Section 1: General Statement
Jesus Christ alone is the Head of the church (Colossians 1:18), and He governs His church through office bearers whom He appoints (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11) and who are endowed by His Spirit with the gifts and graces needed to accomplish their work (1 Corinthians 15:9-10). There are two kinds of such officers: elders (also called pastors, or bishops) and deacons (Acts 20:17-28; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1 13). It is the duty of the church to seek and discover among its members those to whom Christ the Lord has imparted the necessary gifts for the office bearing, and after formally recognizing them by common suffrage, to set them apart by united prayer and then to submit to their authority (Luke 10:16; John 13:20; Acts 6:3 6; 14:23; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:5).
Section 2: Elders
Paragraph A: Qualifications of Elders
Each elder must meet the spiritual qualifications of the office set forth in I Timothy 3:1 7 and Titus 1:6 9. Any man called to this office must be able to conscientiously affirm his agreement with the Articles of Faith and the Constitution of the church. Should he at any time move from this position, he is under spiritual and moral obligation to make this fact known to the church.
Paragraph B: Duties of Elders
Elders are responsible for the spiritual ministry of the church. The eldership, as a body, is responsible to give comprehensive oversight to the church, including: the preaching and teaching of the whole counsel of God, both publicly and privately (Acts 20:17, 20, 21,27; Titus 1:9), the watching out for the welfare of the soul of every member of the church (Ephesians 4:11 16; Colossians 1:28; 1 Thessalonians 2:11; Hebrews 13:17), and the directing of the church in its tasks by setting general policy and by making specific decisions (I Timothy 3:4-5; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-2). Nonetheless, the elders must always exercise authority with sensitivity to the consensus of the congregation (Ezekiel 34:4; 1 Timothy 3:4-5; 1 Peter 5:3) in the posture of servants and examples to the congregation respecting any large project or expenditure and should be willing to yield to the congregation when appropriate (Acts 15:22; 19:30; 21:11 14). In addition, the elders must maintain oversight over one another, and must give mutual counsel regarding the stewardship of one another’s gifts (Acts 20:28; Galatians 2:9).
Paragraph C: Plurality of Elders
Although in new or small congregations only one man may have the gifts requisite for the office of elder, the Scriptures indicate that normally there should be a plurality of elders in the local church (Acts 20:17; Philippians 1:1). The church should endeavor to discover and formally recognize all the men whom the Holy Spirit has endowed with the requisite gifts and graces for the office, but only such men.
Should it come to pass, in the providence of God, that Dallas Reformed Baptist Church has only one man qualified for the office of elder, the church must wait upon God with fervent prayer that He might remedy this abnormality (Matthew 9:37-38). In such cases, the sole elder is urged to seek spiritual oversight, for himself and his family, from the eldership of another church. He should seek counsel for matters of importance and guard against being self willed or tyrannical in his attitude or rule (Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 5:3-5). The sole elder bears full authority in and responsibility for the affairs of the church.
Should it come to pass, in the providence of God, that Dallas Reformed Baptist Church is without any elders, a steering committee shall be formed, consisting of five male members in good standing, nominated and chosen by majority vote at a business meeting of the church (1 Corinthians 14:40). This committee shall make arrangements for pulpit supply, search for a pastor, and conduct other necessary business of the church. This committee shall seek constant counsel from the eldership of another like minded church. This committee shall be disbanded as soon as a man is called to the office of elder.
Paragraph D: Parity and Diversity of Elders
The elders are all equal in office and authority (Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:17), but diverse in gifts and function. Each elders must be “apt to teach”, be engaged in private instruction and admonition, and be engaged in the administration and government of the church (Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:1 7). However, some will be more experienced, involved, and proficient than others in executing various dimensions of the pastoral office (1 Timothy 5:17). Some will be more engaged in formal and public teaching than others (1 Timothy 5:17). In view of this diversity, as well as the numerous and grave responsibilities of the office, it is highly desirable that at least one elder should devote himself full time to the work of the ministry and the oversight of the church. The church is responsible to give adequate financial support to such men, while others of the elders fulfill the office as they maintain a secular vocation (Acts 18:3-5; 1 Corinthians 9:9-11; I Timothy 3:15-18).
Paragraph E: Number of Elders and Length of Term
The number of elders shall not be fixed. These may all continue as long as they remain qualified, able, and willing to serve. The length of their term of office cannot be fixed by the church.
Paragraph F: Chairmanship of the Elders
The elders shall choose one of their number to be chairman. They shall also select a vice chairman to serve as chairman in the chairman’s absence (1 Corinthians 14:40).
Section 3: Deacons
Paragraph A: Qualifications of Deacons
Each deacon must meet the spiritual qualifications of the office outlined in Acts 6:3 and I Timothy 3:8 13. Any man called to this office must be able to conscientiously affirm his agreement with the Articles of Faith and the Constitution of this church. Should he at any time move away from this position, he is under spiritual and moral obligation to make this fact known to the church.
Paragraph B: Duties of Deacons
Deacons are responsible to administer the ordinary business, secular affairs, and benevolence concerns of the church so that the elders may devote themselves without distraction to the more spiritual matters (Acts 6:2 4). They must fulfill the duties of their office in cooperation with and subjection to the elders. The Chairman of the Board of Deacons (see paragraph D, this Section) shall choose a treasurer to serve as a custodian of the funds of the church. The treasurer shall open and maintain bank accounts in the name of the church. A complete record of all receipts and disbursements shall be kept, and monthly and annual reports made to the church. The treasurer shall execute his duties in submission to the elders and deacons.
Paragraph C: Number of Deacons and Length of Term
The number of deacons shall not be fixed. These may continue in office as long as they remain qualified, able and willing to serve. The length of their term of office cannot be fixed by the church.
Paragraph D: Chairmanship of the Deacons
The deacons shall choose one of their number to be chairman. They shall also select a vice chairman to serve as chairman in the chairman’s absence (1 Corinthians 14:40).
Section 4: Recognition, Installation, and Confirmation of Church Officers
Paragraph A: The Task of Recognition
The appointment of men to the office of elder or deacon is the prerogative of the Lord Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 4:11). However, He has ordained that the local church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, exercise the responsibility of recognizing, in its midst, men whom He is so appointing (Acts 6:3). Elders and deacons are ordained to office by the laying on of hands by the eldership (Acts 6:6; 1Timothy 4:14). Since this is an expression of approval for which the elders alone are responsible, each officer must have the approval, not only of the church as a whole, but of the eldership in particular (1 Timothy 5:22; Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). Christ’s appointment of a man to either of these offices is recognized when a man possesses an inward conviction that the Lord is calling him to serve in a particular office, and when the church observes, in that same man, evidence of the gifts and graces required by Scripture for that particular office (1 Timothy 3:1-7, 8-12; Titus 1:5-9). The recognition of office bearers is a matter of such gravity that it should be accompanied by much prayerful waiting upon God for guidance, a careful consideration of the relevant passages of Scripture, and an objective evaluation of each man nominated (Acts 6:6; 14:23). These activities are the responsibility of each individual member of the church as well as the church as a whole (Acts 6:3-5)
Paragraph B: The Process of Recognition
Nominations to the office of elder or deacon shall be made by the elders (Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23), who may, at any time during the year, call a special congregational meeting for this purpose. Periodically, the elders will survey the membership of the church to determine whether there exists a groundswell of support for any individual (s) for office (Acts 6:2-3); however, at any time, a member in good standing may recommend to the elders a potential nominee for either office. Upon the recommendation of any individual for office, the elders will prayerfully and with biblical objectivity consider whether the individual recommended should be nominated (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Timothy 5:22).
2. Congregational Approval
There must be a minimum period of one month from the time of a man’s nomination until the meeting called for his public examination and congregational vote (1 Corinthians 14:40). During this period, the members have a solemn obligation to prayerfully assess each nominee in the light of the relevant passages of Scripture (Acts 6:2-3, 6). Any member who has reservations concerning a nominee’s fitness for office should contact him or one of the elders (1Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9; 1Timothy 5:22). Failure to resolve the reservation to the elders’ satisfaction may warrant either termination or postponement of the congregational vote (1 Timothy 5:22). When the time comes to consider a nomination during a business meeting of the church, the candidate for office, and any members of his immediate family who are present, shall be requested to leave the room while his qualifications are discussed by the congregation in the fear of God and the light of Scriptures. Following this discussion, a written ballot shall be taken (Acts 6:2-3, 5). It is desirous that the vote of the congregation be unanimous, but if unanimity is not realized, no less than a three-fourths majority of the members present and voting shall be required for the election of an officer of the local church.
Paragraph C: Installation
Following the recognition of an office bearer by vote of the congregation, he shall be publicly installed in his office at a regular worship service by the prayer of the whole church and the laying on of the hands of the existing elders.
Paragraph D: Confirmation
Office bearers are subject to the same rules of discipline as are other members of the church. They shall hold office as long as they are faithful to their calling and have the confidence of the congregation. The church shall reconfirm (or express withdrawal of) confidence in each of its office bearers at its annual meeting three years following the date of installation, and every three years thereafter in the manner designated in Paragraph B2 of this Section.
Section 5: The Discipline and Resignation of Officers
Paragraph A: The Warrant for the Discipline of Officers
While elders are overseers of the flock, they are themselves members of the flock. Therefore, each elder as an individual is under the oversight of his fellow elders and is subject to the same discipline as are all the members of the church. Church officers are subject not only to the same rules of discipline as the other members, but in addition are subject to public reprimand by the elders (Galatians 2:14; 1 Timothy 5:20), and/or removal from office (I Timothy 3:2), if they no longer are qualified for their office or if their behavior is disorderly or scandalous, thereby bringing reproach upon Christ and the church, and setting the stumbling block of bad example before the brethren.
Paragraph B: Procedure for the Discipline of Officers
The process of discipline may be initiated either by the elders or by individual members of the congregation. Any member who is offended at the behavior of any church officer should first approach that officer privately and express his or her concerns. If the concerns are not resolved, the member should inform the elders of the situation and wait upon them in their determination of the matter (Matthew 18:15). Since this is such a delicate and serious matter, the elders shall proceed with due caution and earnest prayer (I Timothy 5:19). If the elders judge discipline to be necessary, they shall inform the congregation of the basis for the proposed discipline in principle and in fact. If he so desire, the officer accused shall have opportunity to speak in his own defense. The removal of an officer shall require congregational approval at a duly called congregational meeting. In order to retain his office in such circumstances, the officer must receive a vote of confidence by no less than three fourths majority of the members present and voting.
Paragraph C: The Resignation of Officers
An officer may resign his office without prejudice if for good and valid reasons he feels that he is no longer able to discharge the duties of it.