Our Church Constitution is a guiding framework for our practices and decision making processes as a church family. Our hope is that this constitution reflects the character of our Savior as we seek to glorify Him in the way we make decisions with love, mutual accountability, and integrity as a local church.
Since we believe that God is pleased for us to do so, we, the members, unite to organize as Christ Church. We adopt this Constitution to govern our conduct and pursuit of the ministry of Christ Church. Together, we wholeheartedly desire to exalt Jesus Christ in all things, to worship God fervently, to teach and preach God’s Word, and to proclaim the biblical Gospel of Christ both near and far. We express our convictions and mutual commitments in the summary statements known as our Affirmation of Faith and Church Covenant.
ARTICLE I - NAME AND PURPOSE
This body shall be known as Christ Church of South Metro Atlanta, Inc. Our name may be referred to in shorter form as “Christ Church.”
Christ Church exists to be a maturing and growing community of Christians who together live all of life in light of the gospel. It is incorporated as a non-profit corporation under the laws of the state of Georgia. This congregation is organized as a church exclusively for religious, charitable, and educational purposes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (or the corresponding provision of any future United States Revenue Law) for such purposes including, but not limited to: the proclaiming of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; the establishing and maintaining of religious worship; the teaching of believers in a manner consistent with God’s Word; and the maintaining of missionary activities in the United States and any foreign country.
ARTICLE II - MEMBERSHIP
2.A - Definition of Members // The Members of the Church (“Members”) are those who fulfill the requirements for membership and are not otherwise removed from membership. These processes are explained below.
2.B - Qualifications for Admission to Membership // To be a Member of Christ Church, a person must be a believer in Jesus Christ who gives evidence of regeneration and who has been baptized in obedience to Christ. Each Member must affirm the Church’s Affirmation of Faith and the Church Covenant. The Elders shall be responsible for overseeing the process of welcoming new Members.
2.C - Procedure for Admission to Membership // A person desiring to become a Member shall complete our Life Together seminar, fill out our Testifying to Christ form, and meet with two Elders. Elders will recommend new Members to the current Members. Upon affirmation of the current Members, those pursuing Membership will become a Member of the Church. The new Member relinquishes Membership in any other church unless the Elders allow for an exception.
2.D - Duties and Privileges of Membership // As agreed in the Church Covenant, each Member shall participate in and contribute to the ministry and life of the Church, consistent with God’s leading and with the gifts, time, and material resources each has received from God. Only those who are Members of the Church shall be entitled to serve in the ministries of the Church. Non-Members may serve on an ad-hoc basis with the approval of the Elders. It is the privilege and responsibility of Members to attend all Members’ meetings as they are able and to vote on matters submitted to a vote or affirmation of the Members.
2.E - Separation From Membership // The Elders shall recognize termination of membership on voluntary resignation of Membership or joining with another church. If a Member does not participate in the life of the Church for six months, they may forfeit their Membership as decided by the Elders. Membership may also be revoked upon a decision of the Elders as a result of church discipline. Before revoking Membership for any reason, the Elders will seek out the Member to further understand his or her situation. The Elders will keep a current record of the Membership of the Church.
2.F - Discipline of Members // All Members of the Church are expected to conduct their lives according to the standards taught in Scripture. Such conduct includes moral purity, personal honesty, promotion of church unity, and biblical fidelity, as understood by the Elders. Members are to be consistent examples of authentic Christianity as they seek to emulate the character of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
1. Purposes of Discipline // The Church is commanded to discipline its Members when they continue in open and/or habitual sin. Church discipline has multiple purposes including:
- Encouraging the sinning Member to repent, thus restoring fellowship with Christ and the Church;
- Warning other Members against such sin; and
- Upholding and maintaining the moral purity and blameless testimony of the Church.
2. Process of Discipline // Should any Member depart from the standard of Scripture and engage in conduct that conflicts with biblical principles, as mentioned above, the Elders shall oversee the biblical instruction for church discipline, which may include but is not limited to:
- It is the responsibility of the erring Member to confess his or her sin to the one(s) sinned against and be reconciled to the offended person(s) (Matt 5:24).
- It is the responsibility of any Member of this church knowing an erring Member’s sin to warn and correct him or her in private, seeking repentance and restoration (Matt 18:15; Gal 6:1).
- If the erring Member does not heed these warnings, then the warning Member shall request the presence of one or two others and go again to the erring Member, repeatedly if necessary, seeking repentance and restoration (Matt 18:16).
- If the erring Member does not heed these warnings, then the matter shall be brought to the attention of the Elders. The Elders shall take the case into prayerful consideration and bring the matter before the church so that the body may publicly and corporately call the erring Member to repentance. The erring Member may be suspended from taking Communion and removed from any church office.
- No action calling for dismissal shall be taken against any Member until the church has first attempted to communicate with him or her in writing, citing the offense and providing an opportunity for the Member to meet with the Elders (Matt 18:17).
- If the erring Member does not repent in response to the church, then he or she shall be publicly dismissed from the membership and fellowship of the church (Matt 18:17).
- If after dismissal the erring party heeds the warning, demonstrates repentance, and personally asks the Elders to be reinstated by the church, then he or she shall be publicly restored to all the rights, duties, privileges, and responsibilities of membership (2 Cor 2:6-8).
The entire process of church discipline shall be carried out in a spirit of Christian love, care and sensitivity.
3. Termination of Membership // It is hoped that the steps of discipline will result in repentance on the part of the sinning Member without the necessity of termination of Membership. If the Elders decide to terminate Membership, the reason for termination shall be stated in a pastoral letter and delivered to the terminated Member.
4. Agreement of Members to Submit to the Process of Church Discipline // Every person who applies for Membership or maintains Membership in this Church shall explicitly consent to submit to the process of church discipline through signature and acknowledgment of the Church Covenant.
ARTICLE III - SERVICES AND MEMBER MEETINGS
3.A - Services // The regular services of corporate worship of the Church shall be held each Sunday and on other days determined by the Elders.
3.B - Member Meetings // Member Meetings are held for the express purpose of conducting Church business. There shall be a Member Meeting annually on or about the fourth Sunday of January to report on the activities and financial condition of the Church and affirm the Church budget. Additional Member meetings shall be called by the Elders at their discretion or by the Members if at least 25 percent of the Members sign, date, and deliver to any serving Elder a written request for the meeting that describes the purpose or purposes of the meeting. All Member Meetings shall be held at a place, date, and time designated by the Elders. Attendance and participation in Member Meetings shall be limited to those who are Members of the Church and have not been prohibited from participation as part of a disciplinary process undertaken by the Elders. The Elders may, at their discretion, invite non-Members to Member Meetings.
3.C - Notice // A public announcement of all Member Meetings shall be made by the Elders in at least two consecutive Sunday worship services preceding the date of the meeting. The announcement shall include the purpose, date, time, and location of the meeting and a description of any matter or matters that must be affirmed by the Members. The date of record for determining Members entitled to notice of a meeting shall be 30 days before the meeting.
3.D - Quorum // A quorum for the transaction of business at any meeting of the Members shall be twenty-five percent of the Members in good standing as of the date of record.
3.E - Member Voting Rights // The Elders shall have the power to decide all matters for which Members are not expressly granted voting rights by this Constitution. Members shall have the right to vote for affirmation or reconsideration on the following matters at a Member Meeting:
- Affirming Elders and Deacons/Deaconesses;
- Approving the minutes of Member Meetings;
- Approving or making substantial changes to the overall Church budget. The budget shall be approved annually, normally no more than three months following the start of the fiscal year. Prior to this approval and subject to the Elders’ discretion, expenditures may continue at the prior year’s level; and
- Approving any “Exceptional Matter,” as set forth below.
3.F - Exceptional Matters // The following matters are “Exceptional Matters”:
- Affirming the call and hiring of any pastoral staff;
- Amending this Constitution, the Articles of Incorporation, Affirmation of Faith, or Membership Covenant;
- Approving the sale, lease, exchange or other disposition of all or substantially all the property or assets of the Church;
- Approving the merger or consolidation of the Church with another church, corporation, or legal entity;
- Approving the acquisition, disposition, or transfer of any interest in real estate;
- Approving the borrowing of money;
- Approving the dissolution of the Church; and,
- Granting the Elders exceptional authority on any particular matter known to the Members to make a decision at the Members’ pleasure.
When the Members are to vote on any Exceptional Matters at a Member Meeting, the text of the resolution upon which the vote is to be taken shall be included in the notice of the meeting. In the event that a new motion concerning an Exceptional Matter is seconded during a meeting, final action on that newly proposed motion will normally be delayed until the text of the proposed motion is published in the notice of a subsequent meeting.
3.G - Vote // A simple majority of the non-abstention votes cast shall be required to approve a motion, except that a two-thirds majority of non-abstention votes shall be required to approve any Exceptional Matter.
3.H - Moderator // All Member Meetings shall be Moderated by the Chairman of the Elders or, in his absence, the Vice-Chairman of the Elders. If neither is able to serve as Moderator, the Moderator shall be designated by the Elders.
3.I - Rules of Procedure // All Member Meetings shall be governed by the most current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order to the extent that such rules are not in conflict with this Constitution. The moderator shall conduct meetings in accordance with the procedures outlined here but shall have the freedom to modify the procedures at his discretion based on his own sense of fairness and what he deems to be in the best interests of the church. The moderator shall give all Members a reasonable opportunity to be heard on a matter.
3.J - Absentee Ballots // Two weeks before a Member Meeting at which the Members will vote on a matter, ballots permitting absent Members to vote on the proposed resolutions shall be provided to Members who request them from the Church office. These absentee ballots shall be counted with votes cast during the meeting, except those votes by absentee ballot shall not be counted if the resolution in question is amended during that Meeting.
3.K - Annual Report Distribution // No later than one week before each Annual Meeting, the Elders shall make available to the Members a written annual report (the “Annual Report”).
3.L - Annual Report Contents // The Annual Report shall include the following:
- Minutes of the previous Annual Meeting and all subsequent Member Meetings, as prepared by the Secretary of the Elders;
- Reports on the ministries of the Church during the preceding elective year from the Chairman of the Elders, the Senior Pastor, and all other members of the pastoral staff.
- The Treasurer’s draft financial statement for the previous fiscal year (which may be subject to correction or clarification by the Treasurer and to audit by the outside auditors of the Church); and
- The Proposed Church budget for the next fiscal year is prepared and approved by the Elders.
ARTICLE IV - ELDERS
4.A - General Powers // The affairs, ministry activities, and business of the Church shall be overseen by its Elders, which shall be the equivalent of “Directors” under the Georgia Nonprofit Corporation Code. The Elders shall take particular responsibility to examine and instruct prospective Members, examine and recommend all prospective candidates for offices and positions, oversee the work of the Pastors, Deacons, and appointed church agents, committees, and service teams, and conduct worship services and administration of the ordinances of baptism and communion.
4.B - Number and Qualifications // The Elders shall be comprised of men who satisfy the qualifications for the office of Elder set forth in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. The number of Elders shall be determined by the Elders. In order to be eligible for election as an Elder, a man shall have been a Member in good standing in the church for at least one year, shall have received appropriate training under the direction or with the approval of the Elders, and shall have served the Church in functions requiring responsible leadership.
4.C - Election and Tenure // Non-staff Elders will, upon approval of the Elders and 2/3 affirmation of the Membership, serve a term of three years, with the possibility of being affirmed for a second three-year term. After two three-year terms, the Elder will have a one-year sabbatical, after which he is eligible for another term. The Elders have the authority to modify individual terms in order to stagger the terms of those serving. Inactive Elders, during their sabbatical, may, upon mutual consent with the Elders, continue to serve as a shepherding Elder and may attend and/or be invited to specific or to all Elder meetings as a non-voting member.
The Elders will, normally at the annual business meeting, request the congregation to submit names as nominations for potential Elder candidates. Prior to being put forward for congregational affirmation, potential candidates will be required to complete appropriate training in biblical eldership and must subsequently be approved by the Elders for service.
The Senior Pastor of the Church shall serve as an Elder upon his appointment as Senior Pastor by the Elders and shall serve as an Elder as long as he is employed by the Church as Senior Pastor.
4.D - Chairman and Vice-Chairman // The Chairman of the Elders is elected annually by the Elders. At the annual meeting of the Elders, the Elders may, at their discretion, elect from among the then-serving Elders a Vice-Chairman of the Elders. The Vice-Chairman shall preside over the Elders during the absence or disability of the Chairman.
4.E - Resignation and Removal // An Elder may resign at any time by giving written notice to the Chairman of the Elders. Such resignation may, upon acceptance of the Elders, take effect on the date of receipt or at any later time specified. Any Elder may be removed at any time by a resolution adopted at a meeting of the Elders.
4.F - Vacancies // Any vacancy occurring on the Elders to be filled by reason of any resignation or removal of an Elder shall be filled as soon as is practicable by the Elders. An Elder so appointed to fill a vacancy will normally be appointed for the unexpired term of his predecessor in office, such unexpired term to be considered the first of two terms eligible unless otherwise provided by a decision of the Elders.
ARTICLE V - MEETINGS OF THE ELDERS
5.A - Regular Meetings of the Board // Regular meetings of the Elders may be scheduled as agreed upon by the Elders, or as called by, or at the request of, the Chairman or any two Elders. The Elders should meet at least once per month. The person or persons authorized to call a meeting of the Elders may fix any place for holding a meeting of the Elders called by them, provided that notice of the meeting is provided in accordance with the notice provisions provided below. While personal presence is always preferred, circumstances may allow for remote attendance via mutually acceptable means.
5.B - Quorum // A majority of the Elders then in office shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business at any meeting of the Elders, provided that if fewer than a majority of the Elders are present at the said meeting, a majority of the Elders present may adjourn the meeting to another time without further notice.
5.C - Manner of Acting // The act of a majority of the Elders present at a duly convened meeting shall be the act of the Elders unless the act of a greater number is required by this Constitution or other governing law. Elders may not vote by proxy or under any other power of attorney. If an Elder absent from a given meeting has substantial objection to a decision of the Elder meeting, he is obligated to communicate such within 48 hours, so that the decision may be reconsidered. If no comment is communicated upon receiving the record of the meeting by the absent Elder/s the matter is considered to be an approval.
5.D - Telephone (or Other Acceptance Means) Meeting // Any meeting of the Elders may be conducted in simultaneous multiple locations if the various locations are effectively connected by telephone and/or Internet-based conference call lines or by other acceptable means. Members of the Elders may participate in, and act, at any meeting of the Elders through the use of a conference telephone or other communications equipment by which all persons participating in the meeting can communicate with each other. Participation in such a meeting shall constitute attendance and presence in person at the meeting of the person or persons so participating.
5.E - Informal Action by Elders // Any action required or permitted by law to be taken at a meeting of the Elders may be taken without a meeting if all Elders consent to the action. The action must be evidenced by one or more consents separately in writing or by electronic transmission describing the action taken, signed by no fewer than the required number of Elders, and delivered to the Church for inclusion in the minutes for filing with the Church records reflecting the action taken. The action taken is effective when the last Elder signs the consent unless the consent specifies a different effective date. A consent signed and delivered by an Elder has the effect of a meeting vote and may be described as such in any document.
ARTICLE VI - PASTORAL STAFF
6.A - Description and Qualifications // Members of the pastoral staff shall be men whose character and gifts conform to the biblical qualifications presented in I Tim. 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, and I Peter 5:1-4 and who, in response to God's call, have devoted their vocational lives to the ministry of the Word and prayer in the service of the church of Christ. Pastors are employed for an indefinite period of time and supported financially by the Church in return for their vocational labor.
6.B - Appointment and Affirmation // Pastor candidates are presented by the Elders and affirmed by the Membership at a Member Meeting. A ⅔ majority vote of the Membership is required for affirmation. Members of the pastoral staff may resign their position, normally upon at least thirty days written notice. A Member of the pastoral staff (and his spouse) shall automatically become a Member of the Church upon the Membership’s affirmation of his appointment as a Member of the pastoral staff.
6.C - Duties // Pastors shall be responsible, along with the Elders, for shepherding the people of the Church and for overseeing its ministries. Pastors shall preach on the Lord’s Day, oversee the administration of the ordinances of baptism and communion, and perform such other duties as usually pertain to that office. Pastors shall perform additional duties determined by the Elders. The duties of the pastors shall be in writing at the time of the call to service, and substantial changes shall be approved by the Elders.
The Senior Pastor shall be responsible for the oversight and supervision of all other Members of the pastoral staff in addition to such operational administration as may be necessary for the effective functioning of the Church.
6.D - Termination of a Pastor // Because of God's call on his life and his position of authority in the church, a pastor is due respect and esteem (1 Thessalonians 5:12,13). Termination from this position needs to be carefully considered in light of biblical teaching, his sacred relationship to the body he shepherds, and the church's witness to the community.
A pastor may be terminated for failure to meet the biblical qualifications for an Elder, failure to fulfill his pastoral duties, or heresy.
The Elders must present appropriate evidence for their recommendation for the termination of the pastor to the Membership. Prior to making a recommendation for termination, third-party mediation is required. The analysis of the third-party mediator will be shared with the Membership and the pastor allowed to address the Membership.
A 2/3 majority vote of the Membership is required for the termination of a Pastor.
If Members have concerns or accusations regarding a pastor, they should submit them in writing to the Elders, who are responsible to oversee a process of church discipline if needed.
ARTICLE VII - BOARD OF DEACONS AND BOARD OF DEACONESSES
7.A- Description and Qualifications // Deacons and Deaconesses shall care for the practical needs of the Church and oversee mercy ministries of the Church. The office of Deacon is described in I Timothy 3:8–13 and the office of Deaconess is described in 1 Timothy 3:11. The Deacons shall also oversee the collection and disbursement of funds for the ministries of the Church. Other forms of service for the Church may also be delegated to the Board of Deacons and Board of Deaconesses by the Elders. The Board of Deacons and Board of Deaconesses shall be responsible to, and report directly to, the Elders. The Board of Deacons and Board of Deaconesses shall choose their own officers from their Memberships. The Deacons and Deaconesses will, upon approval of the Elders and affirmation of the Membership will serve a term of three years, with the possibility of being affirmed for a second three-year term. After two three-year terms, they will have a one-year sabbatical, after which he/she is eligible for another term.
7.B - Scope of Responsibilities & Powers // The Board of Deacons, under the direction of the Elders, will normally care for business and administrative ministries, practical policies, financial handling and management, property management, support staff, and mercy ministries. The Board of Deaconesses, under the direction of the Elders, will normally care for the implementation of the Care Fund (benevolence), pregnancy resource ministries, home support for those recovering from health issues, bereaved, maternity, etc., and visitation. The Board of Deacons and Board of Deaconesses shall develop their own written policies and guidelines for procedures and shall administer their own policies, procedures, and programs, subject to review and approval by the Elders.
7.C - Resignation and Removal // Any Deacon or Deaconess may resign at any time by giving written notice to the Chair of the Board of Deacons or Board of Deaconesses, who will convey such notice to the Elders. Such resignation shall normally take effect on the date of receipt or at any later time specified therein. Any Deacon or Deaconess may be removed at any time by the Elders.
7.D - Rules // The Board of Deacons and Board of Deaconesses may adopt rules for their own government not inconsistent with this Constitution or with rules adopted by the Elders, except those rules governing notice, quorum, manner of acting, telephone meetings, and informal action shall be those set forth above.
ARTICLE VIII - CREATION OF OTHER MINISTRY COMMITTEES OR TEAMS
As needed for the good of the church, the Elders may initiate or approve ministry committees or teams for special ministries of the church. Each special committee or team, under the guidance and direction of the Elders, may adopt their own rules and functionality not inconsistent with their chartered purposes and this Constitution.
Examples of such committees or teams would be in the areas of Outreach, Local Missions, or Cross-cultural Missions.
ARTICLE IX - COMMITMENT TO FAITH CONVICTIONS
9.A - Affirmation of Faith // All activities of the Church shall be conducted in line with the Church’s Affirmation of Faith. The Affirmation of Faith is hereby incorporated by reference into this Constitution.
9.B - Employment Qualifications // In accord with the Church’s purposes and commitment to live out our convictions, the Church will employ individuals who:
(1) Profess a belief in Jesus Christ as personal Savior;
(2) Are members in good standing at Christ Church; and
(3) As part of their duties as employees, shall:
- participate in services of the Church;
- refrain from statements and conduct that detracts from the biblical standards taught and supported by the Church;
- fulfill such other ministry functions as may be requested by the Church; and
- abide by the practices, policies, beliefs, and positions of the Church, as interpreted and understood by the Elders.
ARTICLE X - INDEMNIFICATION
10.A - Indemnification to the Fullest Extent of Law // The Corporation shall indemnify and protect each of its Elders, Deacons, and officers to the fullest extent permitted by the laws of the State of Georgia.
10.B - Indemnification not Exclusive // The indemnification provided by this Article shall not be deemed exclusive of any other rights to which those seeking indemnification may be entitled under any agreement, the vote of disinterested Elders, or otherwise, both as to action or inaction in his or her official capacity and as to action or inaction in another capacity while holding such office, and shall continue as to a person who has ceased to be an Elder, officer, employee or agent, and shall inure to the benefit of the heirs, executors, and administrators of such a person.
10.C - Insurance // The Church shall purchase and maintain insurance on behalf of any person who is or was an Elder, officer, employee, or agent of the Church, or who is or was serving at the request of the Church as an Elder, officer, employee or agent of another corporation, partnership, joint venture, trust, or other enterprise, against any liability asserted against such person and incurred by such person in any such capacity, or arising out of his or her status as such, whether or not the Church would have the power to indemnify such person against such liability under the provisions of this Article.
ARTICLE XI - FINANCIAL POLICIES
11.A - Fiscal Year // The fiscal year of the Church shall be from January 1 to December 31.
11.B - Sale of Assets // The acquisition, disposition, or transfer of any interest in real estate may only be made if authorized by a resolution of the Members, as stated above. Any other sale, lease, exchange, or other disposition of property or assets of the Church may be made by the Elders.
11.C - Gifts // The Church may accept on behalf of the Church any contribution, gift, bequest, financial instrument, or asset for the general purposes, or for any authorized special purpose, of the Church. All donations to the Church are, by standards of 501(c)(3) regulations, under the control of the Elders and used expressly for the purposes of the Church.
ARTICLE XII - MISCELLANEOUS
12.A - Waiver of Notice of Meetings // Whenever any notice is required to be given to any Elder or committee member of the Church under the provisions of this Constitution or under the provisions of the Articles of Incorporation or other law, a waiver of notification, signed by the person or persons entitled to such notice and duly noted in the minutes or records, shall be deemed equivalent to the giving of such notice.
12.B - Amendments // This Constitution, the Articles of Incorporation, Affirmation of Faith, and Membership Covenant, may be amended as necessary. All such amendments must originate from the Elders and be approved by the Elders. If the Elders approve an amendment, the Elders shall recommend affirmation of the amendment to the Members at a Members’ Meeting. The text of the proposed amendment shall be provided to the Members with the notice of the Members’ Meeting at which affirmation of the amendment will be considered. No amendment will be effective unless affirmed by the Members, as set forth above.
12.C - Severability // The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision in this Constitution shall not affect the validity or enforceability of the remaining provisions.
12.D - Books and Records // The Church, at or through its office(s), shall keep correct and complete books and records of account, minutes of the proceedings of the Elders, all official registration documentation, etc., available for authorized inspection by Members or government authorized jurisdictions.
12.E - Electronic Communications // Any actions required to be "written", to be "in writing", to have "written consent", to have "written approval" of the Elders or other functional bodies of the Church shall include any communication transmitted or received by electronic or mutually acceptable means.
12.F - Powers and Limitations // Normal regulations for 501(c)(3) religious nonprofits apply, including:
- The Church may make distributions to other similar tax-exempt organizations that qualify as exempt organizations.
- No part of the assets of the Church may inure to the benefit of Members, directors, officers, or other private persons, except for reasonable compensation for services rendered and for its stated purposes.
- Upon dissolution of the Church, the Elders shall, after paying all of the liabilities of the Church, dispose of all of the assets of the Church, exclusively for the purposes of the Church.