I would sooner say that the Bible is the sole source of authority until then. If it were my church I would also want something saying what we believe the Bible actually teaches.
'The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.'
However, someone has rightly said that a Minister who falls into sin cannot be reinstated until his repentance becomes as well-known in the community as his former sin. I heard a great talk on this given by Art Azurdia based on Peter's reinstatement by the Lord Jesus in John 21:15ff.
Constitution changes at my IFB church:
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2 Cor. 11:3[colot=red]But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.[/color]
And the thing that corrupts one's mind toward Jesus the quickest is a man-made doctrine! That includes stupid rules of worship not found in Scripture. Just as Jesus scolded some Pharisees over their MAN-MADE hand-washing rule, we so scold those who try to force such stuff upon us.
And oh,yes, we observe only two ceremonies: Communion several times a year, and foot-washing wtice a year as weather permits.
We believe in K.I.S.S.
The only slopes that are slippery to us are when we aren't standing on the Rock.
Too far one way and we slide into liberalism.
Go the opposite way and we find ourselves in pharisaicalism.
Clarity is a key for constitutional changes. You could make a change for one purpose, and because of vagueness, the change could then be used for a different purpose.
1) To whom does the Elder or Elders report to? Must they report to the membership quarterly? Are they accountable to the membership. Can the membership remove them from office by a simple majority vote. Otherwise leadership can usurp power unto itself.
2) Are Elders nominated by the Deacon/Elder board and then confirmed initially and periodically (every 3 years) by the membership.
3) Which decisions must be approved by the membership, such as real estate transactions?
4) Disqualifying behavior, prior to professing salvation should not be held against believers after a period of years (3?) subsequent to professing salvation, but disqualifying behavior subsequent to professing salvation should apply for at least 3 years, and at the discretion of the membership, could be considered a permanent disqualification.
5) Your qualification requirements for your church can be established by your membership. Since smoking and drinking set an example that could cause some to stumble, the Bible allows for requiring your leadership to abstain from substance dependence.
Hopefully you will not include soda and coffee in your list.
Jer 2:8 KJV - The priests said not, Where [is] the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after [things that] do not profit.
Jer 3:15 KJV - And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
Jer 10:21 KJV - For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.
Jer 12:10 KJV - Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
Jer 22:22 KJV - The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness.
Jer 23:1-2 KJV - Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. 2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.
The KJV translates Strong's G1985 in the following manner: bishop (6x), overseer (1x). =Pastor.
The KJV translates Strong's G1247 in the following manner: minister unto (15x), serve (10x), minister (7x), miscellaneous (5x). = Deacon.
I have been in your position as a Deacon. Over time, my conservative position of two offices, pastor and deacon, was overridden. That church has eliminated the Deacon Board and replaced it with an Elder Board.
May God bless your efforts as you seek His will in these matters.
2) Currently, a nomination from a currently serving pastor or deacon, ratified by a simple majority (out of a church body of about 750-780: we are a church in a military town and we have a lot of turnover) is how we select deacons. We would select elders in a similar fashion, except they would be nominated by other elders, and demonstrate the ability to teach the Word, as that is the fundamental difference between the two offices. The unpaid will always outnumber the paid in the concept given by our Senior Pastor.
3) Which issues MUST go to the membership? To be determined. Right now, below a certain dollar threshold, and assuming the church won't incur more debt, the pastors and the deacons vote. That part will, under the new constitution become the domain of the elders, both paid and unpaid. Determining the actual dollar amount seems a bit tricky off the top of my head because say $1000 (pulled that number out of air) in 2018 will not be the same as the same amount in 2028, 2038, etc....
Constitutional and other changes to how the church stands on a biblical issue resemble a representative democracy: now the pastors and deacons, but hopeful in the future, elders will draft, refine and assuming a majority of elders then wish to proceed, present them to the membership for a 2/3 vote. Our most recent example was just last year to more clearly articulate our stance on gender. We believe in two. God made them and called them "man" and "woman", equal in value, distinct in purpose.
4) Disqualifying behavior - This is where the potential for the inner workings of the committee to become contentious. Currently, "...the husband of one wife...." applies completely and prescriptively, that is, we have no single men in any leadership position. We also have no divorced men in any leadership position. It's the first question they asked me when I was nominated as deacon. It's serious business, and it should and shall remain so. However, in many of the cases, the divorce occurred well before salvation, even decades, and the man has subsequently been saved, married and faithful to God and his wife.
3 years, perhaps as many as 5, seems like a long enough time.
5) Alcohol and tobacco - Forbidden to everyone who holds any position in the church or in the school. The partial revision will not change this at all, but simply include the newly-created office of elder in the language of the restriction. That change MUST occur if the office of elder is established.
The full revision will prohibit public and excessive drinking and specifically prohibit drunkenness.
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