“RIVER OF LIFE CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP” “CONSTITUTION”
(Adopted - 03-16-03)
PREAMBLE We, the members of the River of Life Christian Fellowship do ordain and establish the following articles of faith and by-laws to which we voluntarily submit ourselves:
ARTICLE I - Organization
SECTION I The name of this church shall be called “River of Life Christian Fellowship,” located in Bexar County – St. Hedwig, Texas. SECTION II This church is a non-profit entity organized under Section 6 of the Texas Constitution entitled “Freedom of Worship” and the First and Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. It is composed of members baptized by immersion on a profession of repentance toward God and faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It shall be an independent, autonomous, self-governing body.
ARTICLE II - Purpose of the Church
I To EVANGELIZE our community and world with the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Matt. 28:19-20 & Rom. 10:14-15) To EXALT our Lord through worship and praise, and the administration of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s supper. To EQUIP the saints for the work of the ministry through Bible study and discipleship training. To ENCOURAGE one another in Christian Love. (II Cor. 8:4-7 & I John 1:3) To ENTRUST our lives to Christ through prayer and yielded faithful obedience.
ARTICLE III - Membership
SECTION I It is our belief that every Christian should be a member of a local church. The Head of the Church is the Lord Jesus Christ and we, as saints, are the body of Christ. (Eph. 1:22 & 23). In order for the church to function as Christ has ordained, each member must be actively involved. (I Cor. 12:12-27) We believe that the Holy Spirit will lead individuals to join River of Life Christian Fellowship as He wills (Acts 2:47). For those led to become part of this fellowship, we require the following steps: A. Make your request known to the Senior Pastor, and discuss with him your spiritual life confirming your salvation as genuine. B. Present yourself to the congregation as a candidate for membership by letter, statement, or baptism. This can be done at the end of a church service during the invitation time. a.) Letter: Transferring membership from one church of like faith to another. (Our church will send for your letter, …upon your request) b.) Statement: Upon ones profession of being saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus alone, and having received a scriptural baptism by immersion, realizing that Baptism is an ordinance and not a sacrament. c.) Baptism: Upon making a public profession of your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are to follow the Lord’s command to be baptized by immersion in water. C. Attend the New Members Class and sign the Membership Covenant (Article XIV) stating that you agree with the churches "Articles of Faith", doctrinal beliefs, functions; and agree to abide by our philosophies and principles. We feel that Church membership should not be taken lightly, and is a decision that comes from a conviction of one’s heart under the constraint of God Himself. The Holy Spirit will give you peace and let you know if “River of Life Christian Fellowship” is where He wants you to serve Him. Our place is to hear His voice and obey.
Membership Covenants: (We become what we are committed to). A. The Membership Covenant - a commitment to Christ and River of Life Christian Fellowship. (John 13:35; 15:12-13, Eph. 2:19, …& Rom. 12:4) The Maturity Covenant - a commitment to the habits necessary for spiritual growth. (Prayer time, Bible Studies, church …attendance, and sharing our faith with others.) (2 Pet 3:18 & Eph 4:13) The Ministry Covenant - a commitment to discovering and using our God-given gifts and abilities in serving God and others. (I Pet. 4:10, & I Cor. 12:5 & 27) The Missions Covenant - a commitment to share the Good News with others. (John 14:6, Matt. 28:19-20, Acts 1:8 …& I Pet. 3:15)
SECTION III Dissolving Membership - The following are ways membership may be dissolved: A. Transferring membership, by letter, to another Church. B. Member’s personal request. C. Member’s death. D. Member’s failure to regularly attend and support the ministries of the church. (Inactivity or no financial support for over one year). E. Disciplinary action.
ARTICLE IV - Voting Rights
SECTION I Recognizing that God has given men the position of authority in each of their homes (I Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22-25), we believe that this authority can be carried over into the life of the church. Men, who are members of River of Life Christian Fellowship, and in right standing with the church, married or at least 18 years of age will meet quarterly or as needed to discuss the business of the church. The men will represent their families and present their concerns. If a woman is a member and is not married or is married but her husband is not a member of River of Life Christian Fellowship, she may present her concerns to a deacon or an elder who will present her concerns. All meetings must be done prayerfully and conducted in a manner that will glorify our Lord Jesus who is the Head of the Church. The women are asked to hold the men up in prayer while the men seek to follow our Lord’s leadership.
ARTICLE V - Government
SECTION I The government of this Church, and the carrying on of business shall be under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and is vested in the Senior Pastor, Pastoral Staff, Elders, Deacons, Trustees, and the men who compose the active membership, whose majority vote shall be final. The day-to-day operations are under the supervision of the Senior Pastor, or in his absence, his designated representative. SECTION II Called Business Meetings. All called business meetings shall be announced from the pulpit, or written publication in the bulletin or other church publications seven (7) days prior to the meeting. Only the business announced would be the business transacted in called business meetings. SECTION III The Articles of Faith and by-laws cannot be amended or rescinded except by approval of two-thirds majority vote of voting members (qualified men).
ARTICLE VI - Officers
SECTION I The voting members of the church shall elect all officers of the church. SECTION II The Personnel Team, with the approval of the Senior Pastor, shall recommend to the voting members (Men’s Counsel) names to be considered to fill all positions in the church except Pastor, Pastoral Staff, Elders and Deacons. SECTION III The officers of the church (listed below) shall be elected, not appointed, and must be resident members: A. Senior Pastor B. Pastoral Staff C. Elders D. Deacons E. Trustees F. Treasurer G. Church Clerk SECTION IV Qualifications of Officers: In regard to the qualification of a Pastor, Elders & Deacons being the husband of one wife recorded in I Tim. 3:2 & 12, the scriptures is clear in what it says and should be interpreted in light of I Corinthians 7:10,11; Matthew 19:3-9 and Mark 10:2-12. A divorced man can be forgiven but is ineligible to be a Pastor, Elder or Deacon. This also means that a woman cannot be a Pastor, Elder or Deacon. A. B. C. D. Senior Pastor, Pastoral Staff. I Timothy 3:1-7 Elders. Titus 1:4-9 Deacons. I Timothy 3:8-13 and Acts 6:3 No person who holds an active membership in the Masonic Lodge (or related fraternal groups) shall hold a position as officer (Article VI, Section III, Para A-G). If such person relinquishes official membership in the lodge they will be allowed to serve as elected by the Men’s Counsel.
SECTION V Duties of Officers A. Senior Pastor. The Senior Pastor must possess the qualifications for Pastor as outlined in Article VI, Section IV, of this Constitution. Any person not meeting the referenced qualifications, whether licensed or ordained by another Church, shall not serve as a Senior Pastor of the River of Life Christian Fellowship. The Senior Pastor, through the leadership of the Holy Spirit, is the leader and spiritual guide of the flock. Moderator of the Church. Ex-Officio member of all committees.
The Senior Pastor is called indefinitely until God leads elsewhere, or unless disciplinary action is brought against him as prescribed in Article VIII, Section I of this constitution. In case of resignation of the Senior Pastor, at least two weeks notice shall be given to the church. If the Senior Pastor resigns or is dismissed, a pulpit committee shall be formed immediately to seek a new Senior Pastor. After a candidate is recommended by the Pulpit Committee to the Church, and after hearing the candidate preach, the voting members of the church shall meet immediately after the services for the purposes of voting whether or not to call that candidate as Senior Pastor. (This keeps people from calling each other to see what others think instead of voting what you sense God saying). A two-thirds vote is required to call a Senior Pastor. B. PASTORAL STAFF The officers must possess the qualifications as outlined in Article VI, Section IV, of this Constitution. Any person not meeting the referenced qualifications whether licensed or ordained by another church, shall not serve River of Life Christian Fellowship in these offices:
A special Search Team will be selected by secret ballot by the Men’s Counsel in filling any Pastoral Staff position. With the Senior Pastor’s approval of the candidate, the Search Team will recommend the candidate to the voting members for approval. The voting members, upon the recommendation of the Budget & Finance Team shall set the salary of these positions. The Search Team will be dissolved after the position is filled. Duties of the Pastoral Staff will be set forth by the Senior Pastor. Dismissal of the Pastoral Staff is under the supervisory role of the Senior Pastor. The Church may recommend the dismissal of a staff member to the Senior Pastor and call for a staff member's dismissal during a called or regular Counsel meeting. C ELDERS: Elders consist of laymen that have been elected by the voting members of this church and recognized to be spiritual leaders meeting the requirements in Article VI., Section IV. While a Deacon is a spiritual servant ministering to physical needs of the body, an Elder is one who is a spiritual servant ministering to the spiritual needs of the body. The Senior Pastor and Pastoral Staff are also considered as Elders. An Elder must have proven himself faithful in River of Life Christian Fellowship before being elected to this body, regardless of what his service was in a former church, just as a deacon can not serve automatically as a deacon in this body just because he was a deacon in another church. This body, under the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit, will recognize and elect those to whom they feel that the Lord has set aside to be their Spiritual Leaders. An Elder that is a layman must have served as a Deacon in River of Life Christian Fellowship before being elected as an Elder. An Elder will serve with the Senior Pastor in ministering to the spiritual well being of the church through giving Biblical counsel and guidance to those in need. Elders will serve as advisors to the Senior Pastor.
D. DEACONS The Deacons are to assist the Senior Pastor and staff in ministering to the flock by being the guardians and maintainers of harmony and unity in the body (Acts 6). The Deacons are to support the work of this church with enthusiastic commitment to Christ setting an example for those to whom they serve. The Deacons of the River of Life Christian Fellowship are a ministering fellowship and not an administrative committee. Their prayer support of the Senior Pastor, Pastoral Staff and the flock are vital. A man can not serve automatically as a deacon in this body just because he was a deacon in another church. He must be qualified (I Timothy 3:8-13 and Acts 6:3), and this body must recognize and elect those to whom they deem faithful and desire to serve them. The selection of new Deacons will be followed by Acts 6:2-4. The voting members will select candidates, by secret ballot, who they would like to have serve them, who then would be examined by the Senior Pastor, Elders and Deacons to see if they meet the Biblical qualifications for Deacon (Article VI, Section IV). The approved candidates would be presented to the voting members for their approval to continue a deacon training program, equipping them to become Deacons and latter be voted on by the voting members for ordination when the Senior Pastor felt that the candidates were ready. E. SUPPORT STAFF: (Non-Pastoral). Their immediate supervisor with the approval of the Senior Pastor and the approval of the Budget & Finance Team shall hire all support staff (secretaries, maintenance, custodial, etc.). Duties of the staff will be set forth by the Senior Pastor or by those to whom the Senior Pastor delegates.
TRUSTEES a. Trustees shall be elected annually by the voting members of the church. b. There shall be at least three men elected to the position of Trustee. 3. Trustees shall sign all official papers involving the selling of property, securing loans, or any other legal matters that may arise.
G. TREASURER 1. The Treasurer shall receive and count all money with the help of the Budget & Finance Team. 2. The Treasurer will work with his/her team to keep accurate records of the receipts and debits of the church and monitor and supervise the financial procedures of the church. 3. The Treasurer will provide a financial statement on a monthly basis in order to keep the church informed of financial status. 4. The Treasurer will accomplish items 2 and 3 above by reviewing all check stubs written before they are filed. The Treasurer will inform, counsel, and discuss with Senior Pastor, Church Administrator, Elders, Deacons, or Men’s Counsel any concerns in financial matters as necessary.
ARTICLE VII - Other Committees And Teams
Committees may be created or dissolved as needed. The need will be determined by the Senior Pastor, Pastoral Staff, or the Men’s Counsel, in the case of a Pulpit committee. SECTION I Pulpit committee: A. The Pulpit committee shall be elected by a secret ballot vote among the voting members of the church body. The Pulpit committee must consist of active members in good standing with the church and be at least 18 years of age. B. Upon calling a Senior Pastor, the Pulpit committee shall be automatically dissolved. SECTION II Personnel Team: A. A Personnel Team will be selected by the voting members as the need arises, and will serve for a one-year term or until the present need no longer exists. In the enlisting of Sunday school faculty, the Department Directors may be asked to give their input (recommendations).
The Personnel Team, with the approval of the Senior Pastor, shall recommend to the voting members (Men’s Counsel) names to be considered to fill all positions of ministry in the church except Pastor, Pastoral Staff, Elders and Deacons.
Budget & Finance Team A. The voting members of the church shall elect the Budget and Finance Team. Members should not serve longer than three consecutive years before taking a one-year break. There will be at least 4 and not more than 7 members on the Team serving on a rotating basis. B. The duties of the Budget & Finance Team will be to recommend an annual budget, monitor the church’s financial condition, and make necessary recommendations to maintain sound financial practices.
ARTICLE VIII - Disciplinary Action
SECTION I Church discipline shall be administered by the church in accordance with the scriptures as found in Matthew 18: 15-17. This includes immorality, heresy, sowing of strife, and discord among the brethren. I Corinthians chapters 5 and 11; Romans 16; Titus 3:10,11
ARTICLE IX - Ordinances
We observe two ordinance; partaking of the Lord Supper and Baptism. We believe that the Lord Supper and Baptism are ordinances that we are commanded to observe, but they are not sacraments for they have no saving nor cleansing power in themselves, for it is the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from sin.
SECTION I The Lord’s Supper is to be observe in accordance to the following
scriptures: Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:19-20; and I Cor. 11:23-32. We are commanded to observe the Lord’s Supper in order to keep before us a reminder of Jesus sacrificial death for our sins. The cup represents His precious blood that was shed for our sins, and the bread represents His body that was broken for us.
1Co 11:26…For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
SECTION II Baptism is to be done as an act of obedience to His Commission.
Mat 28:19…Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
We are to be baptized by immersion as Jesus set forth the example.
Mat 3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: We are to be Baptized as an outward act of identifying with Christ, as well as an opportunity to testify of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Rom. 6:3-8).
ARTICLE X - Marriage Policies
SECTION I All wishing to be married at River of Life Christian Fellowship must complete Pre-marital counseling by the Senior Pastor or his approved counselor. SECTION II A wedding between a man and a woman is a sacred moment in which they make their vows to God and to each other, and therefore, the decorations and activities surrounding this event must honor our Lord. Also, the music used should not be inappropriate but used to honor and enhance the spiritual importance of the marital vows. Alcoholic beverages, smoking, or any other objects or activities that do not honor our Lord will be prohibited at any wedding event sponsored or supported by the River of Life Christian Fellowship SECTION III The Biblical mandate upon whether to perform a marriage will be on the basis of the following scriptures: Matt. 5:31-32; Matt. 19:4-9; Rom. 7:1-3; I Cor. 7:1-16; II Cor. 6:14-18; & Eph. 6:1-3. Each situation is to be prayerfully considered in light of the Word of God.
ARTICLE XI - Burial Policies of the Church
SECTION I It is the intention of the church to minister to the bereaved family and conduct services in accordance with New Testament Biblical doctrine.
ARTICLE XII –Church Properties
SECTION I The church, Senior Pastor, staff and/or properties cannot participate or be used where other organizations, such as cults, unscriptural religions, or fraternal organizations, are involved in any way. The services of the church will always be to honor our Lord and not promote any false beliefs.
ARTICLE XIII - Financial Policy
SECTION I We believe that the Biblical method of the financial support of the general operations of the church is through the tithes and offerings of the membership (Mal. 3:8-11; Heb. 7:5-9; II Cor. 9:7-8). Certain fundraisers may be used to help support mission trips, youth camps, and other mission endeavors outside of the general operations of the church. The Senior Pastor must approve all fundraisers.
ARTICLE XIV - Church Covenant
Having received Christ as my Lord and Savior and been baptized by immersion, and being in agreement with the River of Life Christian Fellowship’s constitution and by-laws, their statement of faith, doctrinal beliefs, and philosophy of ministry, I now feel led by the Holy Spirit to unite with the “River of Life Christian Fellowship” church family. In doing so, I commit myself to God and to the other members to do the following: 1) I WILL PROTECT THE UNITY OF MY CHURCH - by acting in love toward other members - Romans 14:19 - by refusing to gossip - Eph. 4:29 - by following the leaders - Heb. 13:17 2) I WILL SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF MY CHURCH - by praying for its growth - 1Thes. 1:1-2 - by inviting the un-churched to attend - Luke 14:23 - by warmly welcoming those who visit - Rom. 15:7 3) I WILL SERVE THE MINISTRY OF MY CHURCH - by discovering my gifts and talents - 1 Pet. 4:10 - by being equipped to serve by my Senior Pastor and others - Eph. 4:11-12 - by developing a servant’s heart - Phil. 2:3-4,7 4) I WILL SUPPORT THE TESTIMONY OF MY CHURCH - by attending faithfully - Heb. 10:25 - by living a godly life - Phil. 1:27 - by giving regularly - Lev. 27:30 I ________________________________ commit myself to my Lord Jesus Christ in being an active, positive, supportive member of the River of Life Christian Fellowship. _______________________________