Table of Contents:
Article 1: Name
Article 2: Mission of the Church
Article 3: Statement of Faith
Article 4: Church Covenant
Article 5: Church Leadership-Elder Board
Article 6: Church Leadership-Deacons
Article 7: Other Support Staff
Article 8: Church Membership
Article 9: Sacraments
Article 10: Facility Use Policy
Article 11: Marriage Policy
Article 12: Amendment of Bylaws
Article 13: Dissolution of the Church
Written January, 2013. Updated May, 2016.
The name of this organization is Grace Bible Church of Gatesville. It is located at 4012 East Hwy 84 Gatesville, Texas 76528.
Mission of the Church
Grace Bible Church (GBC) exists to bring glory to God through Spirit-transformed lives by the beauty and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Statement of Faith
3.1 Statement of Faith
Of the Holy Scripture
Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence do reveal the nature and power of God, these means of revelation are only sufficient to leave humanity inexcusable in sin before God (Rom 1:20). Therefore, it has pleased the Lord to commit his purpose, will, and nature to humanity in writing. The product of which is the Holy Scripture. The Holy Scripture exists in sixty-six books (i.e. the Protestant Old and New Testaments) and alone constitutes the verbally inspired Word of God. As such Scripture is utterly authoritative and without error in the original writings. It is complete in its revelation of God’s will for salvation and sufficient for all that God requires us to believe and do. Also, it is final in its authority over every domain of knowledge to which it speaks (Mat 5:18; 24:35; John 10:35; 16:12-13;17:17; 1 Cor 2:13; 2 Tim 3:15-17; Heb 4:12; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Therefore, Scripture is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it teaches; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; and trusted, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises. As God’s people hear, believe, and do the Word, they are equipped as disciples of Christ and witnesses to the gospel.
Though all Scripture is not equally clear, a person may attain sufficient understanding for life and godliness through the use of ordinary means to interpret Scripture. Further, we confess that both our finitude and our sinfulness preclude the possibility of knowing God’s truth exhaustively; however, enlightened by the Spirit of God, we can know God’s revealed truth truly.
The Holy Spirit so superintended the human authors of Scripture that through the human authors’ respective personalities and styles (2 Pet 1:20-21), the product was precisely the Word of God and therefore without error in the whole or in the part (Mat 5:18; 2 Tim 3:16). Further, the Holy Spirit so communicated God’s revelation by means of human authors that though culturally and historically contextualized, the Holy Scripture is applicable to all people in all generations when rightly interpreted and applied.
Of the Triune God
There is but one God (Deut 6:4; Is 41:4; 43:10-13; 44:6-8), eternally existing in three equally and fully divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who know, love, and glorify one another (Mat 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14; 1 Pet 1:2). This one true and living God is infinitely perfect both in his love and in his holiness. He is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible, and is therefore worthy to receive all glory and adoration. Immortal and eternal, he perfectly and exhaustively knows the end from the beginning, sustains and sovereignly rules over all things, and providentially brings about his eternal good purposes to redeem a people for himself and restore his fallen creation, to the praise of his glorious grace (Is 44:6-8; 45:5-7; Eph 1:3-14).
God the Father: God the Father, the first Person of the Trinity, orders and disposes all things according to his own purpose and grace (Ps 145:8-9; 1 Cor 8:6). He is the Creator of all things (Gen 1:1-31; Eph 3:9) and is sufficient in himself, not standing in need of any creature that he has made. (Acts 17:24-25). As the only absolute and omnipotent Ruler in the universe, he is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption (Ps 103:19; Rom 11:36).
His fatherhood involves both his designation within the Trinity and his relationship with humanity. As Creator he is Father to all men (Acts17:28), but he is spiritual Father only to believers (Rom 8:14; 2 Cor 6:18; Eph 4:6). He has decreed for his own glory all things that come to pass (Eph 1:11). He continually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and events (1 Chron 29:11). He has graciously chosen from eternity past those whom he would have as his own (Eph 1:4-6). He saves from sin all who come to him through Jesus Christ, adopting them into his family (John 1:12; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:5; Heb 12:5-9). As Father to his children, he hears and answers prayer according to His wisdom, love, and providence. He will carry out all things in their proper time and order that they would consummate in Jesus Christ to reveal the supremacy of his name and purposes especially including the power of His love (Rom 11:33-36; Eph 1:11).
God the Son: Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, is the Father’s only begotten eternal Son, very God of very God, who possesses all the divine excellencies, and thus he is coequal, consubstantial, and coeternal with the Father and is himself the image of the invisible God (John 10:30; 14:9; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3). Jesus Christ is the agent through whom God the Father created all things and by whom all things continue in existence and in operation. (John 1:3; Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:2).
The Son of God became incarnate approximately 2000 years ago, grew “in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke2:52) all the while living and dying wholly obedient to the will of his Father and therefore, without sin (Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22). This incarnation consisted in God the Son adding humanity to his deity. As a result of the incarnation, the Son of God became and remains, one person who exists in two natures, full deity and full humanity. None of the attributes of deity or humanity were erased, given over, inoperative, or forfeited in this union.
The Son of God was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:35). He suffered under Pontius Pilate and was crucified. As a result of his crucifixion and the predetermined plan of God, the God-Man died a substitutionary and propitiatorydeath in the most absolute sense, the just for the unjust (Rom 3:25; 2 Cor 5:15; Heb 2:17; 1 John 2:2). He was then buried and on the third day, rose bodily from the dead and appeared to many of his disciples (1 Cor 15:1-8). He ascended into heaven, where he sits now at the right hand of God the Father (Acts 1:9).
As a result of his accomplished work, he became the head over all things as uniquely demonstrated in the church, which is his body (Col1:18). Further, he does not cease to intercede and advocate for his people while seated at the right hand of the Father on high (Eph 1:22-23; Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25).
God the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, is eternally one with the Father and Son. He is underived, possessing all the attributes of personality and deity, including intellect (1 Cor 2:10-13), emotions (Eph 4:30), will (1 Cor 12:11), eternality (Heb 9:14), omnipresence (Ps 139:7-10), omniscience (Is 40:13-14), omnipotence (Rom 15:13), and truthfulness (John 16:13). In all the divine attributes he is coequal, consubstantial, and coeternal with the Father and the Son (Mat 28:19; Acts 5:3-4; 28:25-26; 1 Cor 12:4-6; 2 Cor13:14; Jer 31:31-34 with Heb 10:15-17).
The salvation that Jesus Christ accomplished is applied to his people by the Holy Spirit. Sent by the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ, and, as the Helper, is present with and in believers (John 14:26; 15:26). His work includes convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He also regenerates spiritually dead sinners, awakening them to repentance and faith. It is in and through him that Christians are baptized into union with the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:5-8; 16:7-11; Ez 37:14). By the Spirit’s work believers are renewed, sanctified, and adopted into God’s family. Through the Holy Spirit Christians participate in the divine nature and receive his sovereignly distributed gifts (Rom 5:5; 8:13-17; 15:16; 1 Cor 12:4-11; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2). The Holy Spirit is himself the down payment of the promised inheritance, and in this age indwells, guides, instructs, equips, revives, and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service (Acts 2:38; 5:32; Rom 8:9-11; 15:13; 1 Cor 6:19; Eph 1:13-14.
Of the Nature and Fall of Humanity
Humanity, both male and female, was created in the image of God according to His likeness and therefore every person of every race possesses full dignity and is equally worthy of respect and Christian love (Gen 1:26-27). In this original condition, humanity existed without sin and therefore in unhindered relationship with God his Maker. However, tragically Adam distorted that image and forfeited his original blessedness—for himself and all his progeny—by falling into sin through Satan’s temptation (Gen 3:1-13). As a result of this original sin, all human beings are alienated from God, corrupted in every aspect of their being (e.g., physically, mentally, volitionally, emotionally, spiritually) and condemned finally and irrevocably to death—apart from God’s own gracious intervention (Gen 6:5; Jer 17:9; Rom 3:9-20; 5:12-21). The supreme need of all human beings is to be reconciled to the God under whose just and holy wrath we stand and the only hope of all human beings is the undeserved love of this same God, who alone can rescue us and restore us to himself.
Of Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality
The term “marriage” has only one meaning: a covenant between one man and one woman, in a single exclusive union, by which their status changes from two individuals to one flesh as God joins them together. This covenant creates a new family such that their lifelong primary human loyalty is now to one another before anyone else. It is an earthly covenant between one man and one woman that God created and sanctioned to image the unbreakable heavenly covenant between Christ and His Church, therefore intended not to be broken by anything but death. From Genesis to Revelation, the authority of Scripture witnesses to the nature of biblical marriage as uniquely bound to the complementarity of man and woman. The Lord Jesus Himself said that marriage was created by God from the beginning, so no human institution has the authority to redefine marriage any more than a human institution has the authority to redefine the gospel, which marriage mysteriously reflects (Gen 2:18-25; Mat 19:3-9; Eph 5:22-33).
Regarding gender, God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. Rejection of one’s biological gender is a rejection of the image of God within that person (Gen 1:26-27; Ps 139).
God created sex as a gift to be enjoyed within the covenant of marriage. God intends sexual expression to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other. God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of this marriage covenant. The exercise of sexual expression outside the biblical definition of marriage in any manner, including but not limited to adultery, homosexuality, premarital sex, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, and use of pornography, is contradictory to God’s design for sexuality and marriage. (Gen 2:15-25; Mat 5:27-32; Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9-20; 7:2-5; Heb 13:4; 1 Tim 1:10).
Because all of humanity is utterly indisposed to and incapable of any good, the salvation of humanity is wholly by the grace of God alone through the redemptive work of Christ alone. Salvation cannot be obtained through any effort of humanity but may be appropriated solely by faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ (John 1:12; 14:6; Acts 4:12; Rom 10:13-14; Eph 2:8-9).
A person is justified, that is declared righteous by God, on the basis of God’s grace through faith in Christ. This justification takes place as a result of Christ’s righteousness being transferred to the account of the individual and the individual’s sins being transferred to the account of Christ when he bore sin on the cross (Rom 4:1-8). Because of this divine exchange, God can be both just, in that he condemned sin in his Son and the justifier, in that he justifies those who believe in his Son (Rom 3:26).
God does not leave those he justifies in the state in which he finds them but begins to sanctify them, that is make them holy (Phil 1:9-10; 2 Pet 3:18). As a result, though justification and sanctification are distinct doctrines, they are inseparable. God’s saving grace is always a transformative grace. Although sanctification is effectual, it is progressive growth in holiness; yet not complete in this life and therefore, the experience of the believer is always one of real struggle against sin (Rom 7:14-25; Gal 5:16-24; 1 John 1:8).
Salvation is not complete until Christ returns and the believer, body and soul is fully and finally reunited with the Savior in perfect intimacy and purity (1 John 3:2).
Of the Church
The church exists both visibly and invisibly. The invisible church consists of all who have truly trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation and is the spiritual body of Christ. This includes all the redeemed of the ages, God’s elect from among all peoples from every tribe, tongue, and nation. God alone knows those who makeup the invisible church (2 Tim 2:19; Rev 4:9-10).
The visible church includes all those who profess and practice true Christianity. All Christians are instructed by God in his word to be committed to the visible church and therefore, the local assembly (Heb 10:25).
The primary purpose of the Church is to worship God and glorify Him by building up believers (gospel maturity) and effectively reaching the world with the gospel of Christ (gospel outreach). The church is distinguished by her gospel message, her sacraments, her discipline, her great mission, and, above all, by her love for God, and by her members’ love for one another and for the world. The church serves as a sign of God’s future new world when its members live for the service of one another and their neighbors, rather than for self-focus. The church is the corporate dwelling place of God’s Spirit, and the continuing witness to God in the world (Mat 16:15-19; 28:18-20; John 13:34-35; Acts 2:41-42; 1 Cor 3:16; 12:1-31; Col 1:27-29; 1 Tim 3:15.
The church has received two sacraments from the Lord—baptism and the Lord’s Supper—which are to be observed throughout the duration of this age by those who profess the name of Christ (Mat 26:26-29; 28:19; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:23-34;12:13).
Of the Restoration of All Things
At the end of this age, Christ will return bodily to judge the living and the dead and consummate his kingdom (Mat 25:31-33; Acts 1:11; 2 Tim 4:1). Upon his return there will be the bodily resurrection of both the just and the unjust. The unjust will be resurrected to judgment and eternal conscious punishment in hell. The just will be resurrected to eternal blessedness in the immediate presence of our triune God to live forever with him in the new heaven and the new earth (Matt 25:21, 41, 46; 1 Thess 4:13-5:11; 2 Thess 1:9; Rev 20:11-15). On that day the church will be presented faultless before God by the obedience, suffering, and triumph of Christ, and all sin will be purged and its wretched effects forever banished (Rev 21:1-8). God will make his dwelling among his people and everything will be to the praise of his glorious grace.
Statement of Final Authority in Matters of Faith and Conduct
This Statement of Faith does not exhaust the extent of our beliefs. The Bible itself, as the inspired and infallible Word of God that speaks with final authority concerning truth, morality, and the proper conduct of humanity, is the sole and final source of all that we believe. For purposes of GBC’s faith, doctrine, practice, policy, and discipline, GBC’s board of elders is the final interpretive authority on the Bible’s meaning and application.
GBC’s Statement of Faith has adapted and used content from The Gospel Coalition’s Confessional Statement, Grace Community Church’sWhat We Teach document, and Austin Stone Community Church’s Affirmation of Faith.
- We covenant together as a church to believe, trust, and seek to live consistently with the truths which are articulated in the GBC Statement of Faith.
- We covenant together to participate in corporate worship by faithfully attending the corporate assemblies of this congregation.
- We covenant together to demonstrate Christian charity and benevolence to other members of Grace Bible Church and to the rest of our central Texas community.
- We covenant together to commit ourselves wholly to the universal church by means of prayer, financial assistance and other forms of service.
- We covenant together that upon moving from this location, we will as soon as possible find another gospel-centered church to which we may commit our family and ourselves.
- We covenant together to regularly and fervently pray for this church and its leadership.
- We covenant together to shepherd all who by divine providence have been placed under our care to the mercy seat of our God, Jesus Christ our Lord.
- We covenant together to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.
- We covenant together to support our church community through the means of financial offerings, given with proper prudence and gospel joy, and submission to the leadership.
- We covenant together to live faithfully in the world as ambassadors of Jesus Christ by abstaining from the stains of worldliness and pursuing a life of faith and repentance for the glory of God.
- We covenant together to call other members of this assembly to repentance if anyone strays from affirming these glorious gospel truths and/or begins to live in a way contrary to godliness.
May God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit be pleased to honor his holy name in this his holy assembly. Amen.
Church Leadership-Elder Board
5.1 Introduction and Definitions
GBC shall be governed by a plurality of Elders. All Elders are equal in authority. For the purpose of these bylaws, the term “lay elder” will refer to any man who serves as an elder who is not employed by the church in a pastoral function. The term “vocational elder” will refer to an elder who is employed by GBC for the purpose of gospel ministry. The general terms “elders” and “elder board” refer to the group at large.
5.2 Selection and Tenure
The Elder Board is solely responsible for appointing and/or hiring other elders. Men who the Elder Board deems ready to become elders may choose not to become elders, but no man may become an elder without the consent of the Elder Board. Each elder’s term of service is indefinite, and may be terminated by either the elder himself or the Elder Board (cf. 5.8).
The Elder Board shall be comprised of men who are members of the church. The only exception to this is in the case of an outside hire. In this case the vocational elder would become a member of GBC upon acceptance of the position. Further, each member of the Elder Board must be in agreement with the doctrines and principles of the church as set forth in Articles 2, 3 and 4 and GBC’s What We Teachdocument. They must also support the policies of the Church as set forth in these bylaws. They shall be men whose lives conform to the biblical qualifications presented in 1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9; and 1 Pet. 5:1–3.
The Elders are responsible for lovingly governing the church, teaching the Word of God and tenderly shepherding the flock as overseers (1 Peter 5:1–3). Specifically, these responsibilities include:
- Giving themselves to diligent study and fervent prayer;
- Consistently offering their lives as examples to the flock;
- Developing contexts for both the equipping and the work of the saints in order to present them to God as mature in Christ;
- Mobilizing the church to the world through mercy and evangelistic ministry;
- Instructing and examining baptism and membership candidates;
- Admonishing and/or disciplining members when needed;
- Caring for the sick, elderly, hurting, etc.;
- Promoting prayer within the fellowship;
- Presiding over the practice of the Lord’s Supper;
- Supervising the deacons’ distribution of the benevolence fund;
- Establishing strategic long-term goals and objectives for Grace Bible Church;
- Clarifying and guarding church doctrine and/or practices, including the formulation of consequent church policies;
- Advising and evaluating the vocational elders, including the preparation and/or revision of job descriptions;
- Participating regularly and actively in the service and ministry of the church;
- Overseeing a training program to cultivate young men aspiring to leadership and to maintain an orderly succession of elders.
In addition, the Elder Board shall ensure that there is a ministry description for all current vocational elders and shall prepare a ministry description for any new vocational elders.
5.5 Supervisory Responsibilities
The Elder Board shall have supervision over all legal and fiscal affairs of the church.
- Chairman: The Senior Pastor will serve as the Chairman of the Elder Board. As Chairman, he (or some one he designates) shall serve at all meetings of the Elder Board and the membership. If there is no Senior Pastor, the Elder Board will elect a Chairman from its own membership to serve in that capacity until a Senior Pastor is hired.
- Secretary: The Secretary shall be appointed by the Elder Board and shall keep minutes of all meetings of the Elder Board and the membership.
Generally, the Elder Board shall meet at least twice each month. Special meetings may be called by any one of the Elders.
5.8 Removal from Office
The cessation of any elder member’s service may occur under any of the following conditions:
- Lay elders may submit their resignation to the Elder Board at any time.
- Vocational elders will provide the Elder Board at least thirty (30) days notice of resignation. However, if it is mutually agreeable to both the Elder Board and the vocational elder seeking resignation, the remaining time of his service to the church may be shortened or extended.
- Any member of the Elder Board may be removed from office by reason of failure to meet the qualifications of his office, behavior that is injurious to the church, gross negligence or inability to fulfill his responsibilities.
- If a church member or fellow elder believes an elder is morally or doctrinally unfit for office, the scriptural requirement for him is clear: he or she is to approach that elder individually first, and then with one or two others. If the problem remains, then the individual, with two or three witnesses should come to the Elder Board and present the charges (Matt. 18:15–16; 1 Tim.5:19). The Elder Board would then, after conducting a diligent review with all interested parties, decide to sustain or overrule the charges. If the Elder Board sustains the charges, they could rebuke the man in the presence of the congregation, remove him from office, or both (1 Tim. 5:20, 3:1–7; Titus 1:6–9) depending on the gravity of the charges and the man’s response to correction.
- In regards to vocational elders, the Elder Board shall determine the details of cessation, including issues related to timing and severance.
5.9 Interim Pastor
In the event the church is without a Senior Pastor, the Elder Board may appoint an Interim Pastor who meets the same qualifications outlined in 5.3. He shall normally preside no longer than a one-year term.
6.1 Selection and Tenure
The Elder Board is solely responsible for appointing deacons. Men who the Elder Board deems ready to become deacons may choose not to become deacons, but no man may become a deacon without the Elder Board’s consent. Each deacon’s term of service is indefinite, and may be terminated by either the deacon himself or the Elder Board (cf. 6.7).
The deacons shall be members of the church whose lives conform to the biblical qualifications presented in Acts 6:3 and 1 Timothy 3:8–13. They must be in agreement with the doctrines and principles of the church as set forth in Articles 2, 3 and 4 and must abide by GBC’sWhat We Teach document. Further, they must support the policies of the Church as set forth in these bylaws.
Under the general oversight of the Elder Board, the deacons will manage the benevolent, physical, and social needs of the church.
In the benevolent functions of the church, the deacons are responsible to maintain the biblical standards of money, charity, work, and related issues (Isa. 10:1–4; Gal. 6:10; Eph. 4:28; 2 Thess. 3:6–15; 1 Tim. 5:3–4, 8). When a need is made known through the Elders, deacons, or members of the church, the deacons will examine the scope and urgency of the need and either address it within the deacons or present a recommendation to the Elder Board for approval. All financial gifts exceeding $500.00 must be approved by the Elder Board.
Giving to the indigent (those who walk in off the street) will be decided by the deacons on a case-by-case basis. As a general rule the deacons will not disburse money to indigents, but may purchase items necessary to meet basic needs in such areas as food, clothing, shelter, and travel.
The deacons shall elect a Chairman and Secretary from its own membership.
- The Chairman (or designee) shall serve at all meetings of the deacons.
- The Secretary (or designee) shall keep minutes of all meetings of the deacons.
Generally, the deacons shall meet at least once each month. Special meetings may be called by any one of the deacons.
The Elder Board will appoint a church Treasurer from among the deacons. The Treasurer will be a man with the appropriate skills in the area of finance. He will keep careful records of the financial dealings of the church. At any time the Elder Board may ask the Treasurer to report on the financial dealings of the church.
6.7 Removal from Office
The cessation of any deacon member’s service may occur under any of the following conditions:
- Deacons may submit their resignation to the Elders at any time.
- Any member of the deacons may be removed from office by reason of failure to meet the qualifications of his office, behavior that is injurious to the church, gross negligence or inability to fulfill his responsibilities.
- If a church member believes a deacon is morally or doctrinally unfit for office, the scriptural requirement for him is clear: he or she is to approach that deacon individually first, and then with one or two others. If the problem remains, then the individual, with two or three witnesses should come to the Elder Board and present the charges (Matt.18:15–16). The Elder Board would then, after conducting a diligent review with all interested parties, decide to sustain or overrule the charges. If the Elder Board sustains the charges, they could rebuke the man in the presence of the congregation, remove him from office, or both (1 Tim. 3:8-13, 5:20) depending on the gravity of the charges and the man’s response to correction.
Other Support Staff
7.1 Selection and Tenure
The Elder Board shall have the sole discretion to hire or appoint support staff (e.g., interns, pastoral assistants, ministry directors, secretaries, custodians, etc.) as deemed necessary. All terms of service for support staff will be indefinite (excluding internships), and may be terminated by either the staff member or the Elder Board with at least a thirty (30) day notice, or at any time that is mutually agreeable.
The duration of an internship shall be decided and agreed upon ahead of time by both the Elder Board and the prospective intern. However, if it is mutually agreeable to both the Elder Board and intern, the duration of his or her service may be shortened or lengthened.
The support staff shall sign a statement affirming that they will abide by the doctrines and principles of the church as set forth in Articles 2, 3 and 4 and support the policies of the church as set forth in these bylaws.
The Elder Board shall ensure that there is a job/ministry description for all current staff positions and shall prepare a job/ministry description for any new staff position.
7.4 Removal from Position
Any staff member may be released from his or her position by reason of failure to meet the qualifications of his or her position, behavior that is injurious to the church, gross negligence or inability to fulfill his or her responsibilities. The Elder Board shall determine the details of cessation, including issues related to timing and severance when applicable.
The membership of GBC shall consist of persons who confess faith on the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior, who give evidence of regeneration by living consistent with their profession and with the views of faith, doctrine and practice of this church, who have been baptized and who have been received into its membership according to the Bylaws of this church. Because of the responsibilities and accountability involved with church membership, members must be at least sixteen years of age.
8.2 Process of Membership:
At GBC membership is a sacred responsibility and privilege. We believe that church membership is a covenantal commitment between the individual believer and the local church and therefore should be pursued prayerfully and thoughtfully. Since this is our view of membership, those who desire to become members are required to do the following:
- They must participate in our Membership Matters class where they learn with others about the privileges and responsibilities of local church membership and the beliefs and practices of GBC.
- Upon completion of our Membership Matters class those interested in continuing with the membership process will participate in an oral interview conducted by two of GBC’s leaders (at least one of which will be an elder).
- The prospective member(s) will be asked to sign GBC’s church covenant.
- Finally, the pastors of GBC will schedule a time in which the entire church family will welcome the new member(s).
8.3 Membership Responsibilities:
Members of GBC are expected to faithfully fulfill their covenantal responsibilities (Article 4) which include, but are not limited to, the faithful stewardship of their skills, time, energy, and financial resources for the good of the church and the glory of the triune God.
8.4 Membership Privileges:
Membership bears witness to one’s spiritual rebirth and membership in the body of Christ, proclaims personal convictions and beliefs, expresses mutual interdependence with other Christians, provides for protective and corrective discipline, and allows service in various roles withheld from nonmembers.
8.5 Discipline of Members:
All members of GBC are expected to conduct their lives in a manner that adorns the gospel of Jesus Christ. Such conduct includes moral purity, personal honesty, promotion of church unity, and biblical fidelity. Members are to be consistent examples of authentic Christianity as they seek to emulate the character of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 8:28–29, 16:17–18; 1 Cor. 6:9–10; Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 4:3, 25, 5:18; 2 Tim. 3:1–17; Titus 3:10–11)
8.5.1 Purposes of Discipline:
The church is commanded to discipline its members when they engage in unrepentant, habitual sin. Church discipline has multiple protective and restorative purposes, including the following:
- Encouraging the sinning member to receive loving correction and to repent, thus restoring fellowship with Christ and the church;
- Warning other members against such sin;
- Upholding and maintaining the moral purity and blameless testimony of the church. (Matt. 18:15–18; 1 Cor. 5:1–13; 2 Cor. 2:6–11, 7:8–10; 1 Tim. 5:19–20; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14–15)
8.5.2 Process of Discipline:
Should any member depart from the standard of Scripture and engage in conduct which conflicts with biblical principles of holiness and dishonors the name of our Lord, the steps of discipline outlined in the Scriptures shall be followed as necessary to accomplish the purposes stated above:
- Private reproval of sinning member;
- Reproval before two or three witnesses;
- Public reproval before the Church;
- Termination of membership and severance of fellowship.
The entire process of church discipline outlined above shall be carried out and enforced in a spirit of Christian love, care, and sensitivity. Once the process of church discipline has begun a member cannot voluntarily withdraw or resign his or her membership. Only members in good standing with the Church may seek a transfer of membership (cf. 8.6). (Matt. 18:16–18; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 5:1–13; Gal. 6:1; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14–15; 1 Tim. 6:3–5; Titus 3:10)
8.5.3 Enactment of Discipline:
It is hoped that the preliminary steps of discipline outlined above will result in repentance on the part of the sinning member. However, if there is no indication of repentance after these steps are taken, the sinning person’s membership shall be terminated. Such termination of membership shall be decided by the Elder Board after due consideration and prayer. The reason for termination shall be stated in a pastoral letter and delivered to the terminated member. The act of termination shall also be communicated to the congregation within one (1) month of the termination of membership.
8.5.4 Re-entrance Into Membership:
In the hoped for case that a person who was excommunicated becomes repentant of his or her sin and is desirous to reunite him or herself to the church they must first meet with and be approved for reentry into membership by the Elder Board. If the Elder Board approves them they shall then be publicly welcomed back into the church.
8.6 Transfer of Membership
Members in good standing who have fulfilled their obligations to the Church and wish to leave the church for legitimate reasons, as determined by the Elder Board, shall inform the Elder Board of their decision. The Elder Board will then provide a letter of transfer to the leaving member. Such letter of transfer shall be sent to the pastor of the church the member intends to join and shall be valid only for six (6) months, but may be renewed after that time by the Elder Board if satisfactory reasons be given for the non-use. These limitations of time shall be included in the letter of transfer. Once the transfer of membership is complete, the former member’s name shall be removed from the Church’s membership roll.
The candidate for baptism will be interviewed for approval by at least two (2) elders. The candidate must make a credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ and have a basic understanding of orthodox Christianity. The baptism will be administered by one of the elders, or by someone designated by them. The mode of baptism normally practiced shall be immersion.
9.2 Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper shall be observed at least monthly or as often as the Elder Board designates. Any baptized believer is welcome to participate in this sacrament as a celebration, remembrance of and sharing in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The scriptural condition is that the believer examine him or herself so as not to partake in an unworthy manner (e.g., in rebellion, arrogance, or with known un-confessed sin in his or her life). The Elders shall have the right to withhold the elements from those who are undergoing church discipline. (Matt. 26:20–29; Mark 14:12–25; Luke 22:7-20; 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:17–34)
Facility Use Policy
10.1 Purpose Statement
At GBC, we recognize our building was provided through God’s benevolence and by the sacrificial generosity of our members. We desire that our building be used to advance the mission of the church and to bring God glory. Although our building is not generally open to the public, we make our facilities available to approved non-members as a witness to our faith, in a spirit of Christian charity, and as a means of demonstrating the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
But facility use will not be permitted to persons or groups holding, advancing, or advocating beliefs or practices that conflict with the church’s faith or moral teachings, which are summarized in our Statement of Faith and Bylaws. Nor may church facilities be used for activities that contradict, or are deemed inconsistent with, the church’s faith or moral teachings. The Elder Board is the final decision-maker concerning use of church facilities.
This restricted facility use policy is necessary for two important reasons. First, GBC may not in good conscience materially cooperate in activities or beliefs that are contrary to its faith. Allowing its facilities to be used for purposes that contradict the church’s beliefs would be material cooperation with that activity, and would be a grave violation of the church’s faith and religious practice. (2 Cor 6:14; 1 Thess 5:22.)
Second, it is important that GBC present a consistent message to the community, and that the church staff and members conscientiously maintain that message as part of their witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Allowing facilities to be used by groups or persons who express beliefs or engage in practices contrary to the church’s faith would have a severe, negative impact on the message that the church strives to promote. It could also cause confusion and scandal to church members and the community because they may reasonably perceive that by allowing use of our facilities, the church agrees with the beliefs or practices of the persons or groups using its facilities.
Therefore, in no event shall persons or groups who hold, advance, or advocate beliefs, or advance, advocate, or engage in practices that contradict the church’s faith use any church facility. Nor may church facilities be used in any way that contradicts the church’s faith. This policy applies to all church facilities, regardless of whether the facilities are connected to the church’s sanctuary, because the church sees all of its property as holy and set apart to worship God. (Col 3:17).
10.2 Approved Users and Priority of Use
The pastoral staff must approve all uses of church facilities. Priority shall be given to church members, their immediate families, and organized groups that are part of the ministry, or sponsored activities of the church. Church facilities and equipment will be made available to non-members or outside groups meeting the following qualifications:
- Groups or persons requesting facility use must affirm that their beliefs and practices and planned uses of the facilities are consistent with the church’s faith and practice.
- The group or person seeking facility use must submit a signed “Church Facility Reservation Request and Agreement” form.
- The group or person seeking facility use must be willing to take responsibility for the facilities and equipment used and must agree to abide by the church’s rules of conduct for facility use, as stated in the “Church Facility Reservation Request and Agreement” form and as described in any additional instructions by church staff.
Because God has ordained marriage and defined it as a covenant between one man and one woman, in a single exclusive union, by which their status changes from two individuals to one flesh as God joins them together, GBC will only recognize marriages between a biological man and a biological woman. Further, the Elders and Deacons of GBC shall only participate in weddings and solemnize marriages between one man and one woman. Finally, the facilities and property of the church shall only host weddings between one man and one woman.
Amendment of Bylaws
These Bylaws may be amended by the Elder Board at any time. If an amendment is made to these bylaws the Elder Board is required to inform the church of their decision and provide their rational for the change within sixty (60) days of having made the amendment.
Dissolution of the Church
13.1 Requirements for Dissolution
GBC may be dissolved by the Elder Board at any time.
13.2 Disposal of Property
In the event of dissolution, after all debts are paid, the remaining church property (or properties), both real and personal, and all proceeds there from, shall be given without cost to one or more like-minded churches and/or non-denominational, evangelical, tax-exempt religious organizations. The recipient organization(s) shall be decided by the Elder Board.