Constitution of Lake Erie Bible Church
The following articles are submitted as a statement of purpose, essential doctrines, and government for Lake Erie Bible Church.
This constitution is current upon the date affixed and is subject to constant reappraisal by the Word of God, with updating or amendment as required.
Article I Purpose
The purpose of this local church is to present Bible doctrine by the historical, categorical, and exegetical method so that the individual believer might be sustained by the Word of God and the ministry of God the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26; 15:26; 16:13; 2 Tim 2:15; 3:16; Heb 4:12; 1 Jn 2:27); so that the believer might grow to a greater grace (Jam 4:6); so that the believer might do the work of the ministry (Eph 4:12); so that the believer might glorify God in time (Rom 15:6-7; 1 Pet 4:16).
Article II Statement of Essential Doctrines
The following are basic doctrines taught in the Bible and considered essential to this local church.
II. 1 The Word of God
We recognize and accept the authority, integrity and inerrancy of the Word of God, the Bible (Matt 5:18; Jn 16:12-13; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20-21). Further, the Bible is taken as sacred scripture from Genesis to Revelation, excluding the Apocrypha. Inerrancy is recognized as strictly pertaining only to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts (the autographs).
II. 2 The Trinity
We believe in the Triune God existing in three persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit while possessing the same attributes and being co-equal and co-eternal (Gen 1:26, note plural of Elohim with Us and Our; Deut 6:4; Isa 48:16; Matt 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14).
II. 3 Jesus Christ His Person and Work
We believe that Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity, who is eternally and fully God and came to earth to become fully man (the Hypostatic Union; Jn 1:14, compare Jn 1:1; Phil 2:5-8), who was born of a virgin named Mary and who died on the cross for the past, present, and future sins of the entire human race (1 Jn 2:2, compare Lk 1:35; Jn 1:1-2, 14; Rom 3:24-25; 4:25; 1 Pet 1:3,5), who received resurrection, ascension (Acts 1:1-11; 1 Cor 15:3-8) and session at the right hand of God the Father (Psa 110:1; Matt 22:44, 26:64; Mk 16:19; Eph 1:20-24), and who is now the believer’s High Priest, Representative, Intercessor, and Advocate (Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25, 9:24; 1 Jn 2:1-2).
II. 4 The Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity whose ministry is to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgement (Jn 16:8-11), and upon an individual’s faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:30-31) indwells that individual and baptizes the believer into the body of Christ (Rom 8:9-11; 1 Cor 6:19, 12:12-14; 2 Cor 3:6; Eph 1:13-14). Furthermore, when the believer and God are in fellowship (see 1 Jn 1:9 for the mechanics of restoring fellowship) the Holy Spirit fills, empowers and leads the believer (Rom 8: 14; Gal 5:18; Eph 5:18), and teaches the believer Bible doctrine (Jn 16:13; 1 Jn 2:27).
II. 5 The Total Depravity of Man
We believe that man was created in the image and likeness of God, but that in Adam’s sin the human race fell; that is, man inherited a sinful nature, became alienated from God, and consequently is totally unable to retrieve his original sinless condition based on his own merits and works (Gen 1:26-27; Rom 3:22-23; 5:12; Eph 2:12).
II. 6 Salvation
We believe that salvation is accomplished solely by believing in Jesus Christ as God incarnate (Jn 1:14, compare Jn 1:1; Jn 8:24,28,58, 13:19; Acts 16:30-31). We believe that salvation in every dispensation is the gift of God brought to man by grace and received by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ whose efficacious spiritual death on the cross provided man’s reconciliation to God. This salvation is received wholly apart from any personal merit or works by the believer, and is secured at the moment the person believes in Jesus Christ (Jn 1:12; Eph 1:7, 2:8-10; Ti 3:5).
II. 7 The Security of the Believer
We believe in the eternal security of the believer. Once an individual becomes saved, that salvation cannot be lost by any means whatsoever (Jn 6:37-40, 10:27-30; Rom 8:1, 38-39; 1 Cor 1:4-8; 1 Pet 1:5).
II. 8 The Church
We believe that the Church Universal, also known as the Bride of Christ (Rev 19:7, 21:9) and the Body of Christ (Rom 12:4-5; 1 Cor 10:17, 12:27; Eph 1:22-23, 5:25-27), is made up of all believers, irrespective of race, denominational affiliation, and geographical location (1 Cor 12:12-14; Gal 3:28).
II. 9 The Rapture
We believe that the great hope of the Church is the rapture, which is the sudden and immediate translation of all believers to meet Jesus Christ in the air, and thereafter remain with Him forever (1 Cor 15:51-57; 1 Thess 4:13-18; Ti 2:11-14; Rev 4:1ff). Further, we believe that the rapture will occur just prior to the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week (Dan 9:24-27), the latter half of which is the time of Jacob’s trouble, the Great Tribulation period (Jer 30:7; Matt 24:21; 1 Thess 5:1-9). This doctrinal view is commonly known as the Pretribulational Rapture interpretation.
II. 10 Satan
We believe that Satan is an angel, a fallen created being (Isa 14; Ezk 28) who is the open and declared enemy of God (Job 1:6-7; Matt 4:2-11).
II. 11 Second Coming
We believe that at the end of the Great Tribulation Jesus Christ will return to earth to set up His millennial kingdom and reign on earth (Zech 14:4-11; Matt 24:15-25; 2 Thes 1:7-10; Rev 20:6). This doctrinal view is commonly known as Premillennialism.
II. 12 Eternal State
We believe that the soul and human spirit of those who have believed in Jesus Christ do at death pass immediately into His presence and remain until His calling the church home (see II.9 The Rapture) whereupon the body, soul and spirit, shall be reunited for eternity (Lk 23:43; 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23; 1 Thess 4:16-17).
We believe that the soul of each unbeliever after death remains in a state of misery and separation from God until the Great White Throne judgement at the close of the millennium, when their soul and body are reunited and cast into the lake of fire to remain in a conscious state of torment and separation from God for eternity (Lk 16:14-26, compare Lk 23:43; Jude 6,7; Rev 20:11-15).
II. 13 Individual Responsibility
We believe that the believer is responsible to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18) through the consistent intake of Bible doctrine (Heb 10:25). We further hold that each believer is responsible to be a witness seeking to live the Christian life so as not to bring reproach upon their Lord and Savior (Phil 2:15; 1 Tim 5:5-7:14; Ti 2:6-8); to bear witness by life and by word to the truths of the Word of God (Jn 8:12; Eph 5:8; Col 4:6; 1 Jn 1:7); and to remember the work of the Lord in prayer (Eph 6:18) and support that work with their means as the Lord has prospered them (1 Cor 16:2; 2 Cor 9:6-7).
II. 14 Spirituality
We believe that spirituality is an absolute condition in the life of the believer wherein he is filled (controlled) by the Holy Spirit. The believer cannot be both spiritual and carnal at the same time (1 Cor 2:10, 12, 15; Eph 3:16, 5:18).
We believe that spirituality is distinct from maturity. Spirituality is the state of a believer when the Holy Spirit controls his/her life. Any sin, whether mental, verbal, or overt produces carnality and the believer remains in such state until he/she is restored solely by means of personal confession of sin (1 Jn 1:9, compare Jn 15:7-8; Rom 6:11-13; 1 Cor 11:30-31; Gal 5:16; Eph 5:8).
II. 15 Church Ordinances
We believe God has ordained two ordinances for His Church: Baptism by immersion and the Lord’s Supper (Matt 28:19-20, compare 1 Pet 3:21; Acts 8:12, 36-38; 1 Cor 1:14-17, 10:16, 11:23-26). Neither is required for salvation.
II. 16 Spiritual Gifts
We believe that God the Holy Spirit in grace, and apart from human merit, sovereignly bestows spiritual gifts to believers in this dispensation (1 Cor 12:11), commonly referred to as the Church Age. We further believe that certain spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible were temporary and ceased with the completion of the Canon of Scripture. Some of the spiritual gifts and offices extant today include Pastor-Teacher, administration, helps, giving and mercy. The temporary gifts and offices include Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, prophesy, speaking in tongues, interpreting of tongues, healing, and working of miracles (Rom 12:4-8 1 Cor 12; Eph 4:7-12).
Article III Tenets
This church shall not be associated, directly or indirectly, with the World Council of Churches or the National Council of Churches.
This church shall not surrender its local sovereignty to any denomination or other outside entity.
This church shall not be affiliated in any way with any political party. It can, however, encourage believers to perform their God-given responsibilities in and to the State.
This church shall not knowingly accept gifts from unbelievers.
This church shall not solicit funds, pledges or property from its members.
This church shall not engage in any enterprises unrelated to the propagation of the truth of God’s Word, the Bible.
Article IV Church Government
The government of this church shall be according to the following chain-of-command: pastor-teacher, then deacons, and then voting members of the congregation. The pastor-teacher is the final authority in spiritual matters and is responsible for the spiritual content and doctrinal edification of this local church. The deacons are responsible to carry out the administration of the affairs of this church under the spiritual leadership of the pastor-teacher (Acts 6:1-6).
The church board, hereafter referred to as “the Board”, shall consist of the pastor-teacher and the deacons. The Board shall meet at least quarterly throughout each fiscal year to conduct church business, and may meet more frequently as needed. A quorum of the Board shall be fifty percent of the Board membership, and a two-thirds or greater affirmative vote by the Board is required to pass any and all items of business. The fiscal year shall extend from January 1 to December 31.
Article V Church Membership
Membership shall not be solicited by this church in any manner. Anyone desiring information and/or membership may contact one of the deacons or the pastor. Requirements for membership are as follows:
V. 1. a
Belief in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
V. 1. b
Acknowledgement and acceptance of the authority of the pastor-teacher as God’s communicator of His Word in this local assembly.
V. 1. c
Acceptance of this church constitution and all that it prescribes.
Membership is open to men and women who are 18 years of age or older.
Members absent for an extended time span will, during periodic reviews by the Board, be placed in an “inactive” membership status. For reinstatement to “active” status a subsequent review by the Board is required. See Article VIII. 4 for the significance of active versus inactive status. Any member placed in inactive status for a period of six months will automatically be removed from the Church membership roll.
The Board may remove an individual from church membership, in accordance with the Articles of this constitution whether the individual is in an active or inactive status. A two-thirds or greater affirmative vote by the Board is required for any removal. When deemed appropriate and practical, written and/or face-to-face notification of the removal will be given. Anyone removed in this manner has the right to file a written appeal with the Board.
Article VI Legal Provisions
All church real estate and real property shall be under the direct supervision and direction of the Board. They shall act as trustees of the property and be responsible for maintenance, general upkeep, expansion, and legal ramifications of said property.
Any disbursement from $150 to $1000 shall be approved by the Treasurer (see Article X.5) who, in general, is responsible for the accounting of all money. Any amount over $1000 shall be approved by a two-thirds affirmative vote of the Board.
Any purchase, sale or transfer of real estate shall be approved by a two-thirds affirmative vote of the Board, followed by a two-thirds affirmative vote of the membership at a duly called Business meeting.
Article VII Worship Services
This church shall meet as often as established by the pastor-teacher, who also ultimately directs and confirms the various aspects of the church worship-service format. In the case of a pastoral vacancy the deacons shall decide.
Article VIII Business Meetings
A Congregational business meeting may be called at any time by the Board. At least one Annual Business meeting shall be held each fiscal year, sometime during the first quarter.
A Business meeting must be announced at least two weeks in advance, from the pulpit, with at least one announcement on each of the two Sundays immediately preceding the meeting. The general purpose of the meeting shall be included in the announcements.
A quorum shall be twenty percent of the voting members. A two-thirds or greater affirmative vote is required to pass any and all proposals.
Voting members are only those members who are in an active membership status.
The moderator of the meeting is to be Chairman of the Board. Under extenuating circumstances, with the approval of the pastor-teacher or, in the case of a pastoral vacancy, the Board, the Chairman may designate an alternate moderator
The chairman shall conduct all business in an orderly fashion. Order and decency are to be maintained by all members, and those not complying must leave if asked to do so, or possibly be subjected to disciplinary measures determined by the Board.
The method of voting shall be determined by the chairman. However, the use of a secret ballot must first be approved by a two-thirds or greater affirmative vote of the members, except for the following cases where a secret ballot is always required:
VIII. 7. a
The purchase, sale or transfer of real estate (see Article VI)
VIII. 7. b
The calling and election of a pastor-teacher.
VIII. 7. c
The election or affirmation of deacons.
Article IX Deacons
The Church derives its authority to select and elect Deacons from Act. 6:2-4.
The Pastor-Teacher shall determine the number of Deacons, but at no time shall there be less than two.
Qualifications for the Office of Deacon
IX. 3. a
The individual must be male.
IX. 3. b
The individual must meet the Biblical qualifications as set forth in 1Tim 3:3-12; Tit 1:5-6
IX. 3. c
The individual must be an active voting member of at least two years or charter member of Lake Erie Bible Church.
Term of Office
IX. 4. a
A Deacon shall serve for a term of two years, the parameter of each year being defined as the period of time between sequential Annual Business meetings of the Church Membership.
IX. 4. b
Any Deacon wishing to remain in office after any and each two year period will automatically be placed on a ballot for reaffirmation of vote by the Church Members.
IX. 4. c
The terms of office for all Deacons shall be staggered so that no more than one half of the existing Deacons serving at one time will come up for election or reaffirmation in any one year. In the event there is an odd number of Deacons, the number of Deacons to be voted upon will be adjusted with the odd number staggered every other year.
Nomination of New Deacons
IX. 5. a
The Congregation is exhorted to encourage qualified men to seek the office of Deacon. Any man determining that he meets the qualification for Deacon desiring to serve in this office is to contact the Pastor-Teacher.
IX. 5. b
The Pastor-Teacher upon interviewing the Deacon candidate, shall determine if the qualifications are met.
IX. 5. c
If the Pastor-Teacher determines that the qualifications are intact, he will submit the name of the Deacon candidate to the Board for nomination to the Church Membership. Upon a two-thirds approval vote by the Board, the Deacon candidate shall be placed in the list of Deacons to be voted upon at the next Annual Business meeting.
IX. 5. d
During the interim period between the Deacon candidate’s nomination by the Board and the Annual Business meeting, the Deacon candidate is subject to a period of testing by the Board and by two thirds approval by the Board may be removed for cause from the Deacon’s list for voting, at any time.
Election and Reaffirmation of Deacons
IX. 6. a
All Deacons shall be voted for election or reaffirmation at the Annual Business meeting of the Church Members.
IX. 6. b
The names of all Deacon candidates and Deacon incumbents shall be submitted to the Church Members via ballot.
IX. 6. c
For any Deacon candidate or incumbent to be elected or reaffirmed to Office, he must receive a majority of votes by the Church Membership.
IX. 6. d
The Church Members shall be instructed as to the number of Deacons needed to fill the available positions at that time.
IX. 6 e
The individuals receiving the highest number of votes over the majority shall fill the available positions.
IX. 6 f
In the event that there are more names submitted for voting than positions to be filled and there is not a majority of vote for a Deacon elect or incumbent necessary to fill all of the available positions, a new ballot will be submitted excluding the name(s) of any already elected via the majority and a recount to fill the remaining available positions will be made. In the event that there is still not a majority of vote for a Deacon, the remaining position(s) shall remain vacant and the remaining candidates and/or incumbents shall forfeit any right to Office.
IX. 6 g
In the event of a tie for any position, the Congregation shall break the tie in a runoff election.
IX. 6 h
A Deacon Candidate elect will assume the Office on the day of the election immediately at the close of the Annual Business meeting.
IX. 7 Termination of Office of an Existing Deacon
IX. 7 a
A Deacon is subject to automatic removal from office if determined by the majority of the Board that he refuses to serve in his assigned capacity, refuses to adhere to the governing rules and Biblical principles as outlined in this constitution, is absent from three consecutive or five regular Board meetings during any one year period without satisfactory reasoning acceptable to the Board or has failed to attend the regularly scheduled Bible Classes of the Church and would be placed on the “inactive” status of membership.
IX. 7 b
Otherwise, a Deacon can only be removed from office by a majority vote of the Church Members.
IX. 7 c
Any recommendation or accusations with the intent for removal of a Deacon may only be made by two or more active voting members (hereinafter referred to as “plaintiffs”) (1Tim 5:19) and must be made directly to the Board in person. The Deacon charged for removal (hereinafter referred to as “defendant”) must be present.
IX. 7 d
The Board will listen to all evidence and facts submitted by the plaintiffs as to the Biblical reasons why the defendant should be terminated from Office.
IX. 7 e
The Board will give the defendant opportunity for rebuttal and allow any witnesses on his behalf to be present and heard. The Board will allow the defendant time to prepare his rebuttal, but no longer than two weeks. The plaintiffs must be present during the rebuttal. In the event the plaintiffs fail to appear at the appointed time without reasoning satisfactory to the Board, the recommendation and all charges presented shall be dropped and removed from any written records. Furthermore, the plaintiffs will be given no further occasion to re-present their case.
IX. 7 f
The Board (excluding the Deacon defendant and/or another Board member(s) engaged as plaintiff(s)) will act as arbitration and render a unanimous decision of innocent (behalf of the defendant) or guilty (behalf of the plaintiff(s)). In the event that the defendant or plaintiffs refuse to accept the Board’s decision and wish to appeal, the Board will take the matter before the Church Membership. In the event a unanimous decision is unattainable by the arbitrators, the case will automatically go before the Congregation.
IX. 7 g
A Special meeting of the Church Members will be announced with a prior two-week notice given during a regular scheduled Bible Class. The Pastor-Teacher will act as moderator and reside over the meeting.
IX. 7 h
The defendant and plaintiffs will be given time to present their cases along with any witnesses on their behalf. The Church will vote by a show of hands as to remove or retain the Deacon in his office.
IX. 7 i
In the event that the plaintiff(s) or any plaintiff witness(s) is determined to have supplied false evidence, accusation or evidence without a corroborating witness (Mat 18:16) any time during the judicial process, the individual(s) is subject to immediate removal from Church Membership and possible dismissal from further attendance to this Church (Deu 19:16-21), as determined by the Board.
The office of Deacon shall be considered vacant via the death, resignation or removal of a Deacon. There shall be no temporary filling of vacancies. The filling of all vacancies will be determined according to the election rules heretofore in Articles IX.5 and IX.6. If the Board determines that it is necessary to fill the vacancy before the next scheduled Annual Business meeting, a Special meeting of Church Members shall be announced two weeks in advance.
Duties of the Deacons
IX. 9. a
To interpret this constitution;
IX. 9. b
To aid the Pastor-Teacher in shepherding the sheep;
IX. 9. c
To aid in reconciling differences as far as possible. In the event of necessary judicial proceedings, the process of Mat 18:15-17 will be strictly enforced and adhered to. In the event that either party in dispute is found to be a malicious witness, he/she/they are subject to the same consequences as heretofore described in Article IX. 7 i;
IX. 9. d
To make provision for the supply of the pulpit and its needs to include a vacancy of Pastor-Teacher;
IX. 9. e
To keep order in the assemblies of the members;
IX. 9. f
To act in cases of need for dismissal of members or the reception of new members;
IX. 9. g
To supervise and administer the related ministries of the Church;
IX. 9. h
To supervise and manage all disbursements of funds through the Finance Deacon, and provide detailed information on all business to the members and Pastor-Teacher;
IX. 9. i
To set salaries of the Pastor-Teacher and personnel of the Church;
IX. 9. j
To give counsel and comfort to the poor, the sick and the afflicted;
IX. 9. k
To hire and discharge personnel;
IX. 9. l
To ensure that each Bible Class is recorded via audio recording and that the recordings are made available upon request as long as financially feasible to do so.
Article X. — Church Officers
The Church Officers must be officiating members of the Board. Their appointment unless described differently herewithin shall be by two-thirds approval of the Board.
Chairman of the Board: The Pastor-Teacher shall be ex officio Chairman of the Board and all committees and subcommittees. He may at his discretion appoint a Deacon to act on his behalf as Chairman for the purpose of coordinating, residing and chairing all Board and Church meetings, unless prescribed otherwise in this constitution. The acting Deacon Chairman is limited in authority to only the duties as prescribed by the Pastor-Teacher in these matters. His appointment by the Pastor-Teacher must be approved by two-thirds of the Board. In the event of vacancy of Pastor-Teacher, the Board shall elect an existing Board member to temporarily fill the vacancy.
Vice-Chairman (to be appointed as the Board deems necessary)
Secretary: The Secretary shall keep the minutes of all Board and Business meetings of the Congregation, receive and issue notice of all business meetings of the Board and Congregation, be custodian of the corporate Seal and Records, keep current a roster of all Members with addresses, maintain a record of attendance at Board meetings, sign legal instruments authorized by the Board or Congregation and prepare the agenda of all Board and Congregational business meetings.
Treasurer: The Treasurer shall be responsible for the receipt, deposit and disbursement of all funds and securities by the Board and Congregation, keep books of account, render a current financial statement for Board meetings and the Annual Business meeting of Church Members and may if necessary sign legal instruments authorized by the Board or Congregation.
Any Officer may be removed for cause by an affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of the Board. Voting shall be at a duly called meeting of the Board.
Article XI. — Pastor-Teacher
In the event of a pastoral search for filling of a vacancy, a Search committee established by the Board will execute and oversee the search for potential qualified candidates. Only one candidate is subject to call at a time.
The Pastor-Teacher candidate on call must first subscribe to the church doctrinal statement and constitution in writing before further consideration is given. This shall also include the answering of an extensive doctrinal questionnaire to the satisfaction of the Search committee.
The Pastor-Teacher candidate on call may be recommended to the Church Membership by a two-thirds vote of the Search committee and two-thirds vote of the Board. The Pastor-Teacher candidate may be called to serve in Office by a two-thirds vote of Church Members.
The Pastor-Teacher shall not be subject to the authority of any other individual member of the Church, but is answerable to the Word of God and the governing rules, Biblical principles, doctrines and Articles as outlined in this Constitution. There will only be one Pastor-Teacher functioning in and/or holding office at any given time (Joh 10:1-5).
Termination of Office of Pastor-Teacher.
XI. 5 a
A Pastor-Teacher may be subject to automatic removal from office based on the following:
XI. 5 a (1)
Abandonment of his sheep. Abandonment is construed to include factual evidence of the Pastor-Teacher submitting resumes to other local churches for the purpose of filling a vacancy, evidence that the Pastor-Teacher is candidating another local church or evidence that the Pastor-Teacher is seeking employment that would of necessity cause him to relocate outside of the geographical periphery of Lake Erie Bible Church and hinder his execution of office.
XI. 5 a (2)
Refusal by the Pastor-Teacher to lead, guide and direct this Church and Membership Corporately in accordance to the guidelines, rules and doctrinal principles established in this constitution, unless clearly documented by the Word of God as otherwise.
XI. 5 b
Otherwise, a Pastor-Teacher may only be removed by three-quarters vote of Church membership and any accusations or recommendations for removal shall follow the same guidelines as established in Articles IX. 7 b through IX. 7 i heretofore mentioned.
Article XII. — Committees and Ministries
The appointment of Committees, subcommittees and Ministries deemed necessary and applicable to this local church shall be at the discretion of the Board. All Committees and Ministries shall have a Deacon to reside in authority over the Committee or Ministry. At no time will any Deacon reside over more that one Committee or Ministry at a time, unless otherwise approved by the Board.
Article XIII. — Amendments
Any and all amendments to this constitution must be approved by two-thirds of the Board, and two-thirds of the voting Membership of the Church. Voting by the Church Membership shall be held at a duly called Business meeting of the Church with a prior two-week advance notice. The voting members will be given copies of any amendments for study and evaluation upon the first announcement of said meeting.
Article XIV. — Designated Contributions
All designated contributions shall be used as directed if in keeping with the purpose and policy of the Church. However, the Board at its discretion is free to transfer funds within the Church accounts as deemed necessary to maintain sufficient funds for the overall general operation, needs and function of this local Church.