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Constitution

PREAMBLE

Placing our faith wholly in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation and believing that the Word of God is the sole basis and authority for faith and life, we—the members of The First Baptist Church of Warsaw, Indiana—join together as a body of baptized believers and voluntarily submit ourselves to the following articles:

 

ARTICLE  1 – Name

This local church will be known as The First Baptist Church of Warsaw, Indiana (herein referred to as “First Baptist Church,” “FBC,” “this church,” or “the church”).

 

ARTICLE  2 – Purpose 

FBC exists to glorify God in the following ways:

  • Rejoicing in the central truth of the Bible: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ

  • Living alongside one another in growing relationships

  • Seeking to introduce others to our Savior in our everyday lives

This purpose is captured in three words: gospel, community, mission.

 

ARTICLE  3 - Our Values

Gospel 

The word gospel simply means “good news.” And the story of Scripture centers around the good news that God sent His Son to save His people from their sins. Jesus Christ lived the life we can’t live and died the death we deserve. But he didn’t stay dead. He rose again, defeating sin and 

death and giving us the hope of life forever with God. This is the central truth that unites all of us at 

FBC who have turned from our sins and trusted in Jesus.


Community

The life transformed by the gospel is meant to flourish in community. God has given us his Spirit. And the Spirit unites all of God’s people together. At FBC, we seek to live alongside one another by encouraging, comforting, and challenging each other to grow more into the likeness of Jesus. This is hard work, and we don’t always do this well. Sometimes our sin gets in the way. But we are committed to growing in our love for one another as an expression of our love for God.

 

Mission

The glory of God ought to be the ultimate aim of God’s people. And so at FBC, we strive to make much of God by living out the gospel in the community of Warsaw. As we rub shoulders in daily life with our classmates and coworkers and friends, we seek to live purposefully for God’s glory and for the good of our neighbor. 

 

ARTICLE  4 – Doctrine (see the section titled "What We Believe" on our website)

 

ARTICLE 5 – Church Membership

A.  Membership Blessings

All members receive the following blessings:

 

  • Committed care from this local body of believers to one’s spiritual growth and tangible needs

 

  • Faithful care and oversight from the elders as those charged to keep watch over one’s soul 

 

  • Opportunity to hold office & voting privileges in all church business meetings (except associate & youth members, see section D below)

 

B.  Membership Responsibilities

All members are expected to fulfill the following responsibilities:

 

  • Regularly read the Bible, pray, and share with others how God has richly blessed one’s life in Christ

 

  • Regularly attend the gatherings of the church whenever possible

 

  • Joyfully subject every area of one’s life to the Lord

 

  • Submit to the elders as they shepherd the flock according to the will of God as revealed in the Word of God

 

  • Serve the church according to one’s spiritual gifts, natural talents, and God-given responsibilities 

 

  • Financially give toward the ministry of the church

 

C.  Membership Procedure

Those wishing to join the membership of First Baptist Church must fulfill these requirements:

 

  • Give testimony of personal salvation

 

  • Have been baptized as a believer by immersion


 

  • Participate in a membership class

 

  • Complete membership application

 

  • Meet and interview with an elder

 

  • Agree to abide by the constitution

 

  • Express substantial agreement with doctrinal statement of the church (see article 4)

 

If the applicant for membership has been a member of another church, his/her previous membership will be discussed and the former church may be contacted.

 

Having fulfilled these membership requirements, individuals will be received into membership upon recommendation by the elder board and a three-fourths vote of the members present and voting at a business meeting.

 

D.  Membership Types

There are three different types of membership at FBC:

  • Regular Membership – extended to all individuals, 18 years and older, who have met the above requirements. 

  • Associate Membership – extended to those non-permanent individuals of the community who desire to fellowship with us while retaining membership in a church in another community to which they intend to return (e.g. college students, individuals temporarily employed, etc.). Associate members are not eligible to vote or hold elective office.

  • Youth Membership – extended to all individuals under 18 years of age who give clear testimony of salvation and have been baptized as believers by immersion. Youth members are not eligible to vote or hold elective office. Youth membership ends at age 18 and full membership is automatically given.

 

E.  Membership Termination

Termination of an individual’s membership, whether in good or poor standing, requires a three-fourths vote of the membership present and voting at a business meeting. 

Membership will be terminated with a member in good standing by any of the following:

  • Death

 

  • Voluntary request

 

Because members of the church are professing Christians, there may be times that membership is terminated with a member in poor standing by any of the following:

  • Consistent neglect of member responsibilities

 

  • Overt or persistent conduct which especially dishonors the name of Christ and is inconsistent with the Christian life

 

  • Teaching that knowingly opposes our doctrinal statement

 

If a member is unrepentant after abundant effort has been made by the elders to bring about restoration, then the situation will be brought before the membership with the recommendation to remove the member from the membership of the church so as to maintain the honor of Christ and the purity of the church. Removal from membership requires a three-fourths vote of the membership present and voting at a business meeting (Matt 18:15-35, Rom 16:17, 1 Cor 5:1-13, Gal 6:1-2, Titus 3:10-11, James 5:19-20).
 

ARTICLE 6 – Church Officers

A. Elders

 

  1. Qualifications

All men who aspire to be elders must meet the following qualifications:

  • He must be above reproach and blameless with regards to his marriage, his raising of his children, his emotions, and his use of money (I Tim 3:2–4, Titus 1:6).

 

  • He must not be rebellious, arrogant, prone to anger, a drunkard, violent, or greedy (Titus 1:7) 

 

  • He must be hospitable, respected by people in the believing and unbelieving community, sensible, and one who is a seasoned and not a new believer (I Tim 3:2, 6–7, Titus 1:8).

 

  • He must be able and willing to teach (Acts 6:2-4,  1 Tim 3:2, Titus 1:9)

 

  • He must be able to defend biblical teachings (Titus 1:9)

 

  1. Responsibilities

  • Shepherd the flock by exercising oversight (1 Pet 5:1-5)

 

  • Care for the spiritual growth of FBC members

 

  • Oversee and guide all ministries of FBC

 

  • Oversee and guide Sunday morning worship services

 

  • Oversee missions

 

  • Oversee local outreach

 

  • Oversee finances related to spiritual growth of FBC

 

  • Help members reconcile when in conflict

 

  • Organize and oversee work of officers and teams

 

  • Recommend officers to membership for election

 

  • Preach & teach the Word (Acts 6:4)

 

  • Devote themselves to prayer (Acts 6:4)

 

  • Administer the ordinances of communion & baptism

 

The elders may establish positions/teams (e.g. children’s ministry director, adult Christian education coordinator, women’s ministry team, missions team, etc.) and hire staff members (e.g. youth director) to help them fulfill any of their responsibilities. In order to hire a staff member, the elders must collaborate with the deacons to determine appropriate pay, and then approval must be given by the membership in the form of a three-fourths vote of the membership present and voting at a business meeting.

 

All decisions made by the elder board will be by a majority vote.

 

  1. Election

  • The elder board will consist of both non-paid and paid elders.  All pastors will automatically serve as an elder for the duration of their pastorates. At all times, the board will include a minimum of two (2) non-paid elders in addition to any paid elders (on the condition that there exist two qualified and willing men).

  • When seeking a new lead pastor, the church will organize a pulpit committee. It is to consist of the current elders, three (3) deacons or deaconesses, as well as three (3) members-at-large who are recommended by the elders and then approved with a three-fourths vote of the membership present and voting at a business meeting. The pulpit committee will investigate the merits of every man under consideration, in regards to his personal character, education, ministerial record, doctrinal beliefs, and preaching ability. When a suitable candidate is found, the committee will recommend him to the church. Only one (1) candidate may be recommended at any one time.

  • To be elected to office, the lead pastor must first be recommended by the pulpit committee (see above) and then approved by a three-fourths vote of the membership present and voting at a business meeting. Any other pastors (e.g. associate or interim pastors) must be first recommended by the elder board and then approved with a three-fourths vote of the membership present and voting at a business meeting. 

  • All other elders will be recommended by the elder board and elected for a term of two (2) years by a three-fourths vote of the membership present and voting at a business meeting. These same elders may be recommended again by the elder board after each term they have served and reelected for an additional term of two (2) years by a three-fourths vote of the membership present and voting at a business meeting. There is no limit to the number of times an elected elder may serve in office. 

  • Any elder’s term of office may be terminated by resignation at any time or by dismissal. In order to be dismissed, two or more members of FBC, following the principles laid out in Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Timothy 5:17-21, ought to express their concern first to the elder board, and then if necessary to the membership (see article 7.A for the proper process for calling a business meeting). An elder will be dismissed with a three-fourths vote of the membership present and voting at a business meeting. 

 

B. Deacons & Deaconesses

 

  1. Qualifications

All men and women who aspire to be deacons & deaconesses must meet the following qualifications:

 

  • Deacons and deaconesses will be tested and found blameless with regard to integrity, consumption of alcohol, use of money, wisdom, and faith (Acts 6:3; I Tim 3:8–9).

 

  • Deaconesses will be tested and found blameless with regard to her speaking about others, and faithful (1 Tim 3:11).

 

  • Deacons will be tested and found blameless with regard to his marriage, his managing of his children, and his managing of his household (1 Tim 3:12).

 

  • Deacons and deaconesses will seek to extend hospitality and, thereby, care for physical needs of people (Acts 6:1).

 

  1. Responsibilities

  • Oversee all matters related to the physical needs of the church

 

  • Finances

 

  • Hospitality (Pot-luck dinners, picnics, etc.)

 

  • Visitation of the shut-in and sick (people at home, nursing homes, hospitals)

 

  • Communion & baptism preparation

 

  • Benevolence needs, requests, and funding

 

  • Church facilities (grounds, building, and church office needs)

 

  • Use of building by non-FBC entities

 

  • Legal representation of church (i.e. trustee)

 

  • Preparation of annual budget

At the first deacon meeting of the calendar year, the board will organize themselves according to the previously outlined positions of responsibility (each deacon & deaconess will be selected to oversee one or more of the areas of responsibility). A deacon will also be selected to serve as chair of the board. An additional deacon will be selected to serve as treasurer of the deacon fund & benevolence fund.

 

The deacons may establish positions/teams (e.g. nursery coordinator, visitation team, hospitality team, property team, etc.) to help them fulfill any of their responsibilities.

 

All decisions made by the deacon board will be by a majority vote.

 

  1. Election

  • The deacon board will consist of a minimum of four (4) deacons/deaconesses (with the condition that there exist four qualified and willing individuals). 

  • To be elected to office, deacons & deaconesses must first be recommended by the elders and then approved by a three-fourths vote of the membership present and voting at a business meeting. Deacons & deaconesses may each serve a term of up to four (4) years, after which time, they must take one (1) year off. Following this time off, they may each be reelected by the same process in which they were first elected.

  • The term in office for any deacon/deaconess may be terminated by resignation at any time or by dismissal. In order to be dismissed, two or more members of FBC, following the principles laid out in Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Timothy 5:17-21, ought to express their concern first to the elder board, and then if necessary to the membership (see article 7.A for the proper process for calling a business meeting). A deacon/deaconess will be dismissed with a three-fourths vote of the membership present and voting at a business meeting.

C. Other Officers

The following officers of the church are elected for a term of one (1) year to serve the church in specific capacities. They are recommended by the elders and elected by a three-fourths vote of the membership present and voting at a business meeting.

There is no limit to the number of times officers may be reelected to serve in their positions. Like elders & deacons/deaconesses, the following officers may resign at any time or, if found unfit to serve, be dismissed by a three-fourths vote of the membership present and voting at a business meeting.

  1. Financial Secretary

  • The financial secretary supervises the collection and counting of offerings. Those members designated to count the offering will use the tally sheet to signify all monies received and will sign the tally sheet when the counting is completed.  At least two individuals must be involved in the counting of the offering. Once counted, the offering must be taken to the night depository as soon as possible. If it cannot be deposited that same day, it should be locked in the safe at the church.

  • The financial secretary will supply the membership (and anyone else interested) with offering envelopes and will send an annual report of offerings to each person who has given in a trackable way (i.e. offering envelopes or the online giving platform). 

  • When needed, an assistant financial secretary may be elected to work in collaboration with the financial secretary.

 

  1. Treasurer

  • The treasurer will receive a report of all funds contributed and will dispense these as directed by the budget of the church. The treasurer will submit a quarterly report at the church business meeting, giving total money spent and balances. The treasurer will collaborate with the deacons, as needed, in developing a proposed budget before the end of each fiscal year.

  • When needed, an assistant treasurer may be elected to work in collaboration with the treasurer.  

 

  1. Clerk

  • The clerk keeps record of the proceedings of the church, of the membership, and of all baptisms. These records are passed on to the successor. He/she will keep an account of any special events in the life of the church that are of historical interest and value. The church may provide clerical or technical assistance in keeping the church records.

 

  1. Auditing Team

  • This team is composed of three (3) members who audit the books of the treasurer. At the end of the fiscal year, this team puts together a complete report of all that year’s finances; this report is presented to the membership at the annual business meeting.

ARTICLE 7 – Meetings 

A. General Business Meetings

Business meetings may be called by the elders. If the elders refuse to call a meeting or if there are no elders presently shepherding the church, a meeting may be called by written request signed by one-third of the members of FBC.

All business meetings must be announced on the two consecutive Sunday mornings prior to the meeting.

 

B. Annual Business Meeting

The membership of FBC will hold an annual business meeting to hear ministry and financial reports, pass an annual budget, elect officers (as needed), and transact any other pertinent business. This annual meeting should take place within a month before or after the beginning of the fiscal year. Prior to the approval of the annual budget, expenditures may continue at the prior year’s level. 

 

C. Moderator

The lead pastor of the church will moderate at all church business meetings except in matters pertaining to him personally. In the absence of the lead pastor, the elders will select the moderator. The moderator will conduct business meetings according to the normal rules of parliamentary procedure. 

 

D. Voting

Each member present at business meetings will be entitled to one (1) vote. Simple majority of the membership in attendance will govern on any item called to vote, unless otherwise specified in this constitution. All decisions should be prayerfully made, whether voting on a matter or voting to elect an individual to office.

 

E. Quorum

Two-thirds of the members will constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.  Once a meeting has been called to order, the quorum may not be nullified by the exit of the members who formed that quorum.  

 

F. Frequency of Officer Meetings

The elders will meet monthly for business. The deacons will meet monthly for business. All teams will meet at a frequency necessary to carry out the responsibilities assigned them by the elders, deacons, or this constitution.  It is recommended that teams meet no less than quarterly.

 

ARTICLE 8 – Church Finances

A. Fiscal Year

The fiscal year of the church will correspond with the calendar year: beginning January 1 and ending December 31.

 

B. Overspending the Budget

The elders & deacons are authorized to spend up to $10,000 above budgeted expenses for emergency situations. Any other overspending must be approved by a three-fourths vote of the membership present and voting at a business meeting.

ARTICLE 9 – Licensing and Ordination

 

FBC will ordain male members of the church for gospel ministry given there’s evidence they have been called by God in the following ways:

 

  • Biblically qualified

 

  • Preaching experience at FBC

 

  • Zeal for the gospel

 

  • Aptitude for the ministry

 

  • Complete agreement with FBC doctrinal beliefs

 

In order to ordain a candidate, the elders of the church will call an ordination council to examine him. Having been thoroughly examined by the council, the candidate will be ordained by a three-fourths vote of all members of the ordination council.

 

ARTICLE 10 – Church Polity

 

FBC is an independent, autonomous local church. All property is invested with the majority rule of the membership of FBC.  We are free of any legal claims upon this church property by any organizations, churches or persons outside of the membership of FBC.  This church may be in fellowship or cooperate with other organizations or churches, but not to the point that it loses its independence of administration or its property.

 

ARTICLE 11 – Constitutional Changes and Constitutional Authority

 

This constitution may be amended by a three-fourths vote of the membership present and voting at a business meeting (see article 7.A for the proper process for calling a business meeting).

The recommended amendment(s) must be posted for two consecutive Sundays prior to action on the recommendation, and the meeting must be announced for two consecutive Sunday mornings (see article 7.A).  Any member of the church may propose constitutional changes; however, to ensure clarity of intent, the proposal must be stated in writing.

All individual articles and statements contained in this document are autonomous and maintain authority without regard to the balance of the document. The application, misapplication, or non-application of any portion of this document to a specific situation in no way establishes precedence of the application, misapplication, or non-application of any portion of this document to any other specific situation.  Should any portion of this document be declared and/or rendered null in its application to a specific situation, the balance of this document will maintain its full authority. 

 

ARTICLE 12 – Dissolution

 

In the event of the dissolution of this corporation, all of its debts and contractual obligations will be fully paid.  Any remaining tangible assets or holding will be distributed to such other existing non-profit religious corporations as would be in full agreement with the letter and spirit of this constitution and in conformity with the requirements of the Internal Revenue Service definition of not-for-profit organizations. Dissolution will be carried by a majority vote.  Following any passage of a vote of dissolution, the actual identity of the recipient(s) of remaining tangible assets would be determined by a simple majority vote in the same meeting in which dissolution was determined. 

APPENDIX A – Liabilities

Neither the members, nor the trustees of a corporation not for profit, will be personally liable for any debt or obligation of a corporation not for profit.  This applies to The First Baptist Church of Warsaw.  In the event where an instrument is to be negotiated of a legal nature, such as the signing of mortgages and so forth, the trustees or persons delegated to sign these legal instruments for their execution will be acting as agents of this church only, and will only sign upon authorization or by directive of the church in regular business session. 

 

APPENDIX B – Legal Form

The delegated trustee, in acting as the legal representative of the church, will execute all documents in the following form. If a second signature is necessary, the chairman of the deacon board will also sign.

 

THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH

 

WARSAW, INDIANA

 

KOSCIUSKO COUNTY

 

BY_____________________________________       _____________________________________

         TRUSTEE OF THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH   CHAIRMAN OF THE DEACON BOARD

 

APPENDIX C – Revision of Constitution

All previous rulings and constitutions of this church are hereby declared null and void.

 

This revised constitution was adopted by the membership on ________________________.

                                                                                                                                             DATE

________________________________                                  ___________________________________

                       CHURCH CLERK                                                                                                            MODERATOR