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309 Florence Ave.
Pitman NJ 08071
856-582-4404
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Church Constitution

Constitution and By-Laws of Joy Community Fellowship, Inc.

An Evangelical Free Church of America

(Adopted on June 4th, 2017)

 

Preamble

We, the people of God who are members of Joy Community Fellowship, united for the worship of God and the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ, adopt this constitution to guide our governance of this church for the glory of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in submission to the Holy Bible as summarized in the Statement of Faith of this church.

Article I: The Rule of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ has purchased the Church with His blood, and it is His possession. He alone is the King and Head of the Church. God the Father has raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. The Father has put all things under His feet and given Him as head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:20-23).

Article II: Name

The name of this church is Joy Community Fellowship (hereinafter referred to as “the church” or “this church” or “the congregation” or “the members of the church”), an Evangelical Free Church of America.

Article III: Incorporation

The church is incorporated under the laws of the state of New Jersey, so that it may own and maintain property to house and support a place of worship (including suitable real estate and buildings); receive, hold and disburse gifts, bequests, and funds, license minsters of the gospel for civil purposes, and act as necessary to fulfill its mission.

Article IV: Purpose

This church exists by the grace of God and for the glory of God, which is the church’s ultimate purpose in all its activities. Our mission is to make, mature and multiply disciples of Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to the praise of God’s glory. We strive to do this by:

  1. Teaching: Growing together through the teaching and study of God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15, Acts 17:11, 2 Timothy 4:1-2).
  2. Worship: Gathering in weekly congregational worship services, as well as encouraging regular, more informal worship among small groups, families, and individuals (Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 10:25).
  3. Prayer: Devoting ourselves to individual, family and corporate intercession (Ephesians 6:18, 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Mark 11:17, Acts 2:42).
  4. Evangelism: Proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ through the preaching of God’s Word, personal evangelism, and other means consistent with the teachings of Holy Scripture (Romans 10:13-14, 2 Corinthians 5:20-21).
  5. Ordinances: Administering the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Acts 2:38-39).
  6. Discipleship: Equipping the saints to engage in mutual care, encouragement and admonishment in the Scriptures (Ephesians 4:11-12, Romans 15:14).
  7. Missions: Encouraging, supporting, and participating in gospel missions and church planting: locally, nationally, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19-20).
  8. Fellowship: Encouraging and facilitating biblical community, prayer and fellowship among believers (Acts 2:42-47, Hebrews 3:12-13).
  9. Service: Sharing the love of Christ by caring for the practical needs of the poor, the widows, the imprisoned, and the orphans in our midst, our community, and the world (James 1:27, Hebrews 13:3, Galatians 2:10).

Article V: Statement of Faith

5.1 God

  1. We believe in one God, Creator of all things, holy, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in loving unity of three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Having limitless knowledge and sovereign power, God has graciously purposed from eternity to redeem a people for Himself and to make all things new for His own glory.

5.2 The Bible

  1. We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.

5.3 The Human Condition

  1. We believe that God created Adam and Eve in His image, but they sinned when tempted by Satan. In union with Adam, human beings are sinners by nature and by choice, alienated from God, and under His wrath. Only through God’s saving work in Jesus Christ can we be rescued, reconciled and renewed.

5.4 Jesus Christ

  1. We believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, fully God and fully man, one Person in two natures. Jesus—Israel's promised Messiah—was conceived through the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father as our High Priest and Advocate.

5.5 The Work of Christ

  1. We believe that Jesus Christ, as our representative and substitute, shed His blood on the cross as the perfect, all-sufficient sacrifice for our sins. His atoning death and victorious resurrection constitute the only ground for salvation.

5.6 The Holy Spirit

  1. We believe that the Holy Spirit, in all that He does, glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. He
    convicts the world of its guilt. He regenerates sinners, and in Him they are baptized into union with Christ and adopted as heirs in the family of God. He also indwells, illuminates, guides, equips and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service.

5.7 The Church

  1. We believe that the true church comprises all who have been justified by God's grace through faith alone in Christ alone. They are united by the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ, of which He is the Head. The true church is manifest in local churches, whose membership should be composed only of believers. The Lord Jesus mandated two ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which visibly and tangibly express the gospel. Though they are not the means of salvation, when celebrated by the church in genuine faith, these ordinances confirm and nourish the believer.

5.8 Christian Living

  1. We believe that God's justifying grace must not be separated from His sanctifying power and purpose. God commands us to love Him supremely and others sacrificially, and to live out our faith with care for one another, compassion toward the poor and justice for the oppressed. With God’s Word, the Spirit’s power, and fervent prayer in Christ’s name, we are to combat the spiritual forces of evil. In obedience to Christ’s commission, we are to make disciples among all people, always bearing witness to the gospel in word and deed.

5.9 Christ’s Return

  1. We believe in the personal, bodily, return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believer to godly living, sacrificial service and energetic mission.

5.10 Response and Eternal Destiny

  1. We believe that God commands everyone everywhere to believe the gospel by turning to Him in repentance and receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that God will raise the dead bodily and judge the world, assigning the unbeliever to condemnation and eternal conscious punishment and the believer to eternal blessedness and joy with the Lord in the new heaven and the new earth, to the praise of His glorious grace. Amen.

Article VI: Church Membership

6.1 Responsibilities

Members are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with article IV and the church’s Membership Covenant.

6.2 Qualifications

Membership in this church shall be based upon:

  1. A confession of personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
  2. A biblically grounded baptism. The elders of JCF believe that baptism should be administered only to those who have repented and come to faith in Christ. We would, however, not exclude from membership someone with a credible profession of faith who was convinced on biblical grounds that their baptism as an infant was a meaningful (though not saving) act of God’s grace to them, in keeping with the Reformed and Presbyterian traditions of the Christian faith.
  3. Participation in the life of the church for six months prior to applying for membership is recommended, but may be waved in certain cases upon the approval of a majority of the elder team.
  4. A commitment to and willingness to submit to the doctrinal outlook of the church, as expressed in the Statement of Faith. It is recommended that the membership candidate also review and discuss the Elder Affirmation of Faith with an elder, though adherence to this entire document is not required for membership.
  5. Agreement with and signature of the Membership Covenant. It is also recommended that the membership candidate review the church’s constitution.
  6. Completion of appropriate classes and application forms and a meeting with an elder confirming these qualifications. Completion of membership classes is recommended, but may not be necessary in certain circumstances, upon the approval of a majority of the elder team.
  7. Upon meeting the qualifications above, and upon approval by a majority of the elder team, individuals will be recommended to the membership of the church for admittance into membership. Such recommendation will ordinarily be by written communication, and will allow two (2) weeks for members of the congregation to approach the elders with any concern about the candidate’s profession of faith.
  8. At the conclusion of the allotted two (2) weeks, if no concerns from the congregation have been raised, the candidate will be admitted into membership and will be publicly welcomed into the church. Congregational affirmation may also be obtained through a vote of members at a scheduled members’ meeting.

6.3 Duties and Privileges

Each member is expected to participate in and contribute to the ministry and life of the church; consistent with God’s leading and with the gifts, time, and material resources each has received from God. Members of this congregation shall be eligible to serve in the ministries of the church. Non-members may serve the church for purposes of administration and other areas, at the discretion of the elders.

Members should also strive to attend members’ meetings, pray for the concerns of the church, and submit to the spiritual leadership of the elders, as the elders in turn submit to Christ (Hebrews 13:17, 1 Corinthians 11:1).

6.4 Termination or Transfer

Members may be removed from membership at their request by informing the elders of the church in writing of their intention to withdraw and the reasons for their withdrawal. If a member requests withdrawal of membership because of specific problems or disappointments with the church, the elders shall attempt to resolve those matters so that the member may remain in the church and enjoy greater fruitfulness and personal spiritual growth. If the elders are unable to resolve those matters, they shall offer to assist the member in locating a church of like faith and practice that can respond more effectively to his/her gifts and needs and the elder team will recommend to the congregation the individual’s release from membership. Such recommendation will ordinarily be by written communication.

After allowing two (2) weeks for the congregation to approach the elders with any concern about the individual’s withdrawal, the congregation will end the individual’s membership. Congregational affirmation of receiving a member’s resignation may also be obtained through a vote of members at a scheduled members’ meeting.

Members of the church in good standing shall be given a letter indicating their standing in the church and indicating their termination of membership.

6.5 Associate Membership

An applicant who meets all the qualifications for full membership and is less than sixteen (16) years of age, and/or who because of geographical or other reasons deemed appropriate by the elder team cannot maintain regular attendance, shall be entitled to apply for associate membership. Additionally, persons who are members of another church but are temporarily relocated to our area and desire to come under the care and oversight of this church may become associate members. Such circumstances may arise for college students, interns, military personnel, etc.

Associate members will submit themselves to the teaching and discipline of this church and are expected to actively participate. They will go through the same membership process as members and receive the same benefits. However, due to their dual-membership status they will hold no voting privileges and may not serve in church offices.

Article VII: Church Leadership

7.1 Church Offices

There are two church offices listed in the New Testament (Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:1-13): elder and deacon. On this basis, Joy Community Fellowship has established both the office of elder and the office of deacon.

7.2 Composition of Elder Team

The elder team shall be comprised of not less than three men who satisfy the qualifications given below. It is preferred, though not necessary, that at least half of the elder team must consist of those who receive no financial compensation from the church. Elders not receiving compensation from the church will be called “non-staff elders” for the purpose of this constitution, although biblically and functionally there is no difference among the elders.

7.3 Staff Elders

            7.3A Qualifications

A staff elder shall be a man (1 Timothy 2:12, 3:1-7) and a member of the church whose character and gifts conform to the biblical qualifications presented in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, and 1 Peter 5:1-4. In addition, the gifts and experience of the individual under consideration shall match the needs of the church and the duties of the position. He must whole-heartedly embrace and be able to teach and defend the church’s Statement of Faith, Elder Affirmation of Faith, and Membership Covenant.

“We affirm that the creation narrative in Genesis 1:27 views men and women as equally created in the image of God. Therefore, men and women have equal value to God and have equal value as persons, and equal value to the church. We encourage women to full and free participation in the various ministries of the church, and desire to take full account of the wisdom that God has given to women with respect to the life of the church.”[1] However, Scripture teaches that the role of elder is reserved for men.   

            7.3B Selection Process

The elder team is responsible for determining the leadership needs of the church, and for hiring men to meet those needs, with the input and affirmation of the congregation as described below. Members may recommend candidates as staff elders at any time. When considering the addition of a new staff elder, the elder team shall approve a ministry job description, prior to his hiring. When considering the addition of a staff elder, the elder team shall carefully examine the candidates. In fulfilling their duties, all staff elders are accountable to the elder team. Ultimately, elders will give an account to God for their ministry (Hebrews 13:17).

7.3C Duties

Specific duties will be set forth in a job description for all staff elders. The elders will be responsible to:

  • Provide spiritual leadership for the church in its ministry, and mission (1 Timothy 5:17, 1 Peter 5:2, 1 Timothy 3:4-5, Romans 12:6, 8)
  • Pray for the church and spiritually nourish the church through the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4, John 21:15, 2 Timothy 4:1-2)
  • Equip the church for ministry through example and instruction in the Word (1 Peter 5:2, Ephesians 4:11-12)
  • Protect the church by administering the sacraments, teaching sound doctrine, guarding the church from doctrinal error, and upholding biblical standards of godliness through example, exhortation and discipline (Titus 1:9, Acts 20:28-31, Matthew 18:15-17)

7.3D Hiring

The elder team may recommend for hiring qualified men from within the church (preferably) or from other churches and denominations to become staff elder candidates when the elder team has approved both the candidate’s assessment (character/gifting) and the candidate’s job description. All outside candidates must become members of the church.

Hiring other paid staff not serving in the capacity of elder (i.e., administrative assistant, youth minister, facility manager, etc.) will be handled according to the same general criteria outlined in this constitution, but requiring a sixty-six percent (66%) affirmation of the members who vote.

7.3E Presentation of a Staff Elder

After serving as an elder candidate for a period of time determined by the candidate’s training, progress and/or spiritual maturity, a candidate will be assessed by the elder team and begin a confirmation process defined by the elder team. After the candidate has successfully completed the confirmation process, the elder team shall present the name of the candidate it is recommending as a staff elder to the congregation at least four (4) weeks prior to a members’ meeting. Members will be invited to affirm or express concerns about the candidate.

Any member with reason to believe that a nominated candidate is unqualified for an office, based on scriptural principles, should express concerns to the elders as far in advance as possible before the relevant members’ meeting. If the elders conclude that the candidate meets the qualifications, he will be presented to the congregation for affirmation.

7.3F Affirmation of Elders

Upon affirmation by eighty percent (80%) of the members who vote, the candidate will be installed as an elder with the laying on of hands before the church congregation (1 Timothy 5:22). If a candidate is unable to receive an eighty percent (80%) vote of affirmation, the candidate will not be installed as a staff elder.

7.3G Selection and Service

Once a man has been affirmed by the congregation as a staff elder of the church and has been installed before the congregation, he will be recognized as an elder. He is expected to serve as elder for the duration of his employment, subject to performance evaluation and continuing fulfillment of the biblical requirements.

7.3H Authority of Staff Elders

While Scripture indicates that one or more staff elders may be especially set apart for the ministry of the Word and teaching, and honored as such (1 Timothy 5:17), those designated elders do not carry special authority among the rest of the elder team by virtue of their teaching role, as it pertains to the decisions made about the ongoing ministry and mission of the church. Joy Community Fellowship is not led by a senior pastor, but jointly by the elder team in submission to Jesus Christ, the chief shepherd of the sheep (1 Peter 5:4)

7.3I Change of Staff Elders

            7.3I(a) Discipline

In the event that discipline of a staff elder becomes necessary, the elder team shall assume responsibility for the disciplinary process in keeping with scriptural instructions (1 Timothy 5:19-21), as well as the process stipulated below.

7.3I(b) Resignation

A staff elder may resign his position by tendering a written notice of resignation to the elder team thirty (30) days prior to the effective date of such resignation. In the event that a staff elder tenders his resignation, the team shall consider whether it should accept the resignation. If the reasons for the resignation are deemed insufficient, then the elder team shall seek to dissuade the pastor from his resignation. If the pastor remains resolved to resign, the team shall accept the resignation and inform the church.

7.3I(c) Removal

Recommendation for the removal of a staff elder may be initiated by the elder team. The recommendation will be confirmed by a majority of the elder team, who will present their recommendation to the congregation. Upon a majority vote of the congregation, the staff elder will relinquish his position within three (3) months of the vote for removal or at a time that is determined by the elder team.

7.3I(d) Repositioning a Staff Elder

When a staff elder relinquishes his position, he will step down from the elder team immediately. The elder team will reassess and determine the future role of the former staff elder.

7.3I(e) Interim Staff Elder

In the event that there is a vacancy in a staff elder position, the elder team may appoint an interim staff elder from its current staff or outside the staff until a new staff elder is selected. An interim staff elder shall normally not serve longer than one (1) year.

7.4 Non-Staff Elders

7.4A Qualifications

A non-staff elder shall be a man and shall be a member of the church for at least three (3) years whose character and gifting conform to the biblical qualifications presented in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Peter 5:1-4. In addition, the gifts and experience of the individual under consideration shall match the needs of the church and the duties of the position. He must whole-heartedly embrace and be able to teach and defend the church’s Statement of Faith, Elder Affirmation of Faith, and Membership Covenant.

7.4B Duties

Non-staff elders will be responsible to serve the church in the same ways outlined above for staff elders, according to the time afforded to them by their other vocations.

7.4C Selection Process

The church may recognize as many qualified non-staff elders as the elder team deems useful. The elder team is responsible for determining the leadership needs of the church and putting forth men to meet those needs, with the input and affirmation of the congregation as described below. Members may recommend candidates as non-staff elders at any time. When considering the addition of a non-staff elder, the elder team shall carefully examine the candidates. In fulfilling their duties, all non-staff elders are accountable to the elder team. Ultimately, elders will give an account to God for their ministry (Hebrews 13:17).

7.4D Candidate Selection

The elder team shall review member submissions along with any individuals already under consideration. It is recommended, though not necessary, that those who meet the qualifications and aspire to the office (1 Timothy 3:1) will complete a year-long apprenticeship with the elder team.

7.4E Presentation of Candidates

After the candidate has successfully completed the apprenticeship and has been nominated by the elder team as a non-staff elder candidate, the elder team shall present the name of the candidate(s) to the congregation at least four (4) weeks prior to a members’ meeting. Members will be invited to affirm or express concerns about the candidate(s).

Any member with reason to believe that a nominated candidate is unqualified for an office, based on scriptural principles, should express concerns to the elders as far in advance as possible before the relevant members’ meeting. If the elders conclude that the candidate meets the qualifications, he will be presented to the congregation for affirmation.

7.4F Affirmation of Non-Staff Elders

Upon affirmation by eighty percent (80%) of the members who vote, the candidate will be installed as a non-staff elder with the laying on of hands before the church congregation (1 Timothy 5:22). If a candidate is unable to receive an eighty percent (80%) vote of affirmation, the candidate will not be installed as a non-staff elder.

7.4G Term

Once a man has been affirmed by the congregation as a non-staff elder of the church and has been installed as an elder, he will be recognized as an elder.

Each non-staff elder shall serve for a term of three (3) years and may serve consecutive terms indefinitely. However, at the end of a term the non-staff elder may become inactive for a period of time if necessary due to any circumstances that may make it challenging for him to continue to serve actively, in consultation with the elder team.

If the elder is inactive for less than a year, he may rejoin the team upon a majority vote of the elders, without need for a congregational affirmation. If the duration of his inactivity is longer than a year, the elder must be re-affirmed by eighty percent (80%) of the members who vote.

7.4H Resignation

Any non-staff elder may resign from the office of elder by submitting his resignation in writing to the elder team. The elder’s resignation shall be effective upon formal acceptance by the elder team or at such a date as the team shall set.

7.5 Officers

The elder team shall elect a chairman and secretary from its own membership. The chairman shall preside at all meetings of the elder team, and shall preferably be a non-staff elder. The secretary shall record minutes of all meetings of the elder team. In the event that one of the officers is unable to be present for a meeting, the officer will select a replacement from the elder team for that meeting.

7.6 Resolving Charges Against an Elder

Any charge against an elder shall be received by the elder team. Upon a majority vote of the elder team that the charges are of a substantive nature, a task force will be appointed to investigate them. A simple majority of the task force must be non-staff elders.

  1. The task force shall bring the results of its investigation to the elder team, which will adjudicate the charges against the accused elder according to the criteria of Scripture (James 3:1, 1 Timothy 5:19-21).
  2. A majority vote of the elders is necessary in order to find an elder guilty of any charge brought against him. The accused elder will not be permitted to vote on matters pertaining to the investigation. If the accused elder is found guilty of one or more charges, the elder team shall determine the consequences and the appropriate communication to the church (1 Timothy 5:20).
  3. If the accused elder is found not guilty of all charges, the elder team shall determine what communication, if any, needs to be made to the congregation.

7.7 Termination

If it is decided after a formal evaluation process that either a staff or non-staff elder is no longer functioning effectively or fruitfully in his role or is found to no longer qualify for his position because of personal or moral failure, he may be removed from the office of elder. This removal must be affirmed by a majority of the elder team and by a majority of the congregation.

An elder who has been removed from office by disciplinary action may, depending on the circumstances and only after evidencing the fruit of repentance over time, be considered by the elder team and the congregation for a return to service in the office of an elder. This would only occur after following the selection and affirmation procedures outlined above.

Article VIII: Diaconate Ministry

8.1 Deacons

Deacons are members of the church who fulfill the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3:8-10 & 12 and serve under the direction and oversight of the elders.

            8.1A Responsibilities

Deacons shall attend the ministry needs of the church and, if it seems wise and appropriate, may also address the ministry needs of non-members and those in our surrounding community. Deacons may also perform other duties as determined by the elder team. The office of deacons is not a governing or teaching office.

8.1B Selection Process

The church may recognize as many qualified deacons as the elder team deems useful. Members may recommend candidates as deacons at any time. When considering the addition of a deacon, the elder team shall carefully examine the candidates.

8.1C Candidate Selection

The elder team shall review member submissions along with any individuals already under consideration. It is recommended, though not necessary, that those who meet the qualifications will complete a year-long apprenticeship with deacon team.

8.1D Presentation of Candidates

After the candidate has successfully completed the apprenticeship, has been recommended by the deacon team and nominated by the elders as a deacon, the elder team shall present the name of the candidate(s) to the congregation at least four (4) weeks prior to a members’ meeting. Members will be invited to affirm or express concerns about the candidate(s).

Any member with reason to believe that a nominated candidate is unqualified for an office, based on scriptural principles, should express concerns to the elders as far in advance as possible before the relevant members’ meeting. If the elders conclude that the candidate meets the qualifications, he will be presented to the congregation for affirmation.

8.1E Affirmation of Deacons

Upon affirmation by eighty percent (80%) of the members who vote, the candidate will be installed as a deacon and recognized publicly before the church congregation. If a candidate is unable to receive an eighty percent (80%) vote of affirmation, the candidate will not be installed as a deacon.

8.1F Term

Each deacon shall serve for a term of three (3) years and may serve consecutive terms indefinitely. However, at the end of a term the deacon may become inactive for a period of time if necessary due to any circumstances that may make it challenging for him to continue to serve actively, in consultation with the deacons and the elder team. If the deacon is inactive for less than a year, he may rejoin the team upon a majority vote of the elders, without need for a congregational affirmation. If the duration of his inactivity is longer than a year, the elder must be re-affirmed by eighty percent (80%) of the members who vote.

8.1G Resignation

Any deacon may resign from his position by submitting his resignation in writing to the elder team. The deacon’s resignation shall be effective upon formal acceptance by the elder team or at such a date as the team shall set.

8.1H Termination

If it is determined by the elders, in consultation with the deacons, that a deacon is no longer functioning effectively or fruitfully in his role or is found to no longer qualify for his position because of personal or moral failure, he may be removed from the office of deacon. This removal must be affirmed by a majority of the elder team and by a majority of the congregation.

A deacon who has been removed from office by disciplinary action may, depending on the circumstances and only after evidencing the fruit of repentance over time, be considered by the elder team and the congregation for a return to service in the office of a deacon. This would only occur after following the selection and affirmation procedures outlined above.

Article IX: Church Discipline

9.1 Discipline

Discipline is the exercise of authority given the Church by the Lord Jesus Christ to instruct and guide its members and to promote its purity and welfare. It refers to both the instruction of the Church and the reproof of its members who are straying from God’s will. It is the latter sense that is in view in Article IX.

All members of the church will be taught and exhorted to conduct their lives according to the standards set forth in Scripture. Such conduct includes individual moral purity (Galatians 5:22-23, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Ephesians 4:25-32) and the promotion of corporate unity and doctrinal fidelity (Ephesians 4:3, Romans 16:17-18, 2 Timothy 3:1-17, Titus 3:10-11).

9.2 Agreement to Submit to the Process of Church Discipline

Every member of the church consents to a willingness to support and, if necessary, submit to the process of church discipline outlined below.

9.3 Purposes of Discipline

The church is commanded to pursue loving formal discipline of its members when they continue in open and/or habitual sin. The purpose of church discipline includes the following:

  1. To help members of the church conform individually and corporately to Christ, in order to protect the unity of his Church, for the glory of God (Colossians 1:28, Ephesians 4:1-6, 1 Corinthians 10:31).
  2. To help restore a wandering soul back to Christ (Matthew 18:10-17, 1 Corinthians 5:5, Galatians 6:1-5
  3. To help protect the church from false teachers and division (Acts 20:25-31, Titus 1:10-11).
  4. For the good of our corporate witness among non-Christians (Matthew 5:13-16, John 13:34-35, 1 Peter 2:11-12).

9.4 Process of Discipline

In accordance with Matthew 18:15-18, should any member persist in sin, the steps of discipline outlined in the Scriptures shall ordinarily, but not necessarily, be followed to accomplish the purposes stated above:

  1. Privately seek reconciliation by going personally to the member (Matthew 18:15).
  2. Involve one or two others to establish the offense and further pursue reconciliation (Matthew 18:16).
  3. Take the matter to the church, for further reproof (Matthew 18:17).
  4. Treat the unrepentant as an unbeliever, removing him from membership, including disassociation and severance of fellowship (Matthew 18:17, 1 Corinthians 5).

The entire process of church discipline outlined above shall be carried out and enforced in a spirit of Christian love and compassion (Matthew 18:21-22, Galatians 6:1-2, 2 Timothy 2:22-26).

9.5 Enactment of Discipline

It is hoped that the preliminary steps of discipline outlined above will result in repentance. However, if there is no indication of repentance after these steps are taken, the unrepentant person’s membership shall be terminated. Such termination of membership shall be decided by a majority of the elder team, after due consideration and prayer, who will then recommend to the church the removal of the unrepentant member. After allowing two (2) weeks for the congregation to approach the elders with any concern about the act of discipline, the congregation will remove the individual from membership and treat them as an unbeliever.[2] The reason for termination shall be stated in a pastoral letter and sent to the individual.

9.6 Preemptive Resignation

If it appears to the elder team that a member has requested removal from membership merely to avoid church discipline, that request shall not be given effect until the disciplinary process has been properly concluded.

9.7 Restoration and Repentance

When the elder team concludes that an individual who has been placed under church discipline demonstrates genuine repentance, the elders will recommend to the congregation the restoration of the repentant brother or sister. After allowing two (2) weeks for members of the congregation to approach the elders with any concern about the candidate’s restoration, he or she will be re-admitted to membership in the church.

Article X: Cooperation

Joy Community Fellowship may voluntarily associate with other churches or organizations in accomplishing its mission and purpose, by a majority vote of the elder team. These associations may not involve the subordination of the authority of Joy Community Fellowship to any outside authority.

Article XI: Management Structures

11.1 Management Structures

The elder team may establish management/leadership structures to provide oversight of ministry. These structures will report to and be accountable to the elder team.

11.2 Committees

In order to promote efficient handling of elder team matters, the team may appoint various committees from within its membership, the other elders, the staff, and the congregation at large to accomplish the mission of the church. These committees shall perform tasks solely in accordance with the duties and powers specifically delegated by the elder team. All committees shall exist for the period specified by the elder team.

The general function of committees are:

  1. To bring recommendations to the elder team.
  2. To provide a wider base of counsel and assistance to the elders.

Article XII: Members’ Meetings and Voting

12.1 Members’ Meetings

The elder team will call members of the church together at least once per year. Members’ meetings will provide the elders an opportunity to present major initiatives and discuss other pertinent church issues. Members’ meetings in which congregational affirmation is involved will be announced to the congregation at least four (4) weeks in advance.

Congregational affirmation shall occur in the following instances:

  1. Affirmation of a new staff or non-staff elder (or his removal from eldership).
  2. Affirmation of a new deacon (or his removal).
  3. Affirmation of the hiring of any other staff member.
  4. Annual church budget.
  5. Out-of-Budget expenses in excess of five percent (5%) of annual operating budget.
  6. Changes to this Constitution, Statement of Faith or Membership Covenant.
  7. Any other matters deemed appropriate for congregational affirmation as determined by the elder team.

12.2 Eligibility

All adult members of the church (16 years of age and older) shall be eligible to vote in church affirmations.

12.3 Congregational Affirmation Required for Decision

A simple majority affirmation of those members voting shall be required in all church affirmations, except as specified elsewhere.

12.4 Quorum

The members voting shall constitute a quorum, provided the provisions stated above (12.1) for notification have been met. It is recommended, though not necessary, that absentee ballots be provided upon the request of a voting member whose circumstances preclude attendance at the meeting. Votes shall be tallied based on the number of votes cast by members.

Article XIII: Fiscal Matters

13.1 Collection of and Accountability for Church Funds

It is the desire of the elder team and of this entire congregation to be fiscally responsible and to see that the finances of this church are handled with integrity (2 Cor. 8:19-20). The elders shall appoint individuals who will be responsible for the collection and deposit of all offerings, as well as record keeping for those members using offering envelopes. The treasurer shall be responsible for the day-to-day expenditures of the church and for keeping appropriate records, to be reported to the Financial Advisory Committee.

13.2 Financial Advisory Committee (FAC)

            13.2A Purpose

The FAC provides counsel to the elder team in accordance with the responsibilities outlined below.

13.2B Duties

The FAC shall monitor the financial affairs and facility needs of the church, and serve in an advisory capacity to the elder team as follows:

  1. Review quarterly financial statements of the church and provide counsel to the elder team
  2. Make recommendations to the elder team regarding the purchase or sale of property, the borrowing of money, the issuance of substantial gifts, and the establishing of special offerings or funds.
  3. Review the annual church budget to ensure that it is consistent with the approved ministry strategies, goals and objectives of the church. In conjunction with the elder team, the FAC will prepare the annual budget for presentation to and affirmation by the congregation.
  4. Propose the salary and financial benefits for all church staff.
  5. Arrange for periodic (every other year is recommended) audit of the Church’s financial records, preferably by qualified outside individual or organization.
  6. Provide input and recommendations on financial and management matters as needed.

13.2C Composition

The FAC shall be comprised of no fewer than five (5) non-staff members of the church, and will include at least two (2) non-staff elders. It is recommended that the names of those serving on the FAC be submitted to the congregation on annual basis.

13.2D Term

Each FAC member shall serve for a term of three (3) years. After three (3) years the term of service may be renewed.

13.2E Selection

Candidates (including the church treasurer) will be appointed to the FAC by a majority vote of the elder team and a majority of the current FAC. Nominations may be received from the congregation at any time. A member of the FAC may resign at any time. A member of the FAC (including the treasurer) may be removed by a majority vote of the elder team and a majority of the current FAC, and will not participate in the final vote related to his/her removal from the FAC.

13.2F Meetings

The FAC shall meet as necessary to carry out its assigned duties; it shall meet no less than two (2) times per fiscal year. The FAC may be invited to participate in elder team meetings as needed.

13.3 Budget Affirmation

An annual budget shall be affirmed by the membership at a designated members’ meeting during the first forty-five (45) days of the fiscal year.[3] Until a budget is affirmed at the start of a fiscal year, expenditures will continue at the prior year’s level until the new budget is affirmed.

13.4 Acquisition and Disposition of Church Property

13.4A Real Estate; Permanent Structures

The purchase, sale, lease or other transfer from and to the church of real estate used for church purposes, or the purchase, sale, lease or construction of any permanent buildings used for church purposes, shall be affirmed by a majority vote of the members of the congregation present at a meeting called for such purposes, provided the provisions stated above (12.1) for notification have been met..

            13.4B Other Capital Expenditures

The designation or use of funds for the acquisition of capital assets other than real estate or permanent buildings shall be designated and provided for in the annual church budget submitted by the elders for affirmation of the church membership, provided that any expenditure for capital assets which amounts to less than five percent (5%) of the total Church budget for the year, may be expended upon a majority vote of the elders, without affirmation of the congregation.

            13.4C Disposition of Assets Upon Church Dissolution

Upon dissolution of this Church, no member shall be personally entitled to any assets of the church. All assets of the corporation shall be distributed to ministries and/or organizations that the elders deem consistent with the mission and values of Joy Community Fellowship.

In the event of a split or a separation in the Church membership, the property of this church shall belong to those members who adhere to the constitution and by-laws and principles of the Evangelical Free Church of America. In the event of a dispute as to which faction is adhering to this constitution and by-laws and the principles of the Evangelical Free Church, the executive committee of the Eastern District Association of the Evangelical Free Church of America shall review the dispute and make a decision binding upon both factions.

            13.4D Undesignated Gifts or Bequests

Any undesignated gifts or bequests in excess of ten percent (10%) of the Church’s annual budget in any year shall require the elders to obtain the affirmation of the majority of the Church membership before using such funds for any church purpose. This provision is intended to provide input and guidance from the church membership for the appropriate use of such unanticipated funds.

Article XIV: Amendments

The church may amend its statement of faith, membership covenant, or constitution after a vote of sixty-six percent (66%) of the elders, and subsequent affirmation by the congregation. Before adoption, any elder-approved amendment to the statement of faith, covenant or constitution must be affirmed by a sixty-six percent (66%) majority of the members who vote, provided the amendment shall have been offered in writing and shall have been announced four (4) weeks prior to the vote. The revised document shall be made available to church members.

Any member with reason to believe that the amendment is not biblically sound or helpful should express concerns to the elders as far in advance as possible before the relevant church members’ meeting. The team will follow up with all concerns expressed.

 

[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, Zondervan, 1994, p.937

[2] Congregational affirmation for excommunicating a member or for restoring a repentant member may also be obtained through a vote of the members at a scheduled members’ meeting.

[3] The fiscal year of the Church shall be on a calendar year basis.