I. Church Membership
Section 1. General
This is a sovereign and democratic Baptist church under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The membership retains unto itself the exclusive right of self-government in all phases of the spiritual and temporal life of this church.
The membership reserves the exclusive right to determine who shall be members of this church and the conditions of such membership.
Section 2. Candidacy
Any person may offer himself/herself as a candidate for membership in this church. All such candidates shall be presented to the church at any regular church service and voted for membership in any of the following ways:
(1) By profession of faith and for baptism according to the policies of this church.
(2) By promise of a letter of recommendation from another Baptist church of like faith and order.
(3) By statement of prior conversion experience and baptism in a Baptist church of like faith and order when no letter is obtainable.
Should there by any question as to any candidate, such question shall be referred to the Deacon Body for investigation and the making of a recommendation to the church within (3) days. A three-fourths vote of those church members present and voting shall be required to elect such candidates to membership.
Section 3. New Member Orientation
New members of this church are invited to participate in the Church’s new member orientation as provided.
Section 4. Rights of Members
(1) Every member the church is entitled to vote at all elections and on all questions submitted to the church in conference, provided the member is present or on the extension roll. Provision will be made for absentee balloting on personnel elections according to the Church Policies & Procedures Manual.
(2) Every member of the church, age sixteen or over, is eligible for consideration by the membership as candidates for elective offices in the church.
(3) Every member of the church may participate in the ordinances of the church as administered by the church.
Section 5. Termination of Membership
Membership shall be terminated in the following ways: (1) death of the member, (2) transfer of membership to another Baptist church, (3) exclusion by action of this church, (4) removal upon request by the member, or (5) proof of membership in another church.
Section 6. Discipline
It shall be the practice of this church to emphasize to its members that every reasonable measure will be taken to assist any troubled member. The pastor, church staff, deacons, or other church members, are available for counsel and guidance. The attitude of members toward one another shall be guided by a concern for redemption rather than punishment.
Should some serious condition exist which would cause a member to become a liability to the general welfare of the church, the pastor and the deacons will take every reasonable measure to resolve the problem in accord with Matthew 18:15-17. If it becomes necessary for the church to take action to exclude a member during a church business meeting an 80% vote of the members present is required and the church may proceed to declare that person to be no longer in the membership of the church. All such proceedings shall be pervaded by a spirit of Christian kindness and forbearance.
The church may restore to membership any person previously excluded upon request of the excluded person and by a majority vote during a church business meeting, upon evidence of the excluded person’s repentance and reformation.
II. Church Officers and Committees
A. Church Officers
In order for a person to serve as an officer of this church, it is necessary that the person first be a member of the First Baptist Church of Poteau, Oklahoma. The officers of the Church shall be the following:
(1) The Church Pastor
(2) The Associate Pastor/Music/Adult Education
(3) The Minister to Students
(4) The Church Deacons
(5) The Church Moderator
(6) The Church Clerk
(7) The Assistant Clerk
(8) The Church Treasurer
(9) The Assistant Treasure
(10) The Church Trustees (3)
B. Duties of the Pastor
The pastor is responsible for leading the church to function as a New Testament Church. The pastor will lead the congregation, the organizations and the church staff to perform their tasks.
The pastor is leader of pastoral ministries in the church. As such he works with the deacons and church staff to: (1) lead the church in the achievement of its mission, (2) proclaim the gospel to believers and unbelievers and (3) care for the church’s members and other persons in the community.
The duties, obligations and responsibilities of the pastor are more completely set forth in the job description for such office as set forth in the church Policy & Procedures manual.
C. Selection of Pastor
A pastor shall be chosen and called by the church whenever a vacancy occurs. The election shall take place at a meeting called for that purpose, of which at least one week’s notice has been given.
A Pastor Selection Committee shall be elected by the eligible church members in a church business meeting. Nominations of committee members and voting will be done by writing proposed members’ names on a secret ballot. Those receiving the most votes shall become members of this committee. The Church shall determine the size of the committee. The committee shall bring to the consideration of the church only one name at a time. Election shall be by secret ballot, an affirmative vote of 80% of those present being necessary for a choice. The pastor, thus elected, shall serve until the relationship is terminated by his request or the church’s request. He shall preside at meetings of this church and if so designated, may serve as moderator in all business meetings in keeping with the rules of order authorized in these bylaws.
D. Vacating Office of Pastor
The pastor may relinquish the office as pastor by giving at least two week’s notice to the church at the time of resignation. The church has the right to declare the office of pastor to be vacant. Such action shall take place at a meeting called for that purpose, of which at least one week’s public notice has been given. The meeting may be called upon the recommendation of a majority of the Personnel Committee and deacons acting as a joint body or by written petition signed by not less than one-fourth of the resident church members. The moderator for the meeting to consider action on the recommendation shall be the Chairman of the Deacons, or in his absence, the Deacon Vice-Chairman. The vote to declare the office vacant shall be by secret ballot; an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members present shall be necessary to declare the office vacant. Except in instances of gross misconduct by the pastor so excluded from office, the church will compensate the pastor with not less than one-twelfth of his total annual compensation. The termination shall be immediate and compensation shall be rendered in not more than thirty days.
E. Ministerial Staff
The Ministerial Staff shall be called and employed as the church determines the need for such offices. A job description shall be written when the need for a staff member is determined and such job description shall be a part of the Policy & Procedures Manual. Those staff members of whom the church requires evidence of a personal call of God to minister shall be recommended to the church by a selection committee selected by the church members and called church action. The selection committee shall be formulated using the same process described for selection of a pastor. Should a member of the ministerial staff resign, at least two week’s notice shall be given to the church. The church may vote to vacate such positions upon the recommendation of the Personnel Committee, such termination being immediate and the compensation conditions being the same for the pastor, except that the amount shall relate to the individual’s compensation.
Non-ministerial staff members shall be employed as the church determines the need for their services. The church personnel committee shall have the authority to employ and terminate services of non-ministerial staff members. Such employment and termination of services shall be with the recommendation of the supervising staff member and, appropriate, with the consultation of related committees of the church.
F. The Church Deacons
The church shall elect deacons by ballot at regular business meetings of the church. There shall be one deacon elected for assigned service for every twelve to fifteen church families.
In accordance with the meaning of the work and the practice in the New Testament, deacons are to be servants of the church. Their task is to serve with the pastor and staff in performing the pastoral ministries’ tasks of (1) leading the church in the achievement of its mission, (2) proclaiming the gospel to believers and unbelievers, and (3) caring for the church’s members and other persons in the community. Deacon meetings may be called by the Pastor, Chairman, Vice-Chairman, or one third of the Deacon Body. The person calling the meeting will assure notification of the deacons.
G. Church Moderator
The church shall elect annually a moderator as its presiding officer. In the absence of the moderator, the Chairman of Deacons shall preside, or in the absence of both, the Vice-Chairman shall call the church to order and preside for the election of an acting moderator. The church may elect the Pastor as moderator.
H. Church Clerk
The church shall elect annually a clerk as its clerical officer. The church may elect the secretary as clerk. The clerk shall be responsible for keeping a suitable record of all official actions of the church except as otherwise herein provided. The clerk shall be responsible for keeping a register of names of members, with dates of admission, dismission, death or removal, together with a record of baptism. The clerk shall issue letters of dismission voted by the church, preserve on file all communications and written official reports and give required notice of all meetings where notice is necessary, as indicated in these by-laws. The clerk shall be responsible for preparing the annual letter of the church to the association.
The church may delegate some of the clerical responsibilities to a church secretary who will assist the elected clerk. All church records are church property and shall be kept in the church office.
I. Church Treasurer
The church shall elect annually a church treasurer as its financial officer. It shall be the duty of the treasurer 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; keeping at all times an itemized account of all receipts and disbursements of the preceding quarter. The treasurer of this church may delegate clerical duties as may be necessary to facilitate his/her duties and responsibilities.
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 a part of the permanent records of the church. The church shall approve purchase of any non-budgeted item greater than $500.
J. Church Trustees
The church shall elect three trustees to serve as legal officers for the church. They shall hold in trust the church property. Upon specific vote of the church authorizing each action they shall have the power to buy, sell, mortgage, lease, or transfer any church property. When signatures of trustees are required, they shall sign legal documents involving the sale, mortgage, purchase, rental of property, or other legal documents related to church-approved matters.
Trustees shall serve on a rotation basis, with one new trustee being elected each year.
K. Church Committees
In order for a person to serve as a member of any committee of this church, it is necessary that the person first be a member of the First Baptist Church of Poteau, Oklahoma for a minimum of six months and be at least sixteen years of age.
Committees may be established as the church determines a need for such committees. The committees to be established by this church may include, but not necessarily limited to the following:
(1) V.B.S. Committee
(2) K.B.A. Committee
(3) Hospitality Committee
(4) Church Anniversaries and Celebrations Committee
(5) Church Stewardship Committee
(6) Church Personnel Committee
(7) Flower Committee
(9) Nursery Committee
(10) Nominating Committee
(11) Property Committee
(12) Publicity Committee
(13) Youth Committee
(14) Music Committee
(1) Deacon Ministries
- Lord’s Supper
(2) Children’s Ministry
(3) Bus Ministry (Van Riders)
(4) Audio Committee
(5) Usher Committee
(6) Evening Offertory Committee
(8) Missions Development Council
Guidelines for Church Committees
(1) Two types of Committees
Regular: A committee that works throughout the year, having a standing list of duties that require regular performance and reports. It meets at regular intervals and carries out responsibilities that have continuity.
Special: A committee that has a unique job to do that terminates at a specific time. When the special job is completed, the committee is then dismissed.
(2) Election and Membership
All the church committee members shall be members of this church for a minimum of six months and be at least sixteen years of age. (A) Regular committee member shall be recommended by the church Nominating Committee to serve, before their names are presented to the church for election. (B) Special Committee members shall be elected by the church body or recommended by the nominating committee and approved by the church body.
(3) Terms of Office and Rotation
All church committees will follow a plan of rotation. The size of the committee will be set in multiples of three in order that a three year term of office may be established. Thus, one-third of a committee will rotate off each year. These individuals are not eligible to serve on that committee for a period of one year. Any person at any given time shall serve on only one of the following committees, Stewardship, Personnel, Nominating and Property. Committees will begin their term of office on September 1st of each year. The Nominating Committee will elect a chairperson of each committee.
(4) Guidelines for Determining When Church Committees Are Needed
- A definite need should exist.
- The work of the committee should help the church achieve its objectives.
- The need cannot be assigned to an existing church office or group.
- Duties can be stated clearly.
- Resources must be available or provided (personnel, budget, facilities, and supplies).
(5) Duties and Responsibilities of Committees
The specific duties and responsibilities of each committee of this church are to be set forth in a written guideline to be included in the Church Policies and Procedures Manual and kept on file at the office of the First Baptist Church of Poteau, Oklahoma.
(6) Committee meetings may be called by the Pastor, Chairman, Vice-Chairman, or one-Third of the members. Individuals calling the meeting shall assure notification of members.
III. Church Program Organizations
The church shall maintain programs of Bible teaching, Church member training, Church leader training, new member orientation, mission education, music education, youth education. All organizations related to the church programs shall be under church control, all officers being elected by the church and reporting regularly to the church and all program activities subject to church coordination and approval. The church shall provide the human resources, the physical resources and the financial resources for the appropriate advancement of these programs.
(1) The Sunday School shall be the basic organization for the Bible teaching program. Its tasks shall be to teach the Biblical revelation, reach persons for Christ and church membership, perform the functions of the church within its constituency and provide information regarding the work of the church and denomination.
The Sunday School shall be organized by departments and/or classes, as appropriate for all ages and shall be conducted under the direction of the Sunday School Director elected by the church.
- The Church Training Organization shall serve as the training unit of the church. Its tasks shall be to train church members to perform the functions of the church; train church leaders; orient new church members; teach Christian doctrines and theology, Christian ethics, Christian history, church policy and organizations; and provide information regarding the work of the church and denomination. Church Training shall be organized by departments for all ages and conducted under the direction of a general director.
(3) Women on Mission shall be the mission education, mission action, and mission support organization of the church for women, young women, girls and preschool children. Its tasks shall be to teach missions; engage in mission action; support world missions through praying and giving and provide information regarding the work of the church and denomination. Women on Mission shall have such officers and organizations as the program requires.
(2) The Brotherhood shall be the church’s organization for mission education, mission action, and mission support for men, young men and boys. Its task shall be to teach missions, engage in mission action, support world missions through praying and giving and provide information regarding the work of the church and denomination.
The Brotherhood shall have such officers and organizations as the program requires.
(5) The church Music Organization, under the direction of the church elected Minister of Music shall be the music education, training and performance organization of the church. Its tasks shall be to teach music; train persons to lead, sing, play and provide information regarding the work of the church and denomination.
(6) The Youth Education Organizations, under the direction of the church elected Minister to Students, shall be the youth education, training, and fellowship organization of the church.
IV. Church Program Services
The church shall maintain a library media center for the purpose of enriching and extending the ministries and programs of the church.
(1) The library media center will be the resource center for the church. Its personnel will seek to provide and promote the use of printed and technological resources. They also will provide consultation to church leaders and members in the use of printed and technological resources.
V. Church Council
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. It is recommended that the Council meet quarterly.
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 to the 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.
Regular members of the Church Council shall be pastor, who shall be chairman, associate pastor, youth minister, music minister, Sunday School director, Discipleship Training director, Women On Mission director, Media Center director, Chairman of Deacons, and chairmen of church committees.
All matters agreed upon by the council which call for action not already approved shall be referred to the church for approval or disapproval.
VI. Church Ordinances
Section 1. Baptism
This church shall receive for baptism any person who has received Jesus Christ as Savior by personal faith, who professes him publicly at any worship service and who indicates a commitment to follow Christ as Lord.
(1) Baptism shall be by immersion in water.
(2) The pastor or whomever the church shall authorize, shall administer baptism. The deacons shall assist in the preparation for the observation of baptism.
(3) Baptism shall be administered as an act of worship during any worship service of the church.
(4) A person who professes Christ and is not baptized after a reasonable length of time shall be counseled by the pastor and/or staff, or deacons. If negative interest is ascertained on the part of the candidate, he/she shall be deleted from those awaiting baptism.
Section 2. The Lord’s Supper
The church shall observe the Lord’s Supper quarterly, the first Sunday of the quarter, unless otherwise scheduled during that quarter by the Pastor or Church Council. The observance may alternate between the morning and the evening services of worship. The Pastor and deacons shall administer the Lord’s Supper, the deacons being responsible for the physical preparations.
VII. Church Meetings
Section 1. Worship Services
The church shall meet regularly each Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening for the worship of Almighty God. Prayer, praise, preaching, instruction, and evangelism shall be among the ingredients of these services. The pastor or his designee shall direct the services for all who are in attendance.
Section 2. Special Services
Revival services and any other church meetings essential to the advancement of the church’s objectives shall be placed on the church calendar. Revival services shall be scheduled at least annually unless unusual circumstances exist.
Section 3. Regular Business Meetings
The church shall hold regular business meetings quarterly on a designated Wednesday night.
Section 4. Special Business Meetings
The church may conduct called business meetings to consider matters of special nature and significance. A one week notice must be given for the specially called business meetings unless extreme urgency renders such notice impractical. The notice shall include the subject, the date, and it must be given in such a manner that all resident members have opportunity to know of the meeting. Special business meetings may be called by the pastor, or the deacon chair or one-third of deacon body. In the absence of the pastor the associate pastor may call a special business meeting.
Section 5. Quorum
The quorum consists of those members who attend the business meeting, provided it is a stated meeting or one that has been properly called.
Section 6. Parliamentary Rules
Robert’s Rules of Order, Revised, is the authority for parliamentary rules of procedure for all business meetings of the church.
VIII. Church Finances
Section 1. Budget
The Stewardship Committee, in consultation with the Church Council members shall prepare and submit to the church for approval an inclusive budget, indicating by items the amount needed and sought for all church related expenses. Offering envelopes will be provided for church members use.
It is understood that membership in this church involves financial obligation to support the church and its causes with regular, proportionate gifts.
Section 2. Accounting Procedures
All funds received for any and all purposes shall pass through the hands of the Church Treasurer, or Church Secretary and be properly recorded on the books of the church.
A system of accounting that will adequately provide for the handling of all funds shall conform to applicable Federal, State, and Local Laws.
The church fiscal year shall begin on January 1st and end on December 31st.
IX. Policy & Procedures Manual
A special committee of the church shall develop a Policy & Procedures Manual to include church policies and procedures and organization charts depicting lines of responsibility in the administration of the church. The manual shall be kept in the church office and made available for use there by any member of the church. The church secretary shall maintain the manual. The Church Council or a special committee shall review the manual at least annually, with authority to recommend change for the church to consider. Any church member or church organization may initiate suggested changes in the manual by making the recommendation to the Church Council or in a church business meeting.
Changes in the constitution and bylaws 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 two-thirds of vote of eligible church members present. Amendments to the bylaws shall have a concurrence of a majority of the eligible church members present.