Church Constitution

Constitution for The Chapel at Tinkers Creek

(Version 1.5, June 2005)

 

Background: The Chapel at Tinkers Creek was founded September 12, 2004 as a joint venture of the Riverwood and Hudson Community Chapels.  Both churches provided key leadership to start a Chapel Consortium church in the Aurora/Streetsboro area.  Riverwood provided the early financial support and by January of 2005, the church was self-supporting and meeting weekly in Aurora High School.

 

Section 1- Purpose

The purpose of our church is to worship and bring glory to God by seeking him wholeheartedly, building each other up as the Body of Christ, and modeling a noticeable presence of the gospel of Christ to a skeptical and unbelieving world.

 

It’s our goal to focus specifically and intentionally upon:

       

Simplicity- in worship and pace of life.

 

Authenticity- starting with where we are and being honest about it.

 

Service- in areas of passion and giftedness.

 

Biblical and Historical Literacy- teaching the story of the Bible as one big story and church history as our heritage.

 

 

Section 2- Foundation of Belief

         I.          THE WORD OF GOD - We believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God (2 Peter 1:21-22), inerrant in the original writings, complete as the revelation of God's will, and the supreme and final authority for church life.

        II.          THE TRINITY - We believe in one God, Creator and Sustainer of all things, eternally existing in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that they are equal in every divine quality, and that they perform distinct yet harmonious roles in the work of creation, providence, and redemption (Matthew 3: 16-17, 28:19-20)

        III.          GOD THE FATHER - We believe in God the Father, an infinite, timeless, personal Spirit, perfect in holiness, wisdom, power, and love.  (Romans 8:15-16). Though transcendent above us, He concerns himself mercifully in the affairs of men and women, hears and answers prayer, and saves from sin and death all who come to him through Jesus Christ.

        IV.          JESUS CHRIST - We believe that Jesus Christ is God's eternal Son (John 8:58), and has precisely the same nature, attributes, and qualities as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He is not only true God, but true Man, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary (Matthew 1:24-25). We believe in his sinless life (Hebrew 4:15), his substitutionary atonement (1 Peter 3:18), his bodily resurrection from the dead (John 20:27), his ascension into heaven (Luke 24:51), his priestly intercession on behalf of his people (Hebrews 4:15), and his personal, visible, return from heaven prior to the last judgment (John 14:6).

        V.          HOLY SPIRIT - We believe in the Holy Spirit, his personality and his work in regeneration, sanctification, and preservation (Ephesians 1:13). His ministry is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and implement Christ's work of redeeming the lost and empowering the believer for godly living and service.  We do not believe the Holy Spirit comes and goes, but that His indwelling continues unabated in every true believer.  We can grieve the Sprit, but not send Him away (Ephesians 4:30).

        VI.          HUMANITY - We believe God created humanity, male and female, in the image of God and free from sin. We further believe all persons are sinners by nature and choice and are, therefore, spiritually dead (Romans 3:23, Ephesians 2:1-2). We also believe that the Holy Spirit regenerates those who repent of sin and trust Jesus Christ as Savior.

        VII.          SALVATION - We believe in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. This salvation is based upon the sovereign grace of God, and was purchased by Christ on the cross, and is received through faith apart from any human merit, works, or ritual (Ephesians 2:8-10). We believe salvation results in righteous living, good works, and concern for the helpless and oppressed.

        VIII.          THE CHURCH - We believe that the church is the spiritual body of which Christ is the head and author, and is composed of all persons who through saving faith in Jesus Christ have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit. This body expresses itself in local assemblies whose members have been immersed upon a credible confession of faith and have associated themselves for worship, instruction, evangelism, and service (Ephesians 4:11-13). The ordinances of the local church are baptism by immersion (Matthew 28:19, Acts 8:38-39) and the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23).

        IX.    SANCTIFICATION -  We believe that the path to maturity as a believer in Christ is a long, slow obedience that is measured in progress over years rather than models of growth that promise instant or miraculous change attained in particular spiritual techniques (2 Peter 1:5-9).  While growth produces life change and deeper character and obedience, not all change is outwardly visible or measurable by objective standards of accomplishment.

        X.       LAST THINGS - We believe Jesus will return to this earth near the end of time as the culmination of His kingdom on earth (2 Peter 3:13-14).  We believe that at the end of time, God will summon a bodily resurrection of the saved and lost to a final judgment (Romans 2: 5, Hebrews 6:2).  We believe in rewards, and punishments, and the eternal joy of the redeemed in regenerated bodies in heaven, as well as the eternal destruction of the lost in hell (Revelation 20:11-15).  The eternal state of new heavens and the new earth will be the final triumph of the kingdom of God, and the end of the rebellion initiated by Satan and his followers (Revelation 20:10).

 

 

Section 3- Governance

The Chapel at Tinkers Creek is governed by a Governing Board made up of seven members: 6 from the membership, plus the senior pastor.  The Governing Board is comprised of both men and women and should represent the church body in terms of demographics, age, and location. Each year at least two of the six rotate off with an equal number of replacements rotating on.  Those who have served longer will normally rotate off first so that the normal term is three years.  Each year one of the members is requested by the senior pastor to serve as the secretary to take and distribute notes of each meeting.  In the event the secretary is not at a given meeting, another member will fill that role.  The Governing Board is the primary decision-making body for the church.

 

If a vote becomes necessary to settle an issue, each member gets one vote, with the majority deciding the issue.  There should be at least 5 members present before a vote is taken.  Charitable disagreement is encouraged until a decision is made.  Once a decision is reached, all board members should refrain from publicly or privately criticizing a given decision.

 

The senior pastor sets the agenda for Governing Board meetings, but any member of the Governing Board can request an item be added to the agenda.  If the senior pastor is unable to lead the Governing Board, the board members should elect their own acting chairperson to serve until the pastor can return, or in the case of a change in pastors, until the new pastor arrives.

 

Potential new Governing Board members are nominated by the church membership.  The current Governing board reviews the nominations to recommend the appropriate number of new nominees.  The Governing Board should pay close attention to the nominations submitted.  Recommendations from members should take into consideration character and experience, number of nominations, as well as a balance of gender, vocations, and geography to represent the whole church.   Two members of the same immediate family should not serve at the same time.  Church employees are not eligible for nomination, although the senior pastor is a standing member. 

 

Nominations are solicited for at least 2 weeks in November, and nominees for ratification are announced in the bulletin and website 2 weeks prior to ratification.   Ratification should occur by the end of each calendar year in a short members’ meeting after Sunday worship.  Ratification is accomplished by a printed ballot with each nominee listed  along with a “yes” and  “no” option for each nominee. Nominees who are affirmed by at least 85% of the ballots are ratified. In the event a nominee is not ratified, a new nominee is presented for ratification on a new ballot the following week.

 

Normally board members serve for three years, with those serving the longest rotating off each year. However, members can request to be relieved earlier if personal circumstances require it.  In such a case, the Board will nominate a replacement member who is ratified in a special members meeting called for that purpose.  Board members who undergo church discipline will be relieved of responsibility when the discipline process begins, and their replacement nominated and ratified.  Even if restoration is accomplished and the member stays in membership of the larger church, the member will not return to leadership on the Governing Board for a minimum of two years, at which point they could be nominated again.

 

Section 4- Pastoral Staff

Besides the Governing Board, the church is led by the senior pastor and the pastoral staff.  The senior pastor supervises all the paid and volunteer staff and reserves the right to dismiss either paid or volunteer staff with due and documented cause.  Except for cases of clear moral failure when dismissal is immediate, at least 2 written warnings as well as conference with the Governing Board and Elders will precede any dismissal of pastoral staff.

 

The senior pastor is responsible for the overall direction of the church, for the training and discipling of leaders, for setting the tone and approach of the public services, and for preaching the word of God faithfully and consistently.  In the event of his decision to leave his position, he should give the Governing Board written notice of at least 90 days. 

 

The senior pastor will be removed from office if at least 4 of the 6 lay Governing Board members concur, along with a majority of the elders (see Section 5).  The senior pastor has the right to attend the meeting where his dismissal is under discussion, and to present his case, but will leave the room during any voting.   Such a meeting can only be called if at least 4 of the 6 lay members request it.  However, all members of the board and all the elders shall attend if the meeting is deemed necessary.

 

If the time comes to secure a new senior pastor, a Search Committee will be formed to begin the process.  The Search Committee will be made up of 3 Governing Board members, an elder, and 2 members-at-large with at least 2 women on the Committee.  The Governing Board will supply the Search Committee with a clear range of salary and benefit options, as well as any essential qualifications for a potential candidate, so that the Search Committee has all the information they need to make contacts without surprises at the end. Their role is to interview prospective candidates until they can present a unanimous recommendation to the Governing Board and the congregation.  If the Governing Board concurs, the candidate will be presented to the membership for approval on a written ballot.  If the candidate receives at least 85% approval, the candidate is formally called as pastor.

 

Section 5- Elders

The Chapel at Tinkers Creek includes the role of elder as part of church leadership.  Elders are men who fit the qualifications of eldership in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 and who have earned the respect of the congregation over time.  Elders do not have a regular governing role and do not meet for governing purposes (unless summoned by the Governing Board for an advisory role).  Elders are available to assist in matters of counsel to the pastoral staff, conflict resolution, church discipline, fiscal management, public teaching, and administration of church ordinances including baptism and communion.  While women do not serve officially as elders, they do exercise leadership in a variety of ways including their membership on the church Governing Board (see section 3). 

 

New elders are appointed by the senior pastor with the agreement of the existing elders.  Once appointed, the term of an elder never expires.  Unless en elder relocates, or falls into immorality requiring church discipline, they retain their positions.  A lot of what an elder does as an elder is behind the scenes, and elders are not introduced as elders unless a specific situation suggests it. Nothing prohibits an elder from serving on the Governing Board. Pastoral staff members fulfill many of the duties of elders and all staff members with the title “Pastor” will function as elders as well.

 

Section 6- Membership

Any person aged 16 or over that completes the church membership class and signs the membership agreement is listed as a member.  Members understand and affirm the doctrinal statement of the church, as well as our approach to ministry.  Members who stop attending for more than one year will be automatically dropped from the membership list unless special circumstances dictate otherwise.  Membership is required of all teachers, Elders, Governing Board members, youth leaders and leaders of various ministries, and people seeking those roles, if not members, should take the next available membership course.  Members and only members nominate and ratify Governing Board and only members vote on the acquisition of land or buildings and the approval of the senior pastor.

 

Section 7- Church Discipline

Members who are known to be violating biblical standards of behavior will undergo a process of church discipline summarized in Matthew 18 and geared toward restoration (Galatians 6).  Confrontations regarding behavior of a church member will be done privately; first by the one who has witnessed the behavior, second with the addition of at least one elder, third with the Governing Board, and finally, in written form, to the whole church.  If a member is presented to the church to be dismissed, details of the previous confrontations are not presented to the whole church—only the person’s name and the fact that they are being removed from membership. This notification will be made to church members in a letter. Members sign an acknowledgement of this possibility at the point of completing the membership course.  Church discipline will not be initiated with non-members, though private confrontations may still be appropriate.

 

Section 8- Fiscal Policy

The budget crafted and approved by the Governing Board is the primary tool for fiscal management.  Expenditures should be:

a)    covered by a budget line item

b)    approved by a signed disbursement form with the signature of the ministry leader closest to that area

c)     no more than $250 (or approved by the Governing Board for higher amounts).

 

If an expenditure meets all three criteria, the funds should be quickly disbursed without further delay or questions.  If the purchase is made with a church credit card, receipts are saved and turned into the Treasurer with the budget line  delineated for each expense.  If a staff member or volunteer is spending too much, the Treasurer should alert the person’s direct supervisor and refrain from direct intervention.

 

The approved budget can be amended and adjusted by the Governing Board throughout the year to match rising or falling giving levels.

 

Accounts Receivable (incoming gifts) and Accounts Payable (outgoing funds) should be managed by two different people, each with a check and balance so that the work of both are double-checked.  No one should sign a disbursement form for funds payable to themselves or an immediate family member.

 

Section 9- Dissolution

Should The Chapel at Tinkers Creek be dissolved as a legal entity, all assets should be transferred to Riverwood Community Chapel in Kent, Oh.  Should Riverwood Community Chapel not exist as a corporation, assets transfer to The Chapel in Akron, Oh.  The decision to dissolve requires Governing Board approval and consent of a majority of the elders.

 

Section 10- Capital Acquisition

Any decision involving the purchase of land and/or buildings for church use should be ratified by members in a special meeting after Sunday morning church.  Ratification of the Governing Board’s recommendation requires 85% affirmative vote.

 

Section 11- Amendment

This Constitution can be amended with the unanimous consent of the Governing Board.   Current copies of this Constitution should be maintained at the church office and posted on the church website.