Interpretation of these Bylaws should lend itself to being read with a heart as noted in 2 Corinthians 3:6, “…who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (New American Standard Bible).
ARTICLE I. CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
Section 1. General
First Baptist Church of Nettleton shall consist of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who have been scripturally baptized and who maintain a lifestyle that is not in conflict with the Church’s Statement of Faith (Article IV).
- Profession of faith and baptism according to the policies of this church.
- Letter from another Baptist church.
- Restoration upon a statement of prior conversion experience and baptism in a Baptist church when no letter is obtainable. Others desiring membership shall be considered on an individual basis.
- Completion of the New Members Class.
Section 2. Duties and Rights of Members
- Members are expected to maintain their prayer life and testimony to Christ.
- To attend all services unless providently hindered.
- To give regularly to the support of the church, the relief of the poor, and to spread the gospel to all the world.
- To extend a cordial welcome to all visitors at all times.
- All members shall have equal rights and privileges.
- Every member of the church is entitled to vote at all elections and all questions submitted to the church in conference, provided the church member is present or provision has been made for absentee balloting.
Section 3. Termination of Membership
Membership shall be terminated in the following ways:
- Transfer of letter to another Baptist church.
- Exclusion by action of the church.*
- Erasure upon request or proof of membership in a church of another denomination.
- Cleansing of the rolls.
*Should a member become an offense to the Church and to its good name by reason of immoral or unchristian conduct, or by persistent breach of his/her covenant vows, or nonsupport of the Church, the Church may terminate his/her membership by a three-fourths vote of those members present, but only after due notice and hearing by the pastor and deacons, and after faithful efforts have been made to bring such member to repentance and amendment (Matthew 18:15-18 & Galatians 6:1-2).
Section 4. Acceptance of Members
- The reception of members shall take place at any regular worship service, and upon completion of the “New Members Class”. *
- Should there be any dissent to any candidate, such dissent shall be referred to the pastor and the active deacons for their investigation and recommendation to the church.
*A New Members Class, provided by or led by the ministerial staff, explaining opportunities for service and the vision of First Baptist Church Nettleton will be afforded to all candidates for membership. Following completing of this new members’ class, all such candidates shall be presented to the church at any regular worship service.
ARTILCE II. CHURCH OFFICERS
All church officers must be members of First Baptist Church, Nettleton, MS.
Section 1. Senior Pastor
- The Senior Pastor is responsible for leading the church to function as a New Testament church. The Senior Pastor will lead the congregation, the organizations and the church staff to perform their tasks.
- The Senior Pastor is leader of pastoral ministries in the church. As such, he works with the deacons and church staff to:
- Lead the church in performing its tasks.
- Lead the church to engage in a fellowship of worship, witness, education, ministry, and application.
- Proclaim the gospel to believers and unbelievers.
- Care for the church’s members and other persons in the community.
- A Senior Pastor shall be chosen and called by the church whenever a vacancy occurs. His election shall take place at a meeting called for that purpose of which at least one week’s notice has been given. On seeking a pastor: The search committee should present one potential pastor at a time. Notice of a vote on pastor, will be sent in advance by mail. Vote to take place on a Sunday morning by secret ballot. Potential pastor must receive and 85% affirmative vote to be called as pastor.
- The Senior Pastor shall give at least two weeks’ notice before terminating his responsibilities as pastor. The Senior Pastor shall have two Sundays off for vacation and three Sundays for revival time.
- If the need arises, the Senior Pastor may be asked to resign upon joint recommendation of the Deacon Body and Church Council, followed by a Church vote. Voting on this motion will be by secret ballot, during a Sunday morning, called business meeting. Simple majority (51%) will carry this motion. Notification to church membership about this vote will be made by mail prior to the vote.
- The Senior Pastor may serve as an ex-officio member of all committees.
Section 1A. Interim Pastor
The interim pastor shall temporarily fill the preaching responsibilities vacated in the pulpit. The interim pastor shall be recommended by the Deacon Body and approved by a church vote.
Section 2. Church Council
The church council shall be composed of the Pastor as Chairman and, at least, the following leaders: the ministerial staff, Moderator, Chairman of the Deacon Body, Sunday School Director, Men’s Ministry Coordinator, Women’s Ministry Coordinator, Chairperson of the Budget & Finance Committee, and other administrative staff.
The Church Council shall serve the church by leading in planning, coordinating, conducting, and evaluating the ministries and programs of the church and its organizations. The primary functions of the Church Council shall be to recommend to the church suggested objectives and church goals; to review and coordinate ministry and program plans recommended by church officers, organizations, and committees; to recommend to the church the use of leadership, calendar time, and other resources according to program priorities; and to evaluate achievements in terms of church objectives and goals. All matters agreed upon by the Church Council which call for action not already approved by the church shall be referred to the church for approval or disapproval.
Section 3. Church Staff
This Church shall call or employ ministerial and non-ministerial staff members as needed. Ministerial staff are God-called persons authorized by the church to perform functions such as the preaching and teaching of doctrinal beliefs as found in God’s Word; leading services such as corporate worship, weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community. Non-ministerial staff are persons who are employed by the church for reasons other than the preaching and teaching of doctrinal beliefs; leading of services; or providing spiritual guidance (examples would include: secretary, custodian, etc.). When the need for a new staff position is determined, the Personnel Committee shall write a detailed description of the position and present it to the church. The duties and responsibilities of each individual position will be governed by the “First Baptist Church Employee Handbook.”
- Ministerial Staff
Ministerial staff members, other than the pastor, shall be recommended to the church by an elected Search Committee. The church shall be called into a church-wide business meeting during a Sunday morning service for the sole purpose of nominating both male and female church members to serve on the Search Committee. The church body will be informed two (2) weeks prior to this church-wide business meeting, during which time the church will be asked to list 7 nominations for this committee on a secret ballot. These nominations will be tallied by the Deacon Body and the top four males and top three females receiving nominations will make up the committee. If one of the top nominees wishes not to serve, the next person in line will be asked to serve. No spouses shall serve simultaneously. Upon selection, the Search Committee shall appoint for themselves a chairperson and shall begin the process of searching for the new staff member.
The Search Committee shall present only one candidate at a time to the church for consideration. Upon the approval of the Pastor and the Deacon Body, the candidate for the staff office shall be presented to the church at a church-wide business meeting specially called for that purpose by the Search Committee. At least two-week’s notice shall be given prior to such business meeting. Election of the new staff member shall be by secret ballot and an affirmative vote of not less than 85% of those voting members present. Absentee ballots shall not be counted. The staff member, thus elected, shall serve until his/her employment is ended either by his/her resignation or by termination upon request of this Church. The staff member shall give at least two (2) weeks’ notice before terminating his/her employment. At any time the church is without a Pastor or an interim Pastor the Associate Pastor shall preside over the Church Council and exercise the supervisory duties of the Pastor.
- Non-ministerial Staff Members
Non-ministerial staff members shall be employed as the church determines the need for their services. The Personnel Committee shall recommend non-ministerial staff members for church approval. Upon approval of the church, they are to be assigned to the guidance and direction of the Pastor in the performance of their duties. A job description will be presented along with recommendation.
Non-ministerial staff members may resign their position to the Pastor or Personnel Committee with a two-week notice, and Personnel Committee has the authority to terminate the services of non-ministerial staff members.
Section 4. Deacons
- Qualifications of Deacons
- He must fulfill the scriptural requirements as set out in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.
- He must accept the Bible as the inspired and infallible Word of God.
- He must be at least 21 years of age, an active member of First Baptist Church Nettleton, MS for a minimum of one year and a practicing Christian for at least 3 years.
- He shall tithe and give cheerfully to the support of the church (Malachi 3:10).
- He must support the Baptist Faith and Message (2000).
- He shall agree with and support the Mission Statement of First Baptist Church Nettleton and the Church Constitution and By-Laws.
- He must exhibit exemplary behavior in the community.
- He shall be Spirit filled and full of wisdom (Acts. 6:3).
- He shall have compassion for the lost, seeking with his life to win them to the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).
- He shall be able to keep, and have a reputation for keeping, in confidence those things which should not be discussed with others (1 Timothy 3:8).
- He shall promote and preserve harmony within the church (1 Timothy 3:3; Philippians 2:2-5).
- Selection of Deacons
- Deacons shall be nominated at the morning worship service on the second Sunday in August. Deacons will be nominated by secret ballot according to the number of positions available. The number of nominations will be tallied, the person with the highest number of nominations will be asked to serve and proceed down the list until the appropriate number of vacancies are filled. The same procedure will be used to elect a deacon or deacons to serve the unexpired term of a deacon (deacons) who die, move, resign, are removed by the church, or become incapacitated by way of special election. One serving an unexpired term is eligible for re-election if he has served only 12 months or less.
- Deacons will serve on a rotation basis. After three (3) years a deacon rotates off and is not eligible to serve again for two years. At least two deacons will rotate off each year.
- The church shall have as many active deacons as it deems necessary and practical to carry on the ministry of the deacon body.
- Deacon Officers
Officers of the active Deacon body will be the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and Secretary. New officers shall be elected at the first Deacon’s meeting in September by the active Deacon body and shall serve a one-year term in office.
- The Chairman will preside over all deacon meetings, act as the spokesman for the deacon body and make recommendations to the church body.
- The Vice-Chairman will assist the Chairman in performing his duties and act as Chairman in his absence.
- The Secretary will take the minutes of all Deacon meetings, keep past records and minutes for future reference and prepare copies of recommendations to the church.
- Deacon Ministry
In accordance with the meaning of the word and the practice of the New Testament, deacons are to be servants of the church. The task of the deacons is to serve with the pastor and staff in performing pastoral ministry tasks; proclaim the gospel to believers and unbelievers; care for church members and other person in the community; lead the church to engage in a fellowship of worship, witness, education, ministry, and application; and lead the church in performing its tasks.
- Duties and Responsibilities
- It shall be the duty of the Active Deacons to assist the Pastor in overseeing the welfare of the church body. They are to be actively involved in serving the church body through the presentation and distribution of the Lord’s Supper, ministering to shut-ins, widows, and others with special needs through visitation, and in other ways of encouragement and servant ministry.
- The Active Deacons shall meet regularly each month and for special meetings when called for by the Pastor or Chairman of Deacons. These meetings are considered Executive Session, therefore they are confidential and the minutes from these meetings are not available to the general membership of the church.
- The deacons can approve up to $500 for ministry needs of the church, members, and other needs as approved by the deacon body.
- The deacons will make recommendations to the church during monthly business meetings as necessary to meet the specific needs of the church.
- Deacon Emeritus
Upon reaching the age of 75 or being physically unable to serve because of health conditions any ordained Deacon may be placed in the status of Deacon Emeritus upon recommendation of the active Deacons, acceptance by the ordained Deacon, and approval by the church body.
The establishment of this position is to honor the Deacon’s service to the church and officially recognize his retirement from active status. As Deacon Emeritus, the Deacon is no longer considered a part of the active Deacon ministry but is honorably distinguished as an inactive Deacon. He is no longer to be considered in the annual election and rotation system. The Deacon holding the title of Deacon Emeritus may attend regular Active Deacon Meetings or functions at the invitation of the Chairman of Deacons, but does not possess any voting, office holding, or formal leadership responsibilities. He may participate in regular Deacon Ministries such as visitation, outreach, training, retreats, or special events.
Section 5. Moderator
The Moderator will be appointed yearly by the active deacons. It is the responsibility of the Moderator to maintain the fellowship during time of church business; to conduct business in an orderly fashion; to clarify matters voted for later action; to avoid triviality. In the absence of Church Moderator, the Chairman of Deacons will act as moderator. In the event both Church Moderator and Chairman of Deacons are both absent, Vice-Chairman of the Deacons will takeover, followed by the Church Clerk.
Section 6. Church Clerk
The Church Clerk will be nominated by the Nominating Committee on a yearly basis. It is the responsibilities of the Church Clerk to record minutes of all church business meetings; preserve records for present and future use; correspond with other churches and members; provide records for church history; prepare letter to the annual association. In the absence of the Church Clerk the Assistant Church Clerk, nominated by the Nominating Committee, will act as Church Clerk.
Section 7. Church Treasurer
The Church Treasurer will be nominated by the Nominating Committee on a yearly basis. The treasurer serves as the church’s financial officer. The church may delegate some of the clerical responsibilities to the church secretary, who will assist the elected treasurer. Church Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer will be ex-officio members of the Budget and Finance Committee. In the absence of the Church Treasurer the Assistance Church Treasurer, nominated by the Nominating Committee, will act as Church Treasurer.
It shall be the duty of the treasurer and secretary to receive, preserve, and pay out, upon receipt of vouchers approved and signed by authorized personnel, all money or things of value paid or given to the church; to keep itemized account of all receipts and disbursements; to render to the church at the regular business meeting an itemized report of the receipts and disbursements of the preceding quarter. Upon rendering the annual account at the end of each fiscal year and its acceptance and approval by the church, the records shall be delivered by the treasurer to the Church Clerk, who shall keep and preserve the account as part of the permanent records of the church. Reports to the Budget Committee shall be made monthly and then made available to the church membership.
Section 8. Trustees
Three trustees, nominated by the Nominating Committee and elected by the church, will hold in trust the church property. They shall have no power to buy, sell, mortgage, lease, or transfer any property without a specific vote of the church authorizing each action. It shall be the function of the trustees to affix their signatures to legal documents involving the sale, mortgage, purchase, or rental of property or other legal documents where the signatures of trustees are required. They shall serve for a period of three years, with one-third rotating off each year.
Section 9. Other Officers
Names of all other officers shall be submitted by the Nominating Committee, after each proposed officer has been contacted and committed, at the time designated in the “Church Officers, Program Organizational Leaders, and Standing and Special Committees Handbook.” Only members of the church will be eligible to hold office.
ARTICLE III. COMMITTEES
Much of the ministry and administrative work of First Baptist Church Nettleton is performed by committees. These committees are made up of church members who are willing to serve in that capacity. Some committee positions require specialized background and experience. The “Church Officers, Program Organizational Leaders, and Standing and Special Committees Handbook” contains a list of all active committees, an explanation of how the committees are created and how members are selected, an explanation of the committee’s responsibilities and procedural information employed for meetings and others duties. The Nominating Committee shall be responsible for the “Church Officers, Program Organizational Leaders, and Standing and Special Committees Handbook.”
ARTICLE IV. EDUCATIONAL MINISTRIES
All organizations of the Church shall be under Church control, all officers being elected by the Church and reporting regularly to the Church. It is understood that the pastor is ex-officio officer of all organizations named, and his leadership is to be recognized by them.
Complete descriptions of educational ministries shall be maintained in the “Church Officers, Program Organizational Leaders, and Standing Committees Handbook.” This handbook will be updated by the Nominating Committee on an annual basis or as needed.
ARTICLE V. CHURCH MEETINGS
Section 1. Worship Services
The church shall meet regularly each Lord’s Day, and Wednesday evening for worship, preaching, teaching, fellowship, and evangelism. These meetings shall be open to the entire membership of the church and for all persons, and shall be under the direction of the Pastor. In the absence of the Pastor, the Pastor shall arrange for a substitute to conduct the meetings.
On at least a quarterly basis, or at the Pastor’s discretion, the worship services shall include the observance of the Lord’s Supper. The pastor and the deacons shall be responsible for the administration of the Lord’s Supper.
Baptism will be observed as often as it is needed. Baptism will be by immersion in water and administered by the pastor or whomever the church shall authorize.
Section 2. Regular Business Meetings
Regular business meetings shall be held quarterly. Notice shall be given to the membership two weeks prior to the quarterly meeting.
Section 3. Notice of Called Meetings
Notice of all specially called business meetings of the Church shall be given by announcements and a letter to be mailed out stating the subject, date, and time one week prior to the meeting, unless extreme urgency renders such notice impossible or as specifically stated in the By-laws.
Section 4. Meeting in Times of Emergency
If the church is unable to meet to conduct business due to a local, state, or national emergency, the Church Council and Deacon Body are authorized to conduct business on behalf of the church. In that event, all officers and committee members would stay in place until the next opportunity to hold a regular business meeting for voting on officers and committee members. Should officers or committee members resign before the next regular business meeting, the Nominating Committee would seek to make those replacements.
Section 5. Quorum
A majority vote of those present shall be necessary to carry a motion.
Section 6. Parliamentary Rules
All votes will require a simple majority (51%) approval for passing, unless determined otherwise in the motion brought before members and with the exception of the calling of a Pastor as stipulated in By-Laws Article II. Section 1C.
Robert’s Rules of Order Revised is adopted as the authority for parliamentary rules or procedure for all business meetings of the Church, the deacons, and the committees.
Section 7. The fiscal year of the Church shall run from January 1 through December 31.
ARTICLE VI. FACILITY USE POLICY
The church’s facilities were provided through God’s benevolence and by the sacrificial generosity of church members. The church desires that its facilities be used for fellowship of the Body of Christ and to bring God glory. Although the facilities are not generally open to the public, we make our facilities available to approved non-members as a witness of our faith, in a spirit of Christian charity, and as a means of demonstrating the Gospel of Jesus Christ in practice.
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, among other places, the church’s policies. Nor may church facilities be used for activities that contradict or are deemed inconsistent with, the church’s faith or moral teachings. The Deacons and/or Pastor of First Baptist Church Nettleton, is the final decision-maker concerning use of church facilities.
This restricted facility use policy is necessary for two important reasons. First, the church 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 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:22.)
Second, it is very important that the church 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. (Colossians 3:17.)
Approved Users and Priority of Use
The Deacons and/or Pastor of First Baptist Church Nettleton must approve all uses of church facilities. Generally, priority shall be given to church members, their immediate families, and organized groups that are part of the ministry, organization, 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 (available in Church Office).
- 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 below and as described in any additional instructions by church staff.
Facility use requests shall be made to pastor or church secretary by submitting the “Church Facility Reservation Request and Agreement” form (available in Church Office). The event will be reserved and placed on the church calendar only when the Deacons and/or Pastor of First Baptist Church Nettleton approve the use.
Facility Use Guidelines
- Alcohol Policy: No alcohol may be served in church facilities.
- Smoking Policy: Smoking in any indoor church facilities is prohibited.
- Groups are restricted to only those areas of the facility that the group has reserved.
- Food and beverages in classrooms and Family Life Center are allowed but no food or beverages are allowed in the sanctuary.
- Church equipment, such as tables and chairs, must be returned to original placement, unless arranged otherwise prior to the event.
- All lights must be turned off and doors locked upon departure.
- Clean-up is the responsibility of the group using the facility. All trash is to be emptied and placed in outside receptacle. All floors are to be swept or vacuumed. The group using the facility may pay the janitor or maids for this extra service.
- Abusive or foul language, violent behavior, and drug and alcohol abuse are strictly prohibited on church premises. Any person exhibiting such behavior will be required to leave the premises.
- Any person or group must sign the “Church Facility Reservation Request and Agreement” form prior to reservation of church facilities.
ARTICLE VII. AMMENDMENTS
Changes in the constitution and by-laws may be made at any regular business meeting of the church provided each amendment shall have been presented in writing at a previous business meeting and copies of the proposed amendment shall have been furnished to each member present at the earlier meeting. Amendments to the constitution shall be by a three-fourths vote of church members present. Amendments to the by-laws shall have a concurrence of a majority of the members present and voting.