In the church of God all things are to be done decently and in order. This pertains to the government of the church as much as to the corporate worship of the church. Convinced that Jesus Christ, the Head of the church, will protect and guide us, we seek to obey Scripture through the following standards for the orderly and scriptural government of our church, Sovereign Grace Church, Bend, Oregon. These standards do not supplant Scripture, but rather are an expression of our understanding of biblical church government under God. While seeking to be biblical in structure, we make no claim that every detail found here is expressly taught by Scripture. These standards are primarily procedural; the doctrinal position of the church may be found in the Confession of Faith.
Article I: Members and Electors
The procedures of membership outlined below are designed solely for the purpose of maintaining scriptural and accountable local church government (Heb. 13:17), such that our affairs are conducted in decency and in order (1 Cor. 14:40). In no way is our practice of membership to be construed in such a way as to disrupt our Christian unity and fellowship with true saints who attend church elsewhere (Gal. 3:28;1 Cor. 3:1-4).
1. Membership in the community of our church will be normally reckoned by individuals who meet the following criteria.
a. They profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ ( Rom. 10:9-10);
b. They do not contradict this profession through their manner of life (Matt. 7:22-23);
c. They have been baptized (Matt. 28:19);
d. They verbally commit themselves to this body of believers.
2. The elders in session may admit eligible individuals into membership in Sovereign Grace Church based upon the positive testimony of one or more elders who have personally spoken with the individual(s) seeking membership in Sovereign Grace Church, and who have heard their profession of faith and ascertained that they have been baptized. Those seeking membership who make a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but who have not been baptized may be considered for membership after being baptized. Letters of transfer from another Christian church will be accepted, but will not mitigate the requirement to meet with a at least one elder.
3. When the criteria listed above have been fulfilled, the individual will be formally received into the membership of Sovereign Grace Church before the congregation on the Lord's Day.
C. Release or Transfer of Membership
1. If a member of Sovereign Grace Church in good standing requests to be released to the care of another Christian church, the elders will grant the request, and release them with a blessing.
2. If a member of Sovereign Grace Church requests to be released because of disciplinary proceedings against him/herself, the elders will deny the request until the disciplinary matter is resolved.
3. If a member is moving from our geographical area, before they leave the elders will exhort them on their duty to find a new church home. They will then be released with the church's blessing. A written recommendation will be given if so requested.
Those members of Sovereign Grace Church who vote in church elections will be called electors.
- Qualifications for electors: Electors of Sovereign Grace Church are those members who are at least 18 years old.
2. Authority of electors: Electors may vote in the elections of elders and deacons, as well as other voting situations and provide input to the elders and deacons at any special meeting.
3. Qualified electors: All individual members not under current church discipline are qualified to vote.
4. Elections: Elections will be conducted at appropriate times set by the elders.
Article II: Selection of Elders and Deacons
Elections will be held from time to time as circumstances warrant. A man may be considered as a potential elder in several ways. He may aspire to the office himself (1 Tim. 3:1), the elders may approach him, or the people of the church may suggest his name to the elders. Once he becomes a candidate, the elders will examine the candidate with regard to his doctrine and manner of life. If the candidate has any disagreement or mental reservation about any portion of the church's Confession of Faith or Constitution, then he must inform the elders of it. All candidates must meet the qualifications for the office set down in Scripture (1 Tim. 3:1-7;Tit. 1:5-9;1 Pet. 5:2-4).
A man may not be placed on the ballot without the unanimous consent of the current elders. Once on the ballot, the electors of the church have the option of voting either "yes" or "no."
If the candidate receives the unanimous support of the church as represented (Phil. 2:1-4), the elders will install the new elder to the ministry of eldership through the laying on of hands and prayer.
The requirement for unanimity may be set aside only after the elders have carefully considered any objections in the light of Scripture. The elders will set aside such objections if it is clear the objections are unscriptural or unwarranted.
Once installed, the elder will serve for life, unless he resigns or is removed.
Elections will be held from time to time as circumstances warrant. A man may be considered as a potential deacon in several ways. He may aspire to the office himself, the elders or deacons may approach him, or individuals in the church may suggest his name to the elders or deacons. Once he becomes a candidate, the elders will examine him concerning his doctrine and manner of life. The deacons will then include the candidate in their work in order to prove his fitness for the office (1 Tim. 3:10). When the candidate has shown, in the unanimous judgment of the deacons, his fitness for office, the deacons will make a recommendation to the elders to place his name on the ballot. The elders will examine the candidate again with regard to his suitability for the diaconate. If the candidate has any disagreement or mental reservation about any portion of the church's Confession of Faith or Constitution, then he must inform the elders of it. All candidates must meet the qualifications for the office set down in Scripture (1 Tim. 3:8-13).
A man may not be placed on the ballot without the unanimous consent of the current elders. Once on the ballot, the electors have the option of voting either "yes" or "no."
If, in the unanimous judgment of the elders, the candidate receives the clear and obvious support of the church as represented, the elders will install the new deacon to the ministry through the laying on of hands and prayer (Acts 6:6).
Once installed, the deacon will serve for life, unless he resigns or is removed.
Article III. Duties of Church Officers
1. The elders are collectively responsible to oversee the following:
a. Ruling/shepherding (1 Pet. 5:1-2).
b. Equipping (Eph. 4:11-12).
c. Prayer/fasting (Acts 6:4; 13:1-3).
d. Teaching/preaching (1 Tim. 5:17).
e. Baptism and the Lord's Table (Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26).
f. Administering church discipline and restoration (1 Cor. 5:1-5).
g. Prayer for the healing of the sick (Jas. 5:14-15).
There is no distinction of rank within the body of elders.
1. Responsibilities of deacons: Under the general oversight of the elders, the deacons will manage the financial, physical, social, and benevolent functions of the church (Acts 6:2-4).
2. Conduct of deacons' meetings: All usual business of the deacons will be conducted at their regular meeting, or at a special meeting called for a particular purpose. The deacons will appoint one of their number to moderate the meetings of the deacons. The deacons will be prepared to give a general report of their work whenever required to do so by the elders
C. Resignation of Elders or Deacons
If an elder or deacon desires to resign his office or take a leave of absence, he will may do so at any time. If the resignation is sought for reasons of moral or doctrinal turpitude, then the elders must exercise biblical discipline prior to, or in conjunction with, any consideration of the letter of resignation.
Article IV: Removal of Elders and Deacons
If one of the saints believes an elder may be morally or doctrinally unfit for his office, the scriptural requirement for him is clear: he is to approach that elder individually first (Matt. 18:15), and then with one or two others (Matt. 18:16). If the problem remains, then the individual, with the two or three witnesses, should come to the other elders and present the charges (1 Tim. 5:19).
If the charges are doctrinal or moral in nature, and if the other elders unanimously decide that the question merits an investigation , then they will determine if the charges are true
If the charges are unanimously sustained by the other elders, then that elder, depending on the gravity of the charges and the response to the correction, will be rebuked in the presence of the congregation (1 Tim. 5:20), or will be removed from the office of elder (1 Tim. 3:1-7;Tit. 1:5-9), or both.
If one of the saints believes a deacon may be morally or doctrinally unfit for his office, the scriptural requirement for him is clear: he is to approach that deacon individually first (Matt. 18:15), and then with one or two others (Matt. 18:16). If the problem remains, then the individual, with the two or three witnesses, should come to the elders and present the charges.
If the charges are doctrinal or moral in nature, and if the elders unanimously decide that the question merits an investigation, then they will determine if the charges are true.
If the charges are unanimously sustained by the elders, then that deacon, depending on the gravity of the charges and his response to the correction, may be corrected, or removed from the office of deacon (1 Tim. 3:8-13).
Article V: Discipline
A. The responsibility of discipline of any individual member in all case of public offense shall rest with the board of elders. All cases of grievance between members shall be dealt with in accordance with the rules laid down in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew, and no public complaint shall be preferred util this course shall have been pursued. Charges, when made, shall be in writing, and shall be submitted to the elder board for such action as is deemed proper.
B. In all cases of discipline, if practicable, the persons accused shall be given an opportunity to be heard in defense, and no member if absent, shall be censured or excluded at the same meeting at which the charge is preferred against him.
Article VI. Incorporation
Sovereign Grace Church of Bend, Oregon shall be incorporated in the State of Oregon. As a legal entity recognized as a non-profit organization by the State of Oregon, officers will be selected by the elders to legally represent Sovereign Grace Church. Those officers will be: President and Secretary. These officers will be subject to the board of elders and will represent the church to the State of Oregon strictly on legal matters. All officers must be members of Sovereign Grace Church and agree with the church Confession of Faith and Constitution.
Article VII. Dedication of AssetsThe properties and assets of this corporation are irrevocably dedicated to Christian ministry. No part of the net earnings, properties, or assets of this corporation, no dissolution or otherwise, shall be to the benefit of any private person or individual, or any member or director of this corporation. Should conditions arise where this corporation cannot continue to exist, the property and all other assets will become the property of another Christian church or ministry, to be determined by the elders and affirmed by the members.
Article VIII. Amendments
The Confession of Faith and Constitution of Sovereign Grace Church of Bend, Oregon may be amended at any time through unanimous consent of the elders.
Adopted July 14 th, 2001