Bylaws of First Baptist Church of Rainsville
A Non-Profit Corporation
Article 1 – Church Membership
Section 1.1 – General Qualifications and Procedures
This is a sovereign and democratic Baptist church under the lordship of Jesus Christ. The membership retains unto itself the exclusive rights of self-government in all phases of the spiritual and temporal life of this church.
The membership reserves the exclusive right to determine who shall be members of this church and the condition of such membership.
The membership of the church shall consist of those persons who profess their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, giving satisfactory proof of conversion to the Christian faith, as set forth in the New Testament, who have petitioned the said church for membership and have been accepted by two-thirds of the members of said church present and voting at the time of the reception of such members and who has enjoyed the ordinance of believers’ baptism and have indicated their commitment following the teachings of the Bible as their model and standard of living.
Section 1.2 – Candidacy
Any person may offer himself as a candidate for membership in this church. All such candidates shall be presented to the church at any regular church service for membership in any of the following ways, according to the policies of the church:
- For persons making a public profession of faith.
- For persons who have experienced salvation but have not experienced believers’ baptism by immersion.
- Promise of a letter of recommendation from another Baptist church
By Statement of Faith
- For persons who have experienced salvation followed by believers’ baptism by immersion, by another Baptist church (or church of like doctrine), but are either not now Baptist, or no record is available.
- For restoration upon a statement of repentance and rededication of persons who have been removed from the fellowship of a Baptist church for reasons of discipline.
A two-thirds vote of those church members present and voting shall be required to elect such candidates to membership. If there is any dissent as to any candidate, such dissent shall be referred to the Membership Committee or Deacons for investigation and the making of a recommendation to the church within thirty (30) days. A two thirds vote of those church members present and voting shall be required to elect such candidates to membership.
Section 1.3 – New Member Orientation
New members of this church are expected to participate in the church’s new member orientation, according to the policies of this church.
Section 1.4 – Rights of Members
- Every member of the church is entitled to vote at all elections and on all questions submitted to the church in conference, provided the member is present according to the policies of the church.
- Every member of the church is eligible for consideration by the membership as candidates for elective offices in the church according to the policies of the church.
- Every member of the church may participate in the ordinances of the church as administered by the church according to the policies of the church.
Section 1.5 – Termination of Membership
Membership shall be terminated according to the policies of this church in the following ways:
- Death of member
- Joining another Baptist church
- Exclusion by action of this church
- Erasure upon request
- Proof of membership in a church of another denomination
Section 1.6 – Conflict Resolution
This church is committed to resolving, in a Biblical manner, all conflict that may arise within the body. This commitment is based on God’s command that Christians should strive to live at peace with one another
(see Matthew 5:9; John 17:22-23; Romans 12:18; Ephesians 4:1-3) and that when disputes arise, Christians should resolve them according to the principles set forth in Scripture (see Proverbs 19:11; Matthew 5:23-25;
Matthew 18:15-20; I Corinthians 6:1-8; Galatians 6:1). We believe that these commands and principals are an obligation to every Christian and are essential to the unity, health, and witness of the church.
When a member of this church has a conflict with, or is concerned about the behavior of another member, he/she shall attempt to resolve it in the following manner:
- The offended or concerned person shall prayerfully examine himself or herself and take responsibility for their contribution to the problem (Matthew 7:3-5), and shall prayerfully seek to discern whether the offense is so serious that it cannot be overlooked (Proverbs 19:11; 15:18; 17:14; 20:3; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13; I Peter 4:8)
- If the offense is too serious to be overlooked, the offended party shall go, several times if necessary, and attempt to resolve the matter personally and privately. In this interaction, the offended party shall quickly confess his/her own wrongdoing, and seek forgiveness.
- If the offender will not listen, and if the problem is too serious to overlook, the offended person shall return with one or two mature Christian people to help in the resolution of the differences. These other people are to serve more as mediators than as champions of a side. These other people should preferably be recognized leaders in the church or trained Christian mediators from the associational or denominational structure.
- At the request of either party to the dispute, the church leadership shall make every effort to assist in resolving the differences and affecting reconciliation.
- Before the matter is taken to the congregation, according to the directed procedure of Matthew 18:15-17, the congregational leaders should seek counsel and mediation assistance from the association, the state convention, the officer of LeaderCare at LifeWay, or a recognized ministry of Christian conciliation, such as Peacemakers Ministries.
Section 1.7 – Discipline
It shall be the practice of this church to emphasize to its members that every reasonable measure will be taken to assist any troubled member. The pastor as well as other members of the church staff and deacons are available for counsel and guidance. The attitude of members toward one another shall be guided by a concern for redemption rather than punishment (Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 6:1-2).
Should some serious condition exist which would cause a member to become a liability to the general welfare of the church, the pastor and the deacons will take every reasonable measure to resolve the problem in accord with Matthew 18. If it becomes necessary for the church to take action to exclude a member, a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting is required, and the church may proceed to declare the person to be no longer in the membership of the church. A spirit of Christian kindness, forbearance, and reconciliation shall pervade all such proceedings.
The church may restore to membership any person previously excluded, upon request of the excluded person, and upon established evidence set forth by the church policy of the excluded person’s repentance and reformation. Such restoration shall be by two-thirds of the members present and voting.
Article 2 – Church Covenant
The church covenant will be listed in the policies and procedures document.
Article 3 – Church Officers
The officers of this church shall be the Pastor, the Ministerial Staff, the Deacons, a Moderator, a Clerk, a Treasurer, and Trustees. All who serve as officers of the church shall be members of this church.
Section 3.1 – Trustees
The church shall elect five (5) Trustees to serve as legal officers on behalf of the church. Upon a specific vote of the church authorizing each action, they shall have the power to buy, sell, mortgage, lease, or transfer any church property. When the signatures of the Trustees are required, they shall sign legal documents involving the sale, mortgage, purchase, or rental of property, or other legal documents related to church-approved matters.
Trustees shall serve on a rotation basis, with at least one new Trustee being elected every year for a term of five years.
Section 3.2 – Moderator
The pastor shall serve as the Moderator for the church and as its presiding officer for church business meetings. In the absence of the pastor, or as necessary, the pastor shall appoint the Chairman of Deacons to preside; or in the absence of both, the clerk shall call the church to order and preside for the election of a Moderator.
Section 3.3 – Clerk
The church shall elect annually a Clerk as its clerical officer. The Clerk shall be responsible for supervising the keeping of a suitable record of all official actions of the church, except as otherwise herein provided. The Clerk shall be responsible for the keeping of a register of names of members, with dates of admission, dismissal, death, or erasure, together with a record of baptisms. The Clerk shall issue letters of dismissal voted by the church, preserve on file all communications and written official reports, and give required notice of all meetings where notice is necessary, as indicated in these bylaws. The Clerk shall be responsible for preparing the annual profile of the church to the local association.
The church may delegate some of all of the clerical responsibilities to a secretary who will assist the elected Clerk. All church records are church property and shall be kept in the office when an office is maintained.
Section 3.4 – Parliamentarian (optional)
The church may select annually a Parliamentarian. In the absence of the Parliamentarian, the Chairman of the Deacons shall serve; or in the absence of all, the Moderator shall call the church to order and preside for the selection of an acting Parliamentarian.
Section 3.5 - Church Treasurer
The church shall elect annually a Church Treasurer as its financial officer. It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to receive, preserve, and pay out, upon receipt of vouchers approved and signed by authorized personnel, all money as well we account for things of value paid or given to the church, keeping at all times an itemized account of all receipts and disbursements of the preceding month. The Treasurer’s report and records shall be audited annually by an auditing committee or public accountant. The Treasurer shall be bonded, the church paying the bond.
Upon rendering the annual account at the end of the fiscal year and its acceptance and approval by the church, the records shall be delivered by the Treasurer to the Church Clerk, who shall keep and preserve the account as a part of the permanent records of the church.
The church may delegate some or all of the Treasurer’s responsibilities to a secretary or financial assistant who will assist the elected Treasurer.
Article 4 – Deacons
Section 4.1 – Composition
There shall be three (3) active Deacons for each one hundred (100) resident church members or major fraction thereof.
(Example: with three hundred (300) members, the church should have nine (9) active Deacons, but with three hundred fifty one (351) resident members, the church may have twelve (12) active Deacons)
Section 4.2 – Qualifications
See: 1 Timothy 3:8-13
Section 4.3 – Nomination/Election
Deacons shall be added to the active body of Deacons as vacancies occur or as the growth of resident church membership increases the need for more Deacons. The church shall elect active Deacons from those names recommended by the active Deacons serving. There is no obligation to constitute as an active Deacon a person who comes to the church from another church where he has served as a Deacon.
Section 4.4 – Ordination
Deacons not previously ordained through this church or another church recognized and accepted by the active Deacon body must be ordained before becoming active Deacons. Deacon ordination should be at a called ordination service for the purpose of ordaining men into active service. This service shall be called only after examination of the candidate(s) by the ordained men of the church and other invited ordained Baptist men.
Section 4.5 – Officers
The Deacons shall elect annually a chairman, vice chairman, secretary, and others as they shall deem necessary. The election shall be conducted at a meeting prior to the election of new Deacons who are to be activated.
Section 4.6 – Responsibilities
In accordance with the meeting of the work and practice in the New Testament, Deacons are to be servants of the church. Their task is to serve with the Pastor and staff in performing the pastoral ministry tasks of:
- Leading the church in the achievement of its mission
- Proclaiming the Gospel to believers and unbelievers
- Caring for the church’s members and other persons in the community
Section 4.7 – Meetings
The Deacons shall hold regular Deacon’s meetings as designated by church policy.
Section 4.8 – Removal
The Deacons shall serve on a continuous basis. Deacons may be removed from active service due to resignation, death, incapacitation, or by a vote of all the active Deacon body. Majority vote by the Deacon body shall constitute removal.
Article 5 – Church Staff
Section 5.1 – Purpose and Responsibility
The church’s staff is responsible for supporting the church to function as a New Testament church. The Pastor is responsible for leading the congregation, the ministry organizations, and the church staff to perform their tasks.
Section 5.2 – Composition
The church staff shall consist of the Pastor and other staff as designated by church policy.
The Pastor is leader of the pastoral ministries in the church. As such, he works with the Deacons and Church Staff to:
- Lead the church in the achievement of its mission
- Proclaim the Gospel to believers and unbelievers
- Care for the church’s members and other persons in the community
The church shall provide a job description to aid in the understanding of these tasks.
- The Ministerial Staff shall be called and employed as the church determines the need for such offices. A job description shall be written when the need for a staff member is determined. Those staff members, of whom the church requires evidence of a personal call of God to minister, shall be recommended to the church by the Personnel Committee and called by church action.
- Ministry Support Staff shall be called and employed to assist the pastoral staff as the church determines the need for such offices. A job description shall be written when the need for a staff member is determined. Those staff members, of whom the church requires evidence of a personal call of God to minister, shall be recommended to the church by the Personnel Committee and called by church action.
- Church Support Staff (non-ministerial staff) members shall be employed as the church determines the need for their services. The church Personnel Committee shall have the authority to employ and to terminate services of non-ministerial staff members. Such employment and termination of services shall be with the recommendation of the supervising staff member and, as appropriate, with the consultation of related committees of the church.
Section 5.3 – Call and Termination of the Pastor
A Pastor shall be chosen and called by the church whenever a vacancy occurs. The election shall take place at a meeting called for that purpose, of which at least one week’s public notice has been given.
A Pastor Search Committee shall be elected by the church to seek out a suitable Pastor and its recommendations will constitute a nomination. Any church member my have the privilege of making other nominations according to the policy established by the church. The Committee shall bring to the consideration of the church only one name at a time. Election shall be by ballot, and affirmative vote of three-fourths (3/4) of those present and voting being necessary for a call. The Pastor, thus elected, shall serve until the relationship is terminated by his request or the church’s request. He shall preside at meetings of the church and serve as Moderator in all business meetings in keeping with the rules of order authorized by these bylaws.
The Pastor my relinquish the office as Pastor by giving at least thirty (30) days notice to the church at the time of resignation.
The church may declare the office of Pastor to be vacant. Such action shall take place at a meeting called for that purpose, of which at least one week’s written notice has been given. The meeting may be called upon the recommendation of a majority of Deacons. The Moderator for this meeting shall be an outside person (the Director of Missions or appropriate representative of the State Board of Missions) or failing that, a person designated by the members present by majority vote, and he shall be someone other than the Pastor. The vote to declare the office vacant shall be by ballot; an affirmative vote of a two-third (2/3) majority of the members present and voting being necessary to declare the office vacant. Except in the instance of gross misconduct by the Pastor, a severance package for compensation will be recommended by the Deacons and must be approved by a majority vote of the church.
The Pastor and church may, by mutual agreement, forgo the requirement for notice. Such agreement shall be in writing and shall be signed by the Pastor and the Chairman of Deacons.
Section 5.4 – Call and Termination of Members of the Ministerial Staff and Support Staff
The Ministerial Staff and Support Staff shall be called or employed as the church determines the need for such offices. A job description shall be written when the need for a Ministerial Staff or Support Staff member is determined. All Ministerial Staff and Support Staff members shall be recommended to the church by the Personnel Committee and called by church action.
At the time of resignation, at least two (2) weeks’s notice shall be given to the church. The church may vote to vacate such positions upon recommendation of the Personnel Committee, such termination being immediate and the compensation conditions being the same as for the Pastor, except that the amount shall be recommended by the Personnel Committee and must be approved by a majority vote of the church.
Such agreement shall be in writing and shall be signed by the staff member, the Pastor, the Chairman of Deacons, and the Chairman of the Personnel Committee.
Article 6 – Church Leadership Team/Church Council
The Church Leadership Team (or Church Council) shall serve the church by leading in planning, coordinating, conducting, and evaluating the ministries and programs of the church and its organizations. The primary functions of the Church Leadership Team (or Church Council) shall be to recommend to the church suggested objectives and church goals; to review and coordinate ministry and program plans recommended by church officers, organizations, and committees; to recommend to the church the use of leadership, calendar time, and other resources according to ministry priorities; and to evaluate achievement in terms of church objectives and goals.
Regular members of the Church Leadership Team (or Church Council) shall be the pastor, other church staff members, directors of church ministry (programs) organizations, church ministry (program) services, Chairman of Deacons, church officers, and chairpersons of church administrative committees (or teams).
Ex-officio members of the Church Leadership Team (or Church Council) shall be the chairpersons of church regular committees and special committees, teams, and task forces.
All matters agreed upon by the Church Leadership Team (or Church Council) which call for action not already approved shall be referred to the church for approval or disapproval.
Article 7 – Church Committees and Teams
All who serve on church committees shall be members of this church. All church committee members shall be recommended by the church nominating committee and elected by the church, unless otherwise specified within these by-laws.
Section 7.1 – Standing/Permanent Committees and/or Teams
The Standing/Permanent (administrative) Committees of this church shall include a Nominating Committee, Personnel Committee, Church Building and Ground Committee, Stewardship (financial) Committee, and such other Standing/Permanent (administrative) Committees as the church shall authorize. Additional administrative committees may be added by the amendment procedure prescribed within these by-laws. Members of these committees shall serve on a three (3) year rotation basis with one third (1/3) to be elected each year.
- The Nominating Committee
The church Nominating Committee coordinates the staffing of all church leadership positions filled by the volunteer workers, unless otherwise specified herein. Persons considered for any such positions shall be approved by the Nominating Committee before they are approached for recruitment. The Nominating Committee shall present to the church for election all that accept the invitation to serve.
- Personnel Committee
The church Personnel Committee assists the church in matters related to staff and employed personnel administration. Its work includes such areas as determining staff needs, employment salaries, benefits, other compensations, policies, job descriptions, and personnel services.
- Church Building and Grounds Committee
The church Building and Grounds Committee assists the church in matters related to property administration. Its work includes such areas as maintaining all church properties for ready use, recommending policies regarding use of properties, consulting with the Personnel Committee and the Ministerial Staff regarding the needs for, and the employment of maintenance personnel, and regarding the assignment of supervisory responsibility to appropriate personnel.
- Stewardship (financial) Committee
The church Stewardship (financial) Committee develops and recommends an overall stewardship development plan, a unified church budget, and budget subscription plans.
It advises and recommends in the administration of the gifts of church members and others using sound principles of financial management. It works with the Treasurer in the preparation and presentation to the church of required reports regarding the financial affairs of the church.
Section 7.2 – Ministry Committees and/or Teams
The Ministry Committees of this church shall include a Benevolence Committee, a History Committee, a Flowers Committee, a Hostess Committee, a Fellowship Committee, and other committees as the church shall authorize. Additional Ministry Committees may be added by the amendment to church policy. Members of these committees shall serve on a three (3) year rotation basis with one third (1/3) to be elected each year.
Section 7.3 – Special (Ad Hoc) Committees (Project Teams or Task Forces)
Special (Ad Hoc) Committees of this church shall include such other committees as the church shall authorize. Additional Special (Ad Hoc) Committees may be added by the amendment to church policy or by appointment of the pastor or moderator. Members of Special (Ad Hoc) Committees shall serve on a non-rotation basis until the task assigned is complete. Special (Ad Hoc) Committees may be disbanded by majority vote of the church in church conference/business meeting or by mutual consent upon the completion of the project.
Section 7.4 – Councils or Teams
The church shall maintain councils as specified by church policy. Examples of these councils include music, youth (students), Sunday School, transportation, On Mission, safety and security, HVAC/elevator, seniors, spiritual development, AWANA, Upward Football, Upward Basketball, and any others as specified by church policy. All councils related to the church ministries (or programs) shall be under church control, with all members serving by virtue of offices to which they are elected by the church, reporting regularly to the church, and all programs and activities subject to church coordination and approval. Additional councils may be added by the amendment procedure prescribed within these by-laws. Members of councils shall serve by virtue of the office they hold as prescribed by church policy.
Article 8 – Church Ministry Organizations
The church shall maintain ministry organizations as specified by church policy. These ministry organizations may include such things as Bible teaching, church member training, church leadership training, new member orientation, mission education, mission action, mission support, music education, music training, and music performance. All organizations related to the church ministries shall be under church control, all officers being elected by the church and reporting regularly to the church, and all ministry activities subject to church coordination and approval. The church shall provide the human resources, the physical resources, and the financial resources for the appropriate advancement of these ministries.
Article 9 – Church Emphasis Ministries
The church may provide emphasis ministries for the purpose of enriching and extending the ministries and plans of the church. These shall be established as specified by church policy.
All organizations related to the church emphasis ministries shall be under church control, all officers being elected by the church and reporting regularly to the church, and all emphasis activities subject to church coordination and approval.
Article 10 – Church Ordinances
Section 10.1 – Baptism
This church shall receive for baptism any person who has received Jesus Christ as Savior by personal faith, who professes Him publicly at any worship service, and who indicates a commitment to follow Christ as Lord.
- Baptism shall be by immersion in water
- The Pastor, or whomever the church shall authorize, shall administer baptism. The Deacons shall assist in the preparation for and the the observance of baptism.
- Baptism shall be administered as an act of worship during any worship service of the church. Baptism may be administered as an act of worship in other locations including but not limited to the home, hospital, correctional facility, or nursing home, when circumstances warrant.
- A person who professes faith in Christ and is not baptized after a reasonable length of time shall be counseled by the Pastor, Ministerial Staff, or Deacons. If a negative response is ascertained on the part of the candidate, he shall be deleted from those awaiting baptism.
Section 10.2 – The Lord’s Supper
The church shall observe the Lord’s Supper regularly (preferably each quarter) during normal
or special worship times as specified by church policy, in the morning or evening service. The Pastor and Deacons shall administer the Lord’s Supper, the Deacons being responsible for the physical preparations.
Article 11 – Church Meetings
Section 11.1 – Worship Services
The church shall meet regularly each Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening for the worship of Almighty God. Prayer, praise, preaching, instruction, and evangelism shall be among the ingredients of these services. The Pastor, or person of his designation, shall direct the services for all the church members and for all others who may attend.
Any cancellation of regularly scheduled Sunday morning, Sunday evening, or Wednesday evening services should be announced as far in advance as possible, with the exception of severe weather events or death/health emergencies.
Section 11.2 – Special Services
Special services, and other church meetings, essential to the advancement of the church’s objectives shall be placed on the church calendar by the church Leadership Team/Church Council.
Article 12 – Church Conference/Business Meeting
Section 12.1 – Regular Church Conference/Business Meeting
The church shall hold regular church conference/business meetings as designated by the church policy.
Section 12.2 – Special Church Conference/Business Meeting
The church may conduct “called” church conferences/business meetings to consider matters of special nature and significance. Notice must be given in accordance with church policy for the specially called church conference/business meeting, unless extreme urgency, determined by the Pastor and Deacon Chairman, renders such notice impractical, in which case, a meeting may be called by:
- agreement of a majority of the in-service (active) deacons
- the Chairman of the Deacons, the Pastor, and the Chairman of the applicable committee
- agreement of a majority of the Church Council/Leadership Team.
The advance notice shall include the subject, the date, and time and place; and it must be given in such a manner that all resident members have opportunity to know of the meeting (preferably two regular meetings prior to the special “called” meeting).
Section 12.3 – Quorum
The quorum consists of those members who attend the church conference/business meeting, provided it is a stated meeting or one that has been properly called.
Section 12.4 – Parliamentary Rules
Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised is the authority for parliamentary rules of procedure for all church conferences/business meetings of the church.
Section 12.5 – Moderator and Succession
See Article 3 – Church Officers, Section 3.2 – Moderator
Article 13 – Church Finances
Section 13.1 – Budget
The Stewardship (Financial) Committee, in consultation with the Church Leadership Team/Church Council, shall prepare and submit to the church for approval an inclusive budget, indicating by items the amount needed and sought for all local and other expenses. The new budget shall be prepared and made available to the church members at least two (2) weeks prior to submission for approval by the church body. Offering envelopes will be provided for members’ use.
It is understood that membership in this church involves financial obligation to support the church and its causes with regular, proportionate gifts. Annually, there may be opportunity provided to secure worthy commitments of financial support from the church members.
Section 13.2 – Accounting Procedures
All funds received for any and all purposes shall pass through the possession of the Church Treasurer, or financial secretary, and be properly recorded on the books of the church. Those who have responsibility that involves actual handling of funds shall be bonded, the church paying the bond.
Section 13.3 – Fiscal Year
The church fiscal year shall be determined by church policy.
Article 14 – Elections and Rotations
The church shall hold elections at such time and in such manner as designated by church policy. All officers shall be elected or appointed in accordance with church policy. Vacancies shall be filled as provided by church policy.
Article 15 – Church Policies and Procedures Manual
The church shall develop and maintain a Church Policies and Procedures Manual to include church policies, and procedures, and organization charts depicting lines of responsibility in the administration of the church. The manual shall be kept in the church office and made available for use there by any member of the church. The church secretary shall maintain the manual. The Church Leadership Team/Church Council, or a special committee established for this purpose, shall review the manual at least annually, with the authority to recommend changes for the church to consider. Any church member or church organization may recommend such changes to the Church Leadership Team/Church Council or a special committee.
Revisions may be made by one of the following methods:
Policies or procedures may be added, revised, or deleted by:
- recommendations of the church officer or organization to whose areas of assignment the procedures relate
- approval by the church Leadership Team/Church Council
- the Pastor or church Leadership Team/Church Council if they deem it necessary or advisable
All revisions must be approved by the church.
Any church member or church organization may initiate suggested changes in the manual by presenting a motion in any regular scheduled church conference/business meeting. Policies or procedures may then be added, revised, or deleted by a majority vote of the church in church conference/business meeting.
Article 16 – Amendments
Changes in the Bylaws may be made at any regular church conference/business meeting of the church provided each amendment has been presented in writing at a previous business meeting, copies of the proposed amendment have been furnished to each member present and read aloud at the earlier meeting and made available to any member requesting one at the church office. Amendments to the Bylaws shall be by two-thirds (2/3) of votes cast of church members present and voting at a regular church conference/business meeting.