-5 elders per 150 members.

The elders are responsible for interviewing and selecting the church pastor with a clear consensus from the church body.  They are also responsible to appoint individuals to other church positions and to establish committees and committee chairs as deemed necessary to carry out church business.  These appointments are to be from the church membership when possible and confirmed by the church body.

Section III.  The Pastor/Elder

The pastor shall meet the requirements and qualifications set forth in the New Testament, specifically Titus 1:6-9; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; and 1 Peter 5:2-3.  The pastor is the senior elder and as such leads the elder body (board) in their duties.

Selection

The prospective pastor shall be selected by the elders.  The elders shall seek out a man who they perceive, after prayerful consideration, to be the man selected by God to be the leader of this church.  The man selected for consideration as pastor will be asked to lead Sunday worship services and meetings as arranged by the elders at the church.  The following Sunday a special business meeting will be held for the elders to seek input from the congregation.  The purpose for this meeting is to arrive at a clear consensus.  The magnitude of this decision requires unity from the body.  Following this meeting, if the congregation is united in favor of the candidate, the elders will extend a call.  If the congregation is not united in favor of the candidate, the elders will advise the candidate and continue the search.

Compensation

The pastor shall be a paid position according to the guidelines laid out by the New Testament (1 Timothy 5:17-18).  His compensation should include salary, housing allowance, auto allowance, health benefits and reasonable vacations.

 

6.      

Duties

The pastor shall be responsible for the personal growth for self and others.  Spending time before the Lord is imperative for the pastor.  To know the mind of Christ and His directive leadership is the primary role of the pastor.  Then to intercede on the behalf of the congregation is of utmost importance.  He shall lead public worship, preaching and administering ordinal functions (baptism and the Lord’s Supper).  He is responsible for discipling and equipping others in the Christian life.  It is important that the pastor follow the example of the Lord Jesus in working personally with individuals to deepen their walk with the Lord.  He is responsible for counseling and calling which would include individual and family counseling and pastoral care to families.  He is to make home visits – casual drop in visits as deemed necessary to promote fellowship and understanding of the work of God.  He performs or oversees church weddings, funerals and other functions of the church.  He shall be an ex-officio member of all committees and organizations of the church and shall have access to all books and records and be privileged to attend any meeting.

Dismissal

The pastor shall serve for an indefinite period until termination results from:

1.   An act of God.

2.  An act of the pastor.  The pastoral relationship may be terminated by a written resignation of the pastor with the understanding that a minimum of one month’s notice shall be given.

3.  An act of the church.  A special business meeting may be called by the elders to consider the dismissal of the pastor.  Announcement of this meeting, stating the specific reason for its being called, shall be made in a least three regular church services, two of which must be on separate Sunday Morning services, with written notice being sent to the membership once during that time.  If the situation warrants it, the elders may temporarily suspend the pastor with pay until such time as this process has been completed.  As with the hiring of the pastor, the goal is to reach a consensus, for the good of the body.  The final decision, however, rests with the elders.  In the case of dismissal, minimum severance pay equivalent to one month’s salary and allowance, including housing, car and health expenses shall be given.

Section IV.  Deacons

A deacon shall be a man who is a member of this church and who meets the qualifications set forth in the New Testament – specifically, Acts 6:1-16; 1 Timothy 3:8-13.  His wife shall meet the qualifications of a deacon’s wife (1 Timothy 3:11) and be in full support and agreement with her husband’s ministry in the church.  A man qualified to be a deacon will be chosen and nominated by the elder body and presented to the church membership for their input.  Any member of the body having sound scriptural objections to a nominee will have a period of one week from the nomination to present their objections to the elders.  If there are legitimate objections that are found to be substantiated, the nominee will be removed from consideration at this time.  If there are no objections, the elders shall install this man as a deacon in the church.  A special service will be held for the church body to affirm the candidate as a deacon and ordain him if needed.  The ordination to the office of deacon is for life; the active role of  a 

7.      

 

deacon in this church is terminated by the deacon moving his membership to another church, personal resignation, removal by the church body by a majority of active voting membership, or by a decision of the elder body.

It shall be the duty of the deacon to minister to those members of the church assigned to him by the elders.  He shall visit the sick and afflicted, keep well informed of the spiritual welfare of his group, admonish and reprove the wayward, encourage the wayward, encourage the weak, assure that their group’s spiritual and physical needs are met, and check on members not in regular attendance at church.  He shall prepare and distribute the elements of the Lord’s Supper, assist in baptism and aid the pastor in the performance of his duties.

The number of deacons shall be determined by the need of the church at any particular time.

Section V.  Church Council

A church council shall be established to correlate and coordinate the activities and organizations of the church.  They shall act in an advisory capacity to the pastor and elders.  The council shall be led by the pastor and composed of the following positions within the church body:  elders, senior deacon, trustee, clerk, treasurer, church steward, music director, Sunday school director, and others as assigned by the elder body.  The church council shall meet at least monthly and more often if deemed necessary by the pastor and elders.

The church council shall function to promote a sound, scriptural, and sustained program of winning the lost to Christ; to discuss and recommend approval of church business to the pastor and elders; to provide an open discussion of the direction of the church; and to identify and suggest appropriate actions to solve problems.  The council members are to represent membership to assure management awareness of member concerns. 

Section VI.  Officers and Committees

The officers and committee heads shall come from the membership of this church and are appointed for an indefinite period of time, until such time as they are unwilling, or unable to fulfill their required duties.  The elders have the prerogative to request the resignation of any of the officers or committee heads if they are not fulfilling their duties, if they are caught in gross, unrepentant sin, or if it is otherwise in the best interest of the church.  Officers and committee heads are appointed from the church membership by the elder body and confirmed by the church body.  If not confirmed by the church body, the elders shall make other selections until a consensus is reached.

Business Officers

Lighthouse Baptist Church shall have the following business officers:  trustees (senior trustee, president of corporation); clerk (secretary of corporation); and treasurer (treasurer of corporation).

 

8.      

 

The trustees shall be on record as the legal signature for the church in all business dealings.  They shall sign legal documents at the request of the elders and the church body.  The clerk shall maintain an accurate recording of all business meeting minutes, keep records of and manage all official church communications and maintain the church rolls.  The treasurer shall be responsible for the money of the church.  He shall keep an accurate record of all receipts and disbursements and prepare financial reports for the church.  He is the chairman of the finance/budget committee.

Non-Business Officers

Non-business officers include the church steward, music director and Sunday school director.  The church steward shall have oversight over the building and grounds of the church.  The music director shall be responsible for the musical program of the church.  The Sunday school director is responsible for the church’s Sunday school programs including the selection of teachers and materials as approved by the pastor and elders.  Other positions may be established at the discretion of the pastor and elders if needed to properly manage the church business.

Committees

The budget/finance committee shall be chaired by the treasurer and consist of one elder, one deacon and one or more from the membership at large.  The committee members will be appointed by the elders annually and shall be charged with the task of preparing a budget proposal for the church based on ministry expectations for the coming year.  The committee is also responsible to review the financial operation of the church and to assure adequate funds to meet required/committed expenses.  The committee shall recommend actions needed within the church to sustain a viable financial organization.

Other committees can be formed by the elders as needed for ongoing or task specific purposes (such as a missions committee, building committee, etc.).  These committees shall be established by the elder body and confirmed by the church body.

Section VII.  Church Meetings

Worship Services

The church shall meet regularly each Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening for the worship of Almighty God.  Prayer, praise, preaching, instruction and evangelism shall be among the ingredients of these services.  Individuals and committees shall not schedule meetings in conflict with regular service times of the church.

Meetings

The church council shall meet at least monthly for the purpose of coordinating the activities and organizations of the church and to provide feedback and management direction to the pastor and elder body.

Report meetings shall be held monthly as informative meetings for the church body to stay abreast of church activities.

9.      

Business meetings shall be held quarterly by the church for the purpose of discussion and participation by the body in the decisions of the church.

Special  business meetings may be called at the discretion of the elders.

Quorum/Voting Members

In all business meetings, twenty-five percent (25%) of the active voting members shall constitute a quorum.  Active voting members include all active membership (members in regular attendance at church services) who are sixteen (16) years of age or older.

Parliamentary Rules

A simplified rules of order process shall be used for all business meetings of the church. The right of every member to speak on any issue is as important as each member’s right to vote.  The rules are to be used to assist a meeting and not to inhibit it.

Moderator

Member business meetings shall be conducted by a moderator as appointed by the elders and confirmed by the church body.   Business meeting agendas are to be prepared in advance and approved by the elders to assure that proper preparation and communication takes place prior to the meeting taking place.

Section VIII.  Church Finances

Disbursements are to be made in accordance with the budget which is the recognized authorization from the church to spend the money of the church.  In the event that an expenditure is not budgeted, or exceeds budget, the treasurer shall confer with the elders of the church to mutually authorize the extra expense.   In addition, if receipts are short of budget, the treasurer shall confer with the elders to determine expense reductions necessary to maintain the viability of the church finances.  All checks require two signatures with the treasurer authorized to sign all checks as a second signature only.  The elders have the final responsibility for the finances of the church.

It is understood that membership in this church involves financial obligation to support the church and its causes with regular proportionate gifts.

Any fund raising activities must first be approved by the elder body before church members proceed with, or make commitments for, these activities to take place.

Section IX.  Amendments

This constitution or the by-laws may be amended at any regular business meeting of the church by a two-thirds majority of the active members present (if of voting age) provided that copies of the present and proposed amendment shall be mailed to each member at least seven days prior to the business meeting date on which a vote is to occur. Any active church member may propose a change by submitting it in writing to the elders of the church.  The elders need to respond within 60 days as to what is being done with the recommended change.  The final decision rests with the elders, but these decisions are of such importance that unity is the goal in all considerations.

 

10.