We, the members of the Believers Fellowship of San Antonio, Texas, do ordain and establish the following Articles, to which we voluntarily submit ourselves.
ARTICLE I – NAME
The name of the church shall be Believers Fellowship of San Antonio.
ARTICLE II – PURPOSE
1. To corporately worship, praise, and give thanks to the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. ( John 4:23; Heb. 13:15)
2. To teach the Word of God to believers so they may be built up in the faith and equipped for the work of the ministry. (Ephesians 4:11-16 )
3. To proclaim the gospel of the grace of God through the personal witnessing of individual believers, through our worship services, and through the support of missionaries of like precious faith. (Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 10:14-15)
4. To assemble for prayer, fellowship and the administration of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper. (Acts 2:42; I John 1:3)
5. To provide opportunity to minister to the needs of all men, especially those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10; II Cor. 8:4-7)
ARTICLE III - COVENANT OF FELLOWSHIP
Section 1. Application for Membership
Persons desiring to unite with this local church by confession of personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation shall be examined by the elders as to their basis for salvation and Christian experience. The members will be required to assent to our beliefs, the by-laws of the church, and their responsibilities to this local assembly in accordance with the principles of the Scriptures.
Section 2. Admittance to Membership
Applicants, having been duly examined and approved by the Board of Elders, shall be received into the fellowship of this local church at such time as may be determined by the Elders. All church employees must be members in good standing.
Section 3. Associates of the Church of Fellowship
Applicants who are temporary residents in this area and desire to retain full membership in their home church in another city may be admitted into this church fellowship in the same manner as prescribed above. Such individuals shall have the same rights and privileges as any other individual united with this local church except that they may not serve on the governing boards of this body.
Section 4. Termination of Membership
Individuals may be terminated from membership in the following ways:
By death: at such time an individual will be removed from membership, acknowledging the fact that he is present with the Lord. (II Cor. 5:8).
By exclusion: persons disqualifying themselves from association with this local church because of moral, ethical, or doctrinal reasons shall be excluded from the membership of this church by the disciplinary action of the Board of Elders. (Refer to Article VII-Church Discipline).
By dismissal: Those who absent themselves from the function of this local assembly shall be considered for dismissal. Such persons may be removed from membership by the Board of Elders.
ARTICLE IV – GOVERNMENT
The government of this church under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, shall be vested in the Board of Elders who are duly approved and recognized by the congregation as the men whom God has gifted to assume the oversight of His church. Men must be of unquestionable Christian character and devoted to the spiritual welfare of the church to be considered eligible to serve as Elders. This church recognizes the Lord Jesus Christ as its Head, and the Holy Scriptures as its only infallible guide in matters of faith, church order, and discipline. Therefore, the Elders are to govern under the headship of Christ, the authority of the Scriptures, and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. They shall be accountable to no other ecclesiastical body.
ARTICLE V – OFFICERS
Section 1. The Officers
The officers of this church shall consist of a Board of Elders and a Board of Deacons. The Board of Elders shall be made up of qualified men called forth by the Holy Spirit to lead the church. The Board of Deacons shall be made up of men as designated by the Board of Elders. The Elders shall function primarily in the areas of ruling, teaching, and caring for the spiritual life of the church. The Deacons shall labor primarily in matters relating to the temporal life of the church.
The Board of Elders shall serve as the Nominating Committee. They shall make and entertain nominations from the entire congregation beginning not less than two months before the Annual Congregational Meeting to add to the Board of Deacons and the Board of Elders as qualified men are raised up. The Nominating Committee will consider only those nominees who are willing to serve and who are qualified according to the qualifications listed below.
All the Elders and Deacons shall be recognized each year at the Annual Congregational Meeting.
Each Board shall elect from its membership a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and Secretary. Elders who serve as full-time employees of the church are not eligible to serve as Chairman of the Board of Elders. A quorum for Board meeting shall consist of two-thirds of the members of that Board.
Section 2. Elders
(1) Qualifications: All nominees for the Board of Elders must be members of this church who have demonstrated spiritual maturity and who are qualified for the office according to the standards set forth in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. In addition, they shall be in agreement with the doctrinal position and by-laws of this church and shall be active participants in its services and ministries. Agreement with the doctrinal position and by-laws shall be annually renewed by signing a statement of agreement at the annual meeting of the church.
(2) Selection: The names of all nominees proposed by the Board of Elders shall be made known to the congregation not less than three consecutive Sundays prior to the time of the Annual Congregational Meeting. During this period of time, any member of the congregation who feels a nominee is unqualified shall submit a written statement to the Board of Elders expressing his reasons for regarding that individual's unfitness. Such discrepancies will be evaluated by the Board of Elders until the fitness or unfitness of this nominee can be established to the satisfaction of all. The nominees who have been found qualified by the Board of Elders shall be presented to the congregation for recognition to that office.
(3) Duties: It shall be the duty of the Board of Elders to govern the church and carry out the discipline, overseeing, shepherding, and teaching of the fellowship of this church (I Peter 5:1-4).
Thereby, the Elders shall care for the church and its spiritual condition, guard the purity of the doctrine and life of the church, and discipline the church according to the Word of God.
It shall be the duty of the Elders to supervise the operation of the church with its various organizations, to approve the appointment of all paid employees, to counsel the needy, comfort the afflicted, visit the sick, and to supply the pulpit of the church in the absence of the Pastor/Teacher.
Section 3. Pastor/Teacher
The Pastor/Teacher shall serve for an indefinite time as the chief administrator and the primary teaching Elder of the Church.
(1) Qualifications: Being an elder of the church, the Pastor-Teacher must be qualified according to the standards set forth in I Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, and this Constitution. One candidate at a time shall be considered by the Board of Elders for a presentation to the church to fill this office. The candidate shall be examined as to the Biblical basis of his faith, his spiritual, moral, and educational qualifications, his unreserved acceptance of the Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God, and his agreement with the doctrinal position and by-laws of this church.
(2) Selection: The candidate for the office of Pastor-Teacher shall be recommended to the church by the Board of Elders after prayerful consideration and unanimous approval by that body. The congregation shall vote at a meeting called especially for this purpose. The name of the candidate shall be made known to the congregation for prayerful consideration not less than three consecutive Sundays prior to the time of the called meeting for the purpose of his approval. Election shall be by secret ballot and shall require a three-quarters majority of those members present at the called meeting.
(3) Duties: The Pastor-Teacher shall carry out the responsibilities of an Elder in the area of ruling and teaching as prescribed in I Peter 5:1-4. He shall be responsible for the overall administration of church business as well as the teaching ministries of the church. He shall function as a co-equal Elder with the other men serving as Elders and attend with them to the duties prescribed for the Elders under Article V, Section 2.
(4) Dismissal: The Pastor-Teacher may be dismissed from his office at any time for any cause by the unanimous vote of the other elders.
Section 4. Associate Pastors
As the need for additional pastors may arise, candidates may be chosen by the Board of Elders and the congregation in the same way as prescribed for the approval of the Pastor-Teacher under Article V, Section 2. The qualifications and duties of Associate Pastors shall be the same as those of the Elders and Pastor-Teacher of this church.
Section 5. Deacons
(1) Qualifications: All nominees for the Board of Deacons must be members of this church who have demonstrated spiritual maturity and who are qualified according to the standards set forth in Acts 6:3 and I Timothy 3:8-12. In addition, they shall be in agreement with the doctrinal position and by-laws of this church and shall be active participants in its services and ministries. Agreement with the doctrinal position and by-laws shall be annually renewed by signing a statement of agreement.
(2) Selection: The names of all nominees proposed by the Board of Elders shall be made known to the congregation not less than three consecutive Sundays prior to the time of the Annual Congregational Meeting.
During this period of time, any member of the congregation who feels a nominee is unqualified for this office shall submit a written statement to the Board of Elders expressing his reasons for regarding that individual's unfitness. Such discrepancies will be evaluated by the Board of Elders until the fitness or unfitness of this nominee can be established to the satisfaction of all. The nominees who have been found qualified by the Board of Elders shall be presented to the congregation for recognition to the office of Deacon.
(3) Duties: It shall be the duty of the Board of Deacons to serve under the supervision of the Board of Elders in the direction of the affairs of the church.
Section 6. Resignation or Dismissal of An Officer
(1) Resignation: When an officer of the church tenders his resignation, for whatever reasons, he is required to do so in writing. Such resignation shall be presented to the Board of which he is a member at the first regular meeting after its receipt by the Secretary of said Board. The Board from which he withdraws shall take final action on his resignation.
(2) Dismissal: If any church officer is accused of unfaithfulness or unfitness to continue in his office, the Board of Elders shall make a thorough investigation of the case. The officer may be removed from office by the united and unanimous will of the Board of Elders. If the accused officer is an elder, decisions will be made by the united and unanimous will of the other elders.
(3) Vacancies: The Board of Elders shall be empowered to appoint successors to fill vacated offices on the Board of Deacons or Elders for a period not to exceed one year or until the next Annual Congregational Meeting, whichever is shorter.
ARTICLE VI - CONGREGATIONAL MEETINGS
Section 1. Annual Meetings
The fiscal year of the church shall end on the thirty-first day of May each year. The annual meeting of the congregation shall be held no later than the end of June.
The time and place are to be determined by the Board of Elders and announced to the congregation on consecutive Sundays beginning not less than three Sundays prior to the meeting.
The business conducted at the Annual Congregational Meeting shall consist of the presentation of reports, the recognition of Elders and Deacons, the confirming of the budget for the coming year, any other business that would naturally come before the congregation, and the signing of the agreement to the doctrinal statement and by-laws by the church officers.
Section 2. Special Business Meetings
The church may be called together for the transaction of any legitimate business by a majority vote of the Board of Elders.
Notices of such meeting shall be given on not less than two consecutive Sundays preceding the meeting, and the purpose of the meeting shall be clearly stated.
Section 3. Quorum
A quorum for the transaction of business in all congregational meetings shall consist of one-third of the members of the church who are eligible to vote. Only members who are in good and regular standing and are at least eighteen years old shall be eligible to vote at any of the business meetings.
Section 4. Procedures
In all congregational meetings the Chairman of the Board of Elders shall preside. In his absence a substitute may be appointed by the Board of Elders from that Board.
ARTICLE VII - CHURCH DISCIPLINE
1. The threefold purpose of church discipline is to glorify God by maintaining purity in the local church (1 Corinthians 5:6) , to edify believers by deterring sin (1 Timothy 5:20), and to promote the spiritual welfare of the offending believer by calling him or her to return to a biblical standard of doctrine and conduct (Galatians 6:1) .
2. Members of this church and all other professing Christians who regularly attend or fellowship with this church who err in doctrine, or who engage in conduct that violates Scripture as determined by the Board of Elders, shall be subject to church discipline, including dismissal according to Matthew 18:15-18. Before such dismissal, however, (a) it shall be the duty of any member of this church who has knowledge of the erring individual’s heresy or misconduct to warn and correct such erring individual in private, seeking his or her repentance and restoration. If the erring individual does not heed this warning, then (b) the warning member shall again go to the erring individual, seeking his or her repentance, but accompanied by one or two individuals who shall confirm that the sin has occurred or is continuing to occur, and/or that the erring individual has been appropriately confronted and has refused to repent. The first and second warnings may occur with no specified time interval. If the erring individual still refuses to heed this warning, then (c) it shall be brought to the attention of the Board of Elders. If the Board of Elders determines-after thorough investigation in accord with the procedures prescribed by pertinent Scripture, including Matthew 18:15-18, 1 Timothy 5:19-that there is corroborating evidence that the erring individual has sinned or is continuing to sin, that he or she has been appropriately confronted, and that he or she has refused to repent, then the Elders shall inform the church and the congregation thereof at a regularly scheduled worship service in order that the church may call the erring individual to repentance. If the erring individual demonstrates repentance, then notice to that effect may be given at a regularly scheduled worship service. If, however, the erring individual does not repent in response to the church in its collective call to repentance, then (d) he or she shall be publicly dismissed from the fellowship and/or membership of the church and the congregation thereof at a regularly scheduled worship service. If the erring individual, after such dismissal, heeds the warning, demonstrates repentance, and requests reinstatement before the board of Elders, then he or she shall be publicly restored to all the rights, duties, privileges, and responsibilities of fellowship and/or membership.
3. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the elders in the exercise of their discretion may proceed directly to the third stage of church discipline, (i. e. the informing of the church and the congregation thereof at a regularly scheduled worship service in order that the church may call the erring individual to repentance) or to the fourth stage of church discipline, (i. e. the dismissal from the fellowship and/or membership of the church) when one or more of the following have occurred; (a) where the transgression and the refusal to repent have been public, i.e. openly and to the offense of the whole Church (I Corinthians 5:1-5); (b) where the disciplined party has taught or otherwise disseminated doctrine deemed false or erroneous by the elders, then chosen to disregard the direction and reproof of the elders (Romans 16:17); or (c) where the disciplined party has been warned twice to cease from factious and divisive conduct and has chosen to disregard that warning (Titus 3:10-11).
4. The members of this church, and all other professing Christians who regularly attend or fellowship with this church, agree that there shall be no appeal to any court because of the dismissal or because of public statements to the congregation at the third or fourth stages of church discipline. Members who are under discipline by the church, as defined in the previous paragraphs, forfeit and waive the right to resign from this church. Resignations from membership are possible only by members who are in good standing and who are not under any disciplinary action.
5. Separate and apart from the process of church discipline, but subject to the discretion and approval of the elders, a member, non-member, regular attender, or other individual may be notified that he or she is not to be present upon church premises for such a period of time as is deemed necessary for the safety and well-being of others on church premises. Such required absence may, but need not, be concurrent with church discipline of that person.
6. Separate and apart from the process of church discipline, but subject to the discretion and approval of the elders, the names of any members who have not attended a worship service, Sunday School class session or Bible Study Group meeting at Believers Fellowship for a period of six months or longer may be removed from the active membership roll, in accord with the provisions of Article III, Section 4 of these By-Laws
ARTICLE VIII - ORDINATION
As the Board of Elders recognizes the calling and gifting of the Holy Spirit in the life of a man who desires to serve the Lord in full-time vocational ministry, the elders may choose to publicly ordain him through the laying on of hands. To insure that such a man is qualified, the Board of Elders shall appoint an ordination council to thoroughly examine him as to his Christian experience, reputation, character, education, doctrinal beliefs, and demonstrated giftedness and faithfulness. Ordination will occur only upon the unanimous recommendation of the ordination council.
ARTICLE IX - MISSIONS
It is expected that full or partial support of missionaries will be undertaken in an expanding fashion as the church grows and as the Lord leads. The missionaries to be considered for support shall be presented to the congregation by the Elders. A two-thirds majority of the convened members at a regularly scheduled congregational meeting is required for acceptance of any missionary. The support of a missionary may be terminated by the same order of procedure, with the provision that three months notice shall be given the missionary.
No missionary or missionary organization shall be supported unless the missionary or organization shall be in harmony with the doctrinal position of the church.
Special designated gifts may be sent through the church without going through the above procedure; however, the church will not accept gifts for missionaries, missionary organizations, or other organizations which are not in harmony with our doctrinal position.
ARTICLE X - FINANCES
The work of the church shall be entirely dependent upon the sovereign ability of God to provide its physical as well as spiritual needs. Therefore, it shall be the privilege and responsibility of each believer making up the church to participate through prayer and voluntary offerings toward its financial needs (Phil.4:19; I Cor. 16:2; II Cor. 9:7).
The officers of the church shall make regular monthly reports to the congregation concerning the receipts and disbursements for each month and shall make a similar report for the entire year at the Annual Congregational Meeting. The officers shall also present a proposed budget for the coming year at the Annual Congregational Meeting for confirmation by the members who are present.
ARTICLE XI - ORDINANCES
Section 1. Baptism
Believer's baptism as taught in the Scriptures shall be administered upon the approval of the candidates by the Board of Elders.
Section 2. The Lord's Supper
The Lord's Supper shall be an intricate part of worship and shall be open for the participation of all born-again believers. It shall be administered at any time designated by the Board of Elders.
ARTICLE XII - DISSOLUTION
In the event that this church ceases to function and disbands, all monies derived from the sale of property or left in funds belonging to the church after the payment of debts and obligations, shall be donated to missionary organizations with doctrinal statements in harmony with the one appearing in these by-laws. The Board of Elders shall be charged with the responsibility of carrying out the dissolution procedure.
ARTICLE XIII - AMENDMENTS
These by-laws may be changed or altered only at a duly announced meeting of the congregation as provided under Article VI. Any proposed change or alteration must be conspicuously posted in written form and called to the attention of the congregation for not less than five consecutive Sundays preceding the time it shall be acted upon. Any change or alteration of the doctrinal statement or the by-laws shall require a three-fourths majority vote of members present.
ARTICLE XIV – SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES
In any dispute arising between church members, pastors, or staff pertaining to any matter of spiritual teaching or practices, church finances, or title to property purchased with church contributions, the dispute will be resolved by the Board of Elders of the church. A decision will be reached after prayerful consideration, in a spirit of humility, with each Elder regarding another before himself and striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3).
ARTICLE XV – MARRIAGE
All who are ordained, licensed, commissioned or otherwise authorized by this church to solemnize marriages may do so, in the exercise of religious freedom, only where the participants are one man and one woman (Gen. 2:21–24; Matt. 19:4–6; Mark 10:6–9). Church facilities may be used for weddings only where both prospective spouses are church members in good standing; church facilities are not available to the general public for that purpose.