Grace Assembly Membership Statement
- As followers of Jesus Christ, we joyfully and thoughtfully enter into a bond of mutual edification,1 fellowship,2 and accountability3 with the other believers of this body under the name of Grace Assembly. I have repented of my sin, 4 trusted in Christ as my only Savior and Lord,5 and have been baptized as a true believer.6
- May God’s grace sustain us to faithfully participate within this local church in worship, prayer, study, fellowship, and the ordinances of baptism and communion.7 May this grace assist us to offer our spiritual gifts for the common good;8 through our involvement, and even sacrifice, that we may seek to illustrate within our own families and the watching world, the immense significance of life in the body of Christ.9
- In addition to the regular meetings of the church and in the spirit of a true disciple of Christ, we desire to be trained in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, seeking to develop Christian character, knowledge, and skills.10 Further, each member is responsible for ensuring that the teaching, doctrines, and general direction of the church are Biblically sound.11
- May the Lord grant us doctrinal unity with a humble and teachable spirit,12 willing to be taught according to our statement of faith13
- May we submit to one another in fellowship with all members, regardless of race, age, gender, background, social status, or level of education, since all are of equal value in Christ.14
- May we find grace to pursue peace, looking for opportunities to do good to all people, but especially with other believers, always being slow to take offense and eager to reconcile.15 May we thereby shun gossip and divisive words, knowing that they are destructive to Christian fellowship. 16
- May the Spirit of Christ cause us to live a life that is above reproach. And may we be just and honest in our dealings and faithful in our responsibilities and commitments. May we abide by the standards of sexual purity and ethical integrity as taught in the Bible. 17
- May we seek the preservation of marriage, knowing that God hates divorce.18
- May we find grace to watch over each other19 through prayer,20 helping in sickness and distress,21 promoting spiritual growth,22 restraining from sin, 23 and stirring up love and good deeds.24
- May we submit to the church’s discipline upon each of us and lovingly assume our responsibility to participate in the discipline of other members, as taught in Scripture.25
- May we contribute cheerfully and regularly to this church for its general ministry and expenses, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel throughout the world. May we be faithful stewards of all our resources, avoiding all forms of greed.26
- May we seek the salvation of our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances, and people of all nations.27
- In summary, may the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ cause us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and may we love others as Christ has loved us.28
1 Romans 14:19; 1 Corinthians 12:7; 14:26; Ephesians 4:16, 29; 1 Thessalonians 5:11
2 Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 4:1-3; Philippians 2:1-4
3 Proverbs 27:17; Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 6:1; 2Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15; James 5:16; 2 John 8
4 Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 13:1-5; Acts 2:38; 17:30; 26:20; 2Corinthians 7:10
5 John 3:16; Acts 4:12; 16:30-31; Romans 10:9-10
6 Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; 8:36-38; 10:47-48
7 Matthew 28:19; Luke 22:14-20; Acts 2:41-47; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Hebrews 10:24-25
8 Romans 12:3-8; 1Corinthians 12:4-7, 18-27; Ephesians 4:11-16
9 Matthew 6:19-21, 24-26; 16:24; Hebrews 10:24-25; James 4:1-5; 1Peter 2:9-10; 1 John 2:15-17
10 Deuteronomy 6:4-7; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4; 1Timothy 4:7; Hebrews 5:13-14; 1Peter 2:1-3; 2Peter 1:5-11; 3:17-18
11 Acts 17:10-11
12 Psalm 133:1; Romans 15:5-6; 1Corinthians 1:10; 2Corinthians 13:11; Ephesians 4:1-6; Philippians 2:2
13 Ephesians 4:11-14; 1Timothy 4:16; Titus 1:9; 2:1; Hebrews 13:17; James 3:1
14 Romans 10:12; Galatians 3:26-28; James 2:1-5
15 Matthew 5:23-24; Romans 12:18; 13:1-5; 14:19; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Colossians 3:12-15; Hebrews 12:14; James 1:19-20
16 Proverbs 6:16-19; 10:19; Romans 16:17; Ephesians 4:29, 31; 1 Timothy 5:13; Titus 3:10-11; James 3:6-10
17 Proverbs 10:9; Micah 6:8; Matthew 5:16, 37; Luke 16:10; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 2 Corinthians 6:3; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4:25; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7; Titus 2:6-8; Hebrews 13:4
18 Malachi 2:16; Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18; 1 Corinthians 7
19 1 Corinthians 10:24; Galatians 6:1-2, 10; Philippians 2:4
20 2 Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; James 5:14-16
21 Matthew 25:34-40; Romans 12:13, 15; Galatians 6:2, 10; Philippians 4:14; 1 John 3:16-18
22 Titus 2:1-15; Hebrews 5:12-14; 2 Peter 3:17-18
23 Proverbs 24:11; Galatians 6:1; 1 Timothy 5:20; James 5:19-20
24 Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:1-10; 3:8, 14; Hebrews 10:24; 13:16
25 Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15; 1 Timothy 5:20
26 Malachi 3:8-10; 2 Corinthians 8:1-7; 9:6-7; Philippians 4:18
27 Matthew 9:36-38; 28:18-20; Romans 10:14-15; 1 Corinthians 9:19-22; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; 1 Peter 3:15
28 Mark 12:28-31; John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3; 1 John 3:16-19; 4:7-21
Constitution of Grace Assembly Church
We, the members of Grace Assembly, do ordain and establish the following articles, to which we voluntarily submit ourselves.
Article I NAME
The official name of this church as specified in the Certificate of Incorporation is The Grace Assembly thereafter referred to as “Grace Assembly”).
Article II PURPOSE
The purpose of this church is to glorify the God of the Scriptures (Eph. 3:21) in promoting His worship (Ex. 20:3-11; Jn. 4:23-24; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:5), evangelizing sinners (Acts 13; and Acts 14; 1 Cor. 14:24-25; 1 Tim. 2:1-4 with 3:15), edifying saints (1 Cor. 14:12, 18-19, 26; 1 Cor. 12:27-28; Eph. 4:11-6), planting and strengthening churches (Acts 11:29-30; 15:3, 15:36, 15:41; 16:5), and showing benevolence to the needy (Rom. 15:26-27; Gal. 2:10; 6:10). We are committed to the proclamation of God’s perfect Law and the glorious Gospel of His grace through all the world (Lk. 24:47; Acts 20:20-21,27; Rom. 1:15-8:39) and to the defense of “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
The primary means for the accomplishment of this purpose are prayer and the public and private ministry of the Word of God (Acts 6:4; 20:20; 2 Cor. 10:3-5; 1 Tim. 2:1-8 with 1 Tim. 3:14-16; 4:6,4:13-15; 2 Tim. 4:1-2). We may also for the accomplishment of this purpose use other means and engage in other ministries which in the judgment of the elders are biblically justified.
Article III ARTICLES OF FAITH
The ultimate authority in all matters of faith and practice is the Bible alone, which truth is clearly set forth in Grace Assembly’s Statement of Faith. Grace Assembly’s Statement of Faith, albeit imperfect, is an excellent summary of the things most surely believed among us, and a means of edification in righteousness.
Article IV CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
SECTION 1. REQUIREMENTS FOR MEMBERSHIP.
Any man or woman (Acts 5:14; 8:3,12) shall be eligible for membership in this church who professes repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:37-42; 5:14; 8:12; 16:30-34; 20:21), who manifests a life transformed by the power of Christ (1 Cor. 1:1-2; 6:11; Gal. 1:1-2; 4:8-9; 1 Thess. 1:1-9), who has been baptized upon profession of faith (Mt. 28:18-20; Jn. 4:1-2; Acts 2:41; 8:12; 16:31-34; 18:8), who expresses agreement with the Statement of Faith and Constitution of this church (1 Cor. 1:10; 14:40; Eph. 4:3), who intends to give wholehearted support to its ministry (1 Cor. 14:40; 2 Cor. 8:5; 1 Thess. 5:12-14; Acts 15:39), and who is willing to submit to it’s government. (1 Cor. 14:40; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 1:10; Heb. 13:17) and discipline (Mt. 18:15; Acts 5:13-14).
SECTION 2. TYPES OF MEMBERSHIP.
Each member of the church is acknowledged to form a vital part of the body and to have a special function in the life of the body (1 Cor. 12:14-27). Practical considerations, however, require that certain distinctions be recognized in the membership of this church.
Paragraph A. Regular Members.
All who are received into the membership of the church according to the procedures set forth in Section 3 of this Article, whose membership has not been terminated in any of the ways specified in Section 5 of this Article, and who do not come under the corrective discipline of the church as set forth in Article V, shall be considered regular members in good standing and entitled to all the rights and privileges (ex. Partaking of Lord’s supper, fellowship with believing community, etc.) of membership in the church (Acts 2:37-47).
Paragraph B. Temporary Members.
Persons who come to live in our area for a limited period of time (e.g., students, military personnel, persons on special work assignments) may be received into or removed from the membership of the church on the same basis and in the same manner as persons who have permanent residence in our geographical area. If such a person is already a member of a church in his place of permanent residence, he need not be released from the membership of his home church but will be regarded as a temporary member while in our midst, enjoying all the rights and privileges and subject to all the duties and discipline of regular membership. When a temporary member leaves our area, he will be released to the oversight of his home church and no longer be regarded as a member of this church (Acts 18:27; Rom. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 3:1; Col. 4:10; 3; Jn. 5-10).
Paragraph C. Associate Members.
Regular members who move away from our area and who cannot find another local church with which they can conscientiously unite will, at their request, be retained as associate members of this church. Such persons must maintain regular communication with the church in order to maintain their associate membership. However, they are urged diligently to seek a church with which they can unite elsewhere, since associate membership is an abnormality which ought to be rectified as soon as possible. An associate member shall not be allowed to vote in any business meeting of the church.
SECTION 3. PROCEDURES IN THE RECEPTION OF NEW MEMBERS.
The Scriptural pattern for the reception of new members into the church includes not only careful scrutiny, consisting of pastoral examination and investigation, but also congregational advice and consent. The requirement of pastoral scrutiny is rooted and grounded in the general Scriptural teachings respecting oversight (Acts 20:28), discernment (1 Cor. 3:1-3), and discretion (1 Tim. 5:3-6; 5:22) and in the apostolic pattern of making disciples (Acts 8:14-22). The requirement of congregational advice and consent is rooted and grounded in the general Scriptural teachings respecting proving (1 Thess. 5:21; 1 Tim. 3:10) and congregational unity (1 Cor. 1:10; Rom. 16:17).
Paragraph 1. Pastoral Examination.
A person who desires to become a member of the church shall request to be interviewed by the elders. During the interview the elders will seek to determine whether that person has a credible profession of faith in Christ, has been Scripturally baptized, is in substantial agreement with the Statement of Faith and Constitution of the church, is capable of assuming the responsibilities and liabilities of church membership, intends to give wholehearted support to its ministry, and is willing to submit to its government and discipline (Acts 9:26-27; 10:47-48; 11:2-18, 11:23). Each applicant will be required to affirm in writing his or her commitment to our Statement of Faith and Constitution.
Paragraph 2. Pastoral Investigation.
If the applicant is or has been a member of another church, special effort will be made to determine the person’s standing in that church and his reasons for leaving (Acts 15:1-2; Acts 15:24-25) A letter of commendation will be requested from that church. If a former church raises an objection which the elders consider valid (3 John 1:8-12), the applicant may be denied membership at the discretion of the elders.
Paragraph 3. Congregational Advice.
If the elders are satisfied that the applicant is eligible for membership, they will present the applicant to the congregation at a stated meeting of the church for the purpose of hearing the applicant’s testimony of faith in Christ. Following this, a time period of no less than two weeks will be allowed for objections or questions to be raised privately with the elders by any member concerning the applicant’s manner of life or doctrine. The elders shall postpone the reception of a person into membership until any objections are investigated and resolved to their satisfaction (Acts 9:26-28; Rev. 2:2). If there are no unresolved objections the applicant will be presented before the church.
SECTION 4. CONDUCT REQUIRED OF MEMBERS.
The Scriptures declare that all church members are to be saints (Rom. 1:7, et al.) who demonstrate the grace that is in them by walking in and by the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) both in society and the church for their mutual edification, and the due performance of that public worship, which He requires of them in the world. The privilege of being a member of the visible church of Christ brings with it high responsibilities to walk worthy of the Gospel and to contribute to the health and peace of the church (Eph. 4:16; Phil. 1:27). These responsibilities in summary are as follows:
Paragraph 1. Attendance of the Lord’s Day and Special Meetings.
Members are required to attend all meetings of the Lord’s Day (Heb. 10:24-25) unless providentially hindered (by illness, accident, unusual working conditions, and other such circumstances). Members are also expected to be at any special meetings called by the elders for prayer, preaching, or business. (Acts 2:42)
Paragraph 2. Financial Support.
Since it is clearly taught in Scripture that Christians should support financially the work of the Lord by systematic and proportionate giving made through the local church (Malachi 3:8-10; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8-9), all the members of this church are expected to conform to this rule of Scripture. The tithe (10% of the total of one’s income) is encouraged upon each member as an expression of worship and the biblical norm for basic giving, to which should be added gifts and offerings according to one’s ability and the willingness of his heart (2 Cor. 8:1- 5; Ex. 36:2-7).
Paragraph 3. Promotion of Edification and Peace.
Inasmuch as the church is represented in Scripture as a body having many members, each of the members having its particular function and yet having a concern for the health and protection of the whole (1 Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 4:4, 11-16), this church expects that each of its members will strive for the good of the entire body. The members must actively seek to cultivate acquaintance with one another; love, comfort, and encourage one another; and help one another materially as necessity may require (Eph. 4:25; Gal. 6:10; 1 John 3:16-18). In addition, members must discreetly confess their sins to one another (James 5:16), faithfully admonish and encourage one another (Matt. 18:15; 1 Thess. 5:14; Heb. 3:12-13; 10:24-25), refrain from all backbiting and gossip (Ps. 15:3; Prov. 16:28; 26:20-22), and keep in strict confidence all matters which the elders determine are of private concern to the church (Prov. 11:13).
Paragraph 4. Support of and Submission to the Leadership.
All who come into membership of this church are expected to support and submit to the overseers of the church. Supporting God’s servants necessitates praying for them and their labors (Eph. 6:18-19); cultivating personal acquaintance with them, and esteeming them highly for their work’s sake (1 Thess. 5:12-13); standing by them and not forsaking them in their afflictions and in all their good causes (2 Tim. 1:15); and defending rather than prejudicing or damaging their good name (Acts 23:5; 1 Tim. 5:19 ). Submitting to God’s servants necessitates imitating their Christian graces, faith, and godly principles as they also imitate Christ (1 Cor. 11:1; Heb. 13:7; 1 Pet. 5:3); receiving their teaching with all readiness of mind and teachableness of spirit, yet with ultimate allegiance to the Word of God (Acts 17:11; James 1:19-21; 1 Thess. 2:13); humbly heeding their scriptural rebukes and warnings as from those appointed to watch for the souls of their sheep and committed to labor to present them complete and mature in Christ (Heb. 13:17; Col. 1:28); seeking and carefully considering their counsel as from those counted faithful by the Lord (1 Cor 7:1, 25); and cheerfully embracing and abiding by their decisions regarding corporate policy in God’s house, which is His church (1 Tim. 3:5, 3:15; Heb. 13:17), without negation and murmuring even when personally differing with their judgment (Rom. 10:21; 1 Cor. 10:10; Phil. 2:14; Jude 11).
Paragraph 5. A Godly Christian Life.
All who come into the membership of this church are expected to walk worthily of the Lord, that His Name and Word be not blasphemed but rather His excellencies be displayed through us, and that the good name of the church be not damaged but rather enhanced (Col. 1:10; 1 Pet. 2:9 ). Therefore, every member is expected to practice and cultivate godliness in the following areas:
- Personal Devotion to God—Each member is expected to walk personally with the Lord, making regular use of all the private means of grace available to him, including: daily secret prayer (Matt. 6:6,10; Ps. 55:17; 88:9; Dan. 6:10); daily reading and meditating on God’s Word (Ps.1:2; 119:11,97); continual maintenance of a good conscience with judgment day honesty (Acts 24:16; 1 1:19; Heb. 10:22; 13:18); periodic and wholesome self-examination, prayerfully conducted by the standard of God’s Word (Ps. 139:23-24; 2 Cor. 13:5; 2 Pet. 1:10-11; I John 5:13); and careful, spiritual observance of the Lord’s Day (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10).
- Family Life—The church expects its members to obey the teachings of the Scriptures with respect to family life and government of the home. As the God-appointed head of the family, the husband must lead his household with gentleness and love, but also with wisdom and firmness (Eph. 5:25; 1 Tim. 3:4-5). The wife must be in subjection to her husband in all things according to the rule of Scripture (Eph. 5:22-24; 1 Pet. 3:1). The husband with the wife must “nurture their children in the chastening and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:1-4), by setting a godly example before them, by leading them in family worship, by instructing them consistently in the Scriptures, (Gen. 18:19; Deut. 6:7,9), by praying for them (1 Chron. 29:19) and by wise and firm discipline, including corporal punishment when it is needed (Prov. 13:24; 22:15; Heb. 12:7).
- Personal Evangelism—It is the duty of every Christian individually and as a member of a local church to pray and labor according to his God-given ability and opportunity (Rom. 12:6) for the extension of the kingdom of God both at home and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8general principle). Therefore, every member of this church is expected to seek to recognize and to seize opportunities to bear witness to his faith in Christ both by consistent Christian conduct and by the testimony of his lips (Matt. 10:32-33; Rom. 1:16-17; 9:1-3; 10:1; Phil. 2:14-16; 1 Pet. 3:14-16).
- Christian Liberty—Each member of the church is required to render in his daily life loyal obedience to all the moral precepts established in the Word of God (Rom. 8:3-4). If God has not condemned or forbidden a practice in His Word, a Christian is at liberty to participate in it. The exercise of Christian liberty, however, must at all times be governed by an earnest desire to walk in the fear of God and to glorify Him in all things (1 Pet. 1:17; 1 Cor. 10:31), a loving regard for the consciences of weaker brethren (1 Cor. 8:9; Rom. 15:1-3), a compassion for the lost (1 Cor. 9:19-22), and a zealous regard for the health of one’s own soul (Rom. 13:14; 1 Pet. 2:16).
- Separation From the World—God never intended the glorious blessing of Christian liberty which His people enjoy to become an excuse or covering for worldliness (Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet. 2:16).To the contrary, Christians have been liberated from bondage to their former sins in order that they might be a people distinct from this wicked world and set apart unto God (Lev. 18:1-30; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 1:14-15). Accordingly, Christ’s disciples are commanded not to love the world (Ps. 139:19-22; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15), to refrain from their former worldly attitudes and deeds, (Eph. 4:17-22; 5:7-12; Titus 2:12; 3:3; 1 Pet. 4:3-4), and to resist the wicked influence of godless society (Prov. 1:10-19; 12:1; James 1:27). Therefore, all the members of this church are expected to separate from the attitudes, practices and unwholesome influences of the world. Specifically, members are expected to resist the worldly materialism which regards the things of this life to be of primary importance (Mk. 8:36; Luke 12:15; 1 John 2:15-17). Members are expected not to indulge in any of the world’s vices, such as drunkenness, drug abuse, gluttony, viewing pornographic materials, fornication, homosexuality and other such sins (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21). Members are also expected to refrain from all entangling relationships with the ungodly, such as intimate, frequent companionship with them (1 Cor. 15:33; James 4:4), pursuing romantic interests in them (Judges 16:4-5; 1 Kings 11:1-4,9; Prov. 2:16-17; 6:20, Prov. 6:23-25), and contracting marriages with them (2 Cor. 6:14; I Cor. 7:39). Similarly, members are expected to carefully seek to discern and resist any wicked influence of the godless society upon their souls and families, by whatever means it is exerted (Rom. 12:1-2).
SECTION 5. TERMINATION OF MEMBERSHIP.
Paragraph 1. Means of Termination.
- By Physical Death—When a member of the church is removed from our midst by death, their name shall be removed from the membership roll (Heb.12:23).
- By Removal to Another Church—The New Testament norm for Christians is that they be members of true local churches of Christ, and the spiritual health of believers is endangered when they are not thus committed to a church; therefore, any Christian who leaves the membership of this church should seek to do so by means of removal to another true church of Christ. If a church member in good standing whose conduct does not warrant corrective discipline desires to leave the membership of this church, he is strongly urged to leave in an orderly way by privately indicating that desire to the elders along with his reasons for leaving. When it is so requested, the elders may grant to a departing member in good standing a letter of commendation to another church (Acts 18:27). No such letter may be given to a member who is at the time under the corrective discipline of this church. The elders may refuse to grant a letter of commendation to any church which is in their judgment disloyal to “the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3) or which does not exercise godly care over its members.
- By Resignation—Membership in Grace Assembly is entered and initiated jointly, by voluntary commitment from the individual applicant and acceptance by the church, expressed in terms of the procedures described in Section 4 of this article. Accordingly, it follows that members cannot terminate their membership unilaterally under some circumstances. As a general rule, a member may voluntarily resign from membership in Grace In such cases a member should first consult with the elders. However, a resignation offered by a person guilty of sin which calls for corrective discipline is not valid, and the church may proceed with public censure, imposition of strictures, or excommunication in accordance with the procedures outlined in Article V (Acts 15:24; 1 John 2:18-19 with 2 John 7-11).
- By Dismissal—If a member ceases to attend the stated meetings of the church without showing just cause, or if upon relocation ceases to maintain a vital contact with the church, he may be dismissed from the membership at the discretion of the elders (1 John 2:19 general principle). In such cases the elders shall try to contact the person and resolve the situation (Ezek. 34:4). If these efforts are ineffective, the elders shall inform that person when feasible and the congregation that he is no longer a If a member not guilty of sin which calls for corrective discipline either renounces his public commitment to keep all the requirements of membership listed in Section 2 or Section 5 of this article (Num. 30:2; Deut. 23:21-23; Ps. 15:4; 24:4; Matt. 5:37), or ceases without just cause to practice all of them as a pattern of life ( 2 Tim. 2:19; Eccl. 5:1-5; Matt. 21:28-31 general principle; 23:3 general principle), and yet refuses to resign voluntarily, he may be dismissed, but only after due admonition from the elders (2 Tim. 2:24-26). In such cases the elders, at a regular or specially called congregational meeting, shall recommend to the congregation that the person be dismissed, explain the grounds for their recommendation, and obtain the consent of the congregation. No person shall be dismissed in such cases without this expressed consent of the congregation. The person shall be informed of this action.
- By Excommunication—According to the teaching of Holy Scripture a congregation must cut off from its fellowship and membership any person who teaches or insists on holding false and heretical doctrine, who blatantly and impenitently conducts himself in a manner inconsistent with his Christian profession, or who persists in disturbing the unity, peace, or purity of the church (Matt. 18:15f; Rom. 16:17-20; 1 Cor. 5:1f; Titus 3:10-11). The procedure to be followed in such excommunication is set forth in Section 2 of Article 3 of the Constitution.
Paragraph 2. Implications of Termination.
- Grace Assembly does not exist in isolation from, but is part of the universal church of Christ, composed of all true churches (Gal. 1:13, 22; 3:21). Accordingly, open and forthright communication among the churches is vital for the purity, peace, edification, and unity of the church universal. Therefore, the elders may, at their discretion, disclose to the members of Grace Assembly and to other churches the circumstances under which a person’s membership was terminated (Acts 15:4; 1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:17; 4:10).
- In addition, this church does not exist in isolation from society at Accordingly, this church has a moral obligation to society both to act with integrity and to maintain its testimony (2 Cor. 8:20-21). Therefore, the elders may, at their discretion, disclose to other persons outside the ecclesiastical circles mentioned above the circumstances under which a person’s membership was terminated (Lev. 5:1; Prov. 29:24; 1 Pet. 4:15).
- Termination of membership does not give license to former members to sow discord, spread false teachings or slanders, or engage in any other behavior which threatens the peace and unity of this church or the church Accordingly, when it is established that a former member is behaving divisively, the elders may issue whatever warnings they deem appropriate to maintain and preserve the peace and harmony of this congregation and the universal church (Acts 15:24; Rom. 16:17-20; 1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:17; 4:14).
Article V Church Discipline
SECTION 1. FORMATIVE DISCIPLINE.
Every disciple (follower) of Christ must be under His discipline (His instruction and correction), which is administered primarily to each one through the church (Matt. 28:18-20; 2 Cor. 12:12-21; 1 Thess. 5:12-15; Heb. 3:12-13, 10:24-25). Formative discipline, with its many aspects, will result in the sanctification of each member individually and of the whole body of the church collectively. There are occasions, however, when one’s failure to respond to this formative discipline makes the application of corrective discipline necessary.
SECTION 2. CORRECTIVE DISCIPLINE.
Paragraph 1. General Statement.
- Corrective discipline becomes necessary when heretical doctrine or disorderly, immoral, or scandalous conduct appears in a member of the church. As a general rule and whenever feasible, an effort must be made to resolve difficulty, correct error, and remove offense through counsel and admonition before more drastic steps are taken (Gal. 6:1; James 5:19-20). The principles given to us in Matt.18:15-17, Rom. 16:17-20, 1 Cor. 5:1-13, 2 Thess. 3:6-15, 1 5:19-20, and Titus 3:10 must be carefully followed and applied to each case of corrective discipline as appropriate. In some cases, public admonition and/or public repentance may be warranted (Matt. 18:17; Rom. 16:17-20; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 1 Tim.1:20; Titus 3:10). All the members of the church are obliged to submit to and enforce, as appropriate, the decision of the church in acts of corrective discipline.
- Since the church is a spiritual and religious institution, the punishments inflicted by the church in corrective discipline are also spiritual (2 Cor. 6:7; 10:1-6; John 18:36). They include public verbal reproof (Matt.18:17; 1 Tim. 5:20 ), social avoidance (Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 5:9-11; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14), suspension from the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 5:11), and removal from the membership of the church (Matt.18:17; 1 Cor. 5:13). They are intended to effect repentance through a sense of sorrow and shame (2 Cor. 2:7; 2 Thess. 3:14). The church has no right, however, to confiscate goods, revoke conjugal rights, or inflict corporal punishment of any kind. Nevertheless, a member guilty of criminal actions may be delivered to the civil authorities according to the rule of Scripture (Rom. 13:1-5; 1 Pet. 4:15).
- The goals of corrective discipline are always the glory of God, the welfare and purity of the church (1 Cor. 5:6-7) and the restoration and spiritual growth of the offender (1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Cor. 2:5-8; 1 Tim. 5:20).
Paragraph 2. Public Reproof or Censure.
Public reproof consists of a pastoral effort, before the gathered church, to call an impenitent church member to repentance for sin too blatant to be dealt with in an exclusively private manner; or to deal with serious sin even where there may have been repentance. The elders may administer public censure whenever, in their judgment, public misconduct (Gal. 2:11-14; 1 Tim. 5:20), patterns of sin (Titus 1:12-13), or serious doctrinal error (Titus 1:10-13) pose a significant threat to the godliness, unity, or testimony of the congregation. Those who humbly receive the word of public reproof, own and confess their sin, and manifest a transformed life (Prov. 28:13) will afterward be publicly commended for their godly repentance (2 Cor. 7:7-11). If the reproof is not heeded, further discipline may be imposed.
Paragraph 3. Suspension.
Some misconduct on the part of a member is so detrimental to the unity, holiness and testimony of the church that the Lord requires the suspension of some of the privileges of membership (Rom. 16:17-20; 2 Thess. 3:6-15). In all cases of suspension, the offending person is still to be regarded as a brother in Christ and as a member of the church. Therefore, in accordance with the procedures outlined below for each of the five major categories of offenses, the elders shall at a business meeting of the church recommend that the offending member be suspended, specifying the grounds for their recommendation. To be valid, an act of suspension must have the involvement of the Church members. In the interest of maintaining a climate of holiness and peace, the elders shall have the right, at their sole discretion, to impose a temporary suspension upon a member which will bar him from not more than one Lord’s Table while they deliberate the most prudent course of action. The major categories of sin which require suspension are as follows:
- A Stubborn Private Offender (Matt. 18:15-17)—When a private offense remains unresolved even after the method prescribed by our Lord in 18:15-16 has been graciously and prayerfully followed, it is considered an aggravated offense. The brethren involved shall bring the matter to the elders who, if they judge the matter to be serious and cannot persuade the brother to repent, shall report the situation to the church, and recommend that the stubborn brother be suspended (Matt. 18:17a). If, even after a period of suspension, the person remains adamant in his sin, excommunication shall be enacted according to the procedure outlined in Paragraph 4 of this Section (Matt. 18:l7b).
- Divisive Teaching or Behavior (Rom. 16:17-20; Titus 3:10)—When after admonition a member persists in the propagation of serious doctrinal error contrary to the Scripture and our Statement of Faith, or attempts to sow discord among the membership contrary to the Scripture and this Constitution, that person may be suspended as factious. Since every member is responsible to help preserve the unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:1f), no member is to conceal such flagrantly divisive behavior, but rather to reprove it, and disclose it to the elders (Deut. 13:6-11; 1 Cor. 1:10-11). Whenever the elders become aware of such divisive behavior, they are to confront it meekly and patiently according to the Word of God (1 Cor. 1:10-4:21; Titus 3:10). If, even after receiving repeated admonition from the elders, a member persists in such behavior, the elders shall report the situation to the church and recommend that the divisive brother be suspended. If, even after a period of suspension, the person remains impenitent, excommunication shall be enacted according to the procedure outlined in Paragraph 4 of this Section.
- Disorderly Behavior (2 Thess. 3:6-15)—When a member deliberately persists in conduct which displays a flagrant or public disregard for either the order appointed by God for all mankind in the creation ordinances, namely, work, the Lord’s Day, and marriage (Gen. 2:1-3, 15, 18-24; Exod. 20:8-11; 1 Cor. 7:1-17, 39; 2 Thess. 3:6-15; 1 Tim. 5:8; Titus 2:5), or for the order established by Christ for His church in Scripture (1 Cor. 11:17-34; 14:37-40; 1 Tim. 3:14, 15) and adapted to our church in this Constitution, he may be suspended as a disorderly person (2 Thess. 3:6). Whenever the elders become aware that, in spite of the admonitions of formative discipline (1 Thess. 5:14), a member is behaving disorderly, they are to confront him meekly and patiently according to the Word of God (2 Thess. 3:14-15). If, even after receiving such admonition from the elders, a member persists in this behavior, the elders shall report the situation to the church and recommend that the disorderly brother be suspended (2 Thess. 3:14-15). If, even after the period of suspension, the person remains impenitent, excommunication shall be enacted according to the procedure outlined in Paragraph 4 of this Section.
- A Scandalous Sin—If a member has sinned scandalously but shows hopeful signs of repentance, including submission to the elders, it may still be prudent to suspend him for a time so that he may clearly manifest repentance (Matt. 3:8), so that reproach not be brought upon the Name of Christ and the church (2 Sam. 12:14; Rom. 2:24), and so that others may not be emboldened to sin (1 Tim. 5:20). If fruits worthy of repentance are not forthcoming, the elders may recommend to the church at a later date that this person be excommunicated according to the procedure outlined in Paragraph 4 of this Section.
- Contempt of Church Discipline—If a person is accused or suspected of a sin requiring corrective discipline, yet absents himself from the meetings of the church, or refuses to meet with the elders so that the matter may be investigated, such a person may be suspended (Matt. 18:17; Num. 16:12, 20, 27). The elders may recommend to the church at a later date that this person be excommunicated according to the procedure outlined in Paragraph 4 of this section.
Paragraph 4. Excommunication.
- In addition to the excommunication of those who have been previously suspended, some expressions of sin (ethical or doctrinal) are so gross and heinous in nature that preliminary actions like public reproof and suspension are inappropriate. In such cases, the guilty member may be immediately excommunicated by the church (1 Cor. 5:1-5). This severe measure is to be employed when aggravated lawlessness is discovered, and there are no hopeful signs of repentance. This severe measure is designed to purge the lawbreaker of his lethal attachment to his sin, unto a sincere and enduring repentance (1 Cor. 5:5; 6:9-11). The elders, therefore, having made earnest but unsuccessful efforts to bring the offender to true repentance and reformation, shall report the same to the church and recommend that the offender be excommunicated.
- All acts of excommunication must be executed by the gathered church for their instruction and protection (Matt. 18:17; 1 Cor. 5:4). When the Church gathers, the elders will 1) present the evidence (Deut. 19:15) of the preceding stages of discipline, 2) and inform the Church how to conduct their interactions with the one being excommunicated (1 Cor. 5:11; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14; Matt. 18:17).
Article VI Church Officers
SECTION 1. GENERAL STATEMENT.
Jesus Christ alone is Head of the church (Col. 1:18), and He governs His church through officers whom He appoints (Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11) and who are endowed by His Spirit with the graces and gifts needed to accomplish their work (1 Cor. 15:9-10). Because Christ appoints church officers, they have authority (2 Cor. 13:10) and their authority is limited by Him in the Scriptures (1 Cor. 14:36-38; 3 John 9). There are two kinds of church officers, elders and deacons (Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:1-13). Beside these two offices the Scriptures acknowledge no office which continues in the church today (Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:1-13). Elders are called: “bishops” (meaning “overseers”) because they are charged with the oversight of the assembly (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2); “pastors” because they shepherd the flock of God (Acts 20:28); and “rulers” because they govern and care for the house of God (1 Tim. 3:4; Heb. 13:17,24). It is the duty of the church to seek and discover among its members those to whom Christ the Lord has imparted the necessary graces and gifts for office-bearing (Eph. 4:7-14; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9), and after appointing them, to set them apart by united prayer (Acts 14:23), and then to submit to their authority (Lk. 10:16; John 13:20; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:5).
SECTION 2. GENERAL PREREQUISITES.
- All officers of this church must be members of Grace
- Any individual set apart to one of these offices must be able conscientiously to affirm his agreement with the church’s Statement of Faith and Constitution. If he should at any time move from this position, he would be under spiritual and moral obligation immediately to make that fact known to the elders in an orderly manner.
- While we acknowledge the valuable gifts which God has given women and the valuable assistance they may render to the officers of the church (Rom. 16:1-6; Phil. 4:3; 1 Tim. 3:11), the Bible prohibits women from holding either the office of deacon or elder in the church (1 Cor. 14:33-35; 1 Tim. 2:8-15; 3:1-7). Women, therefore, shall not be nominated, elected, or ordained to either of these offices in the church. It is also contrary to Scripture for any woman to exercise headship or leadership in a formal meeting of the whole church either by leading in prayer, reading the Scripture, administering the sacraments, or ministering the Word of God (1 Cor. 14:33-35; 1 Tim. 2:8-15). Since it is also a violation of the Scriptures for a woman to exercise authority over a man in spiritual things outside a meeting of the whole church, no woman shall be appointed to a teaching or authoritative function in a ministry of the church where adult men would be regularly under her ministry. Nevertheless, we acknowledge and encourage the valuable gifts and assistance of women: in the formal instruction of children and other women (Titus 2:3-5), in edifying conversation with women and men (1 Cor. 11:5; Acts 18:26; Rom. 16:1-4; 1 Tim. 5:9-10) and in assisting the deacons with the diaconal and especially the benevolent ministries of the church.
SECTION 3. ELDERS.
Paragraph 1. The Authority of the Eldership.
- The Ground of Their Authority: The Scriptures—The Head of the church (Col. 1:18), through His apostles (Eph. 2:20; 1 John. 4:6), has given to His church the Scriptures as an infallible and unchanging rule of practice (Col. 4:16; 2 Thess. 2:15; 3:14; 1 3:14-15), unto which all church officers are always bound (1 Cor. 14:36-38). Where the Scriptures give explicit or implicit direction to the church on a topic, this direction is never to be negated or contradicted. When no regulative word from Christ is given, church officers are subject to the general principles of Scripture and to the light and order displayed in creation (1 Cor. 11:13-14; 14:40).
- The Limits of Their Authority—The Word of God defines the limits and boundaries of the authority of church officers and of the congregation. The eldership as a body is authorized and responsible to give comprehensive oversight to the church (Acts 20:17-35; 1 Pet. 5:1-2), including the preaching and teaching of the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:20- 21,27; Titus 1:9); the watching out for the welfare of the soul of every member of the church (Eph. 4:11-16; Col. 1:28; 1 2:11; Heb. 13:17); and the directing of the church in all its tasks by setting general policy and by making specific decisions (1 Tim. 3:4-5; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:1-2). Nonetheless, the elders must exercise this authority with sensitivity to the consensus of the congregation (Ezek. 34:4; 1 Tim. 3:4-5; 1 Pet. 3:7) in the posture of servants and examples to the congregation (Matt. 20:25-28; 1 Pet. 5:3). Therefore, the elders should seek the advice and support of the congregation respecting any major endeavor or large expenditure and should be willing to yield to the congregation when appropriate (Acts 19:30; 21:11-14).
Since this Constitution is the product of fallible men, living in a changing world, we may desire from time to time to revise or amend it. This process should be undertaken cautiously, and prayerfully, never precipitously. Therefore, any proposed revision or amendment must be distributed to the congregation in written form at least one month prior to its public consideration and adoption. And, since this process of revision recommendation concerns the entire church, the Constitution may only be amended by a three-fourths majority of the members present and voting at a duly convened business meeting of the congregation. Any future amendments to this Constitution shall be listed in writing at the conclusion of this Constitution, and subsequently published along with it as part of our polity commitment.
Finally, congregational advice and consent is necessary for the reception and exclusion of members. The process for obtaining congregational advice and consent is defined for the reception of members in Article 2 and for exclusion from membership in Article 3.
Paragraph 2. Plurality of Elders.
The Scriptures clearly teach that there should be a plurality of elders in each local church (Acts 14:23; 20:17; Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:5). Therefore, the church should endeavor to discover and then formally to recognize all the men whom the Holy Spirit has endowed with the requisite graces and gifts, but only such men.
Paragraph 3. The Parity and Diversity of Elders.
The elders are all equal in office and authority (Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:17), but diverse in gift and function. Each elder must be “able to teach” and be engaged in private instruction and admonition and in the administration and government of the church (Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 5:17). However, some will be more experienced, involved, and proficient than others in executing various dimensions of the pastoral office, and in view of the God-given diversity of gifts, some should be more engaged in formal and public preaching and teaching than others (1 Tim. 5:17). In view of this diversity of gifts, as well as the numerous and grave responsibilities of the office, it is highly desirable that at least one elder should devote himself full-time to the work of the ministry and the oversight of the church as his calling in life. The church is responsible to give adequate financial support to elders who labor in the Word as their only vocation, while others of the elders fulfill the office as they maintain an ordinary vocation (Acts 18:3-5; 1 Cor. 9:9-11; 1 Tim. 5:17-18).
Paragraph 4. The Number of Elders and Length of Term.
Though a plurality of elders is the New Testament norm for every church, the New Testament does not specify the number of elders each church should have, nor does it dictate the length of an elder’s term of office. One truly called to this office is usually called to it for life. He is a gift of Christ to the church, and the gifts of God are without repentance (Rom. 11:29). Only when an elder fails to meet the necessary qualifications for his office does he disqualify himself from being an elder.
Paragraph 5. The Qualification of Elders.
Anyone considered for the office of an elder must evidence to God’s people the personal, domestic, and ministerial qualifications that are set forth in the Scriptures (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). Any man called to this office must be able conscientiously to affirm his agreement with our Statement of Faith and the Constitution of the church. Should he at any time move from this position, he is under spiritual and moral obligation to make this fact known to the church.
SECTION 4. DEACONS.
Paragraph 1. The Duties of Deacons.
Deacons are responsible to administer the ordinary business, secular affairs, and benevolent concerns of the church so that the elders may devote themselves without distraction to the more spiritual matters (Acts 6:3-4). They must fulfill the duties of their office in cooperation with and subjection to the elders (Acts 11:30).
Paragraph 2. The Number of Deacons and Length of Term.
The number of deacons shall not be fixed. The church shall choose as many as are needed for the work to be done from among the men who give evidence of having the scriptural qualifications for that office (Acts 6:3). Neither shall the length of their term of office be fixed by the congregation.
Paragraph 3. The Qualifications of Deacons.
The qualifications for a man chosen to fulfill the office of deacon are particularly set forth in Acts 6:3 and 1 Tim. 3:8-13. Any man called to this office must be able conscientiously to affirm his agreement with our Statement of Faith and the Constitution of the church. Should he at any time move from this position, he is under spiritual and moral obligation to make this fact known to the church.
SECTION 5. THE RECOGNITION, INSTALLATION, AND CONFIRMATION OF CHURCH OFFICERS.
Paragraph 1. The Task of Recognition.
The appointment of elders and deacons is the prerogative of the Lord Jesus Christ alone. However, He has ordained that each local church exercise the responsibility of recognizing those whom He is appointing to be elders and deacons in that particular church. The number of elders is based on the gift of Christ (Eph. 4:11), while the number of deacons is based on the needs of the church and the existence of the qualified men (Acts 6:1-4). Elders and deacons are ordained to office by the laying on of hands by the eldership (1 Tim. 4:14). This is an expression of approval for which the elders are responsible (1 Tim. 5:22). Therefore, each officer must have the approval, not only of the church as a whole, but of the eldership in particular. The Lord’s appointment of an individual to either of these offices is recognized primarily through the church’s formal discernment of the graces and gifts requisite for the respective office and the individual’s own willingness to serve Christ and His church in that undertaken capacity. The recognition of officers is a matter of such importance that it should never be without much prayerful waiting upon God, an honest perusal of the relevant passages of Scripture, and a frank evaluation of those who are being considered.
Paragraph 2. The Process of Recognition.
- Pastoral Nomination—Nominations to the office of elder or deacon shall be made by the elders (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). The elders alone may at any time during the year nominate a candidate or candidates to either or both offices and call a special congregational business meeting for their Likewise, members are free at any time to suggest to the elders the names of men whom they consider to be potential officers.
- Congregational Approval—Any church meeting for the approval of officers will be announced at least one (1) month previous to its being During that one (1) month period the names of all nominees shall be separately discussed and evaluated in accordance with the biblical qualifications (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9; 2 Tim. 2:2). The scriptural qualifications shall be the proper guide when the nominee’s qualifications are discussed in the fear of God and with due respect for the reputation of the nominee. If there are any complaints or charges offered up against the nominee, they should be brought to the elders for evaluation and investigation (1 Tim. 5:19; Deut. 19:15).
Paragraph 3. Installation.
Following the one (1) month evaluation and approval process of an officer, there shall be a portion of a regular worship service set aside at which time the officer shall be installed by the laying on of the hands of the eldership. This solemn act should always be accompanied by the special prayers of the whole church (Acts 13:1-3). The laying on of the elders’ hands shall signify their approval of an officer. It is the duty of each member to submit to the will of the Lord Jesus Christ by sincerely praying for and yielding to the officer thus approved and installed (1 Thess. 5:12-13; Heb. 13:17).
Paragraph 4. Confirmation.
Church officers are subject to the same rules of discipline as are other members of the church. They shall hold office as long as they are faithful to their calling. The confirmation of church officers will occur in the same manner as the confirmation of church members. Individual members sustain a life-time membership in the church provided that they persevere in the graces and practices of true Christian character, that they abide in the responsibilities of membership as specified in this Constitution, and that they continue to desire membership. Even so, those called to the offices of Deacon and Elder are called for life provided that they continue to be faithful members of the church, persevere in manifesting the graces and gifts requisite to their office, and are willing to serve. If any church officer at any time manifests conduct inconsistent with Christian character, ceases to demonstrate the graces or gifts of his office, or becomes unwilling or unable to discharge the duties of his office he will be subject to formal censure or removal from office according to the recommendation of the eldership.
Should an individual member come to have objective concerns over the fitness of a particular church officer to continue in office he should first address that officer privately. If his concerns continue after he has dealt privately with the officer in question, he should bring his concerns to the entire eldership. At this point, he must trust Christ to direct the elders in the righteous resolution of the matter. Members must at all points be careful to obey the directives of 1 Tim. 5:17-20 and must recognize that the elders are themselves bound by these directives in dealing with one another (See Section 6.)
SECTION 6. THE DISCIPLINE OF CHURCH OFFICERS.
Paragraph 1. The Warrant for Discipline of Officers.
While elders are overseers of the flock, they are themselves members of the flock.
Therefore, each elder as an individual is under the oversight of his fellow elders and is subject to the same discipline as are all the members of the church.
Church officers are subject to the same rules of discipline as the other members. In addition, they are subject to public reprimand by the elders (Gal. 2:14; 1 Tim. 5:20) and/or removal from office (qualifications for office in 1 Tim. 3:1-7) under two conditions. This may occur if they are no longer qualified for their office or capable of fulfilling its functions and refuse to resign their office voluntarily. This may occur also if their behavior is disorderly or scandalous, thereby bringing reproach to Christ and the church and setting a bad example before the brethren.
Paragraph 2. The Procedure for Discipline of Officers.
The process of discipline may be initiated either by the elders or by individual members of the congregation. Any member who is offended at the behavior of any church officer should first approach that officer privately and express his concerns. If the concerns are not resolved, the member should inform the elders of the situation and wait upon them in their determination of the matter (Matt. 18:15). Since this is such a delicate and serious matter, the elders shall proceed with due caution and earnest prayer (1 Tim. 5:19). If the elders judge discipline to be necessary, they shall inform the congregation of the basis for the proposed discipline. The removal of an officer shall require congregational involvement (Matt. 18:17; 1 Tim. 5:20) at a duly called congregational meeting.
SECTION 7. TERMINATION OF OFFICE.
Paragraph 1. Reasons for Termination.
- By Voluntary Resignation—An officer may resign his office without prejudice if he does so in an orderly fashion and for good and valid reasons. This resignation together with its reasons and the date upon which he wishes his resignation to be effective shall be submitted in writing to the elders of the Church.
- By Removal Through Non-culpable Incompetence—In cases where the elders determine that an officer is no longer competent to fulfill all the duties of the office by reason of infirmities (1 Sam. 8:4-5) not in and of themselves culpable (2 Sam. 21:15-17), they shall in the absence of his resignation recommend to the congregation that he be removed from office.
- By Removal Through Disciplinary Action of the Church—An officer may be removed from office pursuant to Section 6.
Paragraph 2. Implications of Termination.
- When a man leaves office, he no longer retains the authority of that office and may no longer continue in its functions, privileges, and titles with respect to this church, other churches, and society at large.
- It is expected that all former officers will respect the sanctity of the trust previously given to them and that they will maintain the confidentiality of all ecclesiastical matters (Prov. 11:13).
- Aman having previously held office and relinquished it may be reconsidered for office only in the manner prescribed in Section 5.
Article VII Ordinances of Worship
SECTION 1. GENERAL STATEMENT.
The promotion and protection of the public worship of God comprises a primary purpose of the local church (John 4:23-24; Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 14:23-25). Pursuant of this end, this church will adhere solely to the directives of Scripture pertaining to the regulation of corporate worship.
Included in the regulative principle of Scripture, two ordinances of special significance are commanded of us, namely, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Neither of them has saving merit, nor is receiving them absolutely necessary for salvation, nor is any saving grace imparted to the recipient through the water of baptism or the bread and cup of the Supper. Nevertheless, they are means of grace and powerful aids to the faith of the believers who properly participate in them. Accordingly, our Lord is concerned that they be observed unto edification, in a decent and orderly manner. Therefore, our polity regarding their observance is specified in the following section.
SECTION 2. THE POLITY OF BAPTISM.
Only confessed disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ are proper candidates for baptism, and all such persons should be baptized (Acts 2:38). Believing that baptism is the God-ordained means of declaring personal union with Christ through faith and the cleansing of sin (Rom. 6:3-5; Acts 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21), we shall receive into the regular membership of the church only those who have been baptized as believers on Christ “into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).
SECTION 3. THE POLITY OF THE LORD’S SUPPER.
Whereas baptism is the one-time declarative ordinance for confessing faith in Christ, the Lord’s Supper should be celebrated frequently by the assembled church until He comes (1 Cor. 11:26). Therefore, in virtue of the unity of all the true churches of Christ, which collectively are His body (1 Cor. 10:16; 12:27-28; Col. 1:18), and in virtue of our Lord’s will that only those who are under the government of His church should be admitted to the privileges of His church (Acts 2:41-42; 1 Cor. 10:16). We welcome all those believers who are members in good standing in evangelical, true churches to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Exceptions may be granted by the elders at their discretion after careful deliberation with the parties involved. This is a most holy ordinance and should be observed with solemn joy (Ps. 2:11-12) and dignity, even though the bread and the cup of the Supper are and remain only symbols of the body and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Article VIII Congregational Meetings
SECTION 1. GENERAL STATEMENT.
There shall be an annual business meeting of the church for the hearing of reports, the appointing of officers, and the transaction of other business. Special business meetings may be called at other times at the discretion of the elders.
SECTION 2. NOTICE OF MEETINGS.
Notice of all congregational meetings shall be given at regular worship services. A minimum of seven days’ notice shall be given for any meeting at which official church business is to be conducted. However, in the case of an emergency, a meeting may be called on shorter notice by notifying each regular member of the time, place, and purpose of the meeting.
SECTION 3. QUORUM.
The regular members present at any properly convened congregational meeting shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
SECTION 4. VOTING.
All regular members in good standing in the church may normally vote on any question properly brought before the congregation. At the discretion of the eldership voting and/or attendance at congregational meetings may at times be restricted to those who are twenty years of age and older.
Unanimity of heart and mind and voice under God shall at all times be sought and prayed for (Acts 6:5), but when unanimity is not realized, not less than a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting shall be required to constitute approval of any resolution.
As members of Grace Assembly and believers in Jesus Christ our Lord, we willingly and joyfully agree with and desire to ratify this constitution on this 2nd day of July, 2023.