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Featured Constitution changes at my IFB church:

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by supersoldier71, Feb 8, 2018.

  1. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Active Member

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    I've been invited to participate in the committee to revise and update our church's constitution, and there are some significant issues that we must address.

    The first is that we are establishing the position of "elder", and we wish to do so in accordance with biblical guidance. Currently, our deacons, of which I am one serve in many of the capacities that are prescribed for elders particularly in Titus. Currently serving deacons are not precluded from being nominated and selected to serve as elders once, if and when the change is approved by the congregation. I do not anticipate much if any pushback from the congregation on this matter.

    Second, the constitution as currently written requires that all men who serve be the husband of only one wife, and our church defines that as never having been divorced, before or after salvation, and for any reason (1 Titus 3:2). On the surface, I don't take issue with this directive, because I too am wary of so-called pastors who have been divorced multiple times while in the pulpit. No go!

    The flip side of that coin is that I am uncomfortable with any point of view that implies that the blood of Christ was insufficient to address sin.

    There will be push back from within the committee, I expect, and certainly from within the congregation, and while I believe their concerns to be valid, I do not think that our current standard is in accordance with biblical guidance. I am certainly willing to be convinced otherwise.

    Third: our constitution currently prohibits everyone who performs any sort of official duties within the church from all consumption of alcoholic (and tobacco) products. While there is much biblical guidance, both explicit and implicit regarding drunkenness, a do not see a strict prohibition as being in line with what the Bible teaches us.

    I'd very much like to hear your opinions on any or all of the three points.
     
  2. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    supersoldier71, I wish you well in your work. Contrary to what seems to be the most popular contemporary approach, we went "minimalist" (aka, keeping things simple) with our statement of faith & position statement.
    Here we simply state: "There are two continuing offices in a church, pastors and deacons, to be filled only by men meeting the qualifications set forth in writings to Timothy and Titus. Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9."

    In a sense I view preachers and deacons broadly as elders of the church, but I would encourage the consideration of bishops, elders, and pastors being one office. I would notice the words "elder" and "bishop" used interchangeably in Titus 1:5-7, as well as how this parallels the requirements for bishops in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Also notice the parallel of words in Acts of the Apostles 20:28 and 1 Peter 5:1-4. Paul tells the elders at Ephesus to pastor the church (feed the flock) over which the Holy Ghost has made them overseers (bishops). Peter tells the elders to pastor (feed the flock) and be responsible as overseers (bishops).
    Here we state: "We believe that, though God extends mercy and forgiveness, divorced and remarried persons should not be considered for the offices of pastors or deacons. We further believe these offices are biblically limited to be held by male members of the church."
    This one is addressed by our church covenant which (unlike the statement of faith & position statement that we proposed and adopted ourselves), is a "generic" church covenant that was adopted when the church was organized. It states: "We also engage...to abstain from the sale of, and use of, intoxicating drinks as a beverage..." I don't see that the Bible teaches an absolute prohibition from something like wine as a beverage.* But the statement fits the historical and majority view of the church, and I don't think there is anything wrong with engaging to not sell or drink alcohol as a beverage.

    * [Note: I think consideration of the Nazarite vow in Numbers 6 should give the sincere student pause when arguing alcoholic wine can never be used as a beverage.]
     
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  3. Rob_BW

    Rob_BW Well-Known Member
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    I would agree with you on all three.

    We were getting ready to institute an elder/deacon delineation, but it got put on the back burner.
     
  4. Jerome

    Jerome Well-Known Member
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    As does Scripture.

    Where would anyone be getting this idea of having three offices? Certainly not the Bible!
    NO church in the New Testament is described having the bishop-elders-deacons tripartite scheme.
    When distinguished, two church offices are described: bishops and deacons. Often all are simply referred to as the elders of the church.

    If a church needs additional pastors on staff, add some. If it needs additional deacons, add some. Not sure why a redraft of the constitution would be needed.
     
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  5. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Active Member

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    I was less than clear.
    Elders: lay and vocational and deacons.

    Two offices.

    Currently our deacons operate outside of the biblical mandate and also--as is specified in our constitution--assist with the administration and governance of the church. Not biblical.

    Elders, lay and vocational, are directed to do those functions, and most importantly, be able to teach.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    #5 supersoldier71, Feb 8, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2018
  6. Jerome

    Jerome Well-Known Member
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    Lay elder? Vocational elder? Where are you coming up with such terminology?
    Stick with Biblical congregationalism, not some presbyterial scheme.
     
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  7. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Active Member

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    Elders who get paid = vocational = pastors

    Elders who don't = laymen.

    Were all the men who taught in the NT "professional" preachers? Were any?

    Yet in the church today we have professional credentialled pastors and they are, generally, paid.

    As part of how our congregation wishes to operate, we wish to have teachers of the word who are not compensated. Already we have Sunday School teachers who are not pastoral staff; we wish to adjust our constitution to reflect this and articulate the duties and responsibilities inherent.
     
    #7 supersoldier71, Feb 8, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2018
  8. Jerome

    Jerome Well-Known Member
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    No, I was wondering where you saw such terms used. A Presbyterian Book of Order perhaps? Strauch? Clearly not the Bible.
     
  9. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Active Member

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    The word "pastor" is found precisely one time in the KJV. In Jeremiah.

    The words "trinity" and "rapture" are not found either, but we use them.

    I have no idea where the wording came from in the original constitution from 51 years ago this week. My parents weren't even dating 51 years ago, and I certainly wasn't a Christian. Depending on how one feels about predestination of course.
     
  10. Jerome

    Jerome Well-Known Member
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    Huh?
    Have you read Acts 6?
     
  11. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson Administrator
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    In 2018, a strong anti-same-sex marriage clause is a good idea.
     
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  12. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Active Member

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    Yes I have.

    And you can take my word that our deacons operate beyond the scope mandated by the Bible, or you may continue to snipe.

    I'd rather you didn't seeing as how we're brothers in Christ, but it is, clearly, your prerogative.
     
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  13. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Active Member

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    Already did that!

    Had to get ahead of that one.
     
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  14. Jerome

    Jerome Well-Known Member
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    Yes, unfortunately the Roman and Reformed churches have so twisted the meanings of bishop and of elder in English through their episcopal and presbyterial schemes, that Baptists have used pastor or minister instead.
     
  15. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Active Member

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    Thank you very much. The link to the Nazarite vow article was particularly informative and contained much that I hadn't considered.
     
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  16. Rob_BW

    Rob_BW Well-Known Member
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    Perhaps just have elders, with some elders as staff or paid staff, whatever you'd like to call it.
     
  17. Jerome

    Jerome Well-Known Member
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    Acts 6, the congregation chose seven who were put over a church ministry. If that's not assisting with the administration of the church, I don't know what is.

    Most Baptist churches hold to Biblical congregationalism, not presbyterial or episcopal schemes. (I am aware that in some IFB and others the Pastor has assumed inordinate power, but the answer is not to replace a church monarch with a church oligarchy)
     
  18. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Active Member

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    The concept is this: we have elders, some of them are paid staff (vocational). Currently we have a pastoral staff of four men, the Senior Pastor, the Executive Pastor, the Youth and Children's Pastors. We had two more fantastic teachers but in 2016 and again 2017, each was called away to lead his own congregation.

    The Senior and Executive Pastor would comprise the vocational elders; the plurality of elders would then be filled by three laymen, and continue in such a manner that the laymen always maintain a majority over the vocational staff.
     
  19. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Active Member

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    This is like some old Baptist version of a koan isn't it?

    Do you feel that the position of elder is extra- or counter-biblical? Is the position of deacon extra- or counter-biblical?

    Do you feel that the Bible makes distinction between deacons and elders? If so, what are the distinctions as you see them?

    If you see these offices as biblical, and you see distinct differences in their roles in the church, how would you implement them?

    To be candid, I'm unclear as to whether you wish to assist other believers, that is, those who have also been washed in the blood of Christ Jesus in working towards being a more effective, more Christ centered, biblically based body, or whether you just wish to bemoan the failings of the RCC, Reformed churches and Presbyterians.

    I see great value in the former. Virtually none in the latter.

    God bless you brother Jerome.
     
  20. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    The Scriptures state that the blood was shed for the forgiveness of all sin. Therefore the “limit” is not from a lack of blood, but from the matter of belief (faith) which is directly correlated to the statement that such comes by the combination of the Scriptures and the work of the Spirit of God.

    There is no innate freedom of the will that of itself has any ability or authority in the authoring, the preservation, nor the final estate of the belief (faith)


    Second, do not discard the abstaining from intoxicants. It is biblical.

    Third, elders are the pastor/teachers. One may have a “lead pastor” which sits in counsel with all elders, but ultimately, the elders are the instructors of the Scriptures, and as such have the ministry of the Scriptures to the assembly as a charge. The deacons have the physical needs of the people, elders the spiritual.

    Fourth,
    The divorce issue has been greatly perverted by history. In brief: The Lord’s statement was that following consummation no divorce was allowed. Paul’s statement concerns a situation that should one find separation even divorce necessary, the other partner is still not free to remarry, but must live as if still married.
     
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