THE CONSTITUTION OF BENT CREEK BAPTIST CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
Revised and Presented to the Church Family on 03/13/ 2016
Voted on and Adopted during Sunday Morning Service on MM/DD/2016
This Constitution shall be Bent Creek Baptist Church’s primary charter, serving our local body of Christian believers. The Bylaws define the various procedures that govern our church organization.
Therefore, in order to:
- preserve, propagate, and articulate the principles of our Faith
- establish the values and rules according to accepted scriptural standards of a New Testament Church
- promote our unity and consensus as a Church family
- cooperate with other Baptist churches affiliated with the Buncombe Baptist Association, the North Carolina Baptist State Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention
we, the church family of Bent Creek Baptist Church, do hereby adopt and establish this Constitution for God’s glory and our benefit.
ARTICLE I: NAME AND ORGANIZATION
This Church body, originally formed in 1900, shall be known as Bent Creek Baptist Church, and is located in Asheville, Buncombe County, North Carolina. The legal form of organization of Bent Creek Baptist Church is an unincorporated religious congregation organized and existing under Chapter 61 of the North Carolina General Statutes. Throughout this document and the Bylaws, the terms “Church body,” “Church family,” “congregation,” “membership,” and “Bent Creek” are all used interchangeably and refer to the local body of believers who make up this organization.
ARTICLE II: PURPOSE
Bent Creek Baptist Church exists to glorify God and delight in Him forever. As baptized believers in Jesus Christ, we voluntarily join together to maintain and expand God’s Kingdom under Christ’s Lordship for God’s glory. We are personally committed to:
- promoting and advancing the personal and corporate worship of God
- teaching and disciplining the saved to love and please God, and walk obediently with Him in their daily life
- encouraging personal and corporate reading, studying, and obeying of God’s revealed, true, and inerrant Word – the Holy Bible
- nurturing Church family relationships through love and caring concern, corporate fellowship, and Christian service
- sharing and preaching the Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to the lost so they can find God
- being evangelistic, extending the Gospel personally and collectively to our local community, and ultimately to the entire world
- using our talents, gifts, energies, resources, tithes, and offerings to glorify God and further His Kingdom
- identifying with Southern Baptist beliefs and doctrine
ARTICLE III: VISION AND VALUES
Bent Creek Baptist is a God-loving, Christ-centered church family, committed to know Christ, the truth of His Word, and the power of His resurrection. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are devoted to prayer, the study of God’s word, and united in joyful, Christ-exalting worship. Transformed by God’s grace, we train and equip His people through life-on-life discipleship. To the glory of God and by His power, we intentionally build uplifting Spirit-led relationships, sacrificially love our neighbors, and share the gospel with those in our community and around the world.
FAMILY AND PEOPLE FOCUSED: Our Church family provides opportunities to strengthen biblical marriages, homes, and individuals. We encourage spiritual growth through discipleship and loving relationships throughout all generations.
SPIRITUAL LIFE: Our Church family values spiritual life which is faithfully pursuing a deepening individual relationship with Jesus Christ; through prayer, God’s Word, and walking in step with the Holy Spirit. We continually encourage spiritual growth in fellow believers to impact our community and the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
RELATIONSHIPS: Our Church family values relationships beginning with Christ’s relationship with us. We believe that God calls us through His Word to a deep, committed, and intimate relationship with Him. Because of this, we desire to connect with each other, our community, and the world by developing genuine relationships in Christ-like love.
LOVE: Our Church family values love because God is love- the foundation for all we do. Joyfully, we love because Jesus first loved us: sacrificially, unconditionally, and patiently. God compels us to love Him first; and then family, church, our community, and the world.
UNITY: Our Church family values unity. We are one body in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit with diverse spiritual gifts. We desire to work together unselfishly to follow our spiritual leaders while submitting to the priorities of God first, others second, and our self, last.
ARTICLE IV: STATEMENT OF FAITH
We affirm the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God and the basis for our beliefs and practices. Furthermore, we believe that the Bible “has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter,” that “all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy,” and is “the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried.” We also subscribe to the doctrinal statement expressed in our Articles of Faith (see Addendum 1).
ARTICLE V: MEMBERSHIP AUTHORITY
Bent Creek Baptist Church is a free, autonomous, and independent self-governing body of Christian believers under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The membership has the authority set forth in this Constitution and its Bylaws to determine the use of its property and policies, free from any illegitimate or unscriptural outside control, authority, or power. Members also have the exclusive right to determine for themselves who shall become church members and the conditions of such membership. Specifics concerning membership qualifications, procedures, and responsibilities are contained in the Bylaws.
ARTICLE VI: GOVERNMENT
All Church family affairs will be conducted in submission to the authority of God, the Headship of Christ, and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. We seek to establish a government for our Church that is:
- anchored upon the Lord Jesus Christ as our ruling authority
- entrusted by Him to the body of believers who compromise its membership
- vested by them to a group of elected, spiritually-qualified elders who in turn lead it along the path of God’s will
This approach emphasizes church leadership within a congregational context.
Therefore, our system of government shall be a Christocracy, blending elected elder leadership with congregational input and accountability. Our church is not “elder ruled” because our elders are accountable to the congregation. Instead, we are an “elder led” church: our elders have the responsibility and authority to guide church affairs as godly servants, while remaining open to and considerate of the congregation they are leading. Elders must be both spiritually qualified (1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9) and elected by the membership. They are accountable to the Church family, and if warranted, can be removed by the membership for just cause. Details concerning our government are found in the Bylaws.
Only the membership or its elected elders act as the final authority in church affairs. In a few situations, the church may call and hold a business meeting to exercise its collective will and serve as its own final authority. These are specified in the Constitution and Bylaws, and involve fundamental issues (such as changing a core church document) or are of great importance to the whole church family (such as calling a Pastor or approving an annual budget). In all other cases, the Elder Board, will serve as this Church family’s final decision-making authority. Specific procedures governing binding decisions are found in the Bylaws.
All church committees and organizations will report to and be accountable to the church through its elders. Procedures governing the authority of these internal groups are found in the Bylaws and other relevant church policy documents.
No other ecclesiastical body has any control over our church and its government. While we do appreciate mutual cooperation among Baptist churches, we desire to voluntarily associate with other Christian groups demonstrating a sufficient agreement of faith and practice that leads to fellowship and good will. Without sacrificing our right to be self-governing, we intend to work with other Christian groups that beneficially influence our missionary, educational, and benevolent interests, or help us advance our church goals. As long as it remains agreeable and practical, this church will cooperate with and support our local Baptist association, the state convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention. Specific procedures on affiliation, cooperation, or disassociation are found in the Bylaws.
ARTICLE VII: OFFICERS
Our Church family recognizes two separate, but related categories of church officers: elders and deacons. Figure 1 below highlights the key difference between their ministries. While God has spiritually gifted both men and women for service in His church, these two offices are limited to men as defined by the scriptures (1 Timothy 3:1-10, 12-13; Titus 1:5-9).
ELDERS. In accordance with our understanding of the Scriptures, our chief scriptural officers are elected elders serving as our Elder Board. According to 1 Timothy 5:17, this board should include both Shepherding and Teaching Elders. A Shepherding Elder’s primary work is to direct the Church family’s affairs; Teaching Elders (or Pastors) accurately preach and teach the Word of God. All Elders minister as spiritual shepherds, pastoral overseers, and chief stewards of our Church family (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2; Titus 1:7) and are jointly responsible for leading and guiding our membership to bring glory to God and further the work of Christ’s gospel in the world.
Elders will work together with and through our church’s ministry team to achieve God’s aim and purpose for Bent Creek Baptist Church. This team, operating under the direction of the Elder Board and the church membership, shall include all deacons, staff, trustees, church agents, volunteers, internal groups and committees, and any others responsible for our congregation’s affairs and business. This entire ministry team, including the elders, will operate according to the procedures set forth in the Bylaws.
In property matters, the church will select Trustees to serve as our congregation’s title-holding agents, as set forth in the Bylaws. Our church membership and/or the Elder Board has the authority, as outlined in the Bylaws, to direct the Trustees to mortgage or sell the Church’s real and personal property by resolution. While active elders may serve as Trustees, their role in this position will not have any final decision-making authority.
DEACONS. Our Church family also recognizes deacons who serve on our Deacon Board. In the scriptures, elders and deacons are distinct Biblical offices with separate, but complementary functions (Acts 6:1-6). As church officers, deacons play a vital role in our ministry team by leading our service ministry and providing temporal care to our members. Specifics governing their selection and ministry are in the Bylaws.
ARTICLE VIII: MEETINGS
As a Church family, we will conduct regular public meetings for:
- Corporate worship
- Sustaining the ordinances, doctrines, and ethics of Christ’s Church, as set forth in the New Testament
- Spiritual training, development, and maturing of each church member
- Administration of our Church family
- Winning souls to Jesus Christ
Our church officers will provide the membership with:
- Regularly scheduled meetings for discussing and conducting church business
- Special meetings as appropriate to transact business of a special nature (such as calling a Pastor)
- Regular opportunities for the Church family to provide their leaders with collective feedback and/or the ability to initiate accountability procedures
All church meeting types, procedures, and the rules for transacting business are in the Bylaws.
ARTICLE IX: ELECTIONS
The church shall hold regular elections at such time and in such manner as designated in the Bylaws. All church officers and other church positions shall be elected or appointed in accordance with the Bylaws of the church. Vacancies in these positions shall be filled as provided in the Bylaws.
ARTICLE X: CHURCH YEAR
The church calendar and its fiscal year shall be fixed as designated in the Bylaws.
ARTICLE XI: INDEMNIFICATION
If a legal claim or criminal allegation is made against a person because he or she is or was an officer, employee, agent of this church, or a member of our ministry team, the church shall provide indemnification against liability and costs incurred in defending against the claim if the Elder Board determines that the person acted in good faith and with the care an ordinarily prudent person in a similar position would exercise, in a manner the person reasonably believed to be in the best interest of the church and the Lord Jesus Christ, and no reasonable cause to believe his or her conduct was unlawful.
ARTICLE XII: CHANGES
This Constitution may be adopted, amended, altered, or repealed by an affirmative 2/3rds-majority vote of at least 50 voting members of the Church family present at a meeting called for that purpose and announced from the pulpit two weeks in advance. In order for this vote to be valid, any proposed Constitution amendment, alteration, or repeal instruction must first be given in writing to the Elder Board Chairman and approved by the Board. The proposed constitutional change(s) and make input. For a suggestion to be incorporated in the proposed change(s), it must be approved by both the committee responsible for the change(s) and the Elder Board. The congregation must be formally notified of any alterations to the change(s) at least 2 weeks prior to a congregational vote. This allows time for the Church family to review the final document on which they will be voting.
Procedures for changing the Bylaws are the same as for amending the Constitution. All procedures for changing core church documents are found in the Bylaws.
ARTICLE XIII: DURATION
The term for which Bent Creek Baptist Church is to exist is perpetual, unless the membership decides to dissolve itself as a church body, following the procedures set forth in the Bylaws. Following such a decision, the Trustees will act according to the Bylaws’ procedures and with the membership’s specific instructions, to dispose of the church’s remaining assets and property.
I certify that this Constitution of Bent Creek Baptist Church was adopted at a duly constituted business meeting of Bent Creek Baptist Church, on _______________ 2016.
Attested by: _________________________
Elder Board Chairman
 The Baptist Faith & Message (Southern Baptist Convention 2000)
 This figure is derived in part from various works by Alexander Strauch on Biblical Eldership and Deacon Ministry.