The Church is a community of people who believe in the one God; The Father, The Lord Jesus Christ the Son and The Holy Spirit.
The Church’s purpose is to bring the good news of salvation through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to call people to faith in Him as Lord, to instruct believers in the Word of God and to encourage one another by being regularly together to ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18), and to ‘spur one another on toward love and good deeds’ (Hebrews 10:24-25).
‘The Church’ throughout this Constitution refers to the local body of believers gathered together as West Church.
The Church shall meet together as The Church determines, on the Lord’s day, Sunday, and on other occasions during the week.
The Church adopts the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, though not inspired, as an excellent and helpful expression of the teaching of the Word of God.
3. Roles and Responsibilities
3.1.1 The Church adopts the practice of a formal church membership to:
- Encourage us to be connected to each other in responsibility and love
- Demonstrate our commitment to Christ and His people in attendance, giving, prayer, service and the ministry of the church.
3.1.2 Membership Qualifications
Any person desiring to become a member of The Church may indicate that desire to an elder at any time. To qualify for membership in The Church, a person must:
- be baptised, professing repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ
- be wholeheartedly believing in the Christian faith as revealed in the Bible
- be willing to submit to the Constitution of The Church and its Confession of faith
- Committed in love to The Church and its leadership.
3.1.3 Admission to Membership
At the earliest convenient time the elders will:
- Examine each applicant as to his or her conversion, Christian experience, doctrinal understanding, and attitude to The Church and its leaders.
- Notify the members of the application and give an appropriate time for objections or questions to be raised by any member concerning any applicant recommended by the elders.
Those applicants who receive the commendation of the members shall be publicly received into membership on the Lord’s Day.
3.1.4 Responsibilities and Privileges of Membership
Members have the responsibility and privilege to:
- Pray for The Church
- Unite in a partnership in the Gospel, working together to bring Christ to the lost
- Encourage, rebuke, teach, learn from and care for one another
- Submit to The Church’s leaders as they watch over you
- Promote unity in the body
- Use the spiritual gifts God has gifted them to build up The Church
- Financially support The Church‘s ministry
- Participate in members’ meetings and vote on matters that affect the life and practice of The Church
3.1.5 Associate Members
Associate membership may be granted in the following circumstances:
- For members, who move away from our area and who at their request, ask to be retained as associate members of The Church. Such persons are expected to retain regular communication with The Church in order to maintain their associate membership. Nevertheless, they are urged to diligently seek a church with which they can unite elsewhere.
- To a person who qualifies in every respect except that they subscribe to a
paedobaptist view, hold that view in good conscience and fully respect The Church’s doctrinal position on baptism.
- An associate member shall be allowed to vote in any members’ meeting on any matter with the exception of a vote on this Constitution and they shall not be able to hold the office of elder.
3.1.6 Termination of Membership
- Membership can be terminated by resignation.
- If at any time members find they are unwilling to submit to the Constitution, or if their conduct or belief is called into question, then that member may expect to be admonished and in certain cases removed from membership.
- It is the duty of The Church to forgive and restore to membership those persons who are repentant.
The Biblical leaders in The Church are elders and deacons. All officers must be members of The Church prior to assuming their responsibilities.
3.2.1 The Church shall ordain to the ministry of the Word, such men as are gifted to teach and preach the Gospel; and to pastor His people.
3.2.2 Passages such as 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9 and 1 Peter 5:1-3 clearly outline the nature of their work and their character qualifications.
3.2.3 Such men are expected by the church to give their lives and time fully to the work of ministry among His people and to the world.
3.2.4 These elders described above shall be recognised as Pastors in The Church. These men shall be financially supported by The Church so that they may be able to give their lives fully to the Ministry of the Word.
3.2.5 Other men who satisfy the Membership in regards to their gifts and character as outlined in the biblical references above, may also be appointed to the Eldership and shall be recognised as Elders; though they are not engaged in The Church in a full-time capacity.
3.3.1 The deacon is described in 1Timothy 3: 8–13. The Membership shall recognise men and women who give themselves in service to The Church and possess particular gifts such as serving, encouraging, giving, leading, and showing mercy (Romans 12:6-8).
3.3.2 They are to exemplify generosity and service in the Church. Particular responsibilities are distributing the financial gifts of The Church and addressing the practical needs within The Church.
3.3.4 The deacons are to meet regularly and should thoroughly acquaint the elders of their decisions and activities as deacons.
The process for appointing officers shall be carried out according to the following principles:
- Substantial prayer, both individually and corporately, should be an integral part of the appointment process.
- All nominees for church office should be treated with the grace, kindness, and honesty appropriate in evaluating fellow members.
- The appointment process shall express that spirit of mutual trust, openness, and loving consideration that is appropriate within the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- The elders should seek recommendations and the involvement of the whole congregation in the nomination process of Elders and Deacons.
- Members intending to speak in opposition to a nominee should discreetly express their objections to the elders as far in advance as possible before the relevant members’ meeting.
- A nomination is to be presented to members by the elders at a members’ meeting. The Church will also be notified.
- A period of at least one month will be given for the membership to pray and ask questions of the nominee (or the elders) with regard to his qualifications.
- Where a Pastor is being sought then the searching process will be discussed and agreed on by a majority at a members’ meeting.
- When a meeting to vote on nomination is to be convened, members shall be notified at least two Sunday morning services prior to the meeting.
- A secret ballot is taken together with those who have submitted their votes in writing to the elders. A two-thirds majority vote of the whole Membership is required for the nomination to succeed.
- The result will be made known immediately to the meeting and The Church notified the following Sunday.
3.5.1 A Pastor who wishes to resign from his position should, if possible, provide 12 months notice to The Church.
3.5.2 A Pastor, Elder or Deacon may be removed by The Church if:
- He or she fails to fulfil the duties defined in God’s Word, or
- His or her life and/or teachings violate the Constitution of the Church and the Confession of Faith.
3.5.3 Pastors, Elders and Deacons are to be removed through the same voting procedure as the appointment procedure in section 3.4.2.e; with a two-thirds majority vote of the whole Membership required for dismissal.
In addition, The Church recognises the administrative position under this constitution of treasurer.
3.6.1 The treasurer, who shall not be an elder, deacon, or paid church staff member, shall ensure that all funds and securities of The Church are properly secured in such banks, financial institutions, or depositories as appropriate.
3.6.2 The treasurer shall disperse The Church’s funds as directed by the Deacons and Elders.
3.6.3 The treasurer shall also be responsible for presenting regular reports of the account balances, revenues and expenses of The Church at each members’ meeting. This responsibility may be delegated with the approval of the elders.
3.6.4 The treasurer shall also ensure that full and accurate accounts of receipts and disbursements are kept in books belonging to The Church, and that adequate controls are implemented to guarantee that all funds belonging to The Church are appropriately handled by any officer, employee, or agent of The Church.
3.6.5 The treasurer shall give to the Elders, Deacons, and the Membership annually, or whenever they may require it, an account of all transactions and of the financial condition of The Church.
3.6.6 The treasurer shall be nominated by the elders and appointed by the members through a majority vote.
3.7.1 Although not officers of The Church, there is a need for positions of helps in The Church such as: Sunday School teachers; Youth leaders; Small group leaders; Music leaders and any other helps The Church feels should be included to build The Church.
3.7.2 Each person must be in good standing with The Church, and have the approval of the elders.
3.7.3 All teaching and preaching from these leaders is expected to be consistent with the Constitution.
4.1 Congregational Meetings
4.1.1 Congregational meetings are held at least once a year .
4.1.2 They will be moderated by an elder.
4.2 Members’ Meetings
4.2.1 These are held annually and when the need arises.
4.2.2 All members are expected to be present if at all possible at such meetings.
4.2.3 In all their meetings together, members shall act in that spirit of mutual trust, openness and loving consideration which is appropriate within the body of our Lord Jesus Christ and will seek the oneness in spirit and purpose mentioned in the Scriptures.
4.2.4 An elder, preferably not a Pastor, will moderate this meeting. If this is not possible then the meeting will elect a moderator.
4.2.5 A simple majority vote of the Membership shall be required to make any resolution valid except those specified as requiring a two thirds majority in the constitution. An abstention will be counted in favour of the status quo.
4.2.6 Notices and agendas for members’ meetings will be given by the elders at regular worship services on the two successive Sundays immediately prior to the meetings.
4.2.7 If haste is necessary for the discussion of a matter by the members then the elders may see fit to call an earlier meeting by taking all reasonable steps to have all the members contacted personally.
5.1 Any income, benefit or advantage received by The Church must be used to advance the charitable purposes of The Church and may not be used for the private pecuniary profit of any individual.
5.2 No member of The Church or person associated with that member if standing to benefit charitably in the normal course of The Church’s activities may influence the administration or application of that benefit.
5.3 Any payments to a member of The Church or person associated with that member must be for goods or services that advance the charitable purpose of The Church and be reasonable and relative to the payment that would have been made between unrelated parties.
5.4 Should dissolution of The Church be deemed appropriate the assets of The Church shall be disposed of to Christian charities within New Zealand, including the Reformed Baptist Churches of New Zealand.
5.5 No alteration to the Constitution shall be permitted which will alter the charitable status of West Church.
With the Lord’s help, I commit myself to knowing Christ and making Him known, both to my family and to those around me and to supporting those who make Him known both here and overseas. I commit myself to the Body of Christ of which I am a part by His grace: to regularly meet with The Church on the Lord’s Day, and at a time set aside for prayer and Bible study, and to ensure that some form of regular fellowship is maintained, especially with other Churches subscribing to the Baptist Confession of Faith 1689.
This Constitution may be amended by a two-thirds vote of the whole Membership, provided the proposed amendment has been offered in writing to the members for consideration at the previous members’ meeting.
The revised version of this Constitution shall be made available to The Church at the earliest possible opportunity.