- The universal and local body of believers in Jesus Christ is an organism, which is guided and organized by the elements of faith outlined in the Holy Scriptures. This organism, when provided with a healthy environment, like other living organisms, will grow and multiply. The church should grow as guided by the Holy Spirit and under its power. The purpose of these Bylaws is to help identify, in our current cultural setting, the relevant issues and form necessary to establish a healthy environment for this church local. We acknowledge that there are many relevant approaches to structure in the local church. It is also important to recognize that the scriptures do not address all the specifics of the structure. God has provided through the scriptures, general guidelines/principles for the church, which do not change. Within those guidelines/principles these Bylaws will identify a broad structure for a healthy environment, which will help shape the personality of this church. This structure is to be culturally and contextually relevant, and therefore may need to change from time to time. These bylaws are not to inhibit the divine leading of God’s Holy Spirit in the life of the individual believers, or to limit the understanding of how God may choose to work in this church as a whole. They are to establish order, consistent with the scriptures, that is helpful, unifying, and empowering, to further the Kingdom of our Creator.
B. Leadership-Form & Function; Pastor/s, Elders, Deacons, Staff, Women in Ministry; Preaching and Teaching
- Senior Pastor: The Senior Pastor is to be assisted by the Elders to carry out the ministry of the Church. He shall advise the Elder Board of all major decisions to be addressed for their input. The Elders, likewise, shall advise the senior pastor of all significant decisions under consideration by the board. These issues will typically be addressed in the Elder Board meetings, which shall be scheduled a minimum average of once per month. The senior pastor has the ultimate authority to determine the direction of the church, however, he will endeavor to obtain unanimous agreement with the Elder Board on all leadership decisions. In the rare instances that a unanimous agreement is not reached, the senior pastor may respectfully and prayfully place his vote as equal to (2) two Elder Board members. Except for emergencies, all major decisions of the church require a minimum of 66% Board approval, with a goal for 100% approval on all major decisions. The goal of decisions being made by the board should mimic the reoccurring theme of the decisions made by the Apostles in Acts (see Acts15: 22,) “it seemed good “ both to the congregation and the Apostles.
- He will endeavor with God’s grace to:
- Oversee the operations of the staff. He can hire and fire staff as deemed necessary, maintaining communication with the board.
- Provide vision and leadership for the church
- Lead the Elder board, as an elder, in the spiritual direction of the Church.
- Devote himself to prayer and the study of God’s Word, with the understanding that God wants our devotion, not our devotions.
- Equip the church as a whole, with the Elders, to carryout Christ commands.
- Place his immediate family above the needs of church, realizing that his wife and children are his number one priority for discipleship and ministry, and if he neglects them, then his ministry is compromised and inconsistent with God’s message.
- When specifically lead by God to leave Northwest Church, the senior pastor should advise the church board in writing with a minimum of thirty days notice.The Church Elders shall with God’s grace:
- Review the pastor’s salary package each year with the goal to keep pace with inflation, benefit trends, and to consider overall compensation package commensurate with the people being ministered to.
- Lift the pastor up in prayer as God’s leader of the Church.
- Openly, and directly bring issues they may have to the pastor, rather than discuss issues concerning the pastor secretly among themselves.
- Provide a minimum thirty-day severance package after minimum one-year full time service. A maximum of 60 days severance package after five years of full time service. A thirty-day written notice shall be provided from the board when requesting the senior pastor to leave.
- In the event the Senior pastor chooses to leave on his own volition, a maximum of two weeks severance package may be provided at the Elder board discretion.
- Orderly and timely hiring of a new pastor/s shall be provided for via a task force assigned by the Elder board.
- 7. Inform and encourage congregation to carry out the items listed above.
- Pastors: The role of our pastors is to provide leadership that will enhance the spiritual growth of the church. Thus, their primary functions are not as administrators, but as “player-coaches”. The Pastors are the front-line leaders of the church. It is their responsibility to:
- Work together with the Senior Pastor as a team to accomplish the mission of the church. This requires communication, respect, understanding, teamwork, and prayer with the Senior Pastor and church members.
- Plan, staff, and supervise their areas of ministry. This requires preparation, understanding the vision of the ministry, and the development / equipping of the church members for ministry.
- All pastors, requested to resign or leave will be provided a maximum two week severance package after a minimum of one year full time service. The Elder board within the constraints noted above will determine the actual severance package. Pastors shall provide a minimum of two weeks written notice when leaving.
- It is not anticipated the Administrative staff will receive a severance package in the event of termination or when leaving.
- Elders: The governing board of Northwest Community Church is and shall be called “The Board of Elders”. The Board of Elders shall give spiritual leadership by means of godly decisions, wise counsel, and exemplary holy living. Each elder shall personally profess Jesus Christ as Lord, and be a member of Northwest Community Church in good standing in order to be elected. The “office of elder” is distinguished from the “role of elder”. The former is a term of service emphasizing governing responsibility for the body, while the latter “role” is a lifetime responsibility for spiritual leadership to groups or individuals brought about by one’s recognized spiritual maturity in his personal relationship with Christ. Once elected to the office of elder, a person continues in the role of elder even when not active on the governing board.
- The Biblical qualifications for spiritual leadership are found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1: 5-9,and 1 Peter 5:1-4 Titus 1:5-9 2. Husband of one wife A one-wife kind of man, not a philanderer (Doesn’t necessarily rule out widowers or Divorced men).See notes in deacon Section. 4. Not self-willed Not arrogantly self satisfied 6. Not addicted to wine not overly fond of wine, or drunken 8. Not a money-lover not greedy for money 10. Lover of good Loving goodness 12. Just righteous, upright, aligned with right 14. Self-controlled restrained, under control 16. Able to teach sound doctrine calling others to wholeness through teaching God’s Word 18. Temperate calm and collected in spirit, sober
- 17. Able to refute convincing those who speak against the truth
- 1 Timothy 3:1-7
- 15. Holding fast the Word committed to God’s Word as authoritative
- 13. Devout responsible in fulfilling moral obligations to God and man
- 11. Sensible reasonable clear thought
- 9. Hospitable A stranger-lover, generous to quests
- 7. Not pugnacious Not contentious or quarrelsome
- 5. Not quick-tempered Not prone to anger
- 3. Having believing children Children are Christian, not incorrigible or unruly.
- 1. Above approach not open to censure, having unimpeachable Integrity.
- Qualifications Explanation
19. Gentle fair, equitable, not insisting on his own rights
20. Able to manage household a good leader in his own family
21. Not a new convert not a new Christian, a mature Christian
22. Well thought of by outsiders a good representative of Christ among
1 Peter 5:1-4
23. Willing, not under compulsion not serving against his will
24. According to God (in Greek texts) by God’s appointment
25. Not for shameful gain not money-motivated
26. Not lording it over the flock not dominating in his area of ministry (a shepherd is to lead, not drive the flock)
27. As an example a pleasure to follow because of his Christian example
28. Accountable to the Chief Shepherd motivated by the crown to be gained — authority to reign with Christ
Acts 6:1-6 addresses the historical process of the early church identifying the specific goals of the apostles. Although these qualities are not specifically listed in the doctrinal passages, the focus is consistent with a godly leader. The apostles were concerned that they would not be devoted to Word of God and prayer due to the logistical needs of the believers. They refused to let the logistics of ministry take priority over their personal time with God. The apostles however, did recognize the importance of the believer’s needs and did not neglect those needs. They made orderly provisions for their needs through delegation.
- Evidences of qualification are seen in one’s commitment to the body through faithful attendance and being recognized by the elders a wise and spiritually mature person. This person is one who can transmit sound doctrine, is a student of the scriptures, loves people, and is committed to prayer.
- Helpful in serving in the “office of elder” would be the gift of ruling (Romans 12:8). The Greek word “proistemi” means literally “to stand before” or to “reside”. The same word is used in 1 Timothy 3:4 in reference to the family.
- The governing board of lay elders shall normally be composed of not less than four including senior pastor nor more than nine men excluding senior pastor.
- Each person shall be elected to the office of elder for a period of two years, possibly serving three terms of two years each. At the end of each term, each elder will be able to re-confirm God’s calling to finish his time on the board. At the end of six years a 2/3 vote of the congregation may allow an elder to serve for one more two-year term, prior to stepping down for at least a two-year term.
- In the election of new elders the following policies shall be used:
- Any elder may present a slate of candidates composed of names recommended from the congregation or candidates personally recommended after prayer.
- The congregation may submit a list of elder candidates over a thirty-day period in January each year to the board.
- The Elders will present candidate being considered for their input. A two third minimum congregational vote is required.
d) The date of rotation shall normally be January first of every even year. However, the election of new elders may occur at any time the Spirit so leads.
e) The elders shall not elect any who are not yet ready and Spirit-confirmed, nor shall they avoid any who are ready and Spirit-confirmed.
h) Elders who have served in the office of elder shall be eligible to be nominated to that office again one year after serving full term. An elder not completing the full six-year term of office may also be nominated one year after completing his last term.
- Removal of an Elder:b) Removal of an elder from the role: When a man no longer meets the scriptural qualifications of an elder, he may resign from the role, or it will be the responsibility of the serving Board of Elders to discipline or consider for removal said person from the role of elder in the body. Removal shall be by unanimous vote of the other elders.
- a) Removal of an elder from office: If it becomes apparent that a certain elder should not serve in the office of elder any longer, he may resign, or by unanimous vote of the other elders be immediately retired from said office. Unless there is a need to elect an elder to the office to meet the minimum numberon the board, the position will be filled at the next normal election following the rules established above.
Decision made by the Board of Elders shall be by unanimous vote with a quorum (2/3) of the elders present. Whenever possible, the responsibility to make a decision will be given to the person (s) overseeing the particular matter under consideration, but all decisions concerning biblical principles or constitutional issues will be made by the Board of Elders, under the leadership of the senior pastor.
- Organization: In keeping with the Constitution, a chairman (senior pastor), vice-chairman (elder), and secretary (elder), treasurer (elder) will be selected from the members of the Board annually. These positions will be filled on January first of each year.
- Staff: The staff acts as administrative support to the senior pastor, pastors and elders.
- Deacons: Working with fellow deacons, a deacon extends the over-seeing ministry of the elders for the physical needs of the congregation and property of the church. Under the elders’ leadership, a deacon cares for and provides for the orderly administration of our fellowship. There shall be as many deacons as needs require. The same process utilized to elect Elders will be used for deacons.
- Women’s Role In Ministry: As Jesus elevated the women of His day, to greater respect and appreciation, so too the church should utilize their unique gifts and abilities with respect . In these endeavors, women should not teach men in the church setting as outlined in 1 Timothy 2:12.
1. Biblical Qualifications of Deacons: (or those serving in an administrative office)
1 Timothy 3:8-12
- Persons of dignity – worthy of respect
- Not double-tongued – genuine, sincere in speech
- Not addicted to wine – one who does not let drinking control them
- Not fond of sordid gain – financially honest, masters greed.
- Holds the faith with clear conscience – a pure, confident commitment to things of God.
- One beyond reproach – a track record that welcomes examination.
- A husband of one wife – a man devoted to his wife, a man who has married only once, excluding remarriage due: a) to death of wife, b) to divorce caused by adulterous wife (Matthew 19:9), c) to divorce caused by unbelieving deserting wife (1 Corinthians 7:15). d) Divorced prior to salvation.
- Good manager of children and household – one who provides effective leadership and guidance for his family and its affair.
- Acts 6: 3
- Good reputation – well-spoken of.
- Full of the Spirit and of wisdom – they who would be wise must be in intimate fellowship with the Source of Wisdom.
- Finances – Fiscal Year, Treasurer, Offerings, Counting of Monies, Responsible Agents, Audits Sunday Services: The Church shall maintain Sunday morning services, and other worship services as deemed necessary by the pastor.
- Cell Groups: CFG Cell group meetings are encouraged to meet in individual homes for praise/worship for edification of the body.
- F. Church Meetings/Home Meetings
- At end of each fiscal year an annual account will be rendered to be accepted and approved by the church. An extensive audit will be conducted every three years. The special audit committee or a public accountant shall audit treasurer’s report every two years. A Elder shall be appointed to oversee counting of all monies, offerings, donations, etc. to be done by at least two members of good standing in the presence of the appointed deacon/Elder/ staff.
Business Formats: Follow Roberts’ Rules of Order Revised shall be the accepted guide for the transaction of all church business.
- Any business meeting shall be made public to the church membership at least three consecutive weeks in advance of the meeting, by letter and in the bulletin.
- There shall be a bi-annual business meeting each year in which the annual budget in the upcoming year shall be voted on for approval. Business Meeting Quorum: The quorum for a business meeting, provided it is a stated meeting, or one that has been properly called, shall consist of a simple majority of those church members that are present at the meeting.Voting: Each member is entitled to one vote in person or by proxy. Voting on issues shall typically be by voice, unless otherwise called for by discretion of the chairman.G. Church Facility Use/Property Use
- Church Petitioned Business Meeting: A church member may petition the elder body to call a special business meeting to consider matters to be brought before the church membership, provided the petition has been signed by a minimum of 20% of the church members. If a properly executed petition is brought before the elder body, it shall be mandatory that a three weeks notice is given and a special business meeting be called to address the petition.
- Called Business Meetings: The pastor or elder body can call for a special business meeting. Such called business meeting must be announced stating the purpose and nature of the meeting to the members of the church at least three weeks prior to the meeting by letter and in the bulletins.
Purpose: The use of Northwest Community Church property and facility is to Glorify God in worship, in communications God’s message, celebrating God’s presence, demonstrating God’s love, Christian education, evangelism, world missions and the development of Christian character and life.
Conduct: all people using the facilities shall show Reverence and respect. Conduct shall be in keeping with the occasion. There shall be no smoking nor alcoholic beverages anywhere in the building. No illegal activities shall be carried out in the facilities.
Schedules: All use of facilities and equipment shall be arranged with the church office.
Special Occasions/Receptions, Weddings, Funerals, etc.: Non-members will be charged a pre-agreed price established by church for lights, water, janitorial services, etc. Fees will be waived for members or regular attendees.
H. Employment Policies, job descriptions, relationship to elders & deacon boards
Refer to employee manual to be developed and kept updated and on file in the church office.
I. Legal Counsel
No attorney shall be retained to represent the church in any matter, without prior consent of the Elder board; or, with regard to any major matter, without prior consent of the membership.
No litigation shall be initiated without the prior approval of a two-thirds majority of the members voting at a regular or properly called church conference. The nature of the subject matter and the time of the vote shall have been properly announced at least seven days in advance.
Refer to 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 discouraging believers against lawsuits.
The above shall not be interpreted to preclude the procurement of legal advice by a church organization, when such advice is necessary and appropriate, and falls within the scope of that organization’s authority and approved budgeting.
- THE STRUCTURE FOR GROWTH
- “How do I fit in?”
- How do I avoid getting lost in the masses?” Many people come to church for relationships and to find a sense of belonging. But as churches grow numerically, there must be a conscious plan for insuring:
- The continued sense of belonging.
- The assimilation and integration of new people.
- The meeting of needs on a personal level.
- The opportunity for discovering and utilizing spiritual gifts in ministry
- A context in which individuals are known and can get to know others.
- The tendency for churches with a “body life” emphasis is to expect the Sunday morning worship service to meet more needs than it is capable of meeting. There are, however, churches of much larger size in which people do experience the same benefits we perceive as inherent in small churches. Only the format and structure of activities are different.
- Personal Growth-discipleship
Personal growth: People have various needs that correspond to various size groups. The Pastoral/Elder Care will be especially important in organizing us so that these needs may be met.
- Sometimes the need is for a small group for regular discussion, fellowship and prayer; therefore, we have Home Groups.
- Sometimes the need is for large group get-togethers on a periodic basis to scout out new relationships; therefore, we will have get-togethers of a hundred or so to acquaint people.
- Sometimes the need is to work alongside others to fulfill a common task; therefore, we will have task-centered times (such as workdays, ad hoc committees, etc.) for accomplishment-oriented people.
Newsletters and the weekly bulletins are really invitations to involvement. The church office will field questions visitors may have.
Discipleship Ministries: Discipling begins with the conviction that all believers should be in a progressively deepening relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only as this relationship takes form that the Christian life becomes meaningful and fruitful. The primary context for discipleship is individual relationships in small groups. Such friendships allow believers to discover together the fuller meaning of following Christ in the reality of daily living.
Distinguishing principle and method: Discipling as a principle – God requires that Christians be nurtured, educated, and fruitful and enabled to use the gifts He has given them.
Discipling as a method of ministry: The principle is eternal; the methods may vary. Two essential factors govern the formulation of methods; 1.The sharing of lives. 2.The imparting of information and skills.
In a very real sense, all of what a church does contributes to discipling. However, for our church to be geared for discipling, it must have not only people who can disciple new believers, but it must also make provisions to structure a discipling ministry.
The Major Aspects of Discipleship Ministry:
- Follow-up – involves nurturing new believers, imparting basic information about life in Christ, and an introduction to Christian disciplines.
- Discipling – engages to help people meaningfully function and mature in their relationships with Christ, family and others. To disciple requires more of a commitment on the disciple’s part and includes being a part of accountable relationships.
- Equipping Laborers – through teaching enables people to evangelize follow-up and disciple others and to become fruitful in ministry as well as service.
- Training Leaders – involves raising up people to carry on the ministry and missions of the local church, training people to be Christian leaders in the world and/or to function as a ministry leader or elder.C. Corporate Growth
- Handling numerical growth has been a special challenge for Northwest Community. Our general inclination is to choose from these options:
- Multiple Worship Services, perhaps each becoming a mini-congregation. This option is most appealing because of its emphasis on cooperative use of a common facility and staff (the two most expensive items in a church budget), thus freeing more money for people and ministry needs. It also allows one more possibility for face-to-face accountability relationships.
- Church planting is always a possibility if God raises up the leadership and vision for it.
- Expanding facility size is a ‘lower on the list’ option. Yet, we will not be afraid to use it if that is what it takes to minister to the people God is sending us. People are our responsibility.
The elders’ attitude about church growth is simply this: We will do nothing to artificially stimulate growth or, conversely, to artificially limit it. We will simple do our best to develop the people that are coming. Our desire is to be completely out of debt. We will be to our fullest extent, but not at the cost of ignoring people’s needs.
D. Membership-Qualifications, Reception, Termination
Membership at Northwest allows a person to formalize his/her commitment to this local church, to have a sense of ownership in its directions and accountability to both give and receive. Membership is actually a mutual commitment in which the church and its members help each other develop.
Qualifications for Membership: Any person desiring to unite with this church must attend instructional classes dealing with Biblical foundations and the church’s philosophy of ministry. Each prospective member will then meet with an elder to express testimony of his/her active faith in Jesus Christ and a verbal commitment to the intent of Northwest’s Constitution and Philosophy of Ministry, as well as to active involvement in the life of the church. The suggested minimum age for membership is twelve (12) years. Reception of Members: Upon approval of the application’s qualifications, he/she shall, at the next appropriate service, be received into the membership of the church. A new member that has not been previously baptized is encouraged to prayerfully consider this in light of the Scriptures. We believe that baptism is a natural expression of the reality of conversion that every Christian should pursue as a public witness.
Termination of Membership: Termination of membership may occur in any of the following ways:
- Death the names of deceased members shall be removes from the roll
- Transfer members in good standing shall be granted, upon request, a letter of
- Transfer to another church of their choice.
- Inactivity any member who absents himself from the services of the church for one year, except for illness or disability, and who fails to respond to attempts to bring him back into active participation, shall be dropped from the church membership and notified of such action.
Discipline – See II F for discussion.
- Biblically based traditions-Communion, water baptism, parent/baby dedication, praying for the sick.
Communion: We celebrate the Lord’s Supper because He tells us to remember Him by it, proclaiming the importance of His death until He comes again (1 Corinthians 11:23-29). Communion will be shared corporately at various worship meetings, cell group gatherings, and any additional times when deemed appropriate. The Lord’s Table is open to anyone who is a Christian and is walking in fellowship with Christ. This includes their maintaining of right relationships between Christians, as explained in Matthew 5:23, 24. Freedom is given for any group of Christians in the church to celebrate the Lord’s Table in a variety of orderly forms.
Water Baptism: Water baptism is celebrated upon request by those who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19; John 1:12). This ceremony of being immersed in water is a visible sign of an eternal and invisible reality that God performs by His Spirit, in the life of every believer, at conversion. Special arrangements may be made for those with a phobia of immersion. The pastors administer the ordinance of baptism. When baptized by water “into the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19), a Christian is proclaiming before God and men: That he has received Jesus Christ as Liberator from his sins and Master of his life by turning away from sin (repentance) to God (faith). A Christian is proclaiming before God and Men:
- That he has been baptized by the Spirit into Christ’s death, buried with Him and raised with Christ to walk in a whole new life (Romans 6:3-5). So he is united with Christ and has a new identity. Christ is his life (Colossians 3:4).
- That the “old man” (the person he was before Christ entered his life) has died with Christ on the cross so his body might be no longer controlled by sin (Romans 6:6). He can live in Christ’s victory by considering himself dead to sin, and yielding himself each moment to God, by letting Christ live His perfect life through him (Romans 6:11-14). This is what it means to “walk according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4).
- That he has been baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ, so he is eternally related to every other brother and sister in Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13).
- F. Church Discipline/Restoration
- We believe that baptism is not essential for salvation, but a natural expression of the reality of conversion that every Christian should pursue as a public witness and as an act of obedience to Christ command.
Discipline: To maintain the peace and purity of the church, the Scripture permits the removal of any person from the membership for disciplinary reasons (Romans 16:17; 1Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Timothy 2:16-21). After reasonable attempts toward restoration have been made without avail (Matthew 18:15-16; Galatians 6:1), charges shall be submitted to the Board of Elders in writing by those bringing them. Restoration, rather than punishment shall always guide the attitude of Northwest Community Church members toward one another.Discipline of members will be administered as directed in Matthew 18:15-17, first on an individual basis, then a small group basis, and finally on a church-wide basis. If it should become a church involvement, further responsibility will rest with the Board of Elders. The accused must be notified of the charges and of the date of their consideration by the elders at least one week in advance of that date, and must be given opportunity to answer the charges before the elders, if so desired. Notification shall be given to meet with the Board at a date not more than three weeks and not less than one week later. The accused, on being notified, may select any Board Member to assist him with the interview. After a fair and impartial hearing of all the facts ascertainable, if the charges are proved to be true, the name of the member will be removed from the roll and this fact told to the church. Dismissal by discipline shall require a unanimous vote of the elders after careful and prayerful consideration. Failure of the member concerned to appear at the designated time will not prevent the Board from examining the case and rendering a verdict in accord with the testimony received. Persons who have been disfellowshipped by discipline and who desire to be restored to fellowship shall request a meeting with the elders, evidence of repentance, shall begin a restoration process based on the particular needs of the individual involved. Upon satisfactory completion of this process, the individual shall be publicly received back into fellowship with the church.
Regarding same sex marriages
It is the decision of the Board of Elders that due to our understanding of the scriptures No Elder or Deacon or Leader who is part of Northwest Community Church will marry any people of the same sex. We will not marry a man to another man nor will we marry a woman to another woman. We believe that the Biblical definition of marriage is the joining of only one man and one woman. We believe that this is based on God’s design for humanity a male and a female as an expression of God’s image. None of the property owned or rented by this church will be used for the purpose of the marriage of people who are of the same sex.
We believe that the term “marriage” has only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as outlined in Scripture. We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other. (1 Cor 6:18; 7:2-5; Heb 13:4.) We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.
We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including adultery, fornication, homosexual or lesbian behavior, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, and use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God. (Matt 15:18-20; 1 Cor 6:9-10.)
We believe that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. (Acts 3:19-21; Rom 10:9-10; 1 Cor 6:9-11.)