In glad and humble submission to the Lord Jesus Christ as the ruling and living head of the Church and to the Word of God written, as contained in all the books of the Old and New Testaments, we, the members of The First Baptist Church of Richland Hills, declare and establish this constitution, as presented on February 12, 2003.
The name of this church shall be "First Baptist Church of Richland Hills," hereafter referred to as “church.”
We regard the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 (excepting the assertions regarding the identity of the antichrist [26:4]) as an excellent, though not inspired, expression of the teaching of the Word of God. Because we acknowledge the Word of God written to be the supreme authority in all matters of faith, morals, and order, we adopt this historic document as our doctrinal standard; an assistance in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteousness.
We recognize no ecclesiastical authority other than our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18) and who directs the affairs of the Church through elders chosen and ordained according to the precepts of The Holy Scripture. The elders themselves at all times and in all their activities stand under the authority of The Holy Scriptures.
This church shall always remain independent of any other church or group of churches. We may, however, under some circumstances cooperate with other churches well known by us to accomplish our mutual interest. We may seek the assistance and counsel of other churches in matters of special concern to us.
The decisions of no other church, or group of churches, shall at any time be acknowledged as binding on this church.
The purpose of this church is to glorify the Lord God Almighty by promoting His worship, by evangelizing sinners, by edifying the saints, and by requiring that the principles of God's Word be completely accepted and faithfully practiced by every member of this church. We are committed to the proclamation of God's perfect Law and the glorious Gospel of His grace throughout all the world, and to the defense of "the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
Any person who professes repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been baptized by immersion subsequent to the profession of his faith, who expresses substantial agreement with the doctrines and aims of this church, and who is willing to faithfully submit to its government shall be eligible for consideration as a candidate for membership in this church.
All who are received into the membership of this church according to the procedures set forth in SECTION 3 of this Article, who continue in regular attendance at the stated meetings of this church, and who do not come under the corrective discipline of the church as set forth in ARTICLE VI, should be considered regular members in good standing and entitled to all the rights and privileges of membership in this church.
Regular members who move away from our area and who cannot find another local church with which they can conscientiously unite, will at their request, be retained as associate members of this church. Such people must maintain regular communication with the church in order to maintain their associate membership in it. Nevertheless, they are urged to seek diligently a church with which they can unite elsewhere.
While otherwise granted all privileges accorded a regular church member, an associate member shall not be allowed to vote in any business meeting of the church. At the discretion of the elders, associate membership may also be granted to the homebound, Christian workers, and others whose relation to this church involve unusual circumstances.
Application may be made for membership only on grounds of faith in Christ. Any person desirous of membership shall apply to the elders of this church, who shall then arrange a private interview(s) to examine the applicant's qualifications for membership.
The elders of the church shall interview every applicant for church membership in private. During the interview the elders will seek to determine whether the applicant:
- Has a credible profession of faith;
- Has been duly baptized by immersion;
- Is in bona fide and substantial agreement with the doctrines of this church;
- Intends to give wholehearted support to its ministry and to submit to its discipline;
- Is or has been a member of another church. If so the elders may contact that church in order to ascertain the applicant's previous status and reason for leaving.
If the elders are satisfied that the applicant meets the qualifications for membership, they shall make an announcement as such at the next regular-stated meeting of the church. A period of association, not less than 2 weeks, shall be allowed after this announcement for the membership to bring privately to the elders any objections or questions concerning the applicant's doctrine or manner of life pertinent to the question of membership. The membership of the church shall consider it their duty before God to bring to light any matters of their personal knowledge that might disqualify any person from membership in this church.
If required, the elders may extend the waiting period to investigate or evaluate more thoroughly any objection that may be made to the membership of the applicant.
If no objections have been raised that the elders consider valid, the applicant shall be publicly received into the membership of the church at a regular stated meeting.
All regular members are expected to attend all the stated meetings of this church unless providentially hindered by illness, accident, highly unusual working conditions, and other extraordinary circumstances (Hebrews 10:23-25, 13:17; Acts 2:42,46-47, 20:7-8).
Since tithing is clearly taught as a requirement of the scriptures, both as a duly appointed means of worship and to provide financial support for the work of the Lord through the local church, and since failure to give the tithe is therefore involvement in sin before God (Malachi 3:8-10; Luke 11:42); all members are to consistently, systematically, and conscientiously bring the full tithe (10% of one's income) into the storehouse.
Tithing is to be done cheerfully and graciously with no regrets (Luke 6:38; II Corinthians 9:6-9). To the tithe should be added gifts and offerings according to one's ability and the willingness of one's heart (I Corinthians 16:1-2, II Corinthians 8:1-5, Exodus 36:2-7).
All who come into the membership of this church are to recognize and submit to the authority of the elders of the church (Hebrews 13:17, I Thessalonians 5:12-13, I Peter 5:1-5, I Corinthians 16:15-16) as they discharge their duties of instruction and superintendence in accordance with the Word of God.
All members are to willingly cooperate with the deacons, and aid them as they administer the ordinary and outward affairs of the church.
Members of this church are to obey the teachings of the scriptures in respect to family life and government. As the God-appointed head of the family, the husband must rule over the household with gentleness and love, but also with wisdom and firmness (Ephesians 5:25-33, Colossians 3:19, I Timothy 3:4-5). The wife must be in submission to her husband in all things according to the rule of Scripture (Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:18, I Peter 3:1). The husband with the wife must “nurture their children in the chastening and admonition of the Lord”, (Ephesians 6:2, Colossians 3:21), by setting a godly example before them, and by wise and firm discipline, including the immediate application of corporal punishment as soon as the occasion warrants it (Proverbs 13:24, 19:18, 22:15, 23:13-14, 29:15&17, Hebrews 12:5-7).
Each family unit of this church is encouraged to conduct worship in the home. Family worship has been characteristic of God's people down through the ages (Abraham: Genesis 12:7, 13:4, 18:19; Joshua: Joshua 24:14-15; David: II Samuel 6:20; Timothy: II Timothy 1:5, 3:15). The lack of family worship makes the home subject to the wrath of God (Jeremiah 10:23-25, Psalm 79:6, Psalm 34:11, 15-16, Matthew 18:1-9). But the observance of such worship insures His blessings, such as the prevention of much sin in the home (Psalm 78:5-8), and the special presence of Christ Jesus with the family while they worship (Matt.18:19-20).
All members are to carry out the responsibilities members have to one another. The primary responsibility from which all others proceed is to love one another (I Peter 4:8). These mutual duties, which are the issues of love, are such things as forgiveness, forbearance, burden-bearing, prayer, sharing of material goods, exhortation, admonition, hospitality, and constant assembling together (Ephesians 4:31-32, Philippians 4:5, Colossians 1:9-11, Galatians 6:2, Romans 15:1, James 5:16, Acts 2:44-45, Acts 4:32&34, Hebrews 3:12-13, II Thessalonians 3:12, Romans 15:14, II Thessalonians 3:15, I Peter 4:9, Hebrews 10:24-25).
All members are to diligently guard and maintain the unity of the church at all times by disciplining one's speech, quickly resolving offenses, and rebuking disaffected people. Disaffected and discontented people are to be given no hearing, but should be directed to speak with the elders (Proverbs 6:16-19, 16:27-30, Matthew 12:36-37, Ephesians 4:31, Matthew 5:23-24, Romans 16:17-18, II Thessalonians 3:6, Titus 3:10-11, Acts 14:1-2, Acts 20:28-31).
It is the duty of every Christian, individually and as a member of the local church, to labor for the extension of the kingdom of God both at home and to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8, II Peter 2:9). Therefore, every member of this church is to remain prayerfully alert to every opportunity presented by God to bear witness to his faith in Jesus Christ as sovereign Lord and merciful redeemer. It is recognized that the primary witness of a believer is his constant Christian conduct. Therefore, all members are to endeavor to guard their testimony, and to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within them (I Peter 3:15).
All members are to properly observe the Christian Sabbath, or Lord's Day (Exodus 20:8-11, Isaiah 58:13-14, Nehemiah 13:14-23, Acts 20:7, Revelation 1:10).
All members are to manifest their love for the true God by consistent endeavors to obey the letter and the spirit of the Law of God, (Matthew 5:17-20, John 14:15,21,23-24, 15:10, Romans 8:3-4, I John 2:3-6).
When a member of the church is removed from our midst by death, his name shall automatically be removed from the membership roll.
When it is so requested, the elders may grant to a departing member in good standing a letter of transfer and recommendation to another church of like faith and practice. No such letter will be granted to a member under corrective discipline of this church. Further, the elders may refuse to grant such a letter to any church that is, in their judgment, unorthodox.
At the discretion of the elders, a member may be excluded from the membership. Such an action will often be accompanied by an admonition to, and possibly a censure of the excluded member.
In the case of exclusion no approval of the congregation shall be needed. The elders shall simply announce to the congregation that such a person is no longer a member.
If an excluded member applies again for membership, the procedures set forth in Section 3 of this article shall govern.
According to the clear teaching of The Holy Scriptures, a true church must cut off from its fellowship and visible membership any person who teaches or insists on holding false and heretical doctrine, who blatantly and persistently conducts himself in a manner inconsistent with his Christian profession, or who persists in disturbing the unity or peace of the Church (Matthew 18:15-20, I Corinthians 5:1-13). The procedure to be followed in such excommunication is set forth in Article VI, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of this constitution.
Each member of the church is to be under the administration of corporate formative discipline. Among the means of this aspect of church discipline are the stated meetings of this church for worship, preaching, teaching and prayer, private and mutual instruction, and fellowship. These various means are superintended by the church's elders.
Corrective discipline becomes necessary when heretical doctrine or disorderly, scandalous, divisive, or impenitent conduct appears among the members of the church. The Elders constitute the disciplinary counsel of this church.
Corrective discipline and the various measures employed in its administration are necessary for the reclaiming of offending members, for deterring other members from similar offenses, for purging the church of sin, for vindicating the honor of Christ and the message of the Gospel, and for preventing divine wrath from consuming the church should the church indifferently tolerate offenders and offenses that bring reproach on the New Covenant, (Matthew 18:15-20, I Corinthians 5:1-13, Revelation 2:14-17).
These measures are within the scope of the application of corrective discipline:
A member who is guilty of certain offenses should be rebuked and warned privately by the elders. The failure of a private rebuke will lead to public rebuke and warning (II Timothy 4:2, Titus 1:13, Titus 2:15).
A. Any conduct on the part of a member which disturbs the peace of the church or prejudices its testimony may require that the offending member; brother or sister, be suspended by action of the elders from participating in certain activities of the church according to the gravity of the offense. A suspension shall be announced to the congregation by the elders, and shall remain in force until the suspended member gives evidence of true repentance and change of conduct. The Elders, having noted such evidence, may then restore a suspended member to full fellowship with the church, and announce this restoration to the congregation.
While a member is under such discipline, he shall be treated by the congregation according to the directions given in II Thessalonians 3:6-15. Although such a person is considered to be walking disorderly, he must still be regarded as a member and not as one cut off from the church.
B. If a member has sinned publicly, but shows hopeful signs of repentance, including submission to the admonition of the elders, it may still be necessary to suspend him for a time from some of the privileges of membership, lest reproach be brought upon the church, lest others be emboldened to sin, and lest the offender himself fail to test his own soul and realize the gravity of his offense. Those who humbly submit to the imposed discipline shall afterward be wholly forgiven and publicly received back into the full fellowship of this church.
C. refusing to meet with the elders so that the matter may be investigated, the elders shall announce to the congregation that the person is suspended from the membership, and such suspension shall continue in force as long as the condition giving rise to it continues.
A. Although the people of God are never completely free of sin in this life, certain types of conduct are especially grievous, and are not consistent with a profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (I Corinthians 5:9-11, 6:9-10). A member guilty of such scandalous conduct must be cut off from the fellowship of the church (I Corinthians 5:3-5,13; Matthew 18:15-17). In such a case the elders shall make earnest effort to bring the offender to true repentance and reformation, but if these efforts fail, they shall report the same to the congregation at a regular or specially called business meeting of the church and recommend that the offender be excommunicated- which must be done by action of the entire church according to the scripture (I Corinthians 5:4-5; II Corinthians 2:6; Matthew 18:15-17). To be valid, an act of excommunication must have the approval of at least two thirds of the members present and voting.
B. Excommunication may also be the church's disciplinary response when a member persists in believing and/or propagating heresy. Furthermore, chronic disorderliness of life, divisive and contentious conduct that threatens the church’s unity, and obstinate impenitence in any sin inconsistent with saving faith may require that the radical discipline of excommunication be effected. Romans 16:17-18, Titus 3:10-11, II Thessalonians 3:3-15, Galatians 1:6-9; 6:1 are additional texts which must guide the solemn exercise of excommunication.
There may be occasions whereupon prudence and duty require the admonition and censure of an excluded member. Upon such an occasion the elders terminate membership. Corrections and warnings are to be announced that pertain to the excluded member.
There are two ordinances of special significance that our Lord has commanded us to observe: Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Neither of them has saving merit, nor is any special grace imparted to the recipient through the waters of Baptism, or the bread and the cup of the Supper. These ordinances (or "sacraments") are not means of "special grace", but rather "special means of grace", and powerful aids to the faith of believers who participate in them.
Only confessed disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ are proper candidates for Baptism, and all such people should be baptized (Acts 2:38). Believing that Baptism is the God-ordained door of entrance into the visible community of the people of God, we shall receive into the membership of the church only those who have been baptized in the biblical manner, which is immersion and "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).
Whereas Baptism is the initiatory ordinance by which one enters the visible church, and should be observed only once by each believer, the Lord's Supper should be celebrated frequently by the assembled church (I Corinthians 11:26). While this is a most holy ordinance, and should be observed with solemnity and dignity, the bread and the cup of the Supper are, and remain, only symbols of the broken body and shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Partakers of the Lord's Supper shall only be believers, properly baptized, and known to be members in good standing with a local church where the Bible is preached as the inspired Word of the living God and where salvation is proclaimed through faith in Christ Jesus alone.
The head of the church is Jesus Christ alone (Colossians 1:18). He endows certain men, by the Spirit, with the gifts and graces necessary to govern and minister to the local church in accordance with His Word. Christ has ordained that there be two, and only two, offices in the local church: Elders and Deacons (Philippians 1:1; I Timothy 3:1 - 13). These men, as led by the Spirit of God and in accordance with The Holy Scripture, are responsible for the daily administration and operations of the local church.
The office of elder is clearly set out in scripture (Titus 1:5). Scripture further indicates that there should normally be a plurality of elders in the local church (Acts 20:17; Philippians 1:1; Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). These elders, also called "bishops" or "pastors", are charged with the oversight of the assembly (Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:2). They are given to the church "for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11,12).
God has determined that the office of elder must be filled by men only, and only by men who meet stringent biblical requirements. These requirements are clearly set forth in the scriptures, particularly in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Additional requirements not supported by the scriptures, such as graduation from a seminary, celibacy, or marriage, shall not be placed on any candidate for the eldership.
The elders, being called to oversee and administer the local church (I Peter 5:1), are the chief officers of the church.
The elders are charged by God to endeavor to protect the church and to carefully watch over its members (Acts 20:28-31), to prepare its members for the work of the Lord, and to exhort them unto holiness (Ephesians 4:11,12).
Specifically the elders are responsible for the instruction and oversight (government and superintendence) of the church. Their responsibilities include a vital teaching and preaching ministry of the Word of God and a loving diligence to keep watch over the souls, and to manage the spiritual well-being of the people of God under their care. These duties are to be carried out according to the truths of scripture (Acts 20:28, I Peter 5:1-4, Hebrews 13:17).
Ideally, a plurality of elders shall exist at all times in the life of the church. The great responsibilities of shepherding the flock of God and ruling the household of God demand that more than one man labor in parity in this office (Acts 20:17; Philippians 1:1, elders plural). Yet it is recognized that in the providence of God some churches, particularity new or small ones, may have only one man duly qualified for the office.
While elders retain responsibility, other men may be gifted in certain areas such as teaching and preaching, and may apply such gifts to the betterment of the church, but only under the direction and control of the elders.
The members of the church have the duties of submitting to and obeying the instructions and government of the elders. They are to treat the elders with true respect according to the biblical admonitions of I Timothy 5:17, and Hebrews 13:17.
Recognizing the value of at least one elder devoting his full time to the work of the ministry and the oversight of the church, and the gravity of the calling of this office, the church will make every effort to properly support at least one elder, referred to hereafter as Pastor, who is set apart to labor full time in the Word and doctrine. The church is responsible to give adequate financial support to such a man (I Cor. 9:9-11; I Tim. 5:17,18). The church shall not, however, consider the Pastor as above his fellow elders, nor shall it show less respect, honor, or submission to any elder of the local church that is not employed full time in the Word and doctrine.
Among the Elders, the Pastor is designated to preside over business meetings, and is the manager for paid church staff. The Pastor may opt to defer either responsibility to another Elder on an interim basis.
Since the eldership is an office of the church ordained by God, it will be filled only by such men as God may appoint. It is a position to which men ought to aspire, but it is only by the divine call of God that they enter into the responsibility of this office.
Recognizing that our Lord works through the church and through His people, the church shall endeavor to discover and then formally recognize all those men whom the Holy Spirit has endowed with the requisite gifts and graces, and has set over the church, but only such men.
The Elders of the church shall be responsible to identify candidates for the position of Pastor. At their discretion, the Elders may consult certain members of the Church in this selection process. When a candidate has been selected, section 4, Appointment of Office Bearers, defines the process by which the candidate is elected.
The office of the deacon is one given by God (Acts 6:3,4) to be filled as required for the orderly operation of the church. While deacons are not "rulers" in the church, their office must be held in exceedingly high esteem because of its usefulness to the church.
The office of deacon is to be filled by a man known to fit the qualifications particularly set forth in Acts 6:3 and I Timothy 3:8-13.
The office of Deacon is an aid to the people of God in General, and to the Elders of the Church in particular (Acts 6:1,6). The specific ministries are to be specified and overseen by the Elders.
In consideration of the gravity of the position, and since this is a position given by God to the ministering of His church, the office shall be offered only to such men as are believed to meet the qualifications, and whom the church believes are gifted of God to this duty.
(1) The church is responsible to select and set apart men unto the offices of elder and deacon. The selection process is a matter of such gravity that much prayer, patience, consideration of the relevant texts of scripture, and an impartial, objective evaluation of the prospective men should accompany it.
(2) The existing elders shall make nominations to the offices of elder and deacon. Individuals are free to inform the elders of any pertinent information regarding the candidate.
(3) The election of Office Bearers shall be a three-step sequential process:
a) Nominations shall be announced to the congregation
b) A business meeting will be called to discuss the nominees
c) Another business meeting will be called for the purpose of conducting an election to appoint the candidate
(4) Following the election of an office bearer, he shall be publicly installed in his office at a designated worship service.
(5) Office bearers are subject to the duties of members and the discipline of the church, as are all the other members. They shall occupy an office as long as they are faithful to their duties and continue to evidence the necessary qualifications for the respective office.
An office bearer may resign his office if he is no longer able to discharge its duties. The elders will announce resignations to the church body.
Pursuant to the laws of the State of Texas the membership shall elect a board of trustees. This board shall consist of a minimum of three members, at least one of which shall be an elder or deacon. Trustees shall be elected from among the office bearers or the membership at large at a business meeting. The trustees shall hold in trust the church's property. They shall represent the church in legal matters but shall not act without a specific vote of the church authorizing such action. The trustees shall affix their signatures to legal documents where required. In the discharge of their duties, the trustees shall act only at the direction of the office bearers.
There shall be an annual business meeting for the hearing of various reports and the transaction of other necessary business. Additional business meetings may be called at other times at the discretion of the elders.
The annual business meeting shall be announced at least seven days prior to the meeting. Other business meetings shall be announced as far in advance as possible, but in no event less than forty-eight hours. In such cases the elders shall make every reasonable effort to inform the entire membership.
Members in good standing (not under corrective discipline) that are present shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. At the discretion of the elders a called business meeting may be postponed or canceled.
Church meetings shall be governed in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order.
The Pastor, or an Elder designated by the Pastor, shall preside at all business meetings.
(1) All members in good standing (not under corrective discipline) may vote on any question properly brought before the church.
(2) Unanimity shall be sought at all times. When unanimity is not realized, no less than a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting shall be required to validate a proposed action.
(3) At the discretion of the eldership, provision for voting in absentia may be made. In such cases where voting in absentia is allowed such a vote shall be considered as present and voting in its effect on any necessary majority.
The elders shall compose and enact such by-laws as they deem necessary for the implementation of this constitution. No by-law that is in violation of this constitution shall be valid. Once established, by-laws shall be announced to the congregation.
This constitution may be amended by a two-thirds majority vote of the members present and voting at a duly convened business meeting of the church.
No proposed amendment may be voted upon which has not been distributed to the membership at least two weeks prior to the business meeting designated.
In the event of the discontinuance of the organization of the First Baptist Church of Richland Hills by dissolution or otherwise, the assets are to be transferred to a religious organization under section 501 (C 3), Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended.
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Last Update: 10/14/2008
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First Baptist Church of Richland Hills
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.