1. Church Membership :
Biblical Basis for Church Membership
Qualifications for Church Membership
A person wishing to be a member of the Church must give a credible profession of faith in Christ and:
- accept the beliefs of the Church,
- meet the Church’s requirement for baptism,
- be accepted as a member at the church members’ meeting,
- acknowledge the responsibilities of a church member,
- abide by the decisions of the church members’ meeting, and
- be committed to serving Christ within the Church and beyond.
2. Requirement for Baptism :
A person wishing to be a member of the Church must have been baptised in accordance with the requirements of clause.
Application for Membership :
A person wishing to become a church member shall apply to the elders who will arrange for the candidate to be interviewed by two spiritually mature church members. They must assess whether the applicant meets the Church’s criteria for membership and submit a report to the church members’ meeting at which the application is being considered.
Procedure at Church Members’ Meetings :
Applicants for membership will normally be required to give testimony at an Ordinary Church Members’ Meeting. If accepted, the new member will normally be welcomed Transfers from Other Churches Where an applicant has previously been a member of another evangelical church a recommendation from that church will normally be required.
The Discipline of Church Members:
1. uncharitable conduct towards others
5. unwillingness to submit to the legitimate authority of the Church
6. failure to attend the Lord’s Supper for 12 months, without good cause
3. Termination of Church Membership :
If church members move away from the area they will be encouraged to attend a likeminded church and the elders will, if requested, write a letter of commendation to facilitate transfer of membership to the new church. Such a letter may also be provided, at the elders’ discretion, when a member transfers allegiance to another evangelical church within the neighbourhood. No letter of commendation will be written if disciplinary action is in force or anticipated against the member concerned.
The Church prefers not to recognise the practice of resignation but it is legally possible for church members to resign their membership. Resignation also occurs when church members cease to attend the means of grace and, in effect, withdraw themselves from the fellowship of the Church without either transferring to another church or giving satisfactory reasons for their non attendance. The Church will then withdraw from those members, recognising that they have already withdrawn from the Church.
Church members who die are regarded as having transferred their membership from the church militant on earth to the church triumphant in heaven.
Where the conduct of a member is considered to be contrary to the purpose and beliefs of the Church or disruptive to relationships between members, the elders may recommend to an Ordinary Church Members’ Meeting that the membership of that person be reviewed. The meeting shall consider the allegations against the member who shall be given the opportunity to hear the allegations and to speak in his or her defence before withdrawing from the meeting. The meeting shall then decide whether to terminate the membership of the person concerned. A person whose membership has been so terminated shall be entitled, with the support of four other members, to appeal to a Special Church Members’ Meeting.
4. Church Officers :
This Church recognises two spiritual offices within the Church: elders and deacons, and one legal office: charity trustees.
Function of Elders :
The task of elders is to serve the Church through oversight, ruling and teaching. They are responsible for:
- overseeing the conduct of public worship.
- the administration of the ordinances of believers’ baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
- preserving purity of doctrine and the maintenance of discipline among members.
- supervising all meetings and organisations connected with the Church including the
- oversight of those responsible for any other ministries of the Church.
Qualifications for Elders :
Number of Elders:
The Church is responsible for recognising the men whom the Holy Spirit has endowed with the requisite graces and gifts. As the composition of the membership of the Church may change, the number of elders will not be fixed.
Equality and Diversity of Elders :
All the elders are equal in office and authority but will vary in their gifts so as to complement one another. Some will be engaged in public preaching and teaching more than others. This Church recognises the Scriptural principle that at least one of the elders should be remunerated in order to enable him to devote himself more effectively to prayer and the ministry of the Word. Such an elder is referred to as a ‘pastor’, and is to be regarded as an Office Holder and not an employee. Prospective pastors (whether members of this Church or of another church) shall be nominated by the eldership but church members may suggest candidates to the elders for consideration. If the elders are in agreement, the nomination shall be considered at a Special Church Members’ Meeting. If he elders do not agree, they shall explain their reasons to the member making the suggestion who (if supported by four other members) may require the matter to be considered at a Special Church Members’ Meeting.
Recognition of Elders :
Prospective elders shall be nominated by the eldership. Church members may suggest candidates to the elders for consideration and if the elders are in agreement, the nomination shall be considered at a Special Church Members’ Meeting. If the elders do not agree they shall explain their reasons to the member making the suggestion who (if supported by four other members) may require the matter to be considered at a Special Church Members’ Meeting.
Discipline and Termination of Elders :
Should an elder fail to uphold the doctrinal standards of the Church, bring reproach on the Church and the name of Christ, or otherwise be considered unable to discharge his duties, the other elders will consider the matter either on their own initiative or upon the request of four church members. If the matter is not resolved it will be referred to a Special Church Members’ Meeting. The meeting shall consider the allegations against the elder who shall be given the opportunity to hear the allegations and to speak in his defence before withdrawing from the meeting. The meeting shall then decide whether any action is required. Such action may include removing the elder from the eldership.
5. Baptism :
The Meaning of Baptism:
Baptism is a public profession and pledge of union with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection.
The Subjects for Baptism
Christian believers alone are fit subjects for the ordinance of baptism. People who have not experienced the inward grace ought not to receive the outward sign that testifies to it. Baptism is a necessary part of Christian obedience. The New Testament does not envisage baptised unbelievers or un-baptised believers. Persons being baptised are normally expected to become church members.
The Mode of Baptism
Immersion in water is the mode which best expresses both the meaning of the term and the symbolism of death, burial and resurrection. Immersion will therefore be the only mode the Church will use except in cases of infirmity or medical necessity, where effusion will be
Application for Baptism :
A person wishing to be baptised shall apply to the elders who will arrange for the candidate to be interviewed by two spiritually mature church members who must assess whether the applicant meets the church’s criteria for baptism. Those members should then submit a report to the Ordinary Church Members’ Meeting at which the application is being considered. Applicants will normally be required to give testimony at the meeting.
6. Church Members’ Meetings :
The Purpose of Church Members’ Meetings Church members meet together in a church members’ meeting under the Lordship of Christ, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in subjection to the Scriptures, to discern the mind of God in the affairs of the Church.
Ordinary and Special Church Members’ Meetings
There are two types of formal church members’ meetings: Ordinary Church Members’ Meetings and Special Church Members’ Meetings. Ordinary Church Members’ Meetings shall be held as and when necessary but on not less than three occasions in any calendar year. One Ordinary Church Members’ Meeting each year shall be constituted as the Annual General Meeting for members to receive annual accounts and reports, to appoint auditors or independent examiners, and to consider proposals for the strategy and vision of the Church in the coming year, with other appropriate matters.
Convening Church Members’ Meetings
Church members’ meetings shall be convened by the elders so as to be as convenient for as many church members as is reasonable. An Ordinary Church Members’ Meeting shall be properly convened if the date, time and place for the meeting are publicised at the worship service or services on the previous two Sundays. Additional church members’ meetings, whether special or ordinary, shall be convened by the elders as necessary, and they shall convene a Special Church Members’ Meeting as soon as possible in the event of an application as provided by these Rules and Regulations or upon the receipt of a written request signed by at least one fifth of the church Apart from guests invited by the elders, only members of the Church shall attend a church members’ meeting.
The Conduct of Church Members’ Meetings Worship, including prayer and the reading of Scripture, shall be a key feature of the church members’ meeting. The discussion of any matters affecting the life and activities of the Church shall be set in this context with the intention that, so far as possible, practical issues are not perceived as being separate from the spiritual aspects of the Church. A quorum of one third of the membership shall apply to church members’ meetings. The pastor is entitled to chair the church members’ meeting. If he prefers not to do so, has a conflict of interest, or if there is no pastor, the meeting shall elect a Chairman by a simple majority before proceeding with the business of the meeting. Proceedings at church members’ meetings must be kept confidential unless their disclosure is authorised by the elders.
7. Voting :
Members shall, so far as possible, seek consensus on all matters considered at a church members’ meeting. For matters requiring a formal decision, a vote shall be taken and the outcome of the vote recorded as the resolution of the members. Each member shall have one vote which they may use at the church members’ meeting after hearing about the issues and any comments or questions raised by other members. No proxy votes shall be allowed and no postal votes shall be valid. If any matter requires a decision affecting or involving individuals, or if any embarrassment might arise by a public vote, a secret ballot shall be held if agreed by the church members’ meeting. If a secret ballot is to be held two members will be appointed as scrutineers to the ballot to count the votes. The Chairman shall announce the outcome without necessarily revealing the numbers of votes.