CONSTITUTION of COTTONWOOD BIBLE CHURCH
Whereas we, Cottonwood Bible Church, having searched the Scriptures under the guidance of His Spirit, have recognized the need to constitute ourselves to conform more closely to God’s will for the Church and to prepare ourselves for greater efforts in His name, therefore, we do hereby organize ourselves in accord with the Arizona Nonprofit Corporation Act and adopt this Constitution as our articles of governance, to be interpreted at all times to reflect the character of and bring glory to Jesus Christ, as revealed in the Holy Bible and articulated in the Statement of Faith and Covenant of this church.
This church is autonomous and maintains the right to govern its own affairs, independent of any denominational control. Recognizing, however, the benefits of cooperation with other churches in world missions, this church voluntarily affiliates with the Southern Baptist Convention in its National, State and local expressions.
Section 1 – Qualifications
To qualify for membership in this church, a person must…
•Be a believer in Jesus Christ who gives evidence of regeneration,
•Have been baptized by immersion, in obedience to Christ, following his or her regeneration, and
•Wholeheartedly believe in the Christian faith as revealed in the Bible.
After faithfully attending a new members’ class and completing a membership interview with the pastor and another elder, each member must agree to submit to the teaching of Scripture as expressed in the Statement of Faith and must promise to keep the commitments expressed in the Church Covenant.
Section 2 – Admission of Members
To be admitted into church membership, applicants shall be recommended by the elders for admission and accepted by at least three-quarters vote of the members at any regular or special meeting of the members, and shall at that point relinquish their membership in other churches.
Section 3 – Duties and Privileges of Membership
In accord with the duties enumerated in the Church Covenant, each member shall be privileged and expected to participate actively in the life of the church by…
Regularly attending its Lord’s Day meetings;
Faithfully observing its ordinances, namely Baptism and the Lord’s Supper;
Submitting to its discipline and instruction;
Attending its Members’ Meetings;
Contributing to the ministry and life of the church, consistent with God’s leading and with the gifts, time, and material resources each has received from God; and
Voting on the election of officers, on decisions regarding membership, and on all other matters submitted to the congregation’s vote.
Section 4 – On Church Discipline
Any member consistently neglectful of his or her duties or guilty of conduct by which the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be dishonored, and so opposing the welfare of the church, shall be subject to the admonition of the elders and the discipline of the church, according to the instructions of our Lord in Matthew 18:15-17 and the example of Scripture.
Section 5 – Termination of Membership
Membership may be terminated upon a member’s voluntary resignation, joining another church, or as an act of church discipline at the recommendation of the elders and with the vote of three-quarters of the members at any regular or special meeting of the members. No church member may terminate his or her membership while under church discipline.
Section 1 – Summary
The Biblical offices in the church are elders and deacons, but final earthly authority is vested in the assembled congregation.
Section 2 – Elders
This church acknowledges that a plurality of men, called elders, are commanded to shepherd God’s people (Acts 20:28). Elders, who should comprise of not less than three men, must satisfy the qualifications set forth in I Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:6–9.
The elders shall take particular responsibility to examine and instruct prospective members, examine and recommend all prospective candidates for offices and positions, oversee the work of the deacons and appointed church agents and committees, conduct worship services, administer the ordinances of baptism and communion, equip the membership for the work of the ministry, encourage sound doctrine and practice, admonish and correct error, oversee the process of church discipline, coordinate and promote the ministries of the church, and mobilize the church for world missions. The elders are further to ensure that all who minister the Word to the congregation, including outside speakers, share our fundamental convictions.
Section 3 – The Pastor
The pastor shall be an elder. He shall perform the duties of an elder described in Section 2 above, and shall be recognized by the church as particularly gifted and called to the full-time ministry of preaching and teaching. His call shall not be subject to the triennial reaffirmation or to the term limitation set out in Article 7, Section 2, for elders.
Section 4 – Deacons
The office of deacon is described in 1 Timothy 3:8–13 and Acts 6:1–7. Deacons shall care for the temporal needs of members, attend to the accommodations for public worship, and encourage and support those able to help others and those with gifts of administration.
Section 5 – Clerk
It shall be the duty of the clerk to record the minutes of all regular and special members’ meetings of the church, to preserve an accurate roll of the membership, and to render reports as requested by the pastor, the elders, the deacons, or the church.
Section 6 – Treasurer
The treasurer, who shall not be an active elder, deacon, or paid church staff member, shall ensure that all funds and securities of the church are properly secured in such banks, financial institutions, or depositories as appropriate, being the signer of such accounts along with one of the non-paid elders.
Section 1 – Principles
The election process shall express that spirit of mutual trust, openness, and loving consideration that is appropriate within the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Section 2 – Selection of Officers
The election of officers shall be held at a members’ meeting of the church. Names of nominees to serve as elders, deacons, clerk, or treasurer shall be presented by the elders at a previous members’ meeting (providing that previous meeting occurred at least eight weeks prior), and the election shall proceed as directed by the moderator. The elders should seek recommendations and involvement from the general membership in the nomination process.
Section 3 – Calling of the Pastor
In the calling of any man to this position, the same basic process of calling an elder must be followed. In addition, however, the church must be given adequate opportunity to assess the preaching gifts of any potential pastor and, before being asked to express its judgment, must receive assurance from the elders that, having interviewed the man concerned, they are in no doubt as to his wholehearted assent to the Statement of Faith and Church Covenant.
Section 1 – Mandatory Indemnification
If a legal claim or criminal allegation is made against a person because he or she is or was an officer, employee, or agent of the church, the church shall provide indemnification against liability and costs incurred in defending against the claim if the elders determine that the person acted (a) in good faith, (b) with the care that an ordinarily prudent person in a similar position would exercise under similar circumstances, and (c) in a manner the person reasonably believed to be in the best interest of the church, and the person had no reasonable cause to believe his or her conduct was unlawful.
Believing that the Bible commands Christians to make every effort to live at peace and to resolve disputes with each other in private or within the Christian Church (see, e.g., Matthew 18: 15–20, I Corinthians 6: 1–8), the church shall require its members to resolve conflict among themselves according to biblically based principles, without reliance on the secular courts.
The church shall meet together for public worship each Lord’s Day morning, and at other times throughout the week as the church may determine. Church members’ meetings shall be held at least quarterly. A quorum shall consist of active resident members, except as otherwise noted differently in this constitution, in attendance at a properly called meeting.