Grace Baptist Church
Albuquerque Sovereign Grace
Albuquerque, New Mexico U.S.A.
Founded June 13, 1949
Adopted by Albuquerque Baptist Church June 3, 1998
We, the members of the Albuquerque Baptist Church of
Albuquerque, New Mexico, do ordain and establish the following
Articles, to which we voluntarily and solemnly submit ourselves.
ARTICLE 1: PURPOSE
As an Independent Baptist church we choose to affiliate
with the Southern Baptist Convention with a Reformed Baptist perspective.
The sole purpose of Albuquerque Baptist Church is to
glorify the true and living triune God by promoting His worship,
evangelizing sinners, and building up His saints.
ARTICLE 2: ARTICLES OF FAITH
Our congregation identifies with the Biblical beliefs
of early Southern Baptists. We believe these doctrines are most
clearly set forth in the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith.
The 1689 London Baptist Confession is an excellent, though not
inspired, expression of the teaching of those Holy Scriptures
by which all confessions are to be measured.
We believe that Christ is both the subject and purpose
of the Gospel. The entire Bible is about Him. Every child of God's
sure and only hope is in Him. Every aspect of salvation from beginning
(election) to end (glorification) is all of God's grace. Men cannot
and should not ascribe salvation to any part of their will, work
or worth. "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any
man should boast." Eph. 2:8-9
We endeavor to be a glorious, worshipping church of
Christ, people whose lives honor the Lord who bought us by His
Only a life of humble obedience to God is sound evidence
of true conversion to the faith of Jesus. While no one is saved
by the works of the flesh, true faith works what is good.
The Doctrines of Grace are believed and cherished among
us. We boldly proclaim the absolute sovereignty of God in the
salvation of His beloved people, preaching Jesus Christ and Him
crucified to all, withholding Him from none.
We hold to the humbling truths of God's sovereign grace
in the salvation of lost sinners. Salvation is through Christ
alone and by faith alone.
We regard the London Baptist Confession of Faith of
1689 (excepting the assertions regarding the identity of the antichrist
[26:4]) and The Baptist Faith and Message (a statement adopted
by the Southern Baptist Convention) though not inspired, expressions
of the teaching of the Word of God. Because we acknowledge the
Word of God written to be the supreme authority in all matters
of faith, morals, and order, we adopt these two documents as our
doctrinal standards. We find them to be an assistance in controversy,
a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteousness.
ARTICLE 3: MEMBERSHIP
A. Warrant for Membership
The New Testament demands of all Christians, formal,
open, solemn, voluntary and enduring commitment to Jesus Christ,
to His truth and to His people. A true Christian's commitment
to the Lord Jesus Christ must include, and is inseparable from
his commitment to Christ's truth and to Christ's people. Such
a commitment to Christ, His truth and His people ordinarily requires
a formal, open, solemn, voluntary and enduring commitment of church
membership in a local church for the following biblical reasons:
Fulfillment of Christ's Great Commission requires church
membership. According to the Great Commission of Christ (Matt.
28:18-20) there is an inseparable connection between making disciples,
baptizing them and teaching them. The Apostles implemented this
commission by gathering baptized disciples into local churches.
It was therefore in local churches that baptized disciples were
taught all that Christ commanded (Acts 2:38-42, 1 Cor. 4:17).
With the uncertain exception of the Ethiopian eunuch, the New
Testament knows nothing of believing men and women who are not
members of local churches.
Obedience to Christ's directive to observe the Lord's
Table requires church membership. Since all believing men and
women are required by Christ to observe the Lord's Table (Luke
22:19; 1 Cor. 11:23-25), and since the Lord's Table is clearly
a local church ordinance (1 Cor. 11:17,18,33,34 cp. 1 Cor. 1:1,2),
it follows that all Christians must belong to a local New Testament
church in order to partake biblically.
The New Testament presents the local church as a distinct
group of individuals which could:
a. be counted (Acts 2:41-42; 4:4)
b. be added to (Acts 2:47; 5:14)
c. be called upon to select leaders and representatives from among
itself (Acts 6:1-6; 2 Cor. 8:19, 23; Acts 15:22)
d. be officially gathered together (Acts 14:27; 15:22)
e. carry out church discipline by vote (Matt. 18:17; 1 Cor. 5:4,
13; 2 Cor. 2:6)
f. observe the Lord's table as a wholly present corporate assembly
(1 Cor. 11:17-20, 33-34)
There is therefore clear biblical warrant for the existence
and careful maintenance of local church membership involving formal,
open, solemn, voluntary and enduring commitment. This biblical
warrant compels us to use great care in maintaining a biblically-
ordered church membership.
B. Requisites for Membership
1. To be eligible for membership, a man or woman (Acts
5:14; 8:3,12) must demonstrate repentance toward God and the fruits
thereof (Acts 26:20), as well as that faith toward our Lord Jesus
Christ (Acts 20:21) which produces godly works (Eph. 2:8-10; James
2:18, 22). He must be baptized as a believer and profess substantial
agreement with the purpose (as stated in Article 1), Confession
(as stated in Article 2), and government of this church. Furthermore,
he must not be under the biblically warranted (Matt. 18:17,18;
1 Cor. 5:11-13; 2 Thess. 3:6,14,15; 3 John 9,10; 2 Cor. 2:6-8)
corrective discipline of a genuine church.
2. Church members must be in submission to the ordained
rule of the church to which they belong (Heb. 13:17). He who cannot
intelligently and freely submit to a church's government should
not belong to that church.
3. Anyone who is in substantial disagreement with the
constitution or confessions of the church could not be consistently
submissive to the church's teaching ministry. Therefore, to admit
such a person to membership in this church would be unwise (Eph.
4:3) and unscriptural.
4. Mastery of church confessions is not required of
any new disciple before he is admitted to church membership. Such
a requirement would violate the order of Matt. 28:19-20, which
instructs us to disciple, to baptize, and then to teach the baptized
disciple to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded.
It is necessary, however, that any disciple applying for membership
manifest a willingness to be taught and substantial agreement
with what he already knows concerning the church's doctrine and
5. If one who is already a member of the church at
any time concludes that he no longer satisfies the requirements
for membership, he is under obligation to inform the elders/pastors
of that fact.
C. Types of Membership
1. Regular Members
All who are received into the membership of the church
according to the procedures set forth in Section D of this Article
and who do not come under the corrective discipline of the church
as set forth in Article 4, will be considered regular members
in good standing and entitled to all the rights and privileges
of membership in the church (Acts 2:37-47).
2. Associate Members
Members of other churches who come to live in our area
for a limited period of time (e.g., students, military personnel,
persons on special work assignments) may be received into or removed
from the membership of the church on the same basis and in the
same manner as persons who have permanent residence in our geographical
area. Such a person need not be released from the membership of
his "home church" but will be regarded as an associate
member while in our midst, enjoying all the privileges, performing
all the duties, and submitting to all the liabilities of regular
membership. When such a person terminates his period of temporary
residence, he will be released to the fellowship of his "home
church" and no longer be regarded as a member of this church
(compare: Acts 18:27; Rom. 16:1,2; 2 Cor. 3:1f; Col. 4:10; 3 John
5-10). If such a person decides to live in our area permanently
and to end his membership in his former "home church,"
he may request that he be regarded as a regular member of this
church. Such regular membership will begin once his membership
in his former "home church" has ended. A letter will
be sent to the "home church" informing it of the new
status of all who begin or end associate membership in this church.
D. Reception into Membership
1. Any person desiring to become a member of the church
must submit a written testimony to the elders/pastors explaining
his understanding and experience of the Gospel of Christ. Exceptions
to this requirement will be determined by the elders/pastors.
The written testimony is intended to promote a proper evaluation
of the potential member and to encourage knowledgeable fellowship
with him. The elders may request further clarification and/or
expansion of this written testimony before proceeding with the
2.Those desiring to become a member will be given a
copy of this constitution and the 1689 London Baptist Confession
of Faith. Those desiring membership must read and agree with the
3. If the applicant has been a member of another church,
the elders will investigate his standing in that church before
he is accepted as a member in this church. Where it is possible
and appropriate, a letter of transfer will be requested. Reception
by transfer does not negate any of the requirements for becoming
a member in this assembly.
4. Upon the reception of an acceptable written testimony,
the elders/pastors may at their discretion ask for a preliminary
meeting with the applicant; otherwise, the name of the applicant
will be announced ( Exceptions to this requirement will be determined
by the elders/pastors) for at least three consecutive Lord's Days
at stated meetings of the church.
This time period is for the purpose of enabling the
members to read his testimony and to raise any questions or objections
concerning the applicant's qualifications. Members are expected
to consider this a personal duty of the most serious character.
They are expected to voice privately to the elders/pastors all
questions or objections that have not yet been resolved, after
personal contact has been made with the applicant (Matt. 18:15ff;
Lev. 19:16, 17). During the application process, the applicant
will be interviewed. During the interview the elder(s) will seek
to clarify any questions the applicant may have concerning the
church or church membership. They shall also determine whether
or not that person meets the qualifications as stated in Article
3, Section B, of the Constitution and, if necessary, resolve any
questions or objections raised by the church. The elders may postpone
the reception of the person into membership until any objections
can be resolved. If the elders/pastors are satisfied that the
applicant meets the qualifications, the person will be received
at a stated meeting of the church (Matt. 3:6-12; Acts 9:26, 27;
1 John 4:1; Rev. 2:2).
E. Termination of Membership
1. Types of Termination
a. By Physical Death
When a member of the church is removed from our midst
by death, his name will be transferred to the file of former members.
b. By Transfer
(1) Because the New Testament norm for Christians is
that they be members of true local churches of Christ, and because
the spiritual health of believers is endangered when they are
not thus committed to a church, any Christian who leaves the membership
of this church should seek to do so by means of transfer to another
true church of Christ. Therefore, if a church member in good standing
whose conduct does not warrant corrective discipline desires to
leave the membership of this church, he is strongly urged to leave
in an orderly way by privately indicating that desire to the elders/pastors
along with his reasons for leaving, and by submitting a request
to the elders for a transfer of membership to another true church
(2) When such a departing member has not yet chosen
a suitable church to which he may transfer, the elders/pastors
may provide, if he wishes, for a transitional period which will
allow the departing member to decide where he wishes to be transferred.
Such a transitional status will be allowed to continue as long
as the departing member maintains regular contact with the elders,
does not unnecessarily prolong the transitional process, and does
not engage in conduct requiring the exercise of church discipline.
(3) When it is so requested, the elders/pastors may
transfer a departing member of good standing to the fellowship
of another church. A letter of transfer will be sent to the appropriate
officer(s) of the church to which the member wishes to transfer.
No such letter may be given to a member who is at the time under
the corrective discipline of this church. The elders/pastors may
refuse to grant a letter of transfer to any church which is in
their judgment disloyal to "the faith which was once for
all delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3) or which does not
exercise godly care over its members.
c. By Dismission
(1) Occasionally, a person's membership may need to
be terminated under circumstances which make both transfer and
corrective discipline inappropriate. In such circumstances a member
may be dismissed.
(2) While there is no explicit precedent for dismission
in the New Testament, it is required by biblical principles, including
the voluntariness of local church membership (Acts 5:13; 9:26;
1 John 2:19) and the demands of biblically defined love and justice
(Lam.3:31-33; 1 Cor. 13:4a, 5a, 7a; Prov. 17:15; 18:5); and by
the exigencies of a church not yet wholly redeemed and facing
the results of nearly 2000 years of church history.
(3) Dismission may be initiated either by the written
request of a member to the elders/pastors, or by the elders/pastors
themselves when a member ceases to maintain vital contact with
this church. In either case, the final decision regarding the
action of Dismission will lie with the elders/pastors. Church
membership is a very serious matter. Members, therefore, shall
be dismissed only after due inquiry and admonition by the elders/pastors,
whenever such contact is possible. Before any individual is dismissed,
the church shall be informed of the intention of the elders/pastors
to dismiss the individual. This information must include the grounds
for the proposed dismission. A suitable period of time following
the announcement shall be given for the church to privately raise
concerns with the elders/pastors. After due consideration of such
concerns, the elders/pastors may proceed with dismission. When
possible, they shall send a letter to the dismissed individual
informing him of his dismission. The elders/pastors shall subsequently
communicate to the church that the person has been dismissed.
If one who has been dismissed applies again for membership, the
normal procedures shall be followed as set forth in Section D
of this Article.
(4) Dismission may be warranted for any of the following
(a) A member in good standing concludes that he is
not truly saved.
(b) A member in good standing wishes to terminate his membership
for reasons that do not impugn his Christian profession.
(c) A member ceases to maintain vital contact with this church
due to relocation or other unique circumstances.
d. By Excommunication
According to the teaching of Holy Scripture, a church
must cut off from its fellowship and visible membership any person
who teaches or insists on holding to false and heretical doctrine,
or who blatantly or persistently conducts himself in a manner
inconsistent with his Christian profession, or who persists in
disturbing the unity or peace of the church (Matt. 18:15ff; 1
Cor. 5:1f; Rom 16:17; Titus 3:10, 11). The procedure to be followed
in such excommunication is set forth in Article 4, Section B,
of this Constitution.
2. Implications of Termination
a. Albuquerque Baptist Church does not exist in isolation
from, but is part of the universal church of Christ, composed
of all true churches. Accordingly, open and forthright communication
among the churches is vital for the purity, peace, edification
and unity of the church universal. Therefore the elders/pastors
may, at their discretion, disclose to the members of this church
and to other churches the circumstances under which a person's
membership was terminated (Acts 15:24; 1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:17;
4:10; 1 John 2:18, 19).
F. Privileges of Membership
b. In addition, Albuquerque Baptist Church does not
exist in isolation from society at large. Accordingly, this church
has a moral obligation to society both to act with integrity and
to maintain its testimony (2 Cor. 8:20,21). Therefore, the elders/pastors
may, at their discretion, disclose to other persons outside the
ecclesiastical circles mentioned above the circumstances under
which a person's membership was terminated (Lev. 5:1; Prov. 29:24;
1 Pet. 4:15).
c. Termination of membership does not give license
to former members to sow discord, spread false teachings or reports,
or engage in any other behavior which threatens the peace and
unity of this church or the church universal. Accordingly, when
it is established that a former member is behaving divisively,
the elders/pastors may issue whatever warnings they deem appropriate
to maintain and preserve the peace and harmony of this church
and the church universal (Acts 15:24; Rom. 16:17- 20; 1 Tim. 1:20;
2 Tim. 2:17; 4:10; 1 John 2:18, 19).
In God's order, commitment normally constitutes the
pathway to the possession of privileges. Therefore, membership
in this church includes the following privileges:
1. Participation in the Lord's Supper (Acts 2:41-42;
1 Cor. 11:18-26, 33);
G. Requirements of Membership
1. All the members of this church are expected to attend
all the stated meetings of the church unless providentially hindered
by illness, unusual working conditions and other such circumstances
(Heb. 10:24, 25). The stated meetings of the church are as follows:
2. Attendance at, appropriate participation in, and voting during
church business meetings (Acts 6:1-6 (cp. Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:13-14);
1 Cor. 5:4-7; 13 (cp. 1 Cor. 1:2));
3. Laboring to extend God's Kingdom in ministries of the church
(as one's gifts, graces and calling make appropriate) (1 Cor.
12:4-27 (cp. 1 Cor. 1:2); Eph. 4:7; 11-12; 16; 1 Pet. 4:10-11);
4. Reception of the committed oversight and care of the elders/pastors
of the church (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2-3);
5. Reception of the committed care and discipline (as needed)
of the membership of the church (Acts 6:1-2 (cp. Acts 2:41; 5:13-14;
9:26); 1 Cor. 5:4-5 (cp. 1 Cor. 1:2); Gal. 6:10).
a. All services on the Lord's Day (morning and evening
worship, the Lord's Supper, and baptisms);
2. All the members of the church are expected to make
use of the various other means of grace that are available to
them, such as daily private prayer and systematic reading of the
Bible, daily family worship, and a proper reverence for and observance
of the Lord's Day.
b. Midweek Bible study;
c. Church business meetings; and
d. Any special meetings that the elders shall occasionally deem
3. Because it is clearly taught in the Scriptures that
Christians should financially support the work of the Lord by
systematic and proportionate giving made through the local church
(Mal. 3:8-10; 1 Cor. 16:1, 2; 2 Cor. 8, 9), all the members of
this church are expected to conform to this rule of Scripture.
The tithe (ten percent of one's gross personal income) is not
imposed on the people of God as a tax but is strongly urged upon
each member as an expression of worship and the biblical norm
for basic giving. Added to this should be gifts and offerings
according to one's ability and the willingness of his heart (2
Cor. 8:1-5; Ex. 36:2-7).
4. All the members of this church are expected to obey
the teachings of Scripture in respect to the life and government
of the family. The husband is the God-appointed head of the family
and must rule his household with gentleness, love, wisdom, and
firmness (Eph. 5:25ff; 1 Tim. 3:4, 5; 1 Pet. 3:7). The wife must
be in Scriptural subjection to her husband in all things (Eph.
5:22-24; 1 Pet. 3:1-6). The husband and wife must bring up their
children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:1-4).
This includes setting a godly example before them, consistently
instructing them from the Scriptures (Deut. 6:4-9), and administering
corporal chastening to them when needed (Prov. 13:24; 22:15; 29:15
; Heb. 2:7).
5. It is the duty of every Christian, as an individual
and as a member of a local church, to labor by prayer, word, and
deed for the extension of the kingdom of God in ever widening
circles, beginning at home and stretching forth to the ends of
the earth (Isa. 54:1-3; Acts 1:8). Therefore, every member of
this church is expected prayerfully to recognize and to seize
every opportunity to bear witness to his faith in Christ, both
by consistent Christian conduct and by the testimony of his lips.
6. Each member of the church is required to render
loyal obedience to all the moral precepts of God's Word in his
daily life (Rom. 8:3, 4; 1 Cor. 9:20, 21; James 2:12). If God
has not condemned or forbidden a practice in His Word, a Christian
is at liberty to participate in it. The exercise of Christian
liberty, however, must at all times be governed by an earnest
desire to walk in the fear of God and to glorify Him in all things
(1 Pet. 1:17; 1 Cor. 10:31), a loving regard for the consciences
of weaker brethren (1 Cor. 8:9; Rom. 15:1-3), a compassion for
the lost (1 Cor. 9:19-22), and a zealous regard for the health
of one's own soul (Rom. 13:14; 1 Cor. 6:12; 9:24- 27; Gal. 5:22,
23; 1 Pet. 2:16).
7. All who come into the membership of this church
are expected to recognize and to submit to the authority of the
overseers of the church (1 Cor. 16:15,16; 1 Thess. 5:12, 13; Heb.
13:17). This responsibility will include willingly scheduling
an oversight meeting with the elders/pastors when requested.
8. We who have been joined to Christ by faith and are
members of this church are also members one of another (Rom. 12:5).
With this privileged relationship come particular responsibilities.
We must maintain mutual transparency and honesty (Eph. 4:25).
We must rejoice in each other's honor and bear one another's sorrows
(1 Cor. 12:26). We must discreetly confess our faults one to another
(James 5:16). We must mutually oversee each other, faithfully
admonish and encourage one another, avoid all backbiting and gossip,
and keep in strict confidence all matters which the elders/pastors
determine are of private concern to the church (Prov. 11:13; Matt.
18:15ff; 1 Thess. 5:14, 15; Heb. 3:12, 13; 10:24, 25). Also, we
must, when necessary, help meet the material needs of our brethren
(Gal. 6:10; James 2:14-16; 1 John 3:16-18).
H. Records of Membership
The elders shall keep a file of all past and present
members. This file shall have three divisions: regular members,
associate members, and former members. The file of former members
shall include the date and reason church membership was terminated,
as well as any other necessary information (see Article 3, Section
ARTICLE 4: CHURCH DISCIPLINE
A. Formative Discipline
Every disciple (follower) of Christ must be under His
discipline (His instruction and correction), which is administered
to each one through the church (1 Cor. 12:12-27; 1 Thess. 5:12-15;
Heb. 3:12,13; 10:24, 25). Mutual submission to one another (Eph.
5:21) and to the overseers whom the Lord has set over His church
(1 Pet. 5:5) will result in the sanctification of each member
individually and of the whole body of the church collectively.
There are occasions, however, when one's failure to respond to
this formative discipline makes the application of corrective
B. Corrective Discipline
1. General Statement
a. Corrective discipline becomes necessary when heretical
doctrine or disorderly, immoral, or scandalous conduct appears
among the members of the church. As a general rule and whenever
feasible, an effort must be made to resolve difficulty, correct
error, and remove offense through counsel and admonition before
more drastic steps are taken (Gal. 6:1; James 5:19, 20). The principles
given to us in Matt. 18:15-16, Rom. 16:17-20, 1 Cor. 5:1-13, 2
Thess. 3:6-15, 1 Tim. 5:19-20, and Titus 3:10 must be carefully
followed and applied to each and every case of corrective discipline
as appropriate. In some cases public admonition and/or public
repentance may be warranted (Matt. 18:17; 1 Tim. 5:20). In the
most extreme cases excommunication from the membership of the
church may be necessary (Matt. 18:17; Rom. 16:17-20; 1 Cor. 5:1-13;
1 Tim. 1:20; Titus 3:10). All the members of the church are obliged
to submit to and enforce as appropriate the decision of the church
in acts of corrective discipline.
2. Public Reproof or Censure
b. Since the church is a spiritual and religious institution,
the punishments inflicted by the church in corrective discipline
(2 Cor. 6:7) are also spiritual. They include public verbal reproof
(Matt. 18:17; 1 Tim. 5:20), social avoidance (Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor.
5:9-11; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14), suspension from the Lord's Supper (1
Cor. 5:11), and removal from the membership of the church (Matt.
18:17; 1 Cor. 5:13). They are intended to effect repentance through
a sense of sorrow and shame (2 Cor. 2:7; 2 Thess. 3:14). The church
has no right, however, to confiscate goods, revoke conjugal rights,
or inflict corporal punishment of any kind. Nevertheless, a member guilty of criminal actions may be delivered to the civil authorities according to the rule of
Scripture (1 Pet. 4:15).
c. The goals of corrective discipline are always the
glory of God, the welfare and purity of the church (1 Cor. 5:6)
and the restoration and spiritual growth of the offender (1 Cor.
5:5; 2 Cor. 2:5-8; 1 Tim. 5:20).
Public reproof consists of a pastoral effort, before
the gathered church, to call an impenitent church member to repentance
for sin too blatant to be dealt with in an exclusively private
manner; or to deal with serious sin even where there may have
been repentance. The elders/pastors may administer public censure
whenever in their judgment either public misconduct (Gal. 2:11-14;
1 Tim. 5:20), patterns of sin (Titus 1:12, 13), or serious doctrinal
error (Titus 1:10-13) pose a significant threat to the godliness,
unity or testimony of the congregation. Those who humbly receive
the word of public reproof, own and confess their sin, and manifest
a transformed life (Prov. 28:13) shall afterward be publicly commended
for their godly repentance (2 Cor. 7:7-11). If the reproof is
not heeded, further discipline may be imposed.
Some misconduct on the part of a member is so detrimental
to the unity, holiness and testimony of the church that the Lord
requires the suspension of some of the privileges of membership
(Rom. 16:17-20; 2 Thess. 3:6-15). In all cases of suspension the
offending person is still to be regarded as a brother in Christ
and as a member of the church. Therefore, in accordance with the
procedures outlined below for each of the five major categories
of offenses, the elders/pastors shall at a business meeting of
the church recommend that the offending member be suspended, specifying
its grounds. To be valid, an act of suspension must have the approval
of at least two-thirds of the members present and voting. In the
interest of maintaining a climate of holiness and peace, the elders/pastors
shall have the right, at their sole discretion, to impose a temporary
suspension upon a member which will bar him from not more than
one Lord's Table while they deliberate the most prudent course
of action. The major categories of sin which require suspension
are as follows:
a. A Stubborn Private Offender (Matt. 18:15-17)
When a private offense remains unresolved even after
the method prescribed by our Lord in Matt. 18:15, 16 has been
graciously and prayerfully followed, it is considered an aggravated
offense. The brethren involved shall bring the matter to the elders/pastors
who, if they judge the matter to be serious and cannot persuade
the brother to repent, shall report the situation to the church
and recommend that the stubborn brother be suspended (Matt. 18:17a).
If, even after a period of suspension, the person remains adamant
in his sin, excommunication shall be enacted according to the
procedure outlined in Paragraph B, 4, b of this Article (Matt18:17b).
b. Divisive Teachings or Behavior (Rom. 16:17-20; Titus 3:10)
When after admonition a member persists in the propagation
of serious doctrinal error contrary to the Scripture and our Confessions
of Faith, or attempts to sow discord among the membership contrary
to the Scripture and this Constitution, he may be suspended as
a factious man. Since every member is responsible to help preserve
the unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:1f.), no member is to conceal
such flagrantly divisive behavior, but rather to reprove it, and
disclose it to the elders/pastors (Deut. 13:6f.; 1 Cor. 1:10,
11). Whenever the elders/pastors become aware of such
divisive behavior, they are to confront it meekly and patiently
according to the Word of God (1 Cor. 1:10-4:21; Titus 3:10). If,
even after receiving repeated admonition from the elders/pastors,
a member persists in such behavior, the elders/pastors shall report
the situation to the church and recommend that the divisive brother
be suspended. If, even after a period of suspension, the person
remains impenitent, excommunication shall be enacted according
to the procedure outlined in Paragraph B, 4, b of this Article.
c. Disorderly Behavior (2 Thess. 3:6-15)
When a member deliberately persists in conduct which
displays a flagrant or public disregard for either the order appointed
by God for all mankind in the creation ordinances, namely, work
and marriage (Gen. 2:1-3, 15, 18-24; Exod. 20:8-11; 1 Cor. 7:1-17,
39; 2 Thess. 3:6-15; 1 Tim. 5:8; Titus 2:5); or for the order
established by Christ for His church in Scripture (1 Cor. 11:17-34;
14:37-40; 1 Tim. 3:14, 15) and adapted to our church in this Constitution,
he may be suspended as a disorderly man (2 Thess. 3:6). Whenever
the elders/pastors become aware that, in spite of the admonitions
of formative discipline (1 Thess. 5:14), a member is behaving
disorderly, they are to confront him meekly and patiently according
to the Word of God (2 Thess. 3:14, 15). If, even after receiving
such admonition from the elders/pastors, a member persists in
this behavior, the elders/pastors shall report the situation to
the church and recommend that the disorderly brother be suspended
(2 Thess. 3:14, 15). If, even after the period of suspension,
the person remains impenitent, excommunication shall be enacted
according to the procedure outlined in Paragraph B, 4, b of this
d. A Scandalous Sin
If a member has sinned scandalously but shows hopeful
signs of repentance, including submission to the elders/pastors,
it may still be prudent to suspend him for a time so that he may
clearly manifest repentance (Matt. 3:8), so that reproach not
be brought upon the Name of Christ and the church (2 Sam. 12:14;
Rom. 2:24), and so that others may not be emboldened to sin (1
Tim. 5:20). If fruits worthy of repentance are not forthcoming,
the elders/pastors may recommend to the church at a later date
that this person be excommunicated according to the procedure
outlined in Paragraph B, 4, b of this Article.
e. Contempt of Church Discipline
If a person is accused or suspected of a sin requiring
corrective discipline, yet absents himself from the meetings of
the church, or refuses to meet with the elders/pastors so that
the matter may be investigated, such a person may be suspended
(Matt. 18:17; Num. 16:12, 20, 23-27). The elders/pastors may recommend
to the church at a later date that this person be excommunicated
according to the procedure outlined in Paragraph B, 4, b of this
a. In addition to the excommunication of those who
have been previously suspended, some expressions of sin (ethical
or doctrinal) are so gross and heinous in nature that preliminary
actions like public reproof and suspension are inappropriate.
In such cases, the guilty member may be immediately excommunicated
by the church (1 Cor 5:1-4). This severe measure is to be employed
when both aggravated lawlessness is discovered, and there are
no hopeful signs of repentance. This severe measure is designed
to purge the lawbreaker of his lethal attachment to his sin, unto
a sincere and enduring repentance (1 Cor 5:5; 6:9-11). The elders/pastors,
therefore, having made earnest but unsuccessful efforts to bring
the offender to true repentance and reformation, shall report
the same to the church and recommend that the offender be excommunicated.
b. All acts of excommunication must be executed by
the gathered church (Matt. 18:17; 1 Cor. 5:4). To be valid, an
act of excommunication must have the approval of at least two
thirds of the members present and voting.
Since one purpose of church discipline is to restore
a fallen brother or sister, it is the duty of the church to forgive
and to restore to full membership a suspended or excommunicated
member who gives satisfactory evidence of his repentance (2 Cor
2:6-8). This shall be done in a duly convened business meeting
of the church by no less than two thirds of the members present
ARTICLE 5: ORDINANCES
A. General Statement
There are two ordinances of special significance that
our Lord has commanded us to observe, namely, Baptism and the
Lord's Supper. Neither of them has saving merit, nor is any grace
imparted to the recipient through the water of Baptism or through
the bread and the cup of the Supper. These ordinances are not
means of "special grace," but they are special "means
of grace" and powerful aids to the faith of the believers
who participate in them.
1. Only confessed disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ
are proper candidates for Baptism, and all such persons should
be baptized and joined to a local church (Acts 2:38, 41, 47; 5:13,
14). Believing that Baptism in water is the God-ordained sign
of one's personal union with Christ in His death, burial, and
resurrection, and the door of entrance into the visible community
of the people of God, we shall receive into the membership of
the church only those who have been baptized as believers "into
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"
(Matt. 28:19). Immersion in water is the biblical mode of baptism,
is necessary for its due administration, and is the only mode
to be administered by this church.
2. Occasionally, a genuine believer in the Lord Jesus
Christ whose baptism is marked by irregularities of mode may apply
for membership in this church. It is according to the mind of
Christ that a believer who was baptized by a mode other than immersion
should be immersed as a believer. Occasionally, such a believer
may be prevented by his conscience from doing this. Therefore,
should this be the case, the elders/pastors may at their discretion
admit such a person if they believe that it is in the best interests
of the person and this church. Before such a person is admitted,
he must be submissive to instruction on the subject and prove
to have a teachable and peaceable spirit with regard to the standards
of this church respecting baptism. Should such a member come to
agreement with the convictions of this church, he must, then,
C. The Lord's Supper
Whereas Baptism is the initiatory ordinance by which
one enters the visible church, and should be observed only once
by each believer, the Lord's Supper should be celebrated frequently
by the assembled church (1 Cor. 11:26). While this is a most holy
ordinance and should be observed with solemnity and dignity, the
bread and the cup of the Supper are and remain only symbols of
the broken body and the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. In
order to maintain the purity of this ordinance, the elders/pastors,
will faithfully seek to insure that only true believers who are
members in good standing of true churches are admitted to the
Table. True believers whose church membership involves unusual
circumstances may be admitted at the discretion of the elders/pastors.
ARTICLE 6: OFFICERS
A. General Statement
Jesus Christ alone is the Head of His Church (Col.1:18).
He has ordained that individual churches should be governed by
Himself through officers whom He appoints, who are endowed by
His Spirit with the gifts and graces needed to accomplish their
work. Christ has ordained that local churches are to be administered
by elders/pastors and deacons. Beside these two offices the Scriptures
acknowledge no office which continues in the church today (Phil.
1:1; 1 Tim. 3:1-13).
B. General Prerequisites
1. All officers of this church must be members of the
2. Any individual set apart to one of these offices
must be able to conscientiously affirm his agreement with the
church's Confessions of Faith and Constitution. If he should at
any time move from this position, he would be under spiritual
and moral obligation to immediately make that fact known to the
elders/pastors in an orderly manner.
3. While we acknowledge the valuable gifts which God
has given women and the valuable assistance they may render to
the officers of the church (Rom. 16:1-6; Phil. 4:3; 1 Tim. 3:11),
the Bible prohibits women from holding either the office of deacon
or elder/pastor in the church (1 Cor. 14:33b-35; 1 Tim. 2:8-15;
3:1-7). Women, therefore, shall not be nominated, elected, or
ordained to either of these offices in the church. (1 Cor. 14:33b-35;
1 Tim. 2:8-15). Since it is also a violation of the Scriptures
for a woman to exercise authority over a man in spiritual things
outside a meeting of the whole church, no woman shall be appointed
to a teaching or authoritative function in a ministry of the church
where adult men would be regularly under her ministry. Nevertheless,
we acknowledge and encourage the valuable gifts and assistance
of women in the formal instruction of children and other women
(Titus 2:3-5), in the informal instruction even of men (1 Cor.
11:5; Acts 18:26), and in the diaconal and especially the benevolent
ministries of the church (1 Tim. 3:11; 5:9, 10).
1. Those who have been called of God to rule and teach
in the church are called elders, pastors, or bishops. These are
three interchangeable names designating one and the same office
in a New Testament church (Acts 20:17, 28; Eph. 4:11, 12; Titus
2. Anyone desiring the office of an elder/pastor must
evidence to God's people the personal, domestic, and ministerial
qualifications that are set forth in the Scriptures (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).
3. Because the authority of the elders/pastors of the
church is human authority exercised in the house of God, it has
both high prerogatives and important limitations:
a. It is divinely-delegated authority. Thus, elders/pastors/pastors
are answerable to God for the exercise of this authority (Acts
20:28; Heb. 13:17). Therefore, elders/pastors are obligated to
discharge all of the duties specified by God in the Scriptures
(particularly in such passages as Acts 20:17, 28ff; 1 Pet. 5:1-4;
and Heb. 13:17).
b. When they exercise this authority by requiring obedience to
themselves, they must seek to gain the consciences of God's people
through the ministry of the Word (Eph. 4:11c; 1 Tim. 3:2c; 2 Tim.
4:1-2; Heb. 13:17).
c. The authority of the elders/pastors does not include the right
to make certain decisions unilaterally. In major decisions of
church life (such as those having to do with corrective discipline,
recognition of officers, and the sale of a church building), the
local church as a whole has a voice (Acts 6:2-6; 9:26; 1 Cor.
5:4-5; 13; 2 Cor. 2:6). Yet the elders/pastors' must provide definitive
leadership to the church in the making of such decisions.
d. The authority of the elders/pastors is limited to the sphere
of the local church. Thus, they will not require punishments for
sin beyond those of biblical church discipline, will not invade
the biblically-defined spheres of other divinely-ordained human
authorities (husbands, fathers, civil rulers, and employers),
and will not command God's people regarding matters not specified
in Scripture except to order the house of God by the application
of His Word (Matt. 22:21; Luke 12:13-14; Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:3a;
Rom. 13:1-7; Eph. 5:22-6:9; 1 Cor. 7:25-28; 35-40).
e. The authority of elders/pastors is conditioned by the fact
that they are themselves members of the local church. While elders/pastors
are shepherds over the flock, they are also members of the flock.
Therefore, each individual elder/pastor is entitled to the same
privileges, is obligated by the same responsibilities, and is
subject to the same discipline as are all the other members of
the church. Thus, each individual elder/pastor is both under the
oversight of his fellow elders/pastors and accountable to the
church as a whole (Matt. 18:17; 23:9; 26:31; 2 Cor. 11:19-20;
Gal. 2:11; 3 John 1, 9, 10).
f. The authority of every elder (or pastor) is the same. Thus,
every elder/pastor has equal rule in the church. Though gifts
possessed and functions performed will vary from elder to elder,
this diversity must not undermine real parity among the elders/pastors
(Acts 20:28 (cp. 17); Gal 2:11; 1 Pet. 5:1-2; 1 Tim. 5:17).
g. Finally, the authority of the elders/pastors is a very real
authority. God's people are, therefore, required to submit when
it is biblically exercised (Heb. 13:17; note also the Scriptural
titles and functions of the office).
4. One crucial aspect of the elders/pastors' duties
is personally overseeing the flock of God. Fulfillment of this
duty shall include regularly and systematically meeting with each
member of the church on at least an annual basis, except when
physically impossible due to distance.
5. Elders/pastors will be maintained in material necessities
and disentangled from the cares of another vocation according
to their gifts, the needs and capability of the church, and the
direction of Christ her Head (1 Tim.5:17ff).
6. Though a plurality of elders/pastors is the New
Testament norm for every church, the New Testament does not specify
the number of elders/pastors each church should have, nor does
it dictate the length of an elder's term of office. One truly
called to this office is usually called to it for life. He is
a gift of Christ to the church, and the gifts of God are without
repentance. Only when an elder fails to meet the necessary scriptural
qualifications for his office does he disqualify himself from
being an elder.
1. Deacons/Trustees are responsible primarily to administer
the benevolent concerns of the church as well as its business
affairs (Acts 6:1-4). They must fulfill the duties of their office
in cooperation with, and in subjection to, the elders/pastors.
2. The number of deacons shall not be fixed. The church
shall set apart according to its need men who evidence the scriptural
qualifications for that office (Acts 6:1-7; 1 Tim. 3:8-13).
E. Appointment of Officers
1. General Statement
The appointment of elders/pastors and deacons/trustees
is the prerogative of the Lord Jesus Christ alone. However, He
has ordained that each local church exercise the responsibility
of recognizing those whom He is appointing to be elders/pastors
and deacons in that particular church. Elders/pastors are ordained
to office by the laying on of hands by the elders/pastorship (1 Tim. 4:14). This is an expression of approval for which the elders/pastors
are responsible (1 Tim. 5:22). Therefore, each officer must have
the approval, not only of the church as a whole, but of the elders/pastorship
in particular. The Lord's appointment of an individual to either
of these offices is recognized by means of that individual's possession
of those graces and gifts required by Scripture for the particular
office and his own conviction that the Lord is calling him to
minister in that office. The recognition of officers is a matter
of such importance that it should never be dealt with without
much prayerful waiting upon God, an honest perusal of the relevant
passages of Scripture, and a frank evaluation of those who are
being considered. Each member of the church has a spiritual responsibility
to be intelligently informed regarding these matters.
2. Procedure of Appointment
The recognition of those whom the Lord has appointed
to bear office in this church is executed in three steps: nomination,
election, and ordination.
Nominations to either office are made by the elders/pastorship.
At least once every year at the annual business meeting an advisory
ballot shall be taken. On this ballot each voting member may write
the name of any male members and the office for which he believes
that member to be qualified.
Any church meeting for the election of officers shall be announced
on four consecutive Lord's Days previous to its being held. The
names of all nominees shall be separately discussed and voted
upon. During the discussion the nominee under consideration and
members of his immediate family shall leave the presence of the
church until the written ballot is taken. The scriptural qualifications
shall be read and expounded, and the nominee's qualifications
openly discussed in the fear of God and with due respect for the
reputation of the nominee. The church should seek unity of mind
concerning each nominee, but should such unity not be fully realized,
no fewer than three-fourths of those ballots cast shall be required
for election. This vote shall take place by written ballot subsequent
to a full and free discussion oriented to the relevant Scriptural
passages. The vote shall stand as it is first given in the written
Following the election of an officer there shall be a portion
of a regular worship service set aside at which time the officer
shall be ordained by the laying on of the hands of the eldership.
This solemn act should always be accompanied by the special prayers
of the whole church (Acts 13:1-3). The laying on of the elders'
hands shall signify their approval of an officer-elect. Should
the elders be unable to conscientiously ordain an officer- elect
(1 Tim. 5:22), they shall inform each member of their reasons
in an appropriate manner.
d. Review of Officers
1. Officers shall hold office only as long as they
meet the biblical qualifications for their office in the esteem
of the church.
2. There may arise reasons that would require an officer
to be reviewed before the regularly scheduled time. Such a review
meeting may be called by a majority of the elders/pastors (or
a majority of the other elders/pastors in the case of an elder).
The members may also request such a meeting. This request must
be set forth in writing with the signatures of one-fourth of the
total voting membership of the church. It must be presented to
the elders/pastors, who shall in a timely and constitutional way
(see Paragraph 3 below) call such a meeting.
3. Any meeting for the review of an officer shall be
announced on four consecutive Lord's Days previous to its being
held. During the discussion, the officer under consideration and
members of his immediate family shall leave the presence of the
church until the written ballot is taken. The scriptural qualifications
shall be read and expounded, and the officer's qualifications
openly discussed in the fear of God and with due respect for the
reputation of the officer. Any member who publicly suggests in
such a meeting that the officer being reviewed is unqualified
for his office must have previously spoken with the officer himself
and informed the elders/pastors of the church of his concerns
(1 Tim. 5:19). He must also present biblical and factual warrant
for his concerns at the review meeting. Just as it is wrong for
a church to retain an officer who is not biblically qualified,
so also it is rebellion against the head of the church to reject
an officer for any but biblical grounds. Additionally, any officer
about whom such concerns are raised must be permitted, if he wishes,
to return to the meeting and defend himself. The church should
seek unity of mind concerning the matter, but should such unity
not be fully realized, no fewer than three-fourths of those ballots
cast shall be required for the confirmation of an officer in his
office. Any officer failing of confirmation no longer holds office
in the church. This vote shall take place by written ballot; and
the vote shall stand as it is first given in the written ballot.
4. An officer may resign his office without prejudice
if he does so in an orderly fashion and for good and valid reasons.
This resignation together with its reasons and the date upon which
he wishes his resignation to be effective shall be submitted in
writing to the elders/pastors of the Church.
f. Full Support of Elders/pastors
1. Though all elders/pastors are equal as to the authority
of their office, not all elders/pastors possess qualifications
warranting full financial support in the office. The Bible teaches
that special ability in ruling the church and, more especially,
in public teaching and preaching are gifts worthy of full financial
support (Gal. 6:6; 1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Cor. 9:1-14). Thus, before it
undertakes his full support, the church must recognize that an
elder or nominee to the elders/pastorship possesses special ministerial
gifts and that he is excelling in the employment of those gifts
for the benefit of the church, in ways appropriate to his opportunities.
Special caution should be exercised in giving full support to
an elder for the following reasons:
ARTICLE 7: OFFICIAL BOARD
In order to "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's,"
this church shall have an official Board of Trustees. The official
board shall consist of the resident pastors (elders/pastors) as
voting members and deacons/trustees voting members. The voting
members of this board shall serve as the legal representatives
of the church.
a. full support necessitates his removal from a secular
vocation, which, in the interests of Christ's Kingdom and of his
family, might be a more advantageous position for him to occupy;
2. The elders/pastors may recommend to the church that
an existing elder or a nominee to the elders/pastorship be fully
b. a major portion of the church's financial stewardship is involved,
for which its Head will hold it accountable; and
c. a fully supported elder has a greater influence upon the church,
for good or ill. The provisions of this Section apply to any proportion
of financial support required by an increase of ministry that
would hinder an elder's full-time employment in a secular vocation.
a. In the case of a nominee, full support may be considered
in conjunction with the consideration of his qualifications for
the elders/pastorship. In such a case, the elders/pastors will
inform the church of their recommendation when the business meeting
for this purpose is announced. A distinct discussion and vote
for both election to the office and full support in the office
is not necessary.
3. During any meeting where full support is being considered,
special attention shall be given to the relevant teaching of Scripture
(Gal. 6:6; 1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Cor. 9:1-14). During the discussion
the man under consideration and members of his immediate family
shall leave the presence of the church until the written ballot
is taken. Such discussion must at all times reflect the fear of
God, the claims of truth, and the gravity of the matter. Any vote
upon full support requires three-fourths of those ballots cast
b. In the case of an existing elder who is being recommended
for full support, a church meeting to consider this recommendation
shall be announced on four consecutive Lord's Days prior to its
being held. Such a recommendation may be considered in conjunction
with the review of the elder involved. A distinct discussion and
vote for both confirmation in the office and full support in the
office is not necessary.
4. The full support of elders/pastors as well as their continuation
in office will be subject to review (see Section F). Normally
a review of full support will take place in conjunction with the
review of an elder's qualification for office, whether at regular
intervals or at special review meetings. However, circumstances
may arise in which an elder's full support may need to be reviewed
as an issue separate from his continuation in office. In such
cases, a review shall follow the applicable procedures outlined
in Paragraphs 2 and 3 above. Continuance of full support shall
require three-fourths of the ballots cast.
5. Although not officers of the church, there is a need for positions
of helps in the church. Such as: treasurer and assistant treasurer;
Sunday School director; teachers; youth leaders; church clerk;
music director and any other helps the church feels should be
included to build this church of God. They shall hold positions
only as long as they meet the biblical qualifications for their
office in the esteem of the church. Each person must have the
approval, not only of the church as a whole, but of the elders/pastorship
in particular. They shall be elected and voted into their positions
on any scheduled business meeting. Those in position of helps may choose to resign at any time as deemed necessary.
ARTICLE 8: CHURCH MEETINGS
Business meetings are to be held the first Wednesday of each month.
No less than a two- thirds (2/3) majority of those voting will
make a resolution valid. The annual business meeting will be in
April of each year.
All members except those suspended by a vote of the church shall
constitute the voting membership of the church (Article 4, B,
3). Delinquent members that have not attended the regular scheduled
meetings of the church in three months shall not be allowed to
vote at the next business meeting. ( The only exception is sickness.
The church will discern if this was legitimate). In order to vote,
the delinquent member must attend a minimum of four regular church
meetings per month for three months . All voting members should
regard their presence at a duly called church meeting with the
same seriousness with which they would regard their attendance
at a stated service of worship. It shall be our goal to prayerfully
discern the mind of God so that in all matters of church business
it may be said of us, as it was said of that church business meeting
recorded in Acts 6, that this thing "pleased the whole multitude."
However, in situations in which this unanimity is not realized,
no less than a two- thirds (2/3) majority of those voting will
make a resolution valid. In other matters wherein the Constitution
requires a different proportionate vote, this two-thirds (2/3)
figure will be overridden by the express statements of the Constitution
regarding those categories of business. The voting members present
at any properly convened meeting of the church shall constitute
a quorum for the transaction of business. The elders/pastors shall
cancel any previously announced business meeting of the church
if through an act of God (such as inclement weather) or on holiday
weekend an unusually large proportion of the members of the church
cannot be present.
B. Special Meetings
Congregational meetings may be called by the Pastors or when one-fourth
(1/4) of the voting members make a written request for such a
meeting. This request must state the reason for the meeting, be
signed by one-fourth (1/4) of the members in good standing, and
must be presented to the Pastors, who shall in turn make the proper
announcement of the meeting. Every congregational meeting at which
business is to be transacted shall be announced at regular services
for at least two (2) successive Sundays. Other congregational
meetings at which there is no business transacted by vote may
be called at the discretion of the Pastors without previous notice.
ARTICLE 9: CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY
This Constitution, as with any other non-inspired document, is
not infallible. It does, however, reflect an earnest and sincere
attempt to apply the Scriptures in ordering the life of this local
church. Furthermore, we as members of this church, including the
elders/pastors, have solemnly committed ourselves to follow this
Constitution in ordering the life of this church . Therefore the
demands of the ninth commandment, and the sanctity of truth in
general, require that the elders/pastors and all of the members
of this church abide by our mutual commitment.
Only when we must obey God rather than the provisions of this
Constitution may its requirements be disregarded (Acts 5:29).
If at any time a member of this church becomes aware that adherence
to this Constitution would violate biblical principle, he should
make this known to the elders/pastors. If the elders/pastors conclude
that biblical principle requires disregarding a provision of this
Constitution, they are obligated to communicate this together
with the reason(s) for their conclusion to the church within one
month at a duly called meeting of the church. Furthermore, relevant
amendments to this Constitution must be submitted to the church
and acted upon in accordance with the provisions of Section C
within one year following this informational meeting. The failure
of the elders/pastors to observe these requirements will constitute
a legitimate reason for the calling of a special meeting by the
members of the church in accordance with Article 4, Section B.
Amendments to this Constitution may be adopted by three-fourths
of those voting at any regular church meeting or at a special
meeting called for this purpose provided, in either case, that
such proposed amendments shall be distributed in written form
to the membership at least four (4) weeks prior to such a meeting.
This Constitution is to be perpetual but may be amended according
to the guidelines of this constitution.
By-Laws shall be adopted and/or repealed by a simple majority
of the total voting membership.
ARTICLE 10: DISSOLUTION OF THE CHURCH AND ITS PROPERTIES
In the event of dissolution, the remaining funds and assets shall
be used first to dispose of all Church-related liabilities and
to the extent that assets exceed liabilities the remaining assets
shall be donated to the Southern Baptist Convention of New Mexico.