GOD, rich in mercy, has brought us together for our mutual benefit. Being born-again, Bible-believing Baptists, we set forth this Confession of Faith and Constitution to promote the more certain preservation and security of the principles of our faith. We intend that this body be governed in an orderly manner consistent with the teachings of the New Testament, preserving the liberties inherent in each member of this church and the freedom of action of this body.
Article I – NAME
The name of the church shall be “The First Baptist Church of Brownsdale, Minnesota.”
Article II – PURPOSE
The ultimate purpose of First Baptist Church is to glorify GOD. To accomplish this purpose, the church is committed to the work of the Great Commission; the making and maturing of disciples of Jesus Christ who are growing in Christ-likeness. For these ends, the church will diligently engage in evangelism (seeking the salvation of the lost through the preaching of the Gospel and personal witnessing), edification (strengthening believers through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word), fellowship (the mutual care of believers in the context of biblically loving relationships), and worship (showing the greatness and goodness of GOD both corporately in regular public services and personally in individual spiritual service). In doing so, the church will maintain a compassionate spirit toward the unsaved at home and around the world while promoting a high moral standard in the community and society at large.
Article III – DISTINCTIVES
First Baptist Church of Brownsdale is an independent, fundamental, Baptist church. First Baptist Church of Brownsdale holds to and is characterized by certain historic Baptist principles.
Biblical Authority: The Bible is the final authority in all matters of belief and practice because the Bible is inspired by God and bears the absolute authority of God. Whatever the Bible affirms, Baptists accept as true. No opinion or decree of any church group can override the Bible. Even creeds and confessions of faith, do not carry Scripture’s authority. (2 Timothy 3:15–17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:20, 21)
Autonomy of the Local Church: The local church is an independent body accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the church. All human authority for governing the local church resides within the local church. The church is self-governing. No hierarchy outside the local church may dictate the church’s beliefs or practices. A Baptist church may fellowship with other churches around mutual interests and in an associational tie, but a Baptist church cannot be a “member” of any other body. (Colossians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 8:1–5, 19, 23)
Priesthood of the Believer: “Priest” is defined as “one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God.” Every believer today is a priest of God and may enter His presence in prayer directly through our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. No other mediator is needed between God and people. As priests, we can study God’s Word, pray for others, and offer spiritual worship to God. We all have equal access to God—whether we are a preacher or not. (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Rev. 5:9, 10)
Two Ordinances: The local church should practice two ordinances: (1) baptism of believers by immersion in water, identifying the individual with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, and (2) the Lord’s Supper, or communion, commemorating His death for our sins. (Matthew 28:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 11:23–32)
Individual Soul Liberty: Every individual, whether a believer or an unbeliever, has the liberty to choose what he believes is right in the religious realm. No one should be forced to assent to any belief against his will. Baptists have always opposed religious persecution. However, this liberty does not exempt one from responsibility to the Word of God or from accountability to God Himself. (Romans 14:5, 12; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Titus 1:9)
Saved, Baptized Church Membership: Local church membership is restricted to individuals who give a believable testimony of personal faith in Christ and have publicly identified themselves with Him in believer’s baptism. When the members of a local church are believers, a oneness in Christ exists, and the members can endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Acts 2:41–47; 1 Cor 12:12; 2 Cor 6:14; Ephes. 4:3)
Two Offices: The Bible mandates only two offices in the church–pastor and deacon. The three terms “pastor,” “elder,” and “bishop,” or “overseer” all refer to the same office. The offices of pastor and deacon exist within the local church, not as a hierarchy outside or over the local church. 1 Tim. 3:1–13; Acts 20:17–38; Phil. 1:1)
Separation of Church and State: God established both the church and the civil government, and He gave each its own distinct sphere of operation. The government’s purposes are outlined in Romans 13:1–7 and the church’s purposes in Matthew 28:19 and 20. Neither should control the other, nor should there be an alliance between the two. Christians in a free society can properly influence government toward righteousness, which is not the same as a denomination controlling the government. (Matt 22:15–22; Acts 5:17–29)
Article IV – COVENANTS
Section 1 – Membership Covenant
Having been led by the Spirit of GOD to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and having been baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we do now in the presence of God, and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter covenant with one another as one body in Christ. We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness, and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spreading of the Gospel through all nations. We also engage to maintain family and personal devotions; to educate our children in the Christian faith; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, back-biting, and sinful anger; to abstain from the use of illicit drugs or intoxicating drinks; and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the cause of our Savior and His reign in our lives and His influence in the world. We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress.
Article V – MEMBERSHIP
Section 1 – The Meaning of Membership
a. Membership in First Baptist Church of Brownsdale conveys privileges and rights. Not only does membership provide the believer with a sense of belonging, but it gives him or her a ready means of identifying his or her beliefs and position before the world. Membership also provides a basic qualification for service in the church, the holding of any office, and participation in church business affairs.
b. Membership involves serious responsibility and commitment to the cause and testimony of Jesus Christ. Members should therefore refrain from worldliness that detract from that testimony, give occasion for stumbling to other believers, or hinder the member’s own spiritual growth and service, John 17:15-17; I Cor. 6:12, 8:13; Col. 3:1-3; Heb. 12:1; and I John 2:15-17. Despite the occasional failure of some members to live in accordance with their high calling in Christ, the membership at large should have a testimony before GOD and man of living holy lives. By joining, each member consents to the necessity of avoiding worldliness, seeks to remove each manifestation of it from his own life, encourages fellow believers to live godly lives, aids in the restoration of fallen brethren, and jealously guards his or her own reputation and that of the church body.
c. Each member should gladly lend his or her wholehearted support not only to his or her own area of service and concern, but to the total church program. Only when each member fulfills his or her own special role and cooperates with the entire ministry of the church can the purpose of the church be realized.
Section 2 – Qualification for Membership
a. Each candidate for membership of First Baptist Church must meet certain qualifications to become a member:
1) Be a professing and practicing believer in the Lord Jesus Christ;
2) Be able to give clear testimony of his or her conversion;
3) Have been baptized by immersion after conversion, and
4) Believe the Confession of Faith and agree to abide by this Constitution.
b. Each candidate for membership of First Baptist must give satisfactory evidence in his or her life of having been born again (John 3:3) and must meet one of the following conditions:
1) If he or she holds membership in a church of like faith, it must be confirmed by contact with the former church that he or she is a member in good standing.
2) If he or she does not hold membership at another church, they must either have been baptized at First Baptist Church, or must provide evidence of baptism by immersion after conversion. Prior to becoming a member, each potential member must meet with the pastor and deacons for confirmation of the above qualifications.
Section 3 – Status of Members
a. Active: To be considered an active member of the church in good and regular standing, a member must attend at least one regularly-scheduled services quarterly and not be under church discipline. These attendance requirements do not apply to shut-ins, missionaries serving in other areas, those who spend brief periods out of state, and other exceptions which may be approved by the deacons. Only active members who have reached their eighteenth birthday have voting privileges.
b. Inactive: Failure to attend the services as stated above shall be sufficient grounds for dropping of the name from active and placing it on the inactive roll. Names shall be carried on the inactive roll for six months. During this time, every effort shall be made by the pastor and deacons to re-establish the member’s fellowship with the church. If the member shows no interest, the deacons may recommend to the church that the name be dropped from the church roll.
Section 4 – Reception of Members
The names of those recommended by the deacons for church membership may be presented and voted on at a regular church service or any regular business meeting.
Section 5 – Duties of Members
a. Each member is expected to conduct himself or herself in daily life to give evidence of being possessed by the Spirit of Christ and agreeing with the Confession of Faith.
b. Each member should regularly attend services of the church.
c. Each member is expected to volunteer to serve within the limits of his or her God-given gifts and abilities.
Section 6 – Discipline of Members
In all matters of discipline or doctrinal heresy, this church must adhere faithfully to the teachings in Matt. 18:15-17, and all differences between members must be settled by this rule. In case of gross and flagrant violation of Christian conduct forbidden in Scripture, and after restoration is diligently sought through Christian counsel by the pastor and the deacons, the accused may, upon recommendation of the deacons and the two-thirds vote of the church, be dismissed from church membership for conduct unbecoming to a Christian. Prior to the vote of the church the accused shall be advised by letter of the pending action and given a final opportunity to repent of sin, ask for forgiveness, and be restored to fellowship.
Section 7 – Termination of Membership
The name of any member shall be removed from the church roll when one of the following conditions exist:
a. Active members who join a church of like faith and practice shall be granted, upon request, letters of transfer.
b. Any member wishing to unite with a church other than the above (Section 7a) shall be granted a certificate of standing to date. No church action is required.
c. Upon death.
d. In the case of active members who request that their membership be dropped from First Baptist Church without having joined another church of like faith and practice or who have serious unresolved issues, church action is required.
e. Continuous inactivity as described under Section 3. Church action is required.
f. Dismissal as described in Section 6. In cases requiring church action, there shall first be a recommendation to the church presented by the deacons at any regular church service or any regular business meeting.
Article VI – CHURCH GOVERNMENT
The government of First Baptist Church is vested in the body of voting members that make up the church. This government is democratic in its operation. While the church recognizes other churches of like faith, it remains independent and assumes full responsibility for its actions and decisions.
Article VII – CONGREGATIONAL MEETINGS
Section 1 – For Worship
Unless otherwise scheduled, the church shall meet each Sunday for worship, and at least once during the week for Bible study and prayer. The Lord’s Supper will be, when possible, on the first Sunday of every month except by special arrangement of the pastor.
Section 2 – For Business
a. The fiscal year of the church shall close on the last day of December.
b. Quarterly business meetings shall be held on the second Thursday (as possible) in January, April, July and October. The January meeting shall be designated the Annual Business Meeting, at which the budget for the following fiscal year shall be presented by the deacons to the church membership for approval and at which the officers for the ensuing year shall be elected.
c. Special business meetings for the business that cannot wait for a regular business meeting may be called by the pastor or the deacons. All such meetings shall be publicly announced from the pulpit on the Sunday preceding.
d. Only active members who have attained the age of eighteen years shall be entitled to the right to speak or vote at any regular, special, or annual business meeting of the church.
e. Unless otherwise specified, Robert’s Rule of Order shall be the parliamentary guide in all matters of business.
f. All business meetings shall be opened with prayer and conducted decently and in order. Normally, the pastor shall be the presiding officer. If he is absent, or, if in the judgment of the deacons they feel another moderator should be elected, either the head deacon or another member of the church shall be nominated by the deacons and elected by the congregation as the first order of business.
g. A quorum shall consist of 20% of the active members who are of voting age and shall be required for all church business meetings. Church action shall be determined by the majority of those voting except as otherwise specified in this constitution.
Article VIII – OFFICERS
Section 1 – Pastor
a. The pastor shall be called at a special or regular meeting of the church, public notice of such action having been given from the pulpit two Sundays immediately preceding the date of the meeting and a favorable vote of three-fourths of the ballots cast shall be necessary for his election.
b. The pastor shall continue in office until he resigns or until his ministry is terminated at a special meeting called for that purpose in the following manner. A special meeting of the church shall be called by the deacons upon two-thirds vote of the deacons for taking a vote of confidence. Notice of such a meeting shall be given on two successive Sundays immediately preceding the meeting. At such meeting the head deacon or someone designated by them shall state that a vote of confidence has been called for and shall proceed to take a vote by ballot. A majority vote of the active members present having reached the age of eighteen shall be necessary to give a vote of confidence, which shall mean that the ministry of the pastor shall continue. Should the vote of confidence not be sustained, it shall thereby be due notice to the pastor that his term of office shall cease immediately. The deacons shall, at their discretion, have authority to pay him for a period not to exceed two months.
c. The pastor shall give to the church at least one month’s notice of the termination of his duties. The resignation of the pastor may be submitted to the church at any regular service and a vote by the church is not necessary to make it effective.
d. The qualifications of the pastor include the following:
2. He must subscribe to the Confession of Faith and must support the Constitution of the church.
3. He must be mature. He should have completed at least an undergraduate degree.
4. He must be a male heterosexual. It is recommended he be married.
e. The duties of the pastor, in addition to those outlined in other portions of this constitution, are to:
1. Have the oversight of the total church, Acts 20:28.
3. Watch for the souls as one who must give account, Heb. 13:17.
4. Warn and teach in order that every believer may be mature in Christ Jesus, Col. 1:28.
5. Have the oversight of the church staff.
6. Be an ex-officio member of all church committees, boards and organizations.
7. Officiate at such occasions as usually fall to the pastor of the church.
8. Supervise the administration of the ordinances.
9. Designate other men of GOD to supply the pulpit for special meetings or in his necessary absence, whether because of illness, vacation, other ministry, or any other reason that makes it impossible or impractical for him to conduct the ministry at that time.
10. Be subject to the deacons in the areas of frequency of absence and the commitment to outside activities.
Section 2 – Church Staff
a. When the services of paid personnel, other than the pastor, to include an associate pastor, are needed, the church shall hear the recommendation of the deacons (setting forth the title of the position, the functions to be performed, and the pay and benefits) and may authorize the creation of such positions.
b. The church shall then look to the pastor to recommend to the deacons the person to be employed in the position created. Upon the approval of the deacons, the person would be employed for the position. In addition, pastoral staff appointments must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the church. The term of office shall be unlimited. The same procedure shall be followed for securing replacement in the event of a vacancy, if the pastor or deacons deem the services are needed at the time of the vacancy.
c. The services of a person employed under this policy may be terminated by the pastor. When the pastor dismisses the person, knowledge of this shall be made available to the deacons; however, the pastor is not required to state the reasons to the deacons if in his judgment the church can best be served by keeping the reason confidential.
d. All paid personnel, commonly known as the staff, are directly responsible to the pastor in the performance of their duties. Loyalty to the church and its leadership is expected. They must subscribe without reservation to the Confession of Faith and must support the Constitution of the church.
e. Each staff member must understand that continuance of his or her ministry is subject to either the pastor or, in the event of a vacant pastorate, the deacons.
Section 3 – Deacons
The church shall elect deacons to serve its members. The number of deacons shall be determined by the congregation upon recommendation by the pastor and deacons. Each deacon shall serve for a term of three years and may be re-elected for successive terms if the church so chooses.
a. The qualifications of the deacon include the following:
2. He must be a male heterosexual. It is recommended that he be married.
3. He must agree to the Confession of Faith and must support the constitution of the church.
4. He has reached the age of 20. He must have been a member of First Baptist Church for at least six months.
b. The general duties of the deacons include:
1. Careful and prayerful practice of the standards set forth in I Tim. 3:8-13.
2. Election from their number of a head deacon and secretary. The pastor may serve as moderator.
3. Discharge of duties relating to membership, finance, and property (see Article VII, Sections 3c-f).
4. Co-operation with and assistance for the pastor and his staff in the performance of their duties.
5. Serving as a Nominating Committee that presents annually to the church nominees for its various offices.
6. Determination of the duties and qualifications for each appointed office of the church.
7. Serving as a Pulpit Committee when a vacancy in the pastorate occurs (see Article VIII, Section 1).
8. Recommendation for licensing or ordination of candidates for the ministry.
9. Assistance for the pastor in the preparation and distribution of the elements of the Lord’s Table and assistance in the baptismal services.
c. Duties of the deacons relating to membership shall be:
1. To interview all prospective members concerning their personal faith in Jesus Christ and to recommend to the church those whom they feel should become members of the church.
2. To provide each new candidate for membership with a copy of the church constitution.
3. To examine the church roll to bring it up to date (see Article IV, Section 7) and to serve the church bringing recommendations relative to church discipline (see Article IV, Section 6).
4. To assist in making members and visitors feel welcomed at each service of the church.
5. To perform a shepherding ministry for members of the church that the pastor places under his care. This care will include prayer, social contact, and practical helps.
d. Duties of the deacons relating to financial affairs shall be:
1. To prepare an annual budget for presentation to the church.
2. To ensure that all church accounts are audited annually.
e. Selection of deacons: Deacons shall be selected from among the congregation by election, Acts 6. After careful and prayerful consideration of the Biblical requirements and qualifications of deacons as found in 1 Tim. 3:8-13, the voting members of the congregation will select men they believe qualify to serve in that office. The congregation will be given a ballot containing the names of all men from among them who are eligible to serve as deacon. Voting members shall select the number of men needed to fill the open deacon positions. Those who have been selected by the congregation and screened by the deacons will be contacted to determine their willingness to serve. Selected deacons will be appointed and contacted in order from the highest votes received to the lowest.
f. Removal of deacons: In the event a deacon’s life gives evidence of failure to maintain his qualifications for office or if he is negligent in his duties as a deacon, a special congregational meeting for considering his removal from office may be called upon the recommendation of two-thirds of the other deacons. The failure of the deacon to sustain a majority vote of confidence would result in his immediate removal from office.
Section 4 – Trustees
a. Principal Function: To serve as a Church trustee responsible for the legal and financial interest of the Church and all real property of the Church. The trustee shall, as provided by law and by the action of the Church, hold in trust the titles and legal papers to all the properties of the Church. The originals of these titles and papers are to be kept in a bank safe deposit box. The trustees are the only one’s authorized by the Church to enter into any legal contract of any kind on behalf of the Church.
b. Qualifications: The trustee is to be a growing Christian, an active member in good standing of the Church demonstrating a committed walk with Christ. Support the local Church faithfully in attendance and finances. The trustee shall be bonded for the protection of all interests of the Church.
c. Staff Relationship: Under the direct supervision of the senior pastor and the deacon body. If the senior pastor and deacons determine an issue needs to be brought before the Church, the trustees will make an appropriate recommendation to the Church for a vote.
d. Duties and Responsibilities: Have knowledge and expertise in the legal and financial operations of the church. Custodian of the Church property, including its proper maintenance and insurance, etc. Serve as the official, legal servants in matters of Church business. Serve as signatories in legal and financial matters on behalf of the church, particularly as property and financial contracts are involved. Responsible for annual inventory and an accounting of Church equipment. Any equipment or furnishings removed from Church property must be approved by the trustees. Approval may be granted by one or more trustees.
Section 5 – Other Officers
a. Clerk: The church shall elect a clerk who serves for three years. The clerk’s duties include:
1. Keeping an accurate record of all the proceedings of the church.
2. Keeping a record of the membership of the church showing last known address, and the date and manner of their admission and/or removal.
3. Placing in a safe place all records, papers, and documents belonging to the church which need to be preserved. Such official papers must not be removed without the knowledge and consent of the deacons.
b. Treasurer: A treasurer shall be chosen for a three-year term by the recommendation of the deacons and approval of the church. The duties of the treasurer shall be to:
1. Recommend to the deacons for their approval those to serve as financial secretaries and to supervise their work in receiving and banking monies, preparing individual records of giving at the year’s end, and handling the church bookkeeping records.
2. Be authorized to sign checks for and on behalf of the church whether for payment or deposit.
3. Render a current report at each quarterly business meeting, and the annual meeting. The reports to the church must be in writing and show the exact condition of the church finances. Each report must be filed with the church clerk as a part of the church records.
Article IX – CHURCH COMMITTEES
The Pastor and Deacons are authorized to create any committee deemed desirable to the furtherance of the church’s activities and are authorized to appoint individuals and assign responsibilities to the committees.
Section 1 – Pulpit Committee
Whenever a vacancy in the pastorate occurs, the deacons shall serve as a Pulpit Committee. While the church is without a pastor, this committee secures preachers and provides leadership.
Section 2 – Nominating Committee
The deacons serve as the Nominating and Screening Committee, the responsibility of which is to present annually to the church, nominees for its various elected offices (i.e. clerk, treasurer, etc.).
Article X – ORGANIZATIONS
Subsidiary organizations may be established as a part of the church’s overall program when advisable. All such organizations shall be governed by this constitution and responsible to the deacons and the church. Officers must be members of the church and be approved by the deacons.
Article XI – FINANCIAL POLICY
Section 1 – Raising Funds
First Baptist Church is supported by the gifts and offerings of GOD’s people. All monies shall be deposited as directed by the church treasurer weekly. When church functions are held, any expenses may be defrayed by, a love offering, or payment within the established budget of the church.
Section 2 – Special Offerings and Designated Gifts
All special offerings shall be given to the person or group that is announced before the offering is taken. First Baptist Church only takes special offerings and accepts designated gifts for individuals, organizations, or projects that agree with the position and plans of the church, and that have been approved by the pastor and deacons.
Article XII – DISSOLUTION
Should the need arise for the dissolution of First Baptist Church of Brownsdale, MN, the same shall be accomplished in full compliance with the requirements and terms of the State of Minnesota. After all its financial debts have been satisfied, the church’s remaining assets shall be assigned to one or more ministries of like faith and practice, by vote of the congregation and in conformity with the requirements of the codes of the US Internal Revenue Service.