Article 1 Name and Location of Offices
Article 2 Purpose
Article 3 Doctrinal Statement: What We Teach
Article 4 Membership
Article 5 Policy
Article 6 Church Leadership
Article 7 Support Personnel
Article 8 Congregational Meetings
Article 9 Amendments
Article 2 Purpose Graham Church is people, not buildings or programs. Our desire is to know Christ and make Him known, and our ministries aim to glorify Him as Savior and Lord. The purpose of this Church is summarized in Matthew 22:36-40; 28:19-20, and Ephesians 4:11-16. Our commission is:• Worship To glorify the Lord through our love and praise.“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:36-38)Ministry To glorify the Lord through meaningful acts of service.“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Matt. 22:39)• Evangelism To glorify the Lord by sharing the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ.“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Mat 28:19)• Discipleship To glorify the Lord through teaching and training one another toward Christ-likeness.
“Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Mat 28:20)
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Eph 4:11-16)
Article 3 Doctrinal Statement:
Article 4 Membership
1. Qualifications for membership
A. A personal commitment of faith in Jesus Christ for salvation followed by baptism. Other modes of believer’s baptism may be considered by the elders as fulfilling the requirement for membership.
B. A commitment to abide by the doctrinal statement and constitution of Graham Church.
2. Admission to membership
A person who desires to become a member should complete a membership application and meet with the elders. One who fulfills the necessary qualifications may be admitted to the membership on the recommendation of the elders and confirmation by the congregation. New members must be approved by a majority of the members present and voting at a Church business meeting.
3. Non-resident members
Members who have become inactive as a result of moving out of the area and have not joined another church may request to be classified by the elders as non-resident members. This membership does not carry the privilege of voting in Church business meetings. If the non-resident member moves back into the area the elders may place them back in the regular member category. If the non-resident member does not return to the area or join another church within six months they will be removed from membership. The elders may make exceptions for missionaries, students, military personnel, or others temporarily out of the area.
4. Discipline of members
The purpose of Church discipline is to bring about a return to a Biblical standard of conduct and doctrine in a member who errs (Galatians 6:1), to maintain purity in the local Church (1 Corinthians 5:6) and to deter sin (1 Timothy 5:20). Church discipline is the biblical, loving response to sin in the congregation.
Any member of this Church who teaches or insists on holding false doctrine, and persistently conducts himself or herself in a manner inconsistent with Biblical teaching, or who persists in disturbing the unity or peace of the Church shall be dealt with as follows, according to Matthew 18:15-18:
A. Go. When a believer is offended by another Christian, their first responsibility is to go to the offender privately to resolve the conflict. It is the personal responsibility of any member of this Church who has knowledge of an erring member’s heresy or misconduct to warn and correct the erring member in private, seeking his or her repentance and restoration.
B. Go together. If the erring member does not respond to this admonishment, the warning member shall again go to the erring member accompanied by one or two other members as witnesses to warn and correct, seeking repentance and restoration.
C. Tell it to the Church. If the erring member still refuses to respond to the warning, the matter shall be brought to the attention of the elders. They may, upon careful and prayerful investigation, tell it to the Church encouraging the congregation to seek repentance and restoration of the erring member.
D. Separate. If the erring member refuses to respond to the warnings of the elders and the Church, he or she shall be dismissed from the Church by the elders (See 5. D. below) according to the Scriptures, and treated as an unbeliever. There shall be no appeal of the discipline process or the dismissal to any court. The congregation shall be encouraged to pray for the repentance and restoration of the erring member. The discipline process will continue to conclusion whether the erring member leaves the Church or otherwise seeks to withdraw from membership.
5. Removal of membership A person can be removed from Church membership by the elders for any one of the following reasons:
A. Transfer by letter to another church.
B. Request of the member in writing, unless Church discipline is pending.
C. Members who have an unjustified absence from Church attendance for six months or have permanently relocated out of the area will be automatically dropped from membership.
In case of transfer, request, or absence (see A, B, and C above) the member’s name will be posted for one month before being removed from membership. Any comments concerning removal should be brought to the elders.
D. By dismissal as a final step of Church discipline (section 4 above). The elders shall only recommend the dismissal in strict accordance with the Scriptures. The dismissal shall be confirmed by a majority vote of the membership at a Church meeting.
Article 5 Policy
• Authority The Lord Jesus Christ is the head of this Church (Colossians 1:18). Under the authority of Christ and the Scriptures this body is independent and self-governing. The elders shepherd the flock and serve Christ in spiritual leadership. The elders are accountable to Christ first and to the body of believers in this local Church. The local congregation is accountable to Jesus Christ and to the Shepherds God has placed over them. (Acts 20:17-31; 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:7, 17).
• Disputable Matters We believe that with respect to those things or activities where the Word of God neither commands nor forbids, believers have the freedom to judiciously and moderately use and enjoy them in accordance with the design for which our Creator God has given them (1 Timothy 4:4-5; James 1:17). Our use of these things is to be further regulated by the following biblical guidelines:
B. We will use them only after considering whether it will cause my brother to stumble. We will not knowingly use those things that would cause my brother to stumble (Matthew 18:6-10; Romans 14:13, 21; 1 Corinthians 8:9-13).
C. We will use them only after carefully examining this particular thing or activity with the light of God’s Word and after searching our own hearts. We want to make sure we are not using our liberty as an occasion to sinfully indulge our flesh (Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 2:16).
• Faith and Practice Scripture is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice.
A. Civil Government Government authorities are appointed by God for the good of human society, and should be obeyed, except in commands opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ.
See Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14
B. Human Sexuality God has commanded that intimate sexual activity be reserved solely for the covenant bond of marriage. Marriage is to be only between a natural born man and woman.
See Gen 1:27-28; Matthew 19:4-6; Eph. 5:3; Heb 13:4
C. Divorce and Remarriage God hates divorce and intends marriage to last until one of the spouses dies. Divorce and remarriage is regarded in Scripture as adultery except on the grounds of immorality or if an unbelieving spouse departs.
See Mal. 2:16; Matt 19:6-9; 1 Cor. 7:10-16
D. Abortion Human life begins at conception and the unborn child is a living human being. Abortion is the taking of an innocent human life and is a violation of God’s moral law.
See Job 3:16; Psalm 51:5; 139:14-16; Isaiah 44:24; 49:1, 5; Jer. 1:5; 20:15-18; Luke 1:44
E. Lawsuits Between Believers Christians are prohibited from bringing civil lawsuits against other Christians or the Church to resolve personal disputes. The Church possesses all the resources necessary to resolve personal disputes between members. A Christian may seek compensation from another Christian’s insurance company as long as the claim is pursued without malice or slander.
See 1 Cor. 6:1-8; Eph 4:31-32; Matthew 18:15-20
Article 6 Church Leadership (Meet Graham’s Leadership)
• God gives elders and deacons to his Church to provide spiritual leadership, shepherd, and equip the saints for the work of ministry (1 Timothy 3:1-13). The Lord also gives other gifted individuals to the body to strengthen the work and fulfill the work of ministry (Eph 4:11-13).
• Qualifications of Leadership Spiritual leadership is a responsibility and privilege (James 3:1-2). All persons who hold a position of leadership (including but not limited to elders, deacons, Church officers, Sunday School teachers, committee members, and Church staff) must meet and maintain the following spiritual qualifications for leadership:
A. Have accepted Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior.
B. Be a member of Graham Church. (Non-members may be invited to teach on a temporary basis).
C. Teach no doctrine contrary to the “Doctrinal Statement” in the Constitution of Graham Church.
D. Be known for a dedicated Christian life according to the standards of God’s Word, and will purpose to put any sin, including doubtful conduct and conversation, out of his/her life so that his/her influence is helpful rather than a hindrance.
E. Fulfill such specific biblical requirements as may apply to the position of responsibility.
1. Elders are to be servants, devoted to prayer and the study of God’s Word. They are to sustain a shepherding ministry for the flock, caring for the Church’s spiritual growth, and encouraging the congregation.
2. Elders teach and exhort as well as refute those who contradict the truth. They insure that teachers, preachers and Church leaders are properly qualified.
3. Elders lead by Christ-like example, consistently modeling spiritual character, attitudes, values, and behavior among the congregation. They provide opportunity for frequent and on-going contact with members of the congregation and conduct the affairs of the Church in an atmosphere of openness and mutual sensitivity, focusing as much on nurturing one another as on decision-making.
4. Elders oversee the spiritual affairs of the Church, which includes, but is not limited to, teaching doctrine, shepherding leadership, overseeing worship services, Biblical instruction, and overseeing Church discipline.
1. It is God who makes men elders by maturing, gifting, and burdening them for such a ministry (Acts 13:2-3; 14:23; 20:28; Eph. 4:11). As overseers they must be able to lead. As shepherds, they must be able to teach and spiritually feed. And as elders they must be able to model spiritual growth in grace. It is the responsibility of the leadership and Church to recognize those whom the Holy Spirit gifts and qualifies as elders.
2. If a man desires the office of elder and he is biblically qualified, he or any other member of the Church may present his name for eldership to the existing elders. He will be taken under consideration by the elders for a reasonable time (typically 6-12 months). This period will be used to pray and seek God’s will (Acts 14:23) and consider the individual’s personal and spiritual qualifications.
3. If during this period of prayerful consideration, the elders sense unanimously before God that this man meets the qualifications of an elder, he will be brought before the congregation to share his testimony and burden for ministry. The congregation will prayerfully consider for a period of one to three months his qualifications, giftedness, and walk with the Lord. They may give written input to the elders of any examples affirming his qualifications, or any report that would disqualify him from consideration. When the elders are assured of God’s direction, the unity of the Church family, and have thoroughly investigated all input from the congregation, the elders will lead the congregation in a service of laying on of hands (Acts 6:6; 1 Tim. 5:22) recognizing and affirming that God gave him to the Church as an elder (Eph. 4:11).
4. A man who is an elder (pastor) at another Church of like faith and practice may become an elder at Graham Church. After thorough examination, if he meets the biblical qualifications, the elders may recommend him to the congregation for a period of consideration (a minimum of four weeks). When the elders are assured of God’s direction, the unity of the Church family, and have thoroughly investigated all input from the congregation, the elders will publicly affirm his eldership ministry at Graham Church.
D. Term of Service
1. The Scriptures do not indicate how long a man may officially serve as an elder in the local Church. An elder is intended to serve for as long as he desires the work and meets the qualifications of Scripture.
2. The elders will meet once a year for a time of reflection and personal evaluation. At this time each man’s life and ministry will be frankly discussed in the light of biblical qualifications and his heart desire for the work of shepherding.
3. Any elder who desires a period of rest from the responsibilities of shepherding will be granted a leave of absence. The process of his possible reinstatement at a later time is determined by the elders in relation to the circumstances.
4. No accusation is to be received against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses (1 Tim 5:19). Any accusation is to be carefully examined by the other elders. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly (1 Tim 5:20). When a man becomes biblically disqualified, the elders may remove him from office.
B. Duties: Deacons are servants to the Church and come alongside the elders to help with the day-to-day operation of the Church, ministry, and material and financial needs. They assist the elders in the ministry of service to the Church body. Their ministry allows the elders to “give attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4).
They meet with the elders to provide wisdom and help concerning the general physical care of the Church facilities; day-to-day financial oversight; caring ministry to those in the body who hurt; and any other responsibilities assigned to them by the elders.
C. Recognition: Deacons will be affirmed through the same process used to recognize elders, with the understanding that the gifts of deacons will differ from those required of elders.
D. Term of Service: Deacons serve under the same terms, accountability, and conditions of disqualification as elders.
The Church may choose to free an elder or other individual from outside employment in order to minister full-time or part-time for the Church (1 Cor. 9:3-14; 1 Tim 5:17). The decision to compensate an elder financially will be handled by the elders and congregation in the same manner as any other major financial commitment. (See Article 8 on Congregational Meetings)
• Leadership Team
The elders and deacons shall represent the Church in law and equity; exercise supervision over the physical properties; advise and act for the Church in respect to the purchase, sale, maintenance, alterations of, or additions to all properties. They shall have the authority to transact routine business and to consider new business and make recommendations to the membership of the Church for their action.
• Special Contingency
If no biblically qualified elders or deacons exist in the Church the congregation may select a team of no less than four members to conduct routine business and seek qualified elders and deacons for the congregation’s approval.
Article 7 Support Personnel
Duties: Deaconesses are servants to the Church. They assist the elders and deacons in the ministry of service to the Church body. Examples of Deaconess ministry include giving help to the needy, the sick, and the grieving; assisting at baptismal services; preparing for the communion service. Deaconesses may have other special responsibilities as requested by the elders and deacons.
Selection: Deaconesses will be appointed by the elders.
• Missions Team
Duties: The Missions Team will assist the elders in promotion of Missions at Graham Church. They will bring recommendations to the elders and deacons concerning Missions Support. New missionaries receiving monthly support will be approved by a majority congregational vote after recommendation by the Missions Team to the elders. Missions Funds may be disbursed for missions needs by the Missions Team up to $2000. Over $2000 must be approved by the elders and deacons.
Selection: There will be a recommended minimum of six members on the Missions Team, including an elder who will serve as facilitator. The members of the Missions Team will be appointed by the elders for a term of three years. The Missions Team will select one of their members to serve as Missions Treasurer.
Full and part-time employees (not including elder pastoral positions) will be hired by the elders and deacons. Employees will be accountable to the elders. They will remain on staff until they tender their resignation in writing to the elders and deacons or are removed from their position by the elders and deacons.
Qualifications: Full and part-time employees will be in agreement with the Doctrinal Statement, Article 3.
Duties: Duties of the employees will be determined by the elders and deacons.
• Appointed Officers
The elders and deacons shall appoint the following offices to a one-year term:
A. Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer
Duties: The Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer will keep an accurate accounting of the financial funds of the Church. They will count, deposit, and record offerings or appoint tellers. The Treasurer will present a monthly report to the elders and deacons and a Quarterly report to the Congregation.
Duties: The Clerk will keep an accurate record of Church business meetings and a record of the Church membership list.
C. Other Appointed Offices
The elders and deacons may appoint individuals to positions such as Sunday School Superintendent, Awana Commander, or Children’s Church Director as needed by Church ministries. Their job descriptions will be defined by the elders and deacons.
Article 8 Congregational Meetings
The Congregation consists of all the members of the Church and each one is responsible to:
B. Participate with the elders in affirming the selection of elders and deacons as described in Article 6.
C. Make input to the elders concerning Church officers, financial and ministry decisions.
D. Affirm elder and deacon decisions by a majority vote in a Congregational Meeting regarding: selling, purchasing, or leasing of real estate; developing new building programs; approval of the annual budget; hiring salaried positions; approving any indebtedness beyond a 30-day account; approving single expenditures beyond one percent of the annual budget. Exceptions to this policy may be made for emergency maintenance expenses.
• Congregational meetings
A. The annual meeting of the Church shall be during the second or third full week of May, with the date selected by the elders and deacons and announced two weeks in advance.
B. A financial report will be prepared quarterly and made available to the church membership through print or electronically.
C. Special meetings of the Church may be called by the elders. The elders shall give notice the Sunday preceding, and business shall be confined to the matters for which the meeting was called.
D. Twenty percent (20%) of the members in good and regular standing, and eighteen years of age or older shall constitute a quorum at all meetings of the Church. Any member in good and regular standing and eighteen years of age or older shall be eligible to vote.
Article 9 Amendments
This Constitution may be amended by a two-thirds majority vote of the quorum present at any regular meeting of the Church. These changes must be announced and posted at least two weeks in advance.