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When my lawsuit went viral, quite a few people took it upon themselves to look up the name of my church on the internet. They found and read the church by-laws. A number of them questioned why we would even attend such a church because they could tell something was clearly off by what they had read. Now, looking at it, I can see it, too
Someone recently sent me a link to a church constitution. Beneath the subsection of Membership, I copied the “Conduct of Members” section to discuss here.
Many people have no idea what to look for in a good church or what would stand out as red warning flags. Let’s go through this portion of the church document together. Would you go to this church? Why or why not? I have removed Section “c.” on tithing because I would like to cover that issue separately.
(I have changed the real identity of this church to “Grace Church.”)
4. Conduct of Members
a. Each member is required to punctually attend all stated meetings of the church unless providentially hindered. The stated meetings of the church are all those on the Lord’s Day – morning service, second hour prayer service and evening service – and other special meetings in which the whole church is called upon to gather as the elder(s) deem necessary (Ex. 20:8-11; Isa. 58:13, 14; Heb. 10:24, 25). As resources allow, Sunday School classes, taught by qualified Grace Church members, may be held during the second hour prayer service, under the indirect supervision of the elder(s).
b. Each member is to make disciplined use of the means of grace. This includes regular reading of the Bible, prayer both privately and with their families, corporate worship, fellowship with the saints, the Lord’s Supper, and evangelism
d. It is the duty of each member to conduct themselves according to the precepts of the Word of God so that the name of Christ and the church be not justly criticized by those without. This behavior extends to family government: the husband ruling over his household with gentleness (Eph. 5:25; 1 Tim. 3:4, 5; 1 Pet. 3:7), the wife being in respectful subjection to her husband (Eph. 5:22-24; 1 Pet. 3:1-6), and children obeying their parents as the parents exercise watchful care and discipline (Ex. 20:12).
e. Members are to guard themselves from unbiblical alliances which hinder the faith, the doctrine, the work of the gospel, and the reputation of Grace Church (2 Cor. 6:14-18).
f. Each member is to endeavor to be useful in the extension of God’s Kingdom to the full measure of his peculiar gifts and calling (Isa. 54: 1-3; Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8).
g. In covenanting together, it is the duty of each member to seek the welfare of all other members: to cultivate their acquaintance (Eph. 4:25; 1 Cor. 12:26); to pray for them and their children; to be responsive to their practical necessities (Gal. 6:10; James 2:14-16; 1 John 3:16-18); and to refrain from all gossip, murmuring, and evil speaking (Prov. 11:13; Matt. 18:15; 1 Thess. 5:14, 15; Heb. 3:12, 13; 10:24, 25).
h. All members of this church are expected to recognize and submit to the authority of its elder(s) and deacon(s) in their respective spheres of responsibility (1 Cor. 16:15, 16; 1 Thess. 5:12, 13; 1 Tim. 5:19; Heb. 13:17).
i. The elder(s) may call for an advisory vote at their discretion. When advisory votes are called for, all members may vote.
j. For reasons of providence, members may be excused from membership, but only at the discretion of the elder(s)
k. Finally, members shall keep in strict confidence those matters which concern the private business of the church. Officers may exercise discretion in seeking and giving godly counsel inside or outside Grace Church.