West Row

Baptist Church

"Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the lord of hosts"

Zechariah 4:6

5. Church Membership

A distinction is maintained between ‘the members’ (those formally examined and enrolled) and ‘the congregation’ (the wider gathering of those who come for worship and fellowship).

Admittance

All applications for membership shall be made to the elders, who shall arrange that applicants be interviewed and names of those recommended for membership brought forward to a members’ meeting. In the absence of any valid objection the applicants should be received into membership. The elders shall only recommend those who:-

  • profess both repentance of sin toward and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
  • who bear evidence in their lives to the reality that their profession is a real work of God’s grace
  • who have been baptized by immersion in the likeness of Christ’s death and resurrection (apart from exceptional circumstances)
  • accept the basis of faith of the church
  • accept the privileges, responsibilities and discipline of membership as set out below

It is not essential that those who join the church must fully understand all the depths of the doctrines set out in the basis of faith, for it is within the life of the local church that God’s children grow in grace and knowledge of the Saviour. A deeper understanding of these matters is, however, required of elders and deacons.

Responsibilities of Membership include:-

  • regular attendance at the Sunday services and at meetings for Bible study and prayer
  • eagerness to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the fellowship, refraining from all conduct and conversation which might do harm to the fellowship, doing all possible to promote its
  • seeking at all times to obey our Lord’s command to love one another.spiritual well-being, and service in the Lord’s work in the local church, according to the gifts and talents received
  • acceptance of the discipline of the church, in accordance with the Word of God
  • acceptance of the office of Pastor, support of the pastor by love, prayer and the meeting of his material needs; a sincere desire to hear the preaching of the Word and, by God’s grace, willingness to obey that Word
  • a serious, prayerful, and sacrificial share in meeting the financial requirements of the church in accordance with the resources God has given in His providence
  • a readiness to witness to the Lord Jesus, endeavouring to live a consistent Christian life in the world adorning the Gospel of our God and Saviour

6. Church Discipline

All disciplinary action, however undesirable or extreme, must be exercised in a spirit of love and humility, along with an earnest desire to maintain the honour of Christ’s Name and purity of His church. Basic to all discipline is self-discipline, as the Holy Spirit applies God’s Word to individual lives and convicts of the need for repentance, reformation and holiness.

The Grounds for church discipline are four-fold:-

  • a persistent rejection of any part of the doctrinal basis
  • conduct which is serious and continued inconsistency with a profession of Christ
  • behaviour which will result in creating divisions, party spirit or strife in the life of the church
  • persistent failure to fulfil the responsibilities of membership without good reason

The Manner in which discipline is exercised is in three main ways:-

  • By the Word applied personally.  Where a member is not heeding the preached Word, it shall be pointed out to him in private by the elders, and the erring one exhorted to obey the Scriptures
  • By suspension of membership. If the private ministry of the elders is unheeded membership shall be suspended. A suspended member may not attend any members’ meeting. Suspension is accompanied by the continued ministry of the elders with the longing for the restoration of the member.• By suspension of membership.  
  • By withdrawal of membership.  If the offender remains unrepentant and there is no change of heart, then the elders shall report the matter at a members’ meeting where suitable disciplinary action will be announced. Even if a person’s name has to be removed from the membership list, the church should continue to pray for his repentance and restoration.

8. Church Affairs

Relation with other churches

The elders shall encourage and strengthen biblical unity and fellowship with other local churches. However, the church can have no fellowship with those who deny the fundamentals of the faith set out in the doctrinal basis.

Evangelism and Missionary Work

As a consistent priority the elders shall ensure that the Lord’s command to preach the Gospel locally and further afield to all the world is kept before the church. In the village of West Row, the Evangelism of a Godly-life is our chief means of reaching others.

Sectional activities, speakers and materials

All the leaders of activities within the church must be approved by the elders, as must all who serve in any formal capacity within the church. Reports shall be made on these activities at members’ meetings from time to time.Similarly, all speakers invited to address meetings of or in connection with the church, all teaching materials used in the church, and all literature distributed by or through the church, must have the approval of the elders.

Constitution

Any amendment or addition to this constitution must have the approval of the elders and the support of the total membership.

7. Church Ordinances

The Lord Jesus Christ, when he was on earth, commanded that believers should observe two ordinances - namely Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Baptism

By immersion in water into the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, upon profession of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, baptism symbolises the believers union with the Lord Jesus Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, and also with fellow believers in the Body of Christ. Baptism does not itself convey regenerating grace.

Any unbaptized Christian, may apply to the elders for baptism at any time.

The Lord’s Supper

By the eating of bread and the drinking of wine the Lord’s Supper is a memorial of our Saviour’s death until He comes again in glory at the end of the age. The Lord’s Supper is not a sacrifice for sin, and does not involve any change in the substance of the bread and wine; Christ is present at the supper through the person of the Holy Spirit, apprehended by faith alone.

Any Christian, whether or not a member, may participate in the Lord’s Supper which shall be observed at frequent intervals. Participants who show no evidence of the new birth shall be warned against further participation. The elders shall strongly exhort members to participate in the Lord’s Supper whenever possible.

1. Introduction

The main purposes for which this Constitution has been drawn up are:

  • to set down in clear and ordered form our beliefs and convictions as found in Scripture concerning the faith and conduct of the church.
  • to regulate procedure in other matters which arise in the course of church life, which are not dealt with explicitly in the Scriptures, but are to be ordered in the light of the general rules of the Word of God.
  • to provide a practical guide to the privileges and responsibilities of church membership.

2. The Church and the Christian

Definition of the Church

THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH of the Lord Jesus Christ consists of those of every race, every land and every generation, who are chosen by God the Father, redeemed by Christ’s death and sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

THE LOCAL CHURCH is a visible manifestation, in a particular locality of the universal church. It comprises of a company of Christians who meet together to worship the Triune God, to observe the ordinances for believers of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; to minister to one another for mutual edification; to pray and worship together; to proclaim the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the world; and to grow into a holy people unto the Lord.

Definition of a Christian

A Christian is one who, having been born again of the Holy Spirit, has repented of his sin; received the Lord Jesus, by faith, as Sovereign and Saviour; and has been made a child of God.

3. Church Doctrine

The doctrinal basis of faith held by West Row Baptist Church is as follows:-WE BELIEVE IN:-

  • The Divine inspiration and infallibility of Holy Scripture as originally given and preserved; and its supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
  • The unity, equality and individual personality of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in the Godhead.
  • The Sovereignty of God in Redemption, Creation, Revelation and Final Judgement.
  • The essential Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ; His Incarnation and Virgin Birth; the all sufficiency of His substitutionary and atoning sacrifice for the sins of men; His bodily resurrection and ascension; His present intercessory ministry as Great High Priest; and His future personal return and universal reign.
  • The personality of Satan, the arch enemy of God and man, the author of man’s fallen nature.
  • The fall and sinful state of man and his total inability to save himself, apart from the intervention of the only Mediator, Jesus Christ.
  • The necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit to make the death of Christ effective to the individual sinner, convicting him of sin, granting him repentance toward God, and regeneration leading to faith in Jesus Christ.
  • The constant need of the work of the Holy Spirit indwelling every believer for sanctification, spiritual enlightenment and power for service, resulting in a holy life and character which forms the evidence of conversion.
  • The baptism of believers by immersion into water as the Baptism ordained by the Lord, practiced by the Apostles, and taught in the New Testament; and the Lord’s Table as a remembrance and proclamation of His death upon the Cross, but in no way another sacrifice.
  • The ‘local church’ as a called out community of born again believers, with liberty to order its own life as the Holy Spirit will guide through the Scriptures, and enjoying fellowship with all those who love our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • The necessity of a world-wide ministry of evangelism to fulfil the Great Commission to ‘Make disciples of all nations’.
  • The resurrection of the body, the judgement of mankind by our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal blessedness of the elect and eternal banishment of the lost.

4. Church Government

Principles

The chief principles of church government are as follows:-

  • The sole Governor of the Church is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, as the Head of the Body.
  • The one infallible means by which He governs His Church is the Word of God, the Bible.
  • The Head of the Church has ordered that over-sight and administration of the local church is to be by elders and deacons.

Elders

The function of elders is three-fold:-

a) To govern the local church.

Authority in every aspect of the church life is committed to them, and no decision or policy may be implemented which does not meet with their approval.

1 Thess. 5; 12-13 1 Tim. 5; 17 Hebrews 13; 17

1 Peter 5; 2-5 Acts 16; 4

b) To shepherd the flock.

They are to guard the local church from error and false teaching, and to feed and strengthen the members with the Word of God, caring for each individual soul.

Acts 20; 28-30 Eph. 4; 11 Hebrews 13; 17

1 Peter 5; 2-5 James 5; 14

c) To teach the Word of God.

Some amongst the elders may have a gift for preaching; all, however, must be able to teach, and must fully understand and agree to the doctrinal basis and rules of church practice.

1 Tim. 3; 2 Titus 1; 9 1 Tim 5; 17

The Qualifications

for elders are laid down in detail in 1 Timothy 3; 1-7 and Titus 1; 5-9, from which passages it is plain that no woman may hold this office.

The Number

of elders shall be determined by the availability of men with the scriptural qualifications for the office, and the spiritual and pastoral requirements of the church.Wherever the word ‘elders’ occurs the possibility of the singular ‘elder’ is to be recognised. If at an time there should be no elder in the church, then additional responsibility will rest upon the deacons to ensure the correct running of church affairs.

If it is felt appropriate, assistance may be sought from the eldership of a like-minded church with which West Row Baptist Church is in fellowship.

Appointment of Elders

In a way, Elders appoint themselves. The congregation of God’s people will recognise a man with the stipulated qualifications.

The fellowship must seek the face of the Lord and know His precise will on such vitally important matters.

Elders shall serve for life, unless they have to be removed from office for any serious reason.

The reasons for which an elder shall be removed from office are:-

  • persistent neglect of duty
  • behaviour which brings the Name and cause of Christ into disrepute
  • failure to maintain wholehearted agreement with the doctrinal basis, etc.
  • If it becomes evident that the age or infirmity of an elder renders him incapable of fulfilling his office, the other elders shall ask him to retire.

The Minister or Pastor

shall be recognised as the presiding elder and (wherever possible) shall be set aside full-time to labour in prayer and the ministry of the Word.

His appointment shall be as for the other elders, except that he may be called to office from another church, having first visited and preached in the church, and his Call will be positively confirmed at a members’ meeting.

If he should wish to resign, he shall give at least three months written notice to the church, though at the discretion of the other elders this period of notice may be waived.

The Pastor’s salary shall be determined by the elders and deacons together. In the event of his death whilst in office, the church shall provide for the immediate maintenance of the pastor’s family.

Deacons

The Function

of deacons is to attend to the material and financial affairs of the church. allowing the elders to concentrate on their duties of their own office.

From the body of deacons, it is normal practice for the elders to appoint one to be secretary and one to be treasurer.

The Qualifications

for deacons are laid down in detail in 1 Timothy 3; 8-13 with which compare Acts 6; 1-7, from which passages it is plain that no woman may hold this office.

The Number of deacons shall be determined by the availability of men having the scriptural qualifications for the office, and the practical and administrative requirements of the church.

Appointment

The Elders appoint Deacons with the consent - approval of the Church.

Meetings of Church Officers

The elders should meet as often as possible for prayer, study of the Word and discussion. The deacons should meet as and when necessary, when the minister or another elder would ordinarily be present and act as Presiding Elder.(The elders and deacons should also meet together as and when necessary for prayer, study and discussion).

Meetings of Church Members

Meetings for all members of the church shall be held at least quarterly with the purpose of giving the elders and deacons an opportunity to report on their work; giving members of the church an opportunity to discuss such items as are set on the agenda and to hear reports on the different activities of the church; and to receive recommendations from the elders.

Due notice of two Sundays shall be given of any members’ meeting.

As soon as possible after the end of the year the annual accounts shall be presented to church members for approval and adoption.All proceedings at members’ meetings shall be confidential and may not be discussed outside the membership.

Church Constitution