Church Constitution

CONSTITUTION OF SOUTHERN OAKS BAPTIST CHURCH

PREAMBLE

We declare and establish this Constitution for the preservation and security of the principles of our faith and that this body may be governed in an orderly manner. This Constitution will set forth the responsibilities of each individual member of this church and the freedom of action of this body in its relation to other churches.


ARTICLE I, NAME, PURPOSE, ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

This body shall be known as the Southern Oaks Baptist Church of Brazos County, Texas.

PURPOSE:

The purpose of this body of baptized believers in Jesus Christ is to fulfill the following basic missions:

I. EVANGELISM

To obey the command of Christ to evangelize the world by confronting each person in our sphere of influence with their need of Christ as Saviour and by supporting worldwide missions.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
(Matthew 28: 18-20)

II. ASSIMILATION/FELLOWSHIP
To provide a spiritual climate in which the body of Christ is joined in His strength and in a spirit of unity.

Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
(Philippians 2:2)

III. COMMITMENT/ACCOUNTABILITY

To encourage each member to submit to the Lordship of Christ and to faithfully exercise this responsibility as a member of the body.

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.
(Colossians 2:6)

So we, who are many, are one body in Christ and individually members one of another … Be devoted to one another in brotherly love … So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.
(Romans 12:5, 10; 14:12)

IV. DISCIPLESHIP/VISION

To encourage each member to become a disciplined follower of Christ and to develop a vision of spiritual multiplication.

That you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
(Col. 1:10)

V. EDUCATION

To provide a Bible-centered study program in which each individual is challenged to apply scriptural principles to all of life.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. (II Timothy 3:16)

VI. RESPONSIBLE SERVICE

To assist each member in discovering and using his/her spiritual gift for the edifying of the church.

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
(I Peter 4:10)

VII. SPIRITUAL REPRODUCTION

To lead each member to a commitment to faithfully witness and to personally train each new convert to become a disciple-maker.

And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
(II Timothy 2:2)


ARTICLE II: POLITY AND DOCTRINE

SECTION 1: POLITY

The government of this church is vested in the body of believers who compose it (Romans 12:4-8). It is subject to the control of no other ecclesiastical body (Colossians 1:18). It does, however, recognize the need of mutual fellowship and cooperation with other churches of like faith and practices (Galatians 6:2). This church will cooperate withand support the local association and state convention affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, as long as such association does not violate scriptural principles.

SECTION 2: DOCTRINE

A. The Scriptures:
We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God and without error or defect in the original manuscripts and in all that it affirms. We believe that the Scriptures as we now have them contain all that is necessary to salvation and a life ordered toward Christian maturity. (II Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1:21; Acts 18:28; Romans 15:4)
B. The Godhead:
We believe that the Godhead eternally exists in three persons — the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit — and that these are one God who are equal in every divine perfection and execute distinct but harmonious offices.
(Matthew28:18-19; II Corinthians 13:14)
C. Jesus Christ:
We believe that Jesus Christ is the pre-existent and eternal Son of God who became man in order to reveal God and redeem man. We believe He was supernaturally conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. In His person, we believe the Lord Jesus combined forever full and undiminished deity with true and perfect humanity to become the God-man. We believe Christ died on the Cross as a substitute for sinful man, was buried, arose bodily from the tomb, ascended into Heaven where He ministers on behalf of Saints, and someday will come again for His own. (John 1:18; 8:58; Matthew 1:23;Colossians 1:15-17; I Timothy 1:15; 3:16)
D. The Creation and Fall of Man:
We believe that the Triune God, according to His sovereign will and for His own glory, created the heavens and the earth without the use of pre-existent material. All living things, we believe, came into being by a direct creative act of God and not by an evolutionary or random process, and thus have an existence distinct from Him and yet always dependent on Him. (Genesis 2:4; Proverbs 16:4; Acts 17:24; Colossians 1:17) We believe that man was originally created in the image and the likeness of God, that he fell through sin, and as a consequence became depraved. We believe this total depravity of human nature has been transmitted to the entire human race, except the Man Christ Jesus. (Genesis 1:26; 2:17; Romans 3:10-19; Ephesians 2:1-3)
E. The Way of Salvation:
We believe that salvation from the penalty and power of sin is provided only through the blood of Jesus Christ which He shed on the Cross when He was made sin for us and died in our place. There is nothing man can do, we believe, to attain this salvation through good works, moral achievement or religious status. We believe the one and only condition for salvation is personal faith in Jesus Christ as one’s own substitute for and Saviour from sin. At the time of salvation, we believe a person is spiritually regenerated, his sins are forgiven, God’s righteousness is imputed to him, and he is declared righteous in the sight of God. This salvation, we believe, is complete and a present possession of all believers which remains theirs forever. All who have trusted Christ as Saviour are kept secure and will never lose their salvation. (John 1:12; 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-9; 4:32; I Peter 1:18-19; 2:24; Titus 3:5; II Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:1; 8:38-39)
F. The Church and Her Ordinances:
We believe that the Church is a unique organism composed of individuals who have placed their faith in Christ as Saviour. The Church began, we believe, on the day of Pentecost and will continue its distinct purpose until the Rapture. We believe that the Church exists in both a universal aspect, as the Body of Christ, and in a local assembly of believers. The local church, we believe, as the two-fold purpose of the discipleship of believers and evangelization of the lost. The two ordinances of the church are water baptism, which we practice by immersion, and the Lord’s Supper, which we believe to be a memorial of Christ’s death and is open to all believers. (I Corinthians 11:23-28; 12:12-27; John 17:20-23; Ephesians 4:7-13; Colossians 3:12-15; 4:16; Matthew 16:16-18; 28:19-20; Acts 2:1-4,42-47; 18:7-8; Luke 22:19-20; Hebrews 13:17; I Thessalonians 4:13-17)
G. The Resurrection:
We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost — they that are saved unto the resurrection of eternal life, and they that are lost unto the resurrection of eternal damnation. (I Corinthians 15; John 5:28-29)
H. The Blessed Hope:
We believe in the personal and premillennial and imminent coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and that this “Blessed Hope” has a vital bearing on the personal life and service of the believer. (John 14:1-3; I Corinthians 15:51-52; Philippians 3:20; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Titus 2:11-14)

ARTICLE III: MEMBERSHIP

SECTION 1: GENERAL

The membership of Southern Oaks Baptist Church under the Lordship of Jesus Christ retains unto itself the sovereign and exclusive right of self-government as given by Scripture in all phases of the spiritual and temporal life of this church. The membership reserves the exclusive right as given by Scripture to determine who shall be members of this church and the conditions of such membership.

SECTION 2: DEFINITION

A member of Southern Oaks Baptist Church is one who confesses Jesus Christ to be his Saviour and Lord and who accepts the statement of beliefs as outlined in this Constitution, having been accepted by vote of the church and having been scripturally baptized by immersion.

SECTION 3: CANDIDACY

Any person may offer himself as a candidate for membership in this church. All such candidates shall be presented for membership to the church at any regular church service in any of the following ways:

  1. By profession of faith and for baptism
  2. By transfer of a letter of recommendation from another Baptist church
  3. By statement of prior conversion experience and scriptural immersion when no letter is obtainable

SECTION 4: ACCEPTANCE PROCEDURE

The procedure for receiving new members shall be as follows:

  1. An initial interview shall be held with the Pastor or with those designated by the Deacons from within their membership.
  2. The applicant shall read or cause to be read the Constitution of this church and shall accept it as the teaching and practice of this fellowship.
  3. An announcement shall be made of the candidacy to the church, allowing the church to bring any scriptural objections to the Pastor. Should there beany dissent as to any candidate, such dissent shall be referred to the Deacon body for investigation and the making of a recommendation to the church within 30 days.
  4. The pastor shall recommend candidates to the church for membership. Affirmation by the voting membership present shall be requested.

SECTION 5: MEMBER ORIENTATION

All voting members of this church are expected to participate in orientation procedures established by the Pastor.

SECTION 6: DUTIES

Members are to be faithful in all duties essential to the Christian life, to regularly attend the services of this church, to give regularly for its support and cause, and to share in its organized work. (I Corinthians 9:7; 12:18, 24-37; 14:12; 16:2; Romans 12:5; I John 3:17; James 1:23; 2:18; Hebrews 10:25; Titus 3:8, 14: Ephesians 6:6)

SECTION 7: PRIVILEGES

  1. Every active member of the church who is 16 years of age or older is entitled to vote at all elections and on all questions submitted to the church in conference, provided the member is present or provision has been made for absentee balloting.
  2. Every active member of the church who is scripturally qualified is eligible for consideration by the membership as a candidate for elective or appointive office or committee. (Romans 12:6; 14:1; 15:1-5; Galatians 6:14; I Corinthians 8:12; 9:12-27; 10:23-24; Philippians 2:3-4; 3:7-9)

SECTION 8: TERMINATION OF MEMBERSHIP

Membership shall be terminated in the following ways:

  1. Death of the member
  2. Transfer to another Baptist church
  3. Deletion upon request or proof of membership in a church of another denomination
  4. Exclusion through church discipline related to conduct or absenteeism (see Section 9)

SECTION 9: DISCIPLINE

It shall be the practice of this church to emphasize to its members that every reasonable measure shall be taken to assist any troubled member. The attitude of members toward one another shall be guided by a concern for redemption rather than punishment. Should some serious condition exist which would cause a member to become a liability to the general welfare of the church, the Pastor and Deacons shall take every reasonable measure to resolve the problem in accord with Matthew 18. That failing, exclusion through church discipline may be warranted.

Discipline Related to Conduct:

Should a member become an offense to the church and to the church’s good name by reasons of immoral or un-Christian conduct, or by persistent breach of his covenant vows, the church may terminate his membership, but only after due notice and hearing, and after faithful efforts have been made to bring such member to repentance and amendment (I Corinthians 5).

  1. An individual’s membership shall not be terminated at the same meeting in which the recommendation for such action is made.
  2. All requests for termination of membership shall be presented to the Pastor. A recommendation for termination of members not in good standing must come from the Pastor, but only after consent of the Deacons and Pastor.
  3. All terminations of exclusion must be by vote of the church.
  4. Any person whose membership has been terminated for any offense or reason may be restored to membership by vote of the church upon evidence of his repentance and reformation, or upon satisfactory explanation. This restoration shall be by recommendation of the Pastor.

Discipline Related to Absenteeism:

It shall be the duty of the Pastor and Deacons to examine the membership rolls periodically. Any member who has been absent from the services of the church for a period of one year or longer, and who fails to give satisfactory reason for such absence, may be removed from the membership rolls of the church. Members who are habitually absent from the services of the church for two consecutive quarters without a satisfactory explanation my be placed on the inactive list by the Pastor and Deacons. Continued habitual inactivity may lead to an enforcement of exclusion by action of the church if such inactivity exceeds one year.


ARTICLE IV: GOVERNMENT

SECTION 1: GENERAL

The government of this church, under the leadership the Holy Spirit, shall be vested in the body of believers who compose it, whose vote shall be binding. Recognizing that it is impractical for the entire church membership to vote on every church matter that arises, a council of laymen shall work with the Pastor in providing leadership, direction and oversight of all church ministries and operations. This group shall be referred to as the Administrative Council. The authority of this council to make decisions on behalf of the congregation shall be limited to those areas not requiring congregational approval. Specific matters requiring approval by the voting membership of the congregation include admission, termination and restoration of church membership; Deacons and other officers; teachers and Committee members and guidelines; church budget along with any necessary modifications proposed; calling or dismissal of Ministerial Staff; non-budgeted expenditures exceeding $500; acquisition, sale, exchange, encumbrance or disposition of real property; and constitutional amendments.

SECTION 2: Church Officers

Church officers shall consist of the Pastor, members of the Ministerial Staff, Administrative Council, Deacons and Trustees. All officers must be members of the church and be in total agreement with the doctrinal statement of the church.

A. Pastor

1. Qualifications
  • A man of proven character
    • Blameless; of good behavior (I Timothy 3:2)
    • A good report of them which are without (I Timothy 3:7)
  • A man of self-control
    • Vigilant; sober (I Timothy 3:2)
    • No striker; not a brawler; patient (I Timothy 3:3)
  • Free from the use of substances or actions which
    • destroy the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19)
    • and may bring reproach on the Saviour (I Corinthians 6:15)
  • A man of benevolence
    • Given to hospitality (I Timothy 3:2)
  • The husband of one wife; not divorced; having control over his own house (I Timothy 3:2, 4 & 5; Titus 1:6)
  • A man not obsessed by material possessions
    • Not greedy of filthy lucre; not covetous (I Timothy 3:3)
  • A man of spiritual maturity
    • Apt to teach (I Timothy 3:2)
    • Not a novice (I Timothy 3:6)
  • A man of sound doctrine
    • Holding fast the faithful Word (Titus 1:9)
2. Duties

Prayer, ministry of the Word (preaching, evangelism, exhortation, discipleship, education, counseling, comforting, correction), administering the church ordinances, overseeing the administration of activities and care of the church body. The Pastor is the leader of all church ministries. All employees of the church shall be under the supervision of the Pastor.

3. Selection

In the event a vacancy occurs, the procedure for selection and calling the Pastor to the church shall be as follows:

  • A Pulpit Committee consisting of five members-at-large shall be elected by secret ballot at a regular or called business meeting of the church. Announcement of the election to be held shall be mailed to the voting membership not less than one week prior to the business meeting.
  • A Pulpit Committee shall present one name at a time to the Deacons and Administrative Council who shall interview the candidate. A candidate maybe heard by the church body “in view of a call” after such an interview has been conducted and the Deacons and Administrative Council in joint session have agreed that a hearing by the church body is in order.
  • The voting membership shall be notified by mail not less than one week prior to the date designated for the purpose of voting on the recommendation which will be presented jointly by the Pulpit Committee, Deacons and Administrative Council. An affirmative vote of 75 percent shall be required for election of the Pastor.
4. Tenure of Office

The Pastor’s tenure may be terminated at any time by the Pastor or by the church upon thirty (30) days’ notice.

Grounds for dismissal are personal doctrinal error, teaching not in accord with this church’s doctrinal statement (Article 2), personal behavior unbecoming a Christian, or failing to meet responsibilities as stated within this Constitution. If the termination of the Pastor’s tenure is by the church, the action shall first be considered by the Administrative Council. Following this consideration, it shall be incumbent upon the Administrative Council and the Deacon body to bring a recommendation to the church at a special business meeting called to resolve the question of the removal of the Pastor. A 75 percent affirmative vote in a business meeting for which one week’s written notice has been given to all voting members shall be required for termination of the Pastor.

5. Accountability

The Pastor shall be accountable to the Administrative Council in all ministerial matters.

B. Ministerial Staff

This church shall call and employ such Ministerial Staff in addition to the Pastor as the church shall need. This may include, but not be restricted to, such positions of ministry as evangelism, education, music and youth. A job description and terms of employment shall be established when the need for staff members is determined. Ministerial Staff members other than the Pastor shall be recommended to the church by the Pastor working in conjunction with the Administrative Council. Employment shall be by church action. Dismissal shall follow the same procedure as that for the Pastor. The Ministerial Staff shall be accountable to the Administrative Council through the Pastor in all ministerial matters.

C. Administrative Council

The Administrative Council shall consist of from three (3) to five (5) members selected for a one-year term of office based on the calendar year. Administrative Council members shall be selected by the Deacons in cooperation with the Pastor from within the Deacon body and shall be accountable to the Deacon body.

Terms shall be limited to two consecutive years with a minimum of one year in family ministry required before re-election. In no case shall a Deacon serve on the Administrative Council until he has served in family ministry. The Administrative Council shall meet regularly with the Pastor, assisting him in the oversight of all church ministries and operations.

The Council is authorized to call special meetings, provide accountability for the Pastor regarding his and any other staff member’s conduct or actions and recommend the establishment of committees, their membership and the guidelines by which they operate. The council is also authorized to approve expenditures less than $500.

D. Deacons

Qualifications

All qualifications listed in I Timothy 3, and as specifically stated below:

  1. A man of reverence (I Timothy 3:8)
  2. A man of sound doctrinal conviction and spiritual integrity beyond reproach (I Timothy 3:9)
  3. A man of proven character (I Timothy
    3:10)
  4. The husband of one wife; not divorced; having control over his own household (I Timothy 3:12)
  5. A man in control of his tongue (I Timothy 3:8)
  6. A man free from the use of substances or actions which:
    • destroy the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19), and
    • may bring reproach on the Saviour (I Corinthians 6:15)
    • A man not obsessed by material possessions (I Timothy 3:8)
    • The wife of a Deacon shall be a believer and shall meet the qualifications of I Timothy 3:11.
Duties

The Deacon shall stand together with the Pastor in the spiritual tasks of:

  1. seeking to build and maintain Christian harmony and fellowship
  2. seeking to proclaim the Gospel to believers and unbelievers.
  3. seeking to meet the needs of individuals and families in the church and the community, and
  4. serving as an advisory resource for the Pastor.
Election

The church shall elect Deacons from its membership at regular business meetings of the church.

  • The membership-at-large may submit in writing the names of those men who they believe meet the qualifications of a Deacon as set out above. These men will then be screened by the Pastor and a member of the Deacon body and if qualified shall be presented as nominees to the church membership.
  • Each year the assigned term of office of one third of the number of Deacons shall expire, and election shall be held to fill vacancies and to add to the Deacons such as the church size warrants.
  • There shall be no obligation to constitute as an assigned Deacon one who has been ordained Deacon in another church; but in such instances as one might be chosen by this church for assignment as a Deacon, his previous ordination by another church of like faith and order shall suffice for this church.
Terms of Office
  • Election shall be for three-year term of service. There will be no limit to succeeding terms.
  • The term of service shall begin on January 1, following the election/ordination process.
Vacancies
  • Vacancies may occur due to death, disability, voluntary resignation or involuntary removal.
  • A Deacon who fails to continue to meet the qualifications set out, or who fails to demonstrate a desire to fulfill the duties of the office may be removed by the church body.
  • A vacancy shall remain unfilled if it occurs within the final six months of the term. Vacancies occurring prior to that time shall be filled for the duration of the term by the selection process.

E. Trustees

In accordance with the Articles of Incorporation, Section 5, the Deacons shall serve as legal agents of the corporate body.


ARTICLE V: GENERAL PROVISIONS

SECTION 1: Stewardship and Finances

  • The financial needs of this church, its missions and auxiliaries shall be provided for through tithes, offerings and special gifts.
  • An appointed committee in consultation with the Administrative Council shall present an itemized budget to the church body for approval.
  • All funds received must be properly recorded on the church books, and all funds dispersed must have proper signatures.
  • This church shall not incur debt.

SECTION 2: Missions Responsibilities

The spreading of the Gospel through missions shall be of high priority. The support of missions through prayer, education and finances shall extend to the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention, local and area missions, and other missions efforts worldwide. This support shall not violate the provisions of this Constitution.

SECTION 3: Auxiliary Activities

Auxiliary activities shall be created as need arises, and shall be accountable to the church body through the Administrative Council.

SECTION 4: Literature

All literature used in church activities must recognize the Bible as the inerrant, inspired Word of God in accordance with the doctrinal statement of this Constitution, and be designed for the edification and spiritual growth of the believer.


ARTICLE VI: CHURCH MEETINGS

SECTION 1: Worship Services

The church shall meet regularly each Sunday for worship, and at any other times the church deems appropriate.

SECTION 2: Business

Regular business meetings shall be conducted at least quarterly at a designated time. Called business meetings may be conducted to consider special matters. Except for matters of physical emergency, one-week notice must be given before each called business meeting. A quorum for any regular or called business meeting shall consist of 10 percent of the voting membership. Robert’s Rules of Order, Revised shall be the guide for all business meetings. In all business matters, a majority vote shall prevail unless otherwise specified in this Constitution. The moderator of all business meetings shall be appointed by the Administrative Council.


ARTICLE VII: ADOPTION OF AND AMENDMENTS TO THIS CONSTITUTION

The adoption of and amendments to this Constitution shall be by vote of the church at any regular church business meeting, one month’s previous notice having been given in writing as to the Article(s) and Section(s) in question or nature of addition to this Constitution. Approval shall be by 75 percent of those voting.