CONSTITUTION and By-Laws
CONSTITUTION and By-Laws
CALVARY BIBLE CHURCH, Joelton and Nashville, Tennessee
JULY 19, 1995; Revised, May 4, 2015
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- ARTICLE I: Name and Locations
- ARTICLE II: Mission Statement
- ARTICLE III: Declarations
- ARTICLE IV: Statement of Faith
- ARTICLE V: Membership
- ARTICLE VI: Church Covenant
- ARTICLE VII: Church Discipline
- ARTICLE VIII: Church Ordinances
- ARTICLE IX: Church Organization
- ARITCLE X: Offices of Pastor and Associate Pastor
- ARTICLE XI: Duties of Pastors
- ARTICLE XII: Other Councils and Committees
- ARTICLE XIII: Officers, Directors of the Corporation
- ARTICLE XIV: Licensing and Ordination
- ARTICLE XV: Settlement of Disputes
- ARTICLE XVI: Other Provisions
- ARTICLE XVII: Fiscal Concerns
- ARTICLE XVIII: Corporate Records and Reports
- ARTICLE XIX: Biblical Counseling
- ARTICLE XX: Confidentiality
- ARTICLE XXI: Indemnification of Officers
- ARTICLE XXII: By-Laws
- ARTICLE XXIII: Miscellaneous Provisions
We the members of Calvary Bible Church of Joelton and Nashville, Tennessee recognize a church of Jesus Christ as a divinely instituted spiritual organization. We believe that we are to look to the Bible for the principles on which churches are founded and the laws by which they are governed. Therefore, we hereby adopt the following constitution.
Name and Locations
The congregation shall be known as Calvary Bible Church, with campuses in Joelton, and Nashville, Tennessee.
In unity, affirming the absolute authority and sufficiency of Scripture, we exist to equip the saints through expository preaching, teaching and biblical discipleship, resulting in progressive sanctification, the exercise of spiritual gifts in Christian service, genuine worship, and the evangelization of the lost, all of which exalt the Lord Jesus Christ in His mystical body, the church, bringing eternal glory to God and undeserved blessing to His elect.
Definition of Terms
As Christians we will inevitably differ on preferences and non-essentials of the faith, matters upon which the Bible is silent. Therefore we are commanded to make every effort to be humble, gentle, patient and forbearing with those with whom we differ, "being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3; cf. Romans 15:5-6). However, we are exhorted to "be of the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Corinthians 1:10) with respect to Bible doctrine (cf. Phil. 3:15-16). True Christian unity and effective service cannot be attained apart from doctrinal unanimity. This is so important that God has specifically gifted and called into service "pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13),
". . . AFFIRMING THE ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY AND SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE"
Since the Bible is God’s inspired and infallible written revelation to man (1 Corinthians 2:7-14; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21), we must rely exclusively upon Scripture as our spiritual authority and "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). Moreover, since man is both material (physical) and non-material (spiritual)—there is no "psychological" third category—we must recognize that Scripture is sufficient, wholly adequate in and of itself to address any non-physical, spiritual problem we might encounter in life (2 Peter 1:3).
Practically speaking, as Christians, the issues of sanctification are exclusively the domain of biblical theology and should therefore never be poisoned by the fallible wisdom of man inherent in the modern psychological integrationist movement. Scripture is superior to human wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:19); capable of discerning and exposing the human heart (Hebrews 4:12-13) able to produce faith and salvation (Romans 10:17; 2 Timothy 3:15) powerful enough to completely equip us to glorify God regardless of circumstance (Psalm 19:7-14; 2 Timothy 3:16-17); containing within it all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are found in Christ Himself (Colossians 2:3); thereby making it utterly sufficient to be our sole rule of faith and practice.
" . . . WE EXIST TO EQUIP THE SAINTS THROUGH EXPOSITORY PREACHING, TEACHING"
Saints cannot be equipped for godly living and service apart from precise theology (Ephesians 4:11-16). This is the goal of expository preaching and teaching. The term "exposit" literally means to expound or explain in a detailed manner. Expository preaching is therefore a doctrinal proclamation of the Word of God derived from an exegetical process that is concerned only with the revelation of God, not the wisdom of man, and therefore carefully conveys the God-intended meaning of a text, passionately applying that meaning to the contemporary issues of life with an internal zeal and authority that cannot be extinguished.
Although this kind of preaching and teaching is rare in contemporary evangelicalism, since this was the method exemplified in the Bible (Neh 8:8; Acts 7:2-53; 8:27-35; 20:26-27; Lk 4:16-22; 24-27, 32,44-47), and since we have a divine mandate "to preach the Word" (2 Tim 4:2), we believe that this is the God ordained method and we remain committed to it.
". . . AND BIBLICAL DISCIPLESHIP"
Every Christian is called to be a disciple maker. Jesus made this clear when He commanded His disciples, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt 28:18-20). Discipleship can be summarized by the three participles the Lord used in this text: going, baptizing and teaching. This means that our duty to new converts extends beyond evangelism. We must "make disciples" (matheteuo), a term whose root denotes a combined meaning of producing both believers and learners.
It is important to understand that discipleship is not some highly structured tutorial complete with curriculum and scheduled appointments. We never see that modeled in Scripture. Rather, it is life on life fellowship that strives to help others grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Jesus exemplified this in Mark 3:14 where we are told that He "appointed twelve, that they might be with Him." Discipleship is being with others for Christ’s sake. It is purposeful spiritual involvement. It is "iron sharpening iron" (Prov 27:17). It is mentoring and modeling Christ in the natural ebb and flow of life motivated by a heart of love and a desire to see another believer glorify God and enjoy all the blessings of Christ in their life. Discipleship can happen over a cup of coffee or by email. Sometimes it happens in a crisis and takes on the form of counseling (Col. 2:28). Other times it occurs in the context of spontaneous fellowship that energizes and encourages a friend. But regardless of its form, it is important to remember that biblical discipleship is not a task relegated exclusively for the pastor or other officials in the church, it is a biblical mandate for all Christians (cf. Romans 15:14).
". . . RESULTING IN PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION"
While every believer is positionally sanctified (set apart unto God) by justification (Acts 20:32; Hebrews 2:11; 1 Peter 1:2), we are also in need of a progressive sanctification, a work empowered by the Holy Spirit by which we increasingly reflect our sanctified position in Christ with a daily practice of Christ-likeness. Said simply, we are to become in practice what we are in position. Every Christian is in a daily battle with his flesh, a conflict that cannot be won apart from the divine provision of the Holy Spirit as He reveals Himself through His Word (Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 3:12; Colossians 3:9-10; 1 Peter 1:14-16; 1 John 3:5-9). Therefore it is imperative that all believers acknowledge their spiritual battles and need for victory and remain vigilant in their efforts to grow in Christ—a process that should be measurable by others.
". . . THE EXERCISE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS IN CHRISTIAN SERVICE"
Every Christian has been supernaturally enabled to make some special contribution to the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:7). These spiritual gifts will vary in nature and effect, but ultimately they will each have a common goal: to put the Holy Spirit on display in the building up of the body of Christ for His glory (see 1 Cor. 12:1-11; Rom 12:3-8). The pastor-teacher does not possess all the gifts to accomplish this glorious task. His gifts are primarily equipping gifts (Eph. 4:11-16) whereas other members of the body will possess the rest of the necessary gifts to do the work of the ministry. Spiritual gifts fall primarily in two categories, speaking and serving (1 Cor. 12:8-10; Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Pet 4:10). Spiritual giftedness can be determined as one serves in various capacities within the church until such time as other discerning individuals give obvious affirmation.
". . . GENUINE WORSHIP"
The concept of worship is largely misunderstood. For some it evokes external images of ceremonies, rituals, liturgies and holy vestments, while others see it as a state of emotional arousal stimulated by a combination of mood altering music and preaching designed to induce some ecstatic experience. Unfortunately, such misconceptions are not only counterproductive to genuine worship; they are often unacceptable to God. Worship is not an activity—it is an attitude. Jesus said we are to worship the Father "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24); a perfect blending of the subjective ("spirit") regulated by the objective ("truth"). It must be a heartfelt expression of spontaneous praise that flows naturally from the wellspring of a biblically informed mind without any need of manipulation. David put it this way, "My heart overflows with a good theme" (Ps. 45:1).
Genuine worship requires being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18)—a moment-by-moment surrender to the will of God as He is revealed in Scripture. This is perfectly summarized in Paul’s admonition to "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (Colossians 3:16). Worship will naturally manifest itself in acts of sacrificial love, singing, giving, fellowship, prayer and righteous living. True worshippers will have a consuming adoration of the majesty and glory of God—an adoration that abhors drawing even the slightest attention to self.
With this in mind, every effort must be made to insure the accuracy of right doctrine in order to produce the attitudes and actions of right living. Consequently, we must avoid anything in our lives and in our church services that might fuel our fleshly penchant for hypocrisy, pride, emotionalism or doctrinal indifference.
". . . THE EVANGELIZATION OF THE LOST"
We have been commanded to reach out to the lost through personal and public evangelism (Matt. 28:19-20), a mandate commonly called, "The Great Commission." Our Lord Jesus was our supreme example, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).
Because of our love for Christ and love for people, we are compelled to faithfully discharge this most rewarding duty of not only leading people to a saving knowledge of Christ, but also helping them grow to maturity in Him. We must remember that each of us have the responsibility to reproduce ourselves. Evangelism is therefore a personal, proactive outreach that will be strongly encouraged by the church.
". . . ALL OF WHICH EXALT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IN HIS MYSTICAL BODY, THE CHURCH, BRINGING ETERNAL GLORY TO GOD AND UNDESERVED BLESSING TO HIS ELECT."
The church is a living organism of which Christ is Head. As members of His body, we are commanded to exercise the spiritual gifts He has given us producing a divine synergy between Christ and those His Spirit indwells. It is "the pillar and support of the truth" (1 Timothy 4:15b). As together we live in His presence, we enjoy sweet fellowship with Him and one another, celebrating His mercy and grace, knowing that He has chosen and predestined us to be sons, "to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:4-6). In fact, Christ has made certain that each one He has sovereignly placed into His mystical Body will be equipped "for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man" (Eph. 4:12-13a).
Moreover, we will ultimately "grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love" (vv. 15b-16). Such are the magnificent and joyful promises to all who have been divinely separated unto this glorious assembly.
This church is a congregation of baptized believers in Christ, united by missions and purpose for worship of Almighty God and associated in the faith and the fellowship of Jesus Christ. We will practice biblical precepts, recognize and receive Jesus Christ as the Son of God and supreme Lawgiver and Ruler and take the Bible as the only standard by which we shall judge matters of faith and practice. Therefore we maintain the following convictions regarding the Holy Scriptures:
We believe that the Bible is God’s written revelation to man, and thus, the sixty-six books of the Bible given to us by the Holy Spirit constitute the plenary (inspired equally in all parts) Word of God (I Corinthians 2:7-14; 2 Peter 1:20-21)
We believe that the Word of God is an objective, propositional revelation (1 Thessalonians 2:13; I Corinthians2:13), verbally inspired in every word (2 Timothy 3:16), absolutely inerrant in the original documents, infallible, and God-breathed. We believe in a literal, grammatical-historical interpretation of Scripture which affirms the belief that the opening chapters of Genesis present creation in six literal days (Genesis 1:31; Exodus 31:17).
We believe that the Bible constitutes the only infallible rule of faith and practice (Matthew 5:18; 24:35; John 10:35; 16:12-13; 17:17; I Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
We believe that God spoke in His written Word by a process of dual authorship. The Holy Spirit so superintended the human authors that, through their individual personalities and different styles of writing, they composed and recorded God’s Word to man (2 Peter 1:20-21) without error in the whole or in the part (Matthew 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:16).
We believe that, whereas there may be several applications of any given passage of Scripture, there is but one true interpretation. The meaning of Scripture is to be found as one diligently applies the literal grammatical-historical method of interpretation under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit (John 7:17; 16:12-15; I Corinthians 2:7-15; I John 2:20). It is the responsibility of believers to ascertain carefully the true intent and meaning of Scripture, recognizing that proper application is binding on all generations. Yet the truth of Scripture stands in judgment of men; never do men stand in judgment of it.
Section 1. Statement OF FAITH
We believe that the Bible is God’s written revelation to man and constitutes the only infallible, authoritative, and all-sufficient rule of faith and practice.
We believe that the Word of God is objective, propositional revelation, verbally inspired in every word, and is absolutely inerrant in the original documents.
We believe in a literal, grammatical-historical interpretation of all Scripture, which would affirm a distinction between Israel and the church and also affirm the belief that the opening chapters of Genesis present creation in six literal days, thereby refuting the theory of evolution.
We believe that there is but one living and true God, perfect in all His attributes, one in essence, eternally existing in three Persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—each equally deserving worship and obedience.
We believe in the deity and virgin birth of Jesus Christ, His incarnation and sacrificial death on the cross to redeem all who will believe on Him alone as Savior, His resurrection from the grave, His current role as sole mediator between God and man and His glorious second coming.
We believe that all men are sinners by nature, by choice, and by divine declaration thus incurring upon themselves the penalty of spiritual and physical death—becoming subjects to the wrath of God—and have in themselves no power to save themselves apart from God’s grace through the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.
We believe that salvation is wholly a supernatural work of divine grace accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit through the instrumentality of the Word of God, and is an instantaneous transformation of the inner man and declaration of righteousness to all who, as result of divine regeneration, place their faith in Christ, repent of their sins, and confess Him as sovereign Lord. The genuineness of one’s salvation is then validated by the manifestation of fruits worthy of repentance as demonstrated in righteous character and conduct.
We believe that all who place their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately placed by the Holy Spirit into one united spiritual body, the church, the bride of Christ, and that the purpose of the church is to glorify God by building itself up in the faith by the instruction of the Word, by keeping the ordinances, and by advancing and communicating the gospel to the entire world. The formation of the church, the Body of Christ, began on the Day of Pentecost and will be completed at the coming of Christ for His own at the rapture.
We believe the Holy Spirit is the supernatural and sovereign Agent in regeneration who baptizes all believers into the body of Christ at the moment of salvation and that it is the duty of all believers to be filled with (controlled by) the Spirit. At salvation, the Holy Spirit bestows all His gifts upon believers for the perfecting and empowering of the saints for service. (The miracle of speaking in tongues and the working of sign miracles in the beginning days of the church were for the purpose of pointing to and authenticating the apostles as revealers of divine truth, and were never intended to be characteristic of the lives of believers). The Holy Spirit also indwells, sanctifies, instructs, restrains from sin, comforts, and seals believers unto the day of redemption.
We believe that all the redeemed receive a "divine nature"; a "new self"; a "new mind"; a "new will"; a "new nature"; and become a "new creature" in Christ. Consequently, genuine salvation is transformation of the inner person and is therefore not defective or short-lived, but rather a faith which will endure forever, protected by the power of God.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ will come and remove His church from this earth before the seven-year tribulation; a time in which God will pour out His wrath upon an unbelieving world and fulfill the seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy. At the end of the tribulation, Christ will physically return to the earth to occupy the throne of David and establish His glorious messianic kingdom for 1,000 years, thus fulfilling His unilateral, unconditional, and irreversible covenants made to Abraham and David and His chosen people Israel, who, because of their disobedience, have been temporarily displaced as the custodians of divine truth, a responsibility that was temporarily transferred to the Gentile church.
We believe in the bodily resurrection of all men, the saved unto the resurrection of life and eternal glory and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment.
Section 2. See Appendix A for Full Doctrinal Statement
Section 3. Statement on Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality
We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God (Gen 1:26-27.) Rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person.
We believe that the term "marriage" has only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as revealed in Scripture (Gen 2:18-25.) 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 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 in order to preserve the function and integrity of Calvary Bible Church as the local Body of Christ, and to provide a biblical role model to our members and the community, it is imperative that all persons employed by Calvary Bible Church, or who serve as leaders (paid or unpaid) or who volunteer in any capacity, agree to and abide by this Statement on Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality (Matt 5:16; Phil 2:14-16; 1 Thess 5:22.)
We believe that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin whatever it may be as defined by Scripture. He forgives all who seek His mercy and grace through Jesus Christ (Acts 3:19-21; Rom 10:9-10; 1 Cor 6:9-11.)
We believe that every person—regardless of the heinousness and life-dominating nature of their sin—be treated with utmost compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity (Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31.) Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual are to be repudiated and are not in accord with Scripture nor the convictions of Calvary Bible Church.
Section 4. STATEMENT ON THE OFFICIATING OF MARRIAGE
Because God’s Word and will revealed in Scripture alone is our sole spiritual and moral authority and therefore transcends and supersedes all cultural values and laws that may stand in contradiction to it; because we are commanded to obey God, not man (Acts 5:29), and because we fear God, not man (Prov 1:7; 29:25; Rev 15:4), Calvary Bible Church will only conduct a wedding ceremony between one man and one woman who are members of Calvary Bible Church (or who, due to unique circumstances, have been granted special permission by the Elders), and only after the prospective couple (man and woman) have been approved by the Board of Elders for marriage, having completed the premarital counseling requirements established by the Board of Elders (including regular attendance during their premarital counseling), and having agreed with the Statement on Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality as set forth in Article IV, Section 3 of this Constitution and By-Laws.
The membership of the church shall be composed of individuals who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and who give evidence by their confession and conduct that they are living in fellowship with Him.
A person desiring membership shall take the following three steps:
- Make your desire for membership known to the Pastor or Elders and receive instruction from them regarding the beliefs and practices of this church (which includes reading this constitution).
- Sign a membership application form, share your testimony of salvation with at least two Elders, and be deemed eligible by them. (If you presently have your membership at another evangelical church, upon your application, we will write to that church and request a letter of good standing be sent to us.)
- Publicly accept our church covenant and be received into our church family with the right hand of fellowship.
Membership in this church may be terminated in five ways. In each case, removal from the membership roll will be granted by the Board of Elders.
- By written request from the member to the Board of Elders.
This request will not be honored if the member is at the time subject to any stage of church discipline as described in Article VII.
- By recommendation to another church. Letters of good standing shall be sent to churches of like evangelical faith upon request of members who apply for them, providing they are not subject to any stage of church discipline at the time of application. Members who join another church without requesting a letter of good standing will likewise be removed from the membership roll.
- By prolonged absenteeism. When a member is habitually absent from all church services and fails to communicate with the church for three consecutive months without a justifiable reason (such as physical disability or temporarily living out of town), an elder will make personal contact to encourage active participation in the life of the church. If, after an additional three months following this contact, the member still chooses to not attend the church services; he or she will be dropped from the membership roll.
- By church discipline. It is the prerogative of the Board of Elders, and in harmony with the Scriptures, to exclude from membership any person who promotes false or heretical doctrine, or who lives inconsistently with the moral standards set forth in the Scriptures and therefore exhibit habitual, persistent, life-dominating sin (1 Corinthians 5:11-13; Galatians 2:11-14; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). Moreover, consistent with the shepherding responsibilities God has conferred upon the plurality of elders He has established to lead, feed, and protect the flock of His Church (1 Pet 5:1-3: Heb 13:17), the Board of Elders reserve the right to deny any individual the privilege of participating in any activity at Calvary Bible Church.
- By death. The names of deceased members will, of necessity, be removed from the membership roll.
Those who enter into the membership of this church shall publicly accept the following covenant after subscribing to our Statement of Doctrine:
"Having confessed my faith in the Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, and in the Bible as the inspired, inerrant and authoritative Word of God, I joyfully commit myself to be a faithful member of Calvary Bible Church. By the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, I take this church to be my church, and I accept its members as my fellow brothers and sisters in the family of God.
I make it my goal to live a holy life that is pleasing to God, to conduct myself in a way, which exalts the reputation of Christ in my community, and to submit to the loving oversight and discipline of this church. As I grow spiritually, I will seek to faithfully attend its services, pray for its burdens and participate cheerfully and regularly in the financial support of its ministries. I will seek to maintain personal daily Bible reading and prayer, and use my spiritual gift to serve faithfully in some ministry within the church. As I have opportunity, I will seek, by my life’s example and verbal witness, to lead other people to put their trust in Christ."
The following procedure is stated in great detail for the purpose of encouraging the congregation to handle every church discipline situation biblically and for the goal of restoration of another brother or sister in Christ.
Section A: Introduction to Guidelines for Church Discipline
We believe that loving church discipline and restoration of a believer is one of the great blessings and privileges of belonging to a Christian church. The following guidelines were developed to provide a clear biblical framework for carrying out church discipline and restoration. These guidelines provided in detail so that people may fully understand CBC’s disciplinary procedures before they decide to become a member or faithful attender. This should help prevent later misunderstandings or disappointments! We believe that these guidelines are biblical and provide the greatest opportunity to glorify God and to love one another in the midst of dealing with sin-issues both individually or corporately. They are established to provide a loving, biblical framework within which we hope to remain faithful to God and His Word while at the same time lovingly confront those who may be overtaken in a trespass (Galatians 6:1-2).
Another important reason for spelling out the disciplinary and restoration process in such detail is to insure a gracious, loving and fair process, in order to prevent any possibility of the church misusing its authority and insures that a person who has been accused of wrongdoing will be treated fairly and with Christ-like grace and love. In addition, these guidelines for church discipline and restoration not only apply to church members and faithful attenders, but also for all church leadership, pastoral and support staff.
As you read these guidelines, we encourage each member and faithful attender to study the Bible passages that are cited next to each particular provision. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to speak with one of our Elders, who will be happy to talk with you about these matters.
Section B: Guidelines for Church Discipline and Restoration
- Church discipline and restoration shall be instituted according to the Bylaws of this church. These guidelines shall be considered as essential components of the Bylaws of this church to protect the purity of Christ’s church (1 Cor 5:6-8; Heb 12:7-13) and love for other brothers and sisters in Christ (Rom 12:9-10; Eph 4:15; 1 John 3:14-15).
- Mutual accountability and discipline within the church is commanded by God in Scripture and is one of the most important responsibilities of a true church of Jesus Christ (see Matt 18:12-20; Rom 16:17; 1 Cor 5:1-13; Gal 2:11-14; Eph 5:11; 1 Thess 5:14; 2 Thess 3:6-15; 1 Tim 1:20; 5:19-20; 2 Tim 3:1-5; Titus 3:10; 2 John 7-11; Rev 3:19).
- Church discipline and restoration is the exercise of that authority which the Lord Jesus Christ has committed to the visible church for the preservation of its purity, peace, and good order. All members and faithful attenders of the church are under the care of and also subject to the discipline of the church. Keeping in mind that the ultimate goal of church discipline and restoration is to train Christians to be self-disciplined so that they may share in the holiness of God (Heb 12:7-13).
- Church discipline and restoration is concerned with the prevention and correction of sin which offends our Lord and Savior, along with other brothers and sisters in Christ. A sinful offense is defined as anything in the doctrine or practice of a member or faithful attender that is contrary to the Word of God. The purpose of discipline is: (1) to guard and preserve the honor of God (Rom 2:24; 1 Cor 10:31); (2) to protect the purity of the church and to guard other Christians from being tempted, misled, divided, or otherwise harmed (see 1 Cor 5:6); and (3) to restore fallen Christians to usefulness to God and fellowship with His church (see Matt 18:12-14; 2 Cor 2:5-11; 7:8-10; Gal 6:1-2).
- According to Matthew 18:15-20, discipline involves four components or phases: (1) Step One: Each believer has the responsibility to confront privately other believers who have sinned. The individual who is aware of the violation should arrange a private meeting with the offender of God’s Word. The goal here in step one is to assure accuracy of the sin that was witnessed by another believer, to clarify the biblical basis of concern, and, if he/she repents, to forgive the person. If the sinning believer acknowledges his sin and repents, the confronting believer has graciously and lovingly won that believer to a place of restoration (Gal 6:1-2). We believe that step one is where most discipline and restoration begins and ends.
- (2) Step Two - However, if the sinning believer does not repent, step two demands that the believer who originally witnessed the offense, bring other brothers and sisters in Christ to lovingly confront, counsel, and encourage the individual towards repentance. Step two may occur repeatedly! For the intent of other individuals being involved here in step two is to guarantee clear communication, and to provide witnesses should the matter later be taken to a public level.
- (3) Step Three: If the previous efforts do not correct an offense, the unrepentant person may be mentioned before the church (Matt 18:17). This shall be done in the following manner:
- A. The Board of Elders, if not already involved, shall be informed of the matter in writing.
- B. A person accused of persistent, unrepentant sin shall be given a written notification to meeting with the Board of Elders at a specific time and place. The notice may, but need not, specify the sins that have been revealed to the individual in question by other believers in step one and step two. This notification or request to meet with the Elders shall be served in person, but in case that is not possible, notices shall be sent by certified mail to the individual in question.
- C. At the first meeting, when of the Board of Elders address this matter, only these actions may be taken: (i.) the specific sin(s) shall be read and presented to the believer in question, together with the names of any witnesses and copies of any documents that have been presented against he/she; (ii.) the Elders shall establish a time, date, and place for a second meeting, and shall send out notices to any one whose presence the Elders may deem necessary; and (iii.) the sinning individual in question will also have the right to add to the Elders list names of the witnesses whom he/she wishes the Elders to summon.
- D. If the individual in question refuses or fails to appear without satisfactory reason for their absence at the time appointed for a hearing of the matter, he/she will be provided with another notice to appear, with the warning that, if he/she does not appear, the Board of Elders will proceed with the matter in their absence. The time allowed for the appearance shall be determined by the Elders with gracious and loving consideration of the individual in question and their circumstances. If he/she still refuses or fails to appear, the Elder Board may proceed in he/she’s absence.
- E. If unusual circumstances require it, the Board of Elders may deny the individual in question the privilege of participating in the Lord’s Supper, or of performing the functions of his/hers office or ministry, until the matter is reconciled.
- F. If the accused appears at the second meeting of the Elders, he/she shall be asked whether or not he/she is guilty of the accusation. If he/she pleads that he is not guilty of the accusation, the Elders shall proceed to receive evidence. No person shall be denied the opportunity to use the Word of God as evidence of their innocence. If additional meetings of the Board of Elders are required, the accused and all witnesses shall be called to appear as provided above.
- G. Evidence must be biblical and factual in nature. It may be direct or circumstantial. Caution should be exercised by the Elders when considering the value of evidence that is purely circumstantial. The individual in question may challenge the legitimacy of any witness and to the authenticity, admissibility, and relevancy of any testimony or evidence produced in support of the accusation of the sin issue in question. The Elders shall decide on all such concerns brought to the attention of the Elders by the individual in question. Remembering that the testimony of one witness shall be insufficient to establish the truth of any specifications without corroborating evidence (see 2 Cor 13:1). If the accused so requests, no witness, unless a member of the Board of Elders, shall testify in the presence of another witness who is to testify concerning the same specification.
- H. Nothing which has been stated above prevents or prohibits the Board of Elders from taking additional gracious and loving actions which it believes is necessary to result in either the pronouncement of innocence or in the repentance and reconciliation of a sinning brother or sister in Christ.
- I. At the conclusion of the matter, the Board of Elders, after deliberation, shall come to a unanimous decision about the guilt or innocence of the individual in question. If he/she, after tender exhortation, solemn rebuke and warning does not repent, then the Elders shall proceed to determine an appropriate time and occasion when the church body will be informed about the unrepentant person.
- J. When the unrepentant person is mentioned before the church, the congregation shall be instructed to pray for him, and to pursue him for the purpose of restoration, which is the goal of all church discipline. After a sufficient time determined by the Elders, the sinning member or attender either repents or refuses to do so.
If he/she refuses then by virtue of Jesus’ own pronouncement in Matt18:18-20, step four shall be enacted.
- (4) Step Four: This involves the public dismissal, or disfellowshipping of the individual in question from the congregation. The public announcement of discipline shall always be accompanied by prayer that God will graciously use the discipline for His own glory, the restoration of the offender, and the edification of the church. This announcement may be made during a regular worship service, at a special meeting of the congregation, or by letter. Public dismissal precludes his attendance at all public meetings in keeping with the Apostle Paul’s instruction in 1 Cor 5:9-13. He is to be treated as one who rejects the gospel of Christ, warned of the consequences of his sin, and exhorted to come to a saving relationship with the Christ he once confessed. The church should continue to pray for the individual imploring God to bring about repentance.
- K. If the individual in question leaves the church during the disciplinary process or after having been disfellowshipped, and if the Board of Elders learns that he/she is attending another church, the Board of Elders may inform that church that the person is currently under church discipline and restoration process. The Board of Elders may ask that church to encourage the accused to repent of his sin and to be restored to the Lord and to any people whom he has offended. The purpose of such communications is to hopefully and prayerfully enhance the possibility that the individual in question may finally repent of their sin, and at the same time, it serves to warn the other church to be on guard against the harm that the accused might do to its members and faithful attenders (see Matt 18:12-14; Rom 16:17; 1 Cor 5:1-13; 2 Thess 3:6-14; 2 Tim 1:15; 2:16-18; 4:9, 14-15; 3 John 9-10).
- L. Just as a good shepherd will go after a sheep that has wandered from the flock (Matt 18:12-14; Ezek 34:4, 8, 16), so should the Elders, members and faithful attenders of this church to seek to restore a wandering believer back to the Lord through biblical discipline and restoration. Therefore, discipline may be instituted or continued either before or after a member or faithful attender seeks to withdraw from membership or attendance if the Board of Elders determines that such discipline may serve to guard and preserve the honor of God, protect the purity of the church, or restore the wandering believer to the Lord. While the church cannot force a withdrawing person to remain in this congregation, the church has the right and the responsibility to encourage restoration, to bring the disciplinary and restoration process to an orderly conclusion, and to make a final determination as to the person’s membership or attendance status at the time withdrawal is sought or acknowledged. In doing so, the Board of Elders, at its discretion, may temporarily suspend further disciplinary proceedings, dismiss any or all accusations against the accused, or proceed with discipline and pronounce an appropriate disciplinary action.
- M. If a person who has been disfellowshipped comes to repentance, the church shall rejoice and praise God as they warmly and lovingly restore he/she to fellowship within the Body (see Matt 18:13; Luke 15:11-32). Once the Board of Elders is persuaded that the person has sincerely confessed his wrongs and sought forgiveness from God and the person or persons he/she has offended, their restoration shall be announced for all to celebrate and to glorify the Lord for His mercy and grace during this process and its results! The announcement shall be accompanied by a solemn admonition to the congregation that the restored person’s offenses have been forgiven and are not to be held against them or otherwise hinder their fellowship within the church (see 2 Cor 2:5-11). When deemed appropriate by the Board of Elders, however, the restored person may be restricted from certain responsibilities within the church until he/she has demonstrated the requisite qualities for those responsibilities (see Phil 1:10; 2:12-14; Col 1:22; 1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:6; 1 Peter 2:11-12).
Baptismal services shall be scheduled as needed by the Board of Elders. Baptism is an ordinance for Christians, commanded in the Scriptures. It is to be observed as a public testimony of a believer’s salvation. It is not essential to salvation, but should be entered into by all believers. Baptism shall be by immersion. Any exception to the mode of immersion because of physical disability must be approved by the Board of Elders. All who desire to be baptized shall first receive biblical instruction regarding its significance by a Pastor or an Elder (Acts 2:41, 8:36-38, 10:48; Romans 6:3, 4; 1 Corinthians 1:13-16).
This church shall observe the Lord’s Supper at least monthly as the Board of Elders may deem appropriate. All born-again believers in Jesus Christ, whether members or non-members, are eligible to participate in the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:17-34).
Section A. Governing Structure
- Autonomous or "free" church government: In keeping with the biblical principles, our church shall remain its own highest authority, conducting its business through the business sessions of our congregation and Board of Elders, responsible to the Lord Jesus Christ and Scriptural principles.
- Congregational Authority: We choose that our congregation will decide the following by vote:
- (a) Ratification of revisions to this constitution.
- (b) Election of our Board of Elders subsequent to elder screening.
- (c) Changes in affiliation.
- (d) Installing or removal of pastoral leadership
- (e) Adoption of an annual budget.
- (f) Approval of unbudgeted expenditures that exceeds $15,000 that is otherwise not mentioned in this document.
- (g) Purchase and sale of real estate.
- (h) Major capital improvement or renovation projects that exceeds $15,000
- (i) Decisions to take legal action.
- (j) Petition for external peacemaking if the Board of Elders should become involved in an irreconcilable conflict.
- (k) Any other issue our Board of Elders chooses to place before the congregation.
- Biblical Church Leadership & Authority: In keeping with New Testament principles of church government, CBC holds to a congregationally affirmed biblically-based church leadership, to be comprised of a group of biblically qualified men whom the Word of God calls "Elders" who are described as "God’s Stewards" (Titus 1:7). The Board of Elders is hereby authorized to give direction, set policies, maintain standards, shepherd our members, and provide for doing any other things necessary to make sure CBC functions effectively and efficiently as a New Testament local church honoring the Lord Jesus Christ.
The description, selection and responsibilities of the Elder’s are described in Article XII, Section C. The Board of Elders is hereby authorized to establish specific written policies and procedures as needed, in keeping with Scripture, state law, and this constitution.
Furthermore, under the authority of the Board of Elders, the various ministries, boards, committees and organizations of CBC are authorized to set forth written policies and procedures pertaining to their area of ministry, but these must be approved by the Board of Elders. All policies will be contained in a policy book, and followed, but may be revised by the Board of Elders when circumstances dictate.
- Affiliation: This church may choose to affiliate or disaffiliate with any association for the cause of joint local church and Gospel ministry.
Section B. Church Services
The Sunday services shall be held regularly at times determined by the Pastor-Teacher and Board of Elders; further opportunities for study, prayer and fellowship, may also be provided as needed.
Section C. Business Meetings
- The Moderator at all Congregational business meetings shall be the Chairman of the Board of Elders. In the absence of the moderator, the Board of Elders, by a majority vote, will appoint another elder as moderator for the meeting. The Moderator shall follow Roberts’ Rules of Order to the best of his ability.
- Congregational Meetings are for the purpose of reviewing the ecclesiastical, fiscal, and spiritual life of the church during the intervening months and to consider its future welfare. Voting shall be open to all active church members in good standing 18 years of age or over.
- Secret ballots shall be used in the election of officers and the approval of the budget. The ballots are to be counted immediately by three non-candidate members of the church who are selected by the Moderator. A majority vote will decide all actions (except when specified otherwise in this constitution).
- Corporation Meetings are for the purpose of complying with the State of Tennessee requirements, and to review and carry on temporalities of the church as related to matters over which the Elders have sole jurisdiction, and any additional matters that the congregation may allocate to the Board of Elders. Corporation Meetings shall be open to all church members in good standing eighteen years of age or over. The Chairman of the Board of Elders shall be recognized as the President of the Corporation. The Board of Elders shall be the Directors and Trustees of the Corporation.
- The Corporation Meeting shall be duly and regularly called by the Board of Elders for the same date and place as the Congregational Meeting. The Corporation Meeting shall have the same notice as the Congregational Meeting. It is recognized that the church is a corporation, by virtue of the Articles of Incorporation filed with the State of Tennessee. A roll call of members shall be taken at all business meetings of the congregation, and 25 percent of the active membership shall constitute a quorum.
- A Congregational Meeting shall be called at least once each year during the first week of November, or at the discretion of the Board of Elders. Annual Reports shall be submitted by the Chairman of the Board of Elders and Budget Committee (which is appointed by the Board of Elders and serves at the pleasure of the Board) in January and shall be distributed to the Membership within 45 days after the close of the church year.
- Special Meetings may be called for either the Congregation or Corporation at any time by request of the Senior Pastor, or a majority of the Board of Elders, or by 30% of the active membership as reported at the last annual meeting. Those calling the meeting shall specify in writing the purpose of the meeting and the nature of the business to be transacted, and shall give proper notice of the time and place of the meeting in the bulletin and from the pulpit for two Sundays before the meeting is held.
- A Congregation Meeting for the specific purpose of dealing with church discipline situations may be called by the Board of Elders with only a one weeks’ notice from the pulpit at a Sunday morning worship service.
Offices of Pastor and Associate Pastor
Election of Pastors
The elected officers of Calvary Bible Church are as follows: The Pastor-Teacher, Associate Pastor(s), from a minimum of (3) three to (12) twelve Elders.
Duties of Pastors
Section A. The Pastor-Teacher
1. The Pastor-Teacher is to be a spiritually mature ordained minister who has been determined by the Board of Elders to be in accord with the doctrines and constitution of the church. He must meet the scriptural qualifications of an elder (1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) and be capable of equipping the saints for ministry through the exposition of the Word of God (Eph 4:11-13). He is to provide both spiritual and organizational leadership, and oversight for the church, in cooperation with the Board of Elders, as one of the compensated Elders. He is to preach the Word, exercise pastoral oversight of the church, be responsible for the regular preaching services of the church, and administer the ordinances. In addition, the Pastor-Teacher must also be faithful at training others to make disciples, developing ministry skills of emerging leaders, envisioning the future, and being sufficiently familiar with every ministry of the church in order to integrate and give direction to the whole in conjunction with the Board of Elders.
The Pastor-Teacher also provides strong leadership in biblically refining the churches mission and vision. He is to be a voting member of the Board of Elders eligible to vote on all matters of the Board of Elders except evaluation of pastors and benefits for Pastors. The Pastor-Teacher will serve in permanent tenure until he resigns, or is discontinued for just cause with provisions provided in the By-Laws. The Pastor-Teacher shall be an ex-officio member of all councils and committees and he shall be responsible to the Board of Elders. The Pastor-Teacher shall arrange for and conduct all public and regular services of the church and shall be responsible for general oversight of the spiritual welfare of the church.
2. The Pastor-Teacher shall be selected by the Board of Elders and confirmed by the members of the church at its annual meeting or at a special business meeting, and such confirmation shall be a three- fourths (3/4) majority of all the votes cast. He shall remain in office an indefinite period of time, at which time he and his wife become members of the church, but will be subject to the following reservations.
A. The Elders reserve the right to dismiss the Pastor-Teacher:
a) Upon giving him one month’s written notice of its intention to dismiss and is also confirmed by an affirmative vote of (3/4th) three-fourths of church members present.
b) Individuals or groups within the membership may present a written, signed request that the Board of Elders consider dissolution of the pastoral relationship. Upon the majority request of the Board of Elders, or upon the signed petition of 20% of the members in good standing, dissolution of the relationship shall be considered at a Special Meeting for this purpose. If, by written ballot, over 50% vote for his dismissal, he shall immediately be dismissed as pastor and receive one months’ salary and benefits for every year he has served.
c) The Pastor-Teacher may resign with two months written notice to the Board of Elders (or less, if mutually agreeable). Upon the death, removal, or resignation of the Pastor-Teacher, the Board of Elders shall, without unnecessary delay, deliberate to secure a successor. In order to avoid confusion, only one candidate shall be recommended and presented to the church at a time.
3. A pastoral agreement will be written by the Board of Elders, and updated annually for the Pastor-Teacher (as well as all other pastors on staff). It will contain confirmation of call, details of compensation, and understanding of pastoral approach, key expectations, principles for evaluation, and other matters with the Board of Elders (including the pastor) may deem appropriate. This agreement, including compensation details, will be accessible and available to any member of the congregation.
4. The Pastor-Teacher will not serve as Chairman of the Board of Elders, nor any congregational meetings.
Section B. Associate Pastor(s)
1. Associate Pastor(s) are to be spiritually mature trained men who have been determined by the Board of Elders to be in accord with the doctrines and constitution of the church. They must meet the scriptural qualifications of an elder (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) and be proficient in performing the responsibilities for which they were called. Associate Pastor(s) may serve in areas of ministry (either a singular or a combination of ministries), serving at the pleasure of the Board of Elders, under the direction, supervision and authority of the Senior Pastor. These men are to be voting members of the Board of Elders eligible to vote on all matters except evaluation of pastors and benefits for Pastors.
2. The calling and resignations of Associate Pastor(s) is to follow the same procedure as for the Pastor-Teacher.
Section C. Elders & "God’s Stewards"
1. Biblical Functions & Responsibilities – Subject to limitations of these Articles and these Bylaws and of pertinent restrictions of the corporation’s Code of the State of Tennessee, all the activities and affairs of the corporation shall be exercised by or under the direction and trust of the Board of Elders, comprised of a congregationally affirmed ("selected") group of men. The Elders of Calvary Bible Church are "God’s stewards" (Titus 1:7), who are responsible for shepherding and en- trusted by Christ with the complete and comprehensive oversight of His flock and the resources of His church. Elders are the pastors of the church (these phrase: "Elder" refers to maturity and wisdom; "Overseer" refers to the administrative duties and tasks; "Shepherd" (pastor) refers to the caring heart and concern for the flock of Christ). The Elders jointly teach, lead and protect the church under Christ, the chief shepherd. The Elders are also responsible for initiating and directing church discipline. The church is to submit to their God-given leadership. Their leadership should be distinguished as pastoral, shared, male, qualified and servant-like (1 Pet 5:1-4; 1 Thess 5:12-13; Heb 13:17).
It is hereby expressly declared that the Board of Elders shall have the following powers in addition to the other powers enumerated in these By-laws.
(a) To select and remove any officers, agents, pastors, staff and employees of the corporation, prescribe such duties for them as may be consistent with the law, with the Articles of Incorporation, or with the Bylaws, fix the terms of their offices and their compensation.
(b) To make such disbursements from the funds and properties of the corporation as are required to fulfill the purposes of this corporation as are more fully set out in the Articles of Incorporation thereof and generally to conduct, manage and control the activities and affairs of the corporation and to make such rules and regulations not inconsistent with the law, with the Articles of Incorporation or with the Bylaws, as they may deem best.
(c) To adopt, make and use a corporate seal and to alter the form of such seal from time to time as they may deem best.
(d) To establish policies and practices for the church consistent with the purposes of this corporation; giving direction, setting policies, maintain standards, shepherding members, and making sure CBC continues to function as a New Testament church honoring the Lord Jesus Christ. The Board of Elders arrange for ongoing teaching and equipping of the church, for the bonding together the family of believers, for the maintain of our mission and vision, for preserving our peace, and for fulfilling all the biblical duties of "Elders," "Overseers," "Shepherds."
(e) To assist the Pastor-Teacher in the administration and ordinances of baptism and communion.
(f) To borrow money and incur indebtedness for the purposes of the corporation and to cause to be executed and delivered therefore, in the corporate name, promissory notes, bond, debentures, deeds of trust, mortgages, pledges or other evidences of debt and securities; with the
approval of a 2/3rd congregational vote.
(g) To carry on a business and apply any such profit that results from the business activity in which it may legally engage.
2. Number of Elders – (Article X).
3. Nomination, Selection, and Tenure of Office – Recommendations to fill the office of Elders shall be requested once a year and such recommendations are to be based on the qualifications outlined in 1 Timothy 2:1-7 and Titus 1:5-16. Recommendations for the Office of Elder will be received by the elders from any church member in good standing. The Elder Board will then determine each nominee’s biblical qualifications. The Elders shall then interview each of the candidates and by a (2/3rds) two-thirds majority vote approve the name of one man to be considered as the nominee for each existing vacancy on the Board of Elders. The Board of Elders shall then approve, disapprove or add to the list of nominees. They will then personally contact each nominee on the list to seek their approval for their name to be publically posted in alphabetical order at least two (2) weeks prior to the annual meeting of the church members. The list of the nominees shall also be in the church bulletin for two (2) successive Sundays prior to the annual meeting. At the annual meeting the Board of Elders will present their recommended slate of nominees to the members to affirm. These Elder nominees shall be approved on an individual basis by secret ballot at the annual meeting by an affirmation vote of (2/3rd) two-thirds of the church members present, to serve indefinitely at the discretion of the Board of Elders and the membership.
Newly approved Elders shall be ordained and licensed to their office during a regularly scheduled service(s) of the church, once they have (individually or collectively) completed the ordination and licensing process determined by the Board of Elders.