APPENDIX NUMBER ONE
A CONSTITUTION FOR A MULTIPLE ELDER FORM OF GOVERNMENT
This document comes from a compilation of many hours of study and reading
on the subject. There was input from many sources including two college
level theology classes which went through this study of the church with
me. One of the projects in those classes was to create a church constitution
based on the Biblical principles which we had studied. (This document is
a rework of one of those constitutions.)
I thank all those that gave information and thought to this document,
which by the way is not inspired! It could serve as a bare bones start
for a constitution for a church that desires to have this form of government.
There might be things that a particular congregation would like to add.
The basics are based on the Word of God and we trust that the suggestions
will be of assistance to churches in the future.
We the people of ________________ church believe that the Scriptures
show both a universal and a local church. The Universal church is that
body made up of all believers that are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
The local church is an assembly that is gathered and organized for the
purpose of edification and evangelism.
The purpose of this local church is to edify the believers who in turn
will go out evangelizing. (Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11-16)
Jesus Christ is the head of both the universal and the local church.
The individual believer will seek to know Christ's will for himself as
well as for this local gathering of saints.
Anyone desiring to enter into fellowship with this church must:
1. Have accepted Christ as his/her personal savior and have a desire
to achieve the purposes set forth in the preamble.
2. Have prayerfully read and considered the church constitution and
believe it to be based on God's Word. The person should desire to commit
themselves to abide by that which is set forth in the church constitution.
3. Have agreed that if at any time he/she should determine to disagree
with the constitution, he/she will without trouble withdraw from the fellowship,
giving the pastor and board permission to erase his/her name from the membership.
4. Agree to accept the discipline of the church in accordance with this
constitution or separate themselves from the membership according to number
Process of becoming a member:
The person desiring to unite with this church will request to be considered
by the elder board. The elder board will hear their testimony of salvation
and recommend the candidate to the general assembly for vote. The person
will give their testimony publicly before the church votes.
IIII. COVENANT OF THE LOCAL CHURCH
We as a local body, having been redeemed by God (Rev 5:9), being the
body, of which Christ is the head (Col 1:18), and being indwelt by the
Spirit (Rom. 8:9), believe God has saved us by his grace, through faith
in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8), do hereby establish this covenant.
Those that join this fellowship know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord,
and they shall share in its privileges and also the duties required (John
1:12,13; 8:12; 10:27).
As a fellowship we pledge ourselves to walk in Christian love, remember
each other in prayer, aid each other in Christian living (I John 4:7,8),
and to help those who are sick and in need (James 5:14). There should be
no gossip, backbiting, and anger, being slow to take offence and quick
to reconcile, keeping unity and peace (Eph. 4:31,32).
We covenant together with the desire to promote the true church's spiritual
and physical well being: by regular attendance, supporting its worship,
services, ordinances, discipline and doctrines (I Cor. 15:58), and assisting
in whatever way possible in supporting the operation of the church (I Cor.
16:1,2). Finally our desire is to spread the gospel here at home and abroad
We as members of this body should educate our children in the Christian
faith (Deut. 6:5,7; Titus 1:6). We also should refrain from fleshly lusts,
and practices and associations, that would dishonor Christ and/or the church
(I John 2:15-17).
We also agree to cooperate with those in leadership, to submit to and
oversee discipline in a loving way, (as officers and members of this church
Heb. 13:17), and accept responsibility and positions such as God has qualified
and called each to do through the Holy spirit (Rom. 12:1-8).
By the guidance of the Holy Spirit I accept this covenant. I also promise
if I find myself at anytime in the future in disagreement with doctrines
and standards of the church I will withdraw my name from the membership
and not cause any friction among the members (Rom. 12:18).
I further submit myself to the Scriptural authority of the church leadership
and will abide by the churches disciplinary policies if there be cause
for discipline due to sin in my life.
In keeping with the purpose of evangelization, there will be a missions
committee maintained at all times for the purpose of stimulating the membership
to give, pray and go in relation to Christ's commission to evangelize and
disciple all nations. (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8)
This committee will be responsible to schedule missionaries to share
their burden and call of God with the membership of the church.
This committee will oversee the missions giving of the church body through
the church treasurer. Funds designated by the church for missions will
be distributed in accordance with the policies set forth by the church
1. The church will not be ritualistic in practice.
2. It will not be subject to any authority or power save it's Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ and it's own leadership.
All church expenses including pastor's salary, Sunday School expenses,
various organized bodies, are to be raised by voluntary, free will offerings.
(The pastor's salary will be set according to the needs and funds available.)
1. The annual business meeting of the church shall be held ______________
, and the new church year shall begin ____________ .
All officers of the church and heads of departments shall give reports
of their transactions at this annual business meeting.
2. Special business meetings may be called at any time with a two week
notice given publicly at each normal service of the church.
3. Beyond the routine weekly affairs, no meeting shall be carried on
without the pastor, except to determine his continuance as pastor.
4. A quarum of more than two thirds of the members of adult age (21
and older) is required to hold a business meeting of this congregation.
VII. CHURCH LEADERSHIP
CALLING A TEACHING ELDER (OR PASTOR)
This is not to assume that a paid teaching elder is required by this
constitution. If there is a qualified elder present in the congregation
that desires to fulfill this function and it is agreeable by a 3/4 vote
of the elder board, then this should be accepted. He may be paid if the
congregation so desires.
1. A pulpit committee shall be formed of two elders and two deacons.
(If no elders are available then deacons shall fill these spots. If there
aren't enough deacons, members will be elected from the congregation) and
two members from the congregation.
2. The pulpit committee shall secure names of prospects. Prospects shall
be supplied with a copy of the church constitution and any other information
the committee deems appropriate.
3. An application form shall be sent to all interested prospects. The
application shall include questions concerning the applicants qualifications
and a request for references.
4. The qualifications for the pastor shall be those listed in I Timothy
three and Titus one that pertain to elders.
5. Qualified prospects shall visit the church at least one Sunday and
one Wednesday in a row during which he will fill the pulpit. Time shall
also be scheduled for the combined boards to interview the prospective
candidate. There will be a concerted effort to encourage the church membership
to have the candidate and his family into their homes for meals and/or
fellowship so they can get to know the family on a first hand basis.
6. The candidate will then in two weeks be presented to the congregation
for a vote. The elder and deacon board chairpersons will give a report
on their boards feelings concerning the candidate.
The candidate shall be called if there is a 3/4 majority of those voting
It is recommended that the candidate be informed of the numerical outcome
of the vote of the congregation.
7. The candidate will be informed from the beginning that he will be
expected to go through and complete the qualification process as set forth
in this constitution.
TERM OF THE TEACHING ELDER
1. The pastor shall serve as long as mutually agreeable to him and the
2. The pastor may be removed from office by unanimous vote of the other
elders and by a 2/3 vote of the congregation. (Good reason for removal
should be the basis of the elder board moving to dismiss. Good reason would
include personal ongoing sin, and immorality as well as other problems
1. The pastor shall serve as a voting member of the elder board, supply
spiritual leadership to the board and the congregation as a whole.
2. The pastor shall be an ex-officio member of all organizations and
3. The pastor shall fill the pulpit of the church at regular meetings,
or supply such from time to time as needed or appropriate.
1. Assistant pastor(s), Youth pastor(s), Associate pastor(s), etc. may
be added according to the need of the church.
2. These would be called in the same way as the teaching elder and have
the same office term as the pastor, unless otherwise specified by the elder
board and congregation. They will be ex-officio members (without voting
privileges) of the elder board and their duties would be specified by that
3. The pastor should be very much involved in this choosing of staff,
so that the church is assured that the two men can minister effectively
ELDERS & DEACONS
CHOOSING OF ELDERS AND DEACONS
1. All candidates for the elder or deacon board shall apply to the elder
board in writing. Applications shall assume that the candidates feels qualified
according to I Timothy three and Titus one and shall state why they are
applying and why they feel they desire the position.
2. The elder board shall publish the name of the candidate to the congregation
and investigate his qualifications. They shall especially seek advice from
the deacon board and/or other members of the church. It is recommended
that the elder board speak with the candidates neighbors and secular coworkers
concerning the man's character. The family of the candidate should be considered
as another source of information as to the qualifications of the man.
3. The prospective member will meet with an elder board specified representative
for a period of three months during which the two men will evaluate the
scriptural qualifications and the prospects own feeling of his living up
to those qualifications. During this time the congregation would be encouraged
to share any information pro or con to the chairman of the elder board
to be used in evaluating the prospect.
4. At the end of this three month period the prospect will be presented
to the full elder and deacon boards for questions and answers.
5. Upon approval the prospect will be presented to the congregation
for confirmation. If the prospect fails to gain the approval of the boards
or the congregation, then he will be referred upon mutual agreement to
another six months of encouragement along the lines in which he was found
deficient. At the end of this six month period another appearance before
the board would be in order. Failure to complete the qualification process
is not indication of something negative, but on the other hand a recognition
there are things that the person needs to work on in their spiritual life,
a condition that is true in most church members.
6. The prospect shall be approved by a unanimous vote of the elders
and a 2/3 confirmation of the congregation.
7. There shall be no limit as to the number of elders in the church,
however a minimum of three elders will be required. Elders should be added
as there is a need in the overall organizational structure of the church.
If the board becomes too large, and its own members unanimously agree,
a system may be set in place whereby the elders would serve on a rotating
basis with active and inactive elders. Inactive elders may attend and have
input at meetings but only active elders would have voting privileges.
If three qualified elders are not available, then the church should
modify its government slightly and use the elders that exist as a guiding
board with the congregation the final authority in most decisions.
1. The elders and deacons shall serve as long as mutually agreeable
to the officer and the church. Lifetime seems to be the acceptable unless
there are reasons for considering less.
2. An elder or deacon may be removed from office by unanimous vote of
the elders and by a 2/3 vote of the congregation. (This action should only
be taken in light of sin in the elders life and his unwillingness to repent
of that sin. In the case of immorality and divorce there would be an automatic
DUTIES OF THE ELDERS
1. The elders shall be responsible to oversee the churches spiritual
growth and vitality. They are to see to the proper teaching and direction
of the church.
2. The elders shall elect from among themselves a head elder, or chairman
and a secretary to record minutes of meetings.
3. The elders shall meet jointly with the Deacon board once a month
for the exchange of information and to inform the deacon board of any recommendations
for their action.
4. The pastor shall chair the joint meeting or delegate the responsibility
to another elder.
5. If the church doesn't have enough qualified men for elders the remaining
elders and deacon board with the leadership of the pastor shall perform
as many of the duties as they are gifted and able to perform.
6. Any action taken by the deacon board that is deemed detrimental to
the church can be overruled by a unanimous vote of the elder board.
Upon such veto the deacons may, if they desire, submit the proposal
to the congregation for a congregational vote. The meeting will be called
by the elder board and both the elder and deacon boards will be given time
to submit their feelings on the proposal.
A 2/3 vote of the congregation will pass the proposal.
DUTIES OF THE DEACONS
1. The duties of the deacons are to be servants of the church and to
meet the physical needs of the church body.
2. Special attention should be paid by the deacon board to the needs
of the poor and widows of the church.
3. The deacon board shall be responsible for the church property and
funds. The funds will be expended according to the needs of the church
with the elder board approving of any major expenditures over $50 item.
4. The deacons shall elect from among themselves a head deacon, or chairman
and a secretary for the keeping of records.
5. The deacons shall meet jointly with, and report to, the elder board
once a month.
VIII. QUALIFICATION PROCESS
All teaching elders, elders and deacons will go through a process whereby
the church body and the individual desiring the office will attempt to
determine the candidate's qualification for his desired office. Pastoral
staff may be added to the church without going through the process, however
they will enter into this process at the first opportunity. Failure to
qualify does not mean they will be dismissed. The elder board will consider
the candidate's position and recommend steps by which the candidate may
correct any deficiencies or they will recommend dismissal. The candidate
will enter into the process at the next earliest opportunity if they are
retained on staff.
1. There will be a time of self examination by the candidate during
which he will consider the qualifications for his office with the Lord.
An existing elder will assist the person in this process with explanation
of the qualifications and prayer.
2. References will be sought from the candidate for the purpose of sending
out letters to request information about the candidate. Letters will be
sent to the person's employer, one coworker, two neighbors and his last
church in the case of a pastor or newer member.
This letter will request information concerning the person's qualification
These letters will not be the sum of information that a decision will
be based on. They will be only a part of the total information used in
determining the persons qualification. (These letters should not be sent
out until the candidate has completed his personal evaluation before the
Lord and the elder board.)
3. The church body will be given a list of candidates for their earnest
prayer. The church should desire great wisdom in this process to choose
4. The church body will be given a list of the candidates with space
for comments weither positive or negative for the consideration of the
elder board. These documents will remain confidential and must be signed
in case the elder board desires to investigate any negative responses.
5. The head elder will stress the importance of this process, and the
prayer behind it, to the congregation. This can be accomplished through
the bulletin or from the pulpit.
6. There will be a minimum of 90 days given for this process with more
time to be taken if needed.
7. The elder and deacon board will spend time with the candidates for
the purpose of getting to know them and praying with them.
8. There will be a class taught concerning the qualifications, responsibilities
and lifestyle of the offices. This will be required of new candidates and
will be open to all that might desire to gain this knowledge. This class
will be offered yearly if there is interest or candidates. (It could be
offered during the Sunday School hour as an elective.)
This process is to allow the church time to consider the candidate and
a time for the candidate to look at the church, his future responsibilities
and his life before God.
It should be emphasized that if a candidate or the church feels that
the candidate is not ready for leadership that the candidate is welcome
to enter the process the following year. There should be no feeling of
inadequacy or inferiority if a person does not enter an office. We are
attempting to find well qualified men that meet the Biblical standard set
forth by God for the men that would lead His church.
All Christians are to be striving to attain this same level of Christian
IX. CHURCH DISCIPLINE
Discipline may be defined as the correction or expulsion by the church
of one or more of its members for immorality of life, or heresy of doctrine.
Discipline is of God (Job 36:10; Heb 12:6), to maintain sound doctrine
(Titus 1:13), to correct disorder (II Thess. 3:6-15), to rebuke offenders
(I Cor. 11:34), and to remove the unrepentant (I Cor. 5:3-5,13).
God disciplines His own directly concerning matters of their family
relationship to Him. But he has also ordained mediate discipline by the
church concerning those affairs that concern the life and walk of the corporate
household of faith.
There are two kinds of offenses of which a church member may be guilty,
namely public and private. (Matt 18:15-20; Acts 5:1-11)
Church discipline whether private or public may take one of three forms
and should be kept in the local church (I Cor. 6:11).
1. Private reproof.
2. Public reproof.
3. Breaking of fellowship.
(Matt. 18:15-17; II Thes. 3:6,11-15; I Cor. 5:3-5; 11-13; Matt. 5:23-24;
II Cor. 2:6-8)
Our attitude toward the believer in sin should be one of love and humility
seeking to heal and restore their attitude. The purpose of all discipline
must be to restore the person to his Lord and the church body. (Gal. 6:1;
II Cor. 2:4).
All effective and true discipline can only be carried out in an attitude
X. AMENDMENTS TO THIS CONSTITUTION
1. Any member may propose an amendment to the elders.
2. The elders then will prayerfully consider the amendment.
3. If the amendment proposed is rejected, the elders are to contact
the person who wants the addition or subtraction and explain
or reasons for rejection. If the member proposing the amendment feels the
elders have acted wrongly, opportunity will be given to the member to present
his/her thoughts to the congregation. If the congregation feels by a majority
vote that the elders should reconsider the proposal they shall give the
matter another sixty days consideration and prayer. If the proposal is
deemed inappropriate after this time of consideration and input from the
congregation then the matter shall be dropped. If they feel the amendment
has merit, then they shall proceed as with any other amendment.
4. If the elders approve the amendment, it must be put to the vote of
the active members of the church.
5. Proper written notification to members will be given by posting and
announcing thirty days in advance what is to be voted on as well as the
time and the place of voting. A meeting may be called before the written
notification is given for explanation and information.
6. The amendment will require a 4/5ths majority of the members present
7. If approved, copies will be added to all future constitutions and
copies will be made available to the membership to amend their own copies.
Those desiring to be ordained by this church will make their request
known to the elder board and they will consider the possibility along with
the congregation. If there is interest the elder board will enter the candidate
into the elder/deacon qualification process to ascertain the candidates
Upon completion of this process the elder board will call a proper meeting
of the congregation for the ordination of the candidate to the Gospel ministry.
The church will maintain contact with the person for his entire ministry
and give due consideration to any inappropriate activities that might warrant
the withdrawal of recognition or ordination.
In the case of this church closing or disbanding the assets will be
distributed among foreign missionary agencies to be determined by those
members remaining in membership at the time of closing. These agencies
will be groups that hold to the major doctrines set forth in this constitution.