ARTICLE I. NAME
The name of this organization shall be: “Grace Baptist Church of Westlake.”
ARTICLE II. PURPOSE and CORE VALUES
Section 1. Purpose
Purpose statement: Growing together in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are walking with God, pursuing relationships with His people, and reaching out to those who do not know Him.
This is how we seek to glorify God. We desire to make disciples and believe this is most effective in an atmosphere of grace.
Section 2. Core Values:
Based on our purpose, we believe the following to be at the heart of what is most important to us in ministry:
Relationship with God
Connection with God’s people
Everyone is Welcome
Matthew 28:19,20; Colossians 2:6; 3:16; Hebrews 10:24,25;
II Peter 3:18
ARTICLE III. CORE BELIEFS
Section 1. God
We believe in one God, creator of all, perfect in every way, and eternally existing in three persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He alone is worthy of our praise, confidence, obedience and love.
Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 3:16,17; 28:19; Colossians 1:12-20
Section 2. God the Father
We believe in God the Father, an infinite, personal spirit, complete in holiness, power, wisdom and love. He has decreed that all things come to pass for His glory and directs all according to His own purpose, pleasure and grace.
Matthew 6:9; John 5:19-24; Ephesians 1:3-6; 2:8-9; l Timothy 2:5; Revelation 1:6
Section 3. God the Son
We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who is truly God and truly man. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus, who led a sinless life, gave His life as a substitutionary sacrifice for our sins by dying on a cross. He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven where He sits at the right hand of God as our Priest and Advocate. We believe that only through Jesus Christ, the Lord, can one enter into a relationship with God the Father and have eternal life.
Isaiah 53:4-7; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:35; John 1:1,14; 3:16; 14:6;
I Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 1:3; 7:26; 9:24,28; I Peter 2:22
Section 4. God the Holy Spirit
We believe in the Holy Spirit, who gives spiritual understanding to non-believers and brings them into a relationship with God and the body of Christ (the Church). It is the Holy Spirit who indwells, guides, convicts, regenerates and empowers the believer for godly living and service.
John 15:26; 16:7-14; Acts 5:3,4; I Corinthians 3:16; 12:4-7; Galatians 5:25
Section 5. The Bible
We believe that the Bible is the Word of God, fully inspired and without error in the original manuscripts. It was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is preserved for us today, and has supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
I Thessalonians 2:13; II Timothy 3:16,17; II Peter 1:3,19-21
Section 6. Man and Salvation
We believe that all people are sinners by nature and choice, and are under condemnation. We believe that all those who trust in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation (confessing with their mouths that Jesus is Lord and believing in their hearts that He rose from the dead), are born again of the Holy Spirit and become children of God. We believe that those who have trusted in Christ are forgiven and are eternally assured of their salvation.
John 1:12; 10:27-29; Romans 3:10,23,24; 4:5,25; 5:1,9,12-14,17; 10:9-10; Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:8,9; Titus 3:5; I John 5:13
Section 7. Universal and Local Church
We believe the Church universal is a living, spiritual body made up of all believers, beginning at Pentecost. We believe the local church is a visible assembly of believers, autonomous in nature, following Christ as her head, and is committed to fulfilling God’s purposes (see Article II).
Acts 2:41,42,46-47; I Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:20-22
Section 8. Ordinances of the Local Church
We believe that all believers, in obedience to Christ, give testimony of their relationship with Him through baptism. We believe immersion is the best picture of our identification with Christ. We believe that until He returns, the local assembly of believers is commanded to remember Christ through the Lord’s Table.
Matthew 3:13-15; Acts 8:12; 10:47-48; I Corinthians 11:23-26
Section 9. Future Things
We believe in the rapture of Christ’s Church, the Tribulation of judgment on the Earth, the personal return of Jesus to Earth (Second Coming) and the establishment of His Kingdom. We believe in the resurrection of the body and final judgments: the believer spending eternity with God and the unbeliever spending eternity separated from God.
Acts 1:11; I Corinthians 15:20-24; I Thessalonians 4:16-18;
ARTICLE IV. AFFILIATION AND GOVERNMENT
Section 1. Affiliation
This church is affiliated with the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, the Ohio Association of Regular Baptist Churches, and the Hebron Association of Regular Baptist Churches.
Section 2. Government
For the purpose of transacting all legal business, Grace Baptist Church has been incorporated under the laws of the State of Ohio as a nonprofit religious corporation. In accordance with the Article of Incorporation, it shall have a Board of Directors, which shall be the Deacons. A duly appointed deacon shall be the chairman of the Corporation.
ARTICLE V. MEMBERSHIP
Section 1. Reception of Members
Those who desire membership will meet the following criteria:
• Trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation
• Be baptized by immersion following salvation
• Be 18 years of age or older
• Complete the Discovering Grace class
• Submit an application for membership
• Meet with the appointed pastors and/or deacons for an interview
• Give a personal testimony before the congregation at Grace
• Be voted in by the membership of Grace
Section 2. Membership and Serving
All members are expected to serve in some capacity at Grace. Only members can be pastors, deacons, teachers or ministry team leaders. At the discretion of the pastors, non-members may be allowed to serve in some capacity at Grace.
Section 3. Core Commitments
The following are the expectations of the members of Grace:
A. I commit to pursuing unity in my church (Romans 15:5,6).
• By treating others in love (I Peter 1:22).
• By encouraging others and refusing to gossip (Ephesians 4:29).
• By following the leaders (Hebrews 13:17).
B. I commit to sharing the responsibility of my church.
• By attending faithfully (Hebrews 10:25).
• By giving regularly (II Corinthians 9:7).
• By warmly welcoming visitors (Romans 15:7).
C. I commit to serving in the ministry of my church.
• By discovering and using my gifts and talents (I Peter 4:10).
• By being equipped to serve (Ephesians 4:11,12).
• By developing a servant’s heart (Philippians 2:3,4).
D. I commit to the disciple-making goals of our church.
• By living a Christ-centered life (Philippians 1:27).
• By sharing my faith (I Peter 3:15).
• By praying and encouraging others toward spiritual growth
Section 4. Release of Members
Members can be released from their membership commitments as follows:
• Vote of the members
• Written request, unless under the discipline process
Section 5. Discipline of Members
A. Meaning: Discipline is the positive, God-ordained process of training in righteousness (Hebrews 12:3-11).
B. Purpose: The end goal of discipline is repentance and restoration
(Matthew 18:15; Galatians 6:1).
C. Spirit: Discipline is always to be done with love and in
gentleness (John 13:34,35; Galatians 6:1).
The following require church discipline:
1. Sexual immorality (I Corinthians 5:1-5)
2. False doctrine (Romans 16:17,18; I Timothy 1:19,20)
3. Disobedience to God’s Word (II Thessalonians 3:6,14)
4. Causing division (Titus 3:10,11)
E. Process: The process of church discipline will follow the principles found in: Matthew 18; I Corinthians 5; II Corinthians 2,7; and
• Examine personal motives for confronting sin.
• Confront the one who committed sin in love and gentleness.
• For continual refusal, bring one or two others with you to confront the individual.
• If the refusal to repent continues, report it to the church leaders, who will in turn report it to the church membership. Church members will have the opportunity to challenge the sinful one to repent.
• If there is no repentance, remove the person from church membership.
• Treat that person with love, hoping for restoration to God, just as you would a non-believer.
ARTICLE VI. ORDINANCES
Section 1. Baptism
The next step, for those who have professed faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, is baptism. Following a personal testimony of salvation, the person will be immersed in water in order to identify with Jesus Christ and to proclaim a desire to follow Christ for all of life.
Section 2. The Lord’s Table
Sometimes called communion, the Lord’s Table was instituted by Jesus Christ during His last supper with the disciples. It will be held, on a regular basis, in order to fulfill the command: “Remember Me.” All who profess to have trusted in Jesus Christ alone for salvation will be invited to participate.
ARTICLE VII. LEADERS
The official spiritual and servant leaders of the church are pastors and deacons. Others will lead and serve as ministry leaders or have influence in various areas of service.
Section 1. Pastors
A. Terms: The position of pastor is also referred to in the Scriptures as elder or bishop. There can be multiple pastors, with one being designated as the lead pastor. He is responsible for all other pastors and any final decision among them.
B. Requirements: All pastors must be men who are characterized by the qualities listed in I Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, I Peter 5:1-3.
C. Responsibilities: According to the Scriptures, the pastors are responsible to feed, protect and lead God’s people. This includes teaching them the Word of God, refuting false teaching, equipping people to serve God, and making decisions that will help the church accomplish God’s purposes for her. The pastors are the ones who will stand before God and give account for how they led the church (Hebrews 13:17).
D. Hiring: All pastors must be approved by the deacons before going before the congregation as an official candidate. Each pastor will be voted in by the membership. Two weeks notice must be given to the membership prior to the vote.
E. Resignation: Any pastor must give written notice of resignation and agree to remain in his role for 30 days if requested by the deacons. A recommendation for details, including any severance package will come from the pastors and deacons and be voted on by the membership.
F. Dismissal: A pastor can be dismissed from his position, for any reason, with a recommendation by the deacons and a vote by the membership. If dismissed, the motion can include an immediate removal from all responsibilities. A recommendation for details, including any severance package will come from the pastors and deacons and be voted on by the membership.
Section 2. Deacons
A. Term: The term deacon will be used as the biblical term that means
B. Requirements: Deacons must be men and members who are characterized by the qualities listed in I Timothy 3:8-13.
• It is the main responsibility of each deacon to serve God, the pastors and the congregation with a humble and gracious attitude. The specific responsibilities may vary according to the church’s needs at the direction of the pastors. Although the pastors are biblically responsible for all church decisions, the deacons will be asked to assist the pastors and, as needed, bring matters of decision to the congregation.
• The deacons shall act as the corporate representative of the church. The deacons shall be responsible to appoint a Statutory agent of the Corporation.
• In case of a vacancy of the lead pastor position, the Deacons will assume authority until a replacement is found. The Deacons are responsible for forming a team that will find and then recommend a future lead pastor. The deacons may appoint a church moderator.
D. Number: The number of deacons, at the recommendation of the pastors, will be determined by the number of members, need, number of prepared servants available, and vote of the membership.
E. Voting: Any business requiring a vote of the deacons needs to have a majority of the deacons present. Any vote by the deacons requires 75% of those voting for approval.
F. Appointment: Deacons will be elected by ballot at the annual business meeting. They will be elected for terms of three years, with the new term beginning January 1st or, if later, as soon as they are voted in. The pastors, with approval of the members, may appoint one or more deacons to a more limited term of one or two years. In special situations further elections can be held, at the pastors’ discretion, during the year.
G. Resignation: A deacon can resign at any time, submitting to the pastors for the process that is best for the church.
H. Dismissal: If at any time, the pastors believe a deacon needs to be relieved from service, their recommendation can be voted on by the Deacons and, if needed, by the congregation.
ARTICLE VIII. STAFF
All other staff positions (other than pastors), paid or unpaid, can be appointed by the pastors, with approval of the deacons. The authority to hire for paid positions is given with the congregational vote of the budget or at a duly called business meeting.
ARTICLE IX. MINISTRY TEAMS
Section 1. Term: Ministry team is a group of people who serve in a specific area of church ministry formally recognized by the pastors as such.
Section 2. Appointment: The appointment of teams is at the discretion of the pastors. Team leaders are appointed by the pastors; and the team members are appointed by the team leaders, with the approval of the pastors. Each team, team leader, and team member are re-appointed each year. A team leader may be released at any time at the discretion of the pastors.
Section 3. Requirements: A team leader is a member of Grace, may be a man or woman, and is characterized by the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.
Section 4. Others: Any other person or group needed for ministry not defined by pastor, deacon, staff or ministry team will be under the direct authority, in all details, of the pastors.
ARTICLE X. LICENSING AND ORDINATION
Section 1. Licensing
Any man who is a member, and is characterized by the qualities in
I Timothy 3, is eligible for a ministry license. He is approved by the pastors, deacons and then voted on by the congregation.
Section 2. Ordination
Any man who is a member and called to “full-time” Christian ministry may apply for ordination. He is to be characterized by the qualities expected of pastors (see Article VII, Section 1). He is approved by the pastors and deacons, tested by a council, and then voted on by the congregation.
ARTICLE XI. FINANCES
Section 1. The fiscal year shall begin on January 1st and end on the following December 31st .
Section 2. No unbudgeted financial obligation shall be placed upon the church either as a mortgage, note, outstanding bill, or in any other form. Any unbudgeted expenditure must be pre-approved by the deacons and any such expenditure exceeding two thousand dollars must be pre-approved by the church.
Section 3. Items approved in the budget need not be resubmitted to the membership prior to the expenditure.
Section 4. The deacons may authorize non-permanent accounting funds to receive donations designated for a particular use.
Section 5. The deacons are authorized to spend unbudgeted money in emergency situations, related to the health and safety of the members or church property, without prior church approval.
ARTICLE XII. BUSINESS MEETINGS
Section 1. Annual
The annual business meeting will be held near the beginning of the new year. It will include the approval of the budget, membership issues, deacon appointments, and any other business that may be necessary.
Section 2. Special
Special business meetings may be called by the pastors or the deacons. Any item requiring a vote must be presented for consideration to the congregation at least two Sunday morning services prior to the meeting. However, routine business, such as reception of new members, removal of members, etc. or emergencies related to health or safety may be done when necessary at any stated meeting of the church.
Section 3. Order of Business
The principles of the Scriptures will govern all business meetings. The pastors are responsible for decisions on procedure. As it serves the congregation, Robert’s Rules of Order will be used.
Section 4. Voting
• Members, 18 and older, are permitted to vote.
• No absentee ballots are allowed.
• A quorum of 20% of the voting membership must be present for a vote.
• For any vote needed, 75% is required for approval, including any changes to the constitution.
ARTICLE XIII. CONSTITUTION
This Constitution was adopted ( ), the _______ day of ________,
in the year of _____________________, and supersedes and cancels all other Constitutions and amendments.