Constitution and Bylaws of City of God Church, Incorporated
Article I –Name
The church will be known as CITY OF GOD CHURCH, INCORPORATED. This will be a non-profit Indiana corporation. This church is a part of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Article II -Objectives
The objectives of this corporation are as follows: To carry out the purposes and objectives of this corporation as outlined in Article IX of the Articles of Incorporation
Article III – Relationships
Southern Baptist Convention
The government of this church is vested in the body of believers who compose it. It is subject to the control of no other ecclesiastical body, but it recognizes and sustains the obligations of mutual counsel and cooperation which are common among Baptist churches. Insofar as is practical, this church will, cooperate with and support the Southeastern Indiana Baptist Association and the State Convention of Baptists of Indiana, affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
Article IV – Core Passions and Statement of Faith
- Gospel-Compelled Worship
- Gospel-Centered Community
- Gospel-Conforming Discipleship
- Gospel-Cultivating Mission
Statement of Faith
This confessional statement was created by the founding members of The Gospel Coalition. City of God has adopted it as its own statement of faith.
The Triune God
We believe in one God, eternally existing in three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who know, love, and glorify one another. This one true and living God is infinitely perfect both in his love and in his holiness. He is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible, and is therefore worthy to receive all glory and adoration. Immortal and eternal, he perfectly and exhaustively knows the end from the beginning, sustains and sovereignly rules over all things, and providentially brings about his eternal good purposes to redeem a people for himself and restore his fallen creation, to the praise of his glorious grace.
God has graciously disclosed his existence and power in the created order, and has supremely revealed himself to fallen human beings in the person of his Son, the incarnate Word. Moreover, this God is a speaking God who by his Spirit has graciously disclosed himself in human words: we believe that God has inspired the words preserved in the Scriptures, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, which are both record and means of his saving work in the world. These writings alone constitute the verbally inspired Word of God, which is utterly authoritative and without error in the original writings, complete in its revelation of his will for salvation, sufficient for all that God requires us to believe and do, and final in its authority over every domain of knowledge to which it speaks. We confess that both our finitude and our sinfulness preclude the possibility of knowing God’s truth exhaustively, but we affirm that, enlightened by the Spirit of God, we can know God’s revealed truth truly. The Bible is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it teaches; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; and trusted, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises. As God’s people hear, believe, and do the Word, they are equipped as disciples of Christ and witnesses to the gospel.
Creation of Humanity
We believe that God created human beings, male and female, in his own image. Adam and Eve belonged to the created order that God himself declared to be very good, serving as God’s agents to care for, manage, and govern creation, living in holy and devoted fellowship with their Maker. Men and women, equally made in the image of God, enjoy equal access to God by faith in Christ Jesus and are both called to move beyond passive self-indulgence to significant private and public engagement in family, church, and civic life. Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union that establishes the only normative pattern of sexual relations for men and women, such that marriage ultimately serves as a type of the union between Christ and his church. In God’s wise purposes, men and women are not simply interchangeable, but rather they complement each other in mutually enriching ways. God ordains that they assume distinctive roles which reflect the loving relationship between Christ and the church, the husband exercising headship in a way that displays the caring, sacrificial love of Christ, and the wife submitting to her husband in a way that models the love of the church for her Lord. In the ministry of the church, both men and women are encouraged to serve Christ and to be developed to their full potential in the manifold ministries of the people of God. The distinctive leadership role within the church given to qualified men is grounded in creation, fall, and redemption and must not be sidelined by appeals to cultural developments.
We believe that Adam, made in the image of God, distorted that image and forfeited his original blessedness—for himself and all his progeny—by falling into sin through Satan’s temptation. As a result, all human beings are alienated from God, corrupted in every aspect of their being (e.g., physically, mentally, volitionally, emotionally, spiritually) and condemned finally and irrevocably to death—apart from God’s own gracious intervention. The supreme need of all human beings is to be reconciled to the God under whose just and holy wrath we stand; the only hope of all human beings is the undeserved love of this same God, who alone can rescue us and restore us to himself.
The Plan of God
We believe that from all eternity God determined in grace to save a great multitude of guilty sinners from every tribe and language and people and nation, and to this end foreknew them and chose them. We believe that God justifies and sanctifies those who by grace have faith in Jesus, and that he will one day glorify them—all to the praise of his glorious grace. In love God commands and implores all people to repent and believe, having set his saving love on those he has chosen and having ordained Christ to be their Redeemer.
We believe that the gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ—God’s very wisdom. Utter folly to the world, even though it is the power of God to those who are being saved, this good news is Christological, centering on the cross and resurrection: the gospel is not proclaimed if Christ is not proclaimed, and the authentic Christ has not been proclaimed if his death and resurrection are not central (the message is: "Christ died for our sins . . . [and] was raised”). This good news is biblical (his death and resurrection are according to the Scriptures), theological and salvific (Christ died for our sins, to reconcile us to God), historical (if the saving events did not happen, our faith is worthless, we are still in our sins, and we are to be pitied more than all others), apostolic (the message was entrusted to and transmitted by the apostles, who were witnesses of these saving events), and intensely personal (where it is received, believed, and held firmly, individual persons are saved).
The Redemption of Christ
We believe that, moved by love and in obedience to his Father, the eternal Son became human: the Word became flesh, fully God and fully human being, one Person in two natures. The man Jesus, the promised Messiah of Israel, was conceived through the miraculous agency of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the virgin Mary. He perfectly obeyed his heavenly Father, lived a sinless life, performed miraculous signs, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, arose bodily from the dead on the third day, and ascended into heaven. As the mediatorial King, he is seated at the right hand of God the Father, exercising in heaven and on earth all of God’s sovereignty, and is our High Priest and righteous Advocate. We believe that by his incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus Christ acted as our representative and substitute. He did this so that in him we might become the righteousness of God: on the cross, he canceled sin, propitiated God, and, by bearing the full penalty of our sins, reconciled to God all those who believe. By his resurrection Christ Jesus was vindicated by his Father, broke the power of death and defeated Satan who once had power over it, and brought everlasting life to all his people; by his ascension, he has been forever exalted as Lord and has prepared a place for us to be with him. We believe that salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved. Because God chose the lowly things of this world, the despised things, the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, no human being can ever boast before him—Christ Jesus has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.
The Justification of Sinners
We believe that Christ, by his obedience and death, fully discharged the debt of all those who are justified. By his sacrifice, he bore in our stead the punishment due us for our sins, making a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice on our behalf. By his perfect obedience, he satisfied the just demands of God on our behalf, since by faith alone that perfect obedience is credited to all who trust in Christ alone for their acceptance with God. Inasmuch as Christ was given by the Father for us, and his obedience and punishment were accepted in place of our own, freely and not for anything in us, this justification is solely of free grace, in order that both the exact justice and the rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners. We believe that a zeal for personal and public obedience flows from this free justification.
The Power of the Holy Spirit
We believe that this salvation, attested in all Scripture and secured by Jesus Christ, is applied to his people by the Holy Spirit. Sent by the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ, and, as the other Paraclete, is present with and in believers. He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and by his powerful and mysterious work regenerates spiritually dead sinners, awakening them to repentance and faith, and in him they are baptized into union with the Lord Jesus, such that they are justified before God by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. By the Spirit's agency, believers are renewed, sanctified, and adopted into God's family; they participate in the divine nature and receive his sovereignly distributed gifts. The Holy Spirit is himself the down payment of the promised inheritance, and in this age indwells, guides, instructs, equips, revives, and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service.
The Kingdom of God
We believe that those who have been saved by the grace of God through union with Christ by faith and through regeneration by the Holy Spirit enter the kingdom of God and delight in the blessings of the new covenant: the forgiveness of sins, the inward transformation that awakens a desire to glorify, trust, and obey God, and the prospect of the glory yet to be revealed. Good works constitute indispensable evidence of saving grace. Living as salt in a world that is decaying and light in a world that is dark, believers should neither withdraw into seclusion from the world, nor become indistinguishable from it: rather, we are to do good to the city, for all the glory and honor of the nations is to be offered up to the living God. Recognizing whose created order this is, and because we are citizens of God’s kingdom, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, doing good to all, especially to those who belong to the household of God. The kingdom of God, already present but not fully realized, is the exercise of God’s sovereignty in the world toward the eventual redemption of all creation. The kingdom of God is an invasive power that plunders Satan’s dark kingdom and regenerates and renovates through repentance and faith the lives of individuals rescued from that kingdom. It therefore inevitably establishes a new community of human life together under God.
God’s New People
We believe that God’s new covenant people are already seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6). This universal church is manifest in local churches of which Christ is the only Head; thus each “local church” is, in fact, the church, the household of God, the assembly of the living God, and the pillar and foundation of the truth. The church is the body of Christ, the apple of his eye, graven on his hands, and he has pledged himself to her forever. The church is distinguished by her gospel message, her sacred ordinances, her discipline, her great mission, and, above all, by her love for God, and by her members’ love for one another and for the world. Crucially, this gospel we cherish has both personal and corporate dimensions, neither of which may properly be overlooked. Christ Jesus is our peace: he has not only brought about peace with God, but also peace between alienated peoples. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both Jew and Gentile to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. The church serves as a sign of God’s future new world when its members live for the service of one another and their neighbors, rather than for self-focus. The church is the corporate dwelling place of God’s Spirit, and the continuing witness to God in the world.
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
We believe that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordained by the Lord Jesus himself. The former is connected with entrance into the new covenant community, the latter with ongoing covenant renewal. Together they are simultaneously God’s pledge to us, divinely ordained means of grace, our public vows of submission to the once crucified and now resurrected Christ, and anticipations of his return and of the consummation of all things.
The Restoration of All Things
We believe in the personal, glorious, and bodily return of our Lord Jesus Christ with his holy angels when he will exercise his role as final Judge, and his kingdom will be consummated. We believe in the bodily resurrection of both the just and the unjust—the unjust to judgment and eternal conscious punishment in hell, as our Lord himself taught, and the just to eternal blessedness in the presence of him who sits on the throne and of the Lamb, in the new heaven and the new earth, the home of righteousness. On that day the church will be presented faultless before God by the obedience, suffering, and triumph of Christ, all sin purged and its wretched effects forever banished. God will be all in all and his people will be enthralled by the immediacy of his ineffable holiness, and everything will be to the praise of his glorious grace.
As a member of the Southern Baptist Convention, City of God Church also holds to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. That document can be read in its entirety here: http://www.sbc.net/bfm2000/bfm2000.asp
Article V –Leadership
City of God Church is led by and ultimately answers to Jesus Christ, our Chief Shepherd.
Under Christ’s leadership, we believe that God has called together a body of believers (church members) who joyfully submit to the teaching and shepherding of a plurality of male pastor/elders and are led in ministry by deacons (ministry team leaders). While the pastor/elders must be men, the office of deacon may be occupied by either men or women. Those who occupy these offices must conform to the biblical qualifications described below and be affirmed by the congregation.
Our eldership will be composed of both paid and unpaid elders/pastors who follow the leading of Jesus, the “Senior Pastor” of City of God Church (1 Peter 5:1–4).
To be considered as a pastor/elder, a man must have been called by God into leadership at City of God Church (Acts 20:28) and be a man of the highest Christian character according to the qualifications of Scripture (1 Timothy 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9). The Council of Pastor/Elders shall be the Board of Directors for purposes of the Indiana State law. Below are listed their biblical qualifications.
Relation to God:
- A man – masculine leader
- Above reproach – without any character defect
- Able to teach – student and effective teacher of God’s Word
- Not a new convert – mature Christian, growing in his faith
Relation to Family:
- Husband of one wife – one-woman man, sexually pure
- Has obedient children – successful father
- Manages family well – provides for, leads, organizes, loves his wife and children
Relation to Self:
- Temperate – mentally and emotionally stable
- Self-controlled – disciplined life of sound decision-making
- Not given to drunkenness – without addictions
- Not a lover of money – financially content and upright
Relation to Others:
- Respectable – worth following and imitating
- Hospitable – welcomes strangers, especially non-Christians for evangelism
- Not violent – even-tempered
- Gentle – kind, gracious, loving
- Not contentious – peaceable, not quarrelsome/divisive
- Good reputation with outsiders – respected by non-Christians
Additionally, they must competently and consistently accomplish the biblical duties of a Pastor/Elder which include:
- Prayer and Scripture study (Acts 6:4)
- Ruling/leading the church (1 Timothy 5:17)
- Managing the church (1 Timothy 3:4–5)
- Caring for people in the church (1 Peter 5:2–5)
- Giving account to God for the church (Hebrews 13:17)
- Living exemplary lives (Hebrews 13:7)
- Rightly using the authority God has given them (Acts 20:28)
- Teaching the Bible correctly (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Timothy 3:2)
- Preaching (can be from the platform or in other environments such as in counseling, mentoring, etc. (1 Timothy 5:17)
- Praying for the sick (James 5:13–15)
- Teaching sound doctrine and refuting false teachings (Titus 1:9)
- Working hard (1 Thessalonians 5:12)
- Rightly using money and power (1 Peter 5:1–3)
- Protecting the church from false teachers (Acts 20:17–31)
- Disciplining unrepentant Christians (Matthew 18:15–17)
THE LEAD PASTOR
The Lead Pastor is man uniquely called and gifted to lead the mission who functions as the “first among equals” among the Council of Pastor/Elders. It is the duty of the Lead Pastor to help lead the Council of Pastor/Elders and the rest of the church in effectively obeying God’s will as revealed in Scripture, by the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Lead Pastor is not simply a “Senior Pastor” surrounded by “Yes, Men,” but rather a uniquely gifted leader who has the ability and time to devote his life and work to leading the Mission, carrying the weight of most of the church’s public teaching, leading the Council of Pastor/Elders, etc. For a longer explanation of “first among equals,” please consult Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch.
Should the Lead Pastor ever resign or need to be removed, it is the job of the other Pastor/Elders to step in for a season and fill the void that this will leave until the next appropriate Lead Pastor can be found. Candidates can be considered from both inside and outside the congregation. Godly character, gifting, proven ministry effectiveness, appropriate theological education, and ‘fit ‘for the Mission context and congregation should be given high consideration.
In finding a new Lead Pastor, the Pastor/Elder Council will engage in a thorough and careful process which will include putting carefully constructing a list of candidates, conducting extensive interviews, allowing teaching and fellowship opportunities with the congregation, etc. Members of the congregation may be at any and all levels of the process as the Council of Pastor/Elders sees fit. The details of this process will be determined at a later date.
Once the process is completed and the Council of Pastor/Elders feel that they have found the man that God is leading them to put before the church members to call as their Lead Pastor, it will be put before the church members for the period of a month. During this month members will be able to ask questions and raise any concerns they have about the candidate.
The process of becoming a Pastor/Elder involves at least the following steps:
- The man must be a member in good standing at City of God Church who has demonstrated the calling, character, and competency of an elder.
- The man must aspire to the office of Pastor/Elder as directed by 1 Tim. 3. If he feels called toward serving in this capacity, he should express his desire to serve to the Council of Pastor/Elders. However, a man may be approached by the Lead Pastor of City of God (after consensus from fellow Pastor/Elders that he is a qualified candidate) with a request to move toward eldership.
- If accepted as a Pastor/Elder candidate, the man will then undergo a period of training and testing which is as long as the current Pastor/Elders deem necessary. This season is not uniform for all candidates as maturity in the faith, ministry experience and personal situations vary from candidate to candidate.
- Training, prior to becoming an elder, will include whatever is deemed necessary to enhance the nominee’s understanding of a Pastor/Elder’s responsibilities as outlined in Scripture.
- Upon completing his training and testing process, the man must be approved by all Pastor/Elders without objection to be introduced to the church members.
- Upon this announcement, members of City of God will be notified that he has met the criteria of an elder and anyone in or out of the church having a concern regarding the man’s qualifications to lead as a Pastor/Elder will have four weeks to notify the Pastor/Elders, who can investigate the matter to determine if there is any reason to disqualify the man.
- Selection as a Pastor/Elder does not result in contract rights as an employee.
SECTION A – Once a man becomes a Pastor/Elder at City of God Church, it is expected that the man would continue to serve as a Pastor/Elder indefinitely unless he needs to step down due to some unforeseen circumstance or engages in behavior that would biblically disqualify him from eldership service. Simply because this is allowed does not mean that it is mandatory. Arbitrary terms (such as 3 years at a time) may also be considered.
SECTION B – If the elders determine that a Pastor/Elder needs an extended Sabbath for a season because of a legitimate need (e.g., illness, tragedy, family emergencies, etc.), then that elder can transition to an inactive and non-voting elder for a set period of time as determined by the other elders.
SECTION C – To resign from Pastor/Eldership, a Pastor/Elder must notify the Lead Pastor by letter, which the Lead Pastor will then distribute to the other Pastor/Elders. The matter will be explored and any appropriate actions will be taken at that time. The congregation will be notified as soon as the situation deems necessary.
SECTION D – A Pastor/Elder who senses God’s call to leave City of God Church to help plant a City of God–sponsored church plant or additional campus should make his desire known to the Council of Pastor/Elders.
SECTION E – Any credible charge of moral impropriety, doctrinal error, or anything else that could displease the Lord or harm City of God, against a Pastor/Elder shall be investigated by a team established by the elders. During the investigation, the Pastor/Elder in question shall not be allowed to vote on any church matters and shall be placed on temporary leave. If the team finds credible evidence of wrongdoing, the Pastor/Elder in question shall be tried by the Pastor/Elders according to the criteria of Scripture (e.g., James 3:1; 1 Timothy 5:19–21). A majority vote of the remaining Pastor/Elders is necessary in order to find a Pastor/Elder guilty of the charges. If such a verdict is rendered by the remaining Pastor/Elders, the consequences for such a finding shall be determined by the remaining Pastor/Elders, with any action (up to and including removal) requiring another majority vote of the remaining Pastor/Elders. In such an instance, the matter will be presented to the members of City of God Church.
The Council of Elders may structure and organize however they deem necessary for the sake of simplicity, clarity of communication, and efficiency of organization, according to the needs of the church and the size of the Council of Pastor/Elders so long as it preserves the plurality of elders and the doctrinal and character requirements for Pastor/ Elders articulated in this document.
A Deacon is a lead servant in the ministry of City of God Church who will work with fellow deacons to extend the overseeing ministry of the Pastor/Elders into the physical needs of the people and property of the church and its responsibilities. Under the Pastor/Elders’ leadership, he/she is to care for and maintain the orderly administration of our fellowship in which God has placed her/him as a Deacon. Deacons are not in a position of authority in areas of teaching, correction, or rebuke.
As needed, City of God Church will also set apart deacons for the ministry of serving the church body. Also, the church has the freedom to dismiss one from the position of deacon with City of God Church. The process for raising up deacons will be the same as for Pastor/Elders
Deacons may take sabbaticals from service as needed upon approval of the Pastor/Elders.
Qualiﬁcations of the deacon (Ministry Team Leader): (1 Tim. 3:8-13; Acts 6:1-7)
- Dignified—Christ-like, well-respected
- Not double-tongued—person of his/her word, not a gossip
- Not addicted to much wine—not a drunkard, free from addictions
- Not greedy for dishonest gain—not a lover of money
- Hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience—true Believer, growing
- Be tested first—undergo a time of testing
- Prove themselves blameless—they prove themselves by conduct and work to be qualified
- Wives must be dignified—spouse must exhibit similar qualities as deacon/ess
- Not slanderers—not speaking ill against others unwarrantedly
- But sober-minded—sound mind, good judgment, makes sound decisions
- Faithful in all things—follows through
- The husband of one wife—one-woman man/woman
- Managing their children and their own households well—family, household is in order
While it is not absolutely clear if Acts 6 is speaking specifically of deacons (though it well may be), this is a helpful text in illuminating the role of deacons within the church as ‘lead servants.’
While 1 Timothy 3:8-13 of these passages speak specifically of men serving as deacons, we believe it is also acceptable for women to also serve in this role for the following reasons:
- The significant debate over how the words that are translated as “wives” above appear in the original Greek text.
- The potential deaconess Phoebe in Romans 16:1.
Duties of the Deacons:
- To develop and meet regularly with ministry teams.
- To meet specific designated needs in the congregation and broader community.
- To provide encouragement and help to the Pastor/Elders and church members in their ministries.
Article VI –Membership
Membership at City of God Church is based on the following criteria:
- A profession of personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and the testimony of baptism. Other membership requirements (participation in membership classes, required interviews, etc.) may be added as necessary as determined by the Pastor/Elders to maintain the health and purity of the congregation. Current requirements will be available at cogchurch.org.
- An expressed desire to accept the responsibility of living a holy life, to participate actively in ministry, to give generously to City of God Church, and to live an evangelistic lifestyle. As such they solemnly commit to covenant with the City of God Church community to uphold its fundamental doctrines, to participate in its core passions, to pray for and fellowship with the believers in the church. These are listed in greater detail below.
- A sympathy with and willingness to submit to the doctrinal outlook of the church.
- Agreement with and signature of the membership covenant.
Any person who is currently a member of another church, yet through a temporary relocation has routinely been in attendance at City of God Church, shall be encouraged to have dual membership status. This status shall facilitate proper “watch care” and oversight while the person is under the care of City of God Church.
Termination of Members
Church members shall be removed from the roll for the following reasons:
- Transfer of membership to another church.
- Dismissal by church discipline as outlined below.
City of God Church Membership Covenant
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Eph. 2:19-22)
As Christians, we are members of God’s household called to function, participate, and minister in a particular place within the body of Christ. A healthy body requires that each member do its part well. A healthy church requires the same: members who are sacrificially committed and well-equipped to do the works of service that God has prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10; 4:12). City of God Church holds its members in high regard; we expect them to lead as missionaries of the gospel to the culture. God, in his sovereignty, placed us in this city, among these peoples, in this century, for a reason (Acts 17:26-27).
Being a member of City of God Church is really about being part of a family. All members are disciples of Jesus, unified by their identity in Christ. This unity is expressed in the way they collaborate in loving God, loving fellow Christians, and loving non-Christians. Members who enter into a covenant with their local church are called to a higher degree of responsibility and service. At the same time, the church leadership are covenanted to assist members first and foremost, to love and lead, provide counsel and aid, and pray for, teach, and guide them.
What is a covenant?
Within the Scriptures, we find a number of examples of covenants; some between God and man (Gen. 6, 9, 15; Eze. 20; Matt. 26), while others are solely between men (1 Sam. 18, 2 Sam. 5). Some covenants are unconditional, meaning that two or more parties obligate themselves in such a way that the obligation of each party is not dependent on the faithfulness of the other. In other words, there is a pledge to be faithful to the covenant regardless of the other person’s faithfulness. Other covenants are conditional, meaning that the obligation of one party is at least in part dependent upon the faithfulness of each party. If at any time one of the parties, the individual member or corporate church body, fails in its obligations, the other party is freed from certain aspects of the covenant. The covenant of City of God Church contains many conditions that are merely general Christian obligations. For example, all Christians, whether members at City of God or elsewhere, are required to submit to scripture, pursue holiness, steward resources, etc. Such requirements are universal obligations for the Christ-follower regardless of any failure on the part of the local church to live up to her covenantal obligations.
If at any time an individual member feels as though the corporate body is not remaining faithful to the requirements of the covenant, it is the responsibility of the individual member to lovingly and humbly express concerns to the leadership of the church. If the church elders are unwilling to change and pursue covenant faithfulness then the member is freed from his or her membership obligations and is encouraged to seek membership elsewhere given the church’s disobedience. In addition, certain circumstances may provide sufficient and righteous grounds to transfer membership elsewhere. While focusing primarily in language on the responsibilities between the individual parties, the corporate church body, her elders and her individual members, the covenant is first and foremost a promise made to God as a commitment to His glory and the good of the body and bride of His Son.
What do we believe about the church?
Taken from City of God Church’s Statement of Faith
We believe that God's new covenant people, is manifest in local churches of which Christ is the only Head. The church is distinguished by her gospel message, her sacred ordinances, her discipline, her great mission, and, above all, by her love for God, and by her members' love for one another and for the world.
Statement of Basic Belief – See Article IV above.
Statement of Biblical Doctrine
While the doctrines expressed in the “Statement of Basic Belief” are those that are recognized to be universal and primary in within the Church, there are a number of secondary beliefs about which the leadership at City of God Church is passionate. Complete agreement is not required for the sake of membership, but it should be known that City of God Church will preach, teach, and counsel in accordance with these theological convictions. I understand it is a responsibility of covenant membership to have read the “Statement of Faith” (available at www.cogchurch.org) of City of God Church in its entirety and address any questions, comments, or concerns with a pastor or elder. I also understand that City of God Church has certain theological convictions to which it is strongly committed. For instance:
- Divine sovereignty
- The gifts of the Holy Spirit
- The role of men and women in the church and home
- Baptism by immersion and the Lord’s Supper
Finally, I understand the importance of submission to church leadership and will be diligent to preserve unity and peace; I will adhere to City of God Church’s “Statement of Basic Belief,” and I will not be divisive over City of God Church’s theological distinctives found here in the “Statement of Biblical Doctrine” and in the “Statement of Faith.”
The obligation of City of God Church to its Members
- We covenant that your church leadership (eventually elders and deacons) will meet the criteria assigned to them in the Scriptures (1 Tim. 3:1-13; 5:17-22; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4).
- We covenant to seek God’s will for our church community to the best of our ability as we study the Scriptures and follow the Spirit (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-5).
- We covenant to care for you and seek your growth as a disciple of Christ, in part by equipping you for service (Eph. 4:11-13) and praying for you regularly, particularly when you are sick (James 5:14).
- We covenant to provide teaching and counsel from the whole of Scripture (Acts 20:27-28; Gal. 6:6; 1 Tim. 5:17-18).
- We covenant to be on guard against false teachers (Acts 20:28-31)
- We covenant to exercise church discipline when necessary (Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5; Gal. 6:1)
- We covenant to set an example and join you in fulfilling the duties of church members (1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 1 Tim. 4:12).
My Obligation to City of God Church as a Member
- I have read and understood City of God Church’s “Statement of Basic Belief,” “Statement of Biblical Doctrine,” and “Statement of Faith,” and will not be divisive to its teaching. I also understand the importance of submission to church leadership and will be diligent to preserve unity and peace (Eph. 4:1-3; Heb. 13:7, 17).
- I covenant to submit to the authority of Scripture as the final arbiter on all issues (Ps. 119; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
- I will maintain a close relationship with the Lord Jesus through regular Bible reading, prayer, fellowship, and practice of spiritual disciplines. My relationship will be evident through my participation in weekly worship services, communion, City of God Church community, service, and a life that glorifies Jesus (Ps. 105:1-2; Ps. 119:97; Ac. 2:42-47; Heb. 10:23-25; 2 Peter 1:3).
- I will steward the resources God has given me, including my time, talents, and treasure (Prov. 3:9-10; Rom. 12:1-2; Gal. 5:22-26; Eph. 4:1-16; 5:15-18). This includes regular financial giving, service, and participation in community that is sacrificial, cheerful, and voluntary (Rom. 12:1-8; 2 Cor. 8-9; 12:7-31; 1 Peter 4:10-11).
- I will not function in leadership or as a member in another church family (Heb. 13:17).
- I covenant to submit to discipline by God through his Holy Spirit, to follow biblical procedures for church discipline in my relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ, to submit to righteous discipline when approached biblically by brothers and sisters in Christ, and to submit to discipline by church leadership if the need should ever arise (Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5:1-5; 2 Cor. 2:5-8; Gal. 6:1-5; 1 Tim. 5:20; 2 Tim. 2:25; Titus 1:9; 3:10-11; Heb. 12:5-11; Rev. 2:5-7, 14-25).
- I agree, by God’s grace, to walk in holiness as an act of worship to Jesus Christ, who has saved me from my sin that I could live a new life (2 Cor. 5:17); I will practice complete chastity before marriage and complete fidelity in heterosexual marriage by abstaining from practices such as cohabitation, pornography, and fornication (Job 31:1; Prov. 5; Rom. 13:12-14; 1 Cor. 6:9-7:16; Heb. 13:4); I will refrain from illegal drug use, drunkenness, and other sinful behaviors as the Bible, my pastors, and my conscience dictate (1 Cor. 8:7; Gal. 5:19-21). Should I sin in such a manner, I agree to confess my sins to Christian brothers and sisters and seek help to put my sin to death (Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5; 1 John 1:6-10).
My Commitment to the Mission of City of God Church
City of God Church Mission Statement: City of God is a church existing to glorify God by making disciples who love Jesus, love people, and advance the gospel.
I have read the mission statement of City of God Church and commit to live out this mission as a diligent, faithful disciple of Jesus that my identity would be in him, my worship would be for him, my fellowship would be through him, and my interaction with the culture would be for his glory.
I understand that the covenant obligates me to the members of City of God Church and is an acknowledgement of my submission to the leadership of the church. I accept the responsibility to notify City of God Church leadership if at any time I can no longer commit to this covenant, or if I have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding City of God Church.
Article VI – Church Discipline
Application of church discipline shall be consistent with the biblical approach outline in Matthew 18:15-18. As such, it is to be exercised against offenders who are members of City of God Church. The Pastor/Elders oversee the disciplinary process described below.
General categories of offenses in Scripture that may result in church discipline include:
- Divisiveness (Titus 3:9-11, Romans 16:17-18, Hebrews 13:17)
- Scandalous immorality (1 Corinthians 5:9-11, 6:9-10, Exodus 20:12-17)
- Rejecting doctrines of the Christian faith (1 Timothy 1:19-20, 6:3-5, 2 John 9-11)
Matthew 18:15-16 outlines the approach to bring about reconciliation between individuals when offenses occur. If this is unsuccessful, then those who sought the offender’s repentance may come to the Council of Pastor/Elders. The Pastor/Elders, in turn, are to follow the general procedures below to ensure order. Each of the four following steps represents a separate phase of church discipline; the time required for each depends upon the particular circumstances. Each step in the process below will be documented in writing and will include all pertinent information (e.g. history, proven offenses, expectations, actions taken). The Pastor/Elders will not entertain anonymous accusations. The person accused of sin has the right to face and answer his or her accusers. Any charges against a Pastor/Elder must be supported by two or more witness (1 Timothy 5:19) as well as provided in writing.
- Investigation: The elders are to conduct an investigation to determine if the accused is guilty of the charges. If the charges are proven false, then appropriate exhortation will be given to the parties so that reconciliation can occur. If the charges are proven (whether by confession or by witnesses), an admonition is to be initiated.
- Admonition: Admonition includes a description of the unacceptable behavior and that must replace it; a procedure for monitoring the behavior over a specified period of time, and a warning that public admonition (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15) or excommunication could follow if the behavior is not corrected. If satisfactory changes occur, the Pastor/ Elders may discontinue further monitoring. Other disciplinary measures, short of excommunication, may include limitation of ministry opportunities, and public admonition.
- Excommunication: If admonition and monitoring fail in correcting the unacceptable behavior, excommunication will occur. This action excludes the offender from the privilege of participation in the public services of the church, the Lord’s Table, church social meals, gatherings, and recreational activities and is removed from the membership rolls. The church will be informed by the Pastor/Elders of the reasons for their recommendation and will explain the duty of all members relative to the offender. The excommunicated member is to be removed from fellowship (1 Corinthians 5:11-13) and treated as an unbeliever (Matthew 15:18). If the excommunicated member withdraws from any further involvement with the Pastor/Elders and begins attending another church, the Pastor/Elders are obliged to inform the new church of the offender’s status.
- Restoration: If the excommunicated person repents, restoration begins. Restoration is a process that restores an offender to the full privileges that were withdrawn during excommunication. This will only occur if the Pastor/ Elders are satisfied that full repentance is a reality. If restoration is appropriate, the Pastor/Elders will inform the church of the reasons for his decision and will explain the duty of all members relative to the restored person (2 Corinthians 2:5-11).
The methods described here also cover any and all disputes or claims arising from or related to church membership, doctrine, policy, practice, counseling, discipline, decisions, actions, or failures to act, including claims based on civil statute or for personal injury.
By joining this church, all members agree that these methods shall provide the sole remedy for any dispute arising against the church and its agents, and they waive their right to file any legal action against the church in a civil court or agency.
Article VII – Biblical Counseling
All Christians struggle with sin and the effect it has on our lives and our relationships (Romans 3:23, 7:7-25). Whenever a Christian is unable to overcome sinful attitudes or behaviors through private efforts, God desires that he seek assistance from other members and especially from the Pastor/ Elders who have the responsibility of providing pastoral counseling and oversight (Romans 15:14, Galatians 6:1-2, Colossians 3:16, 2 Timothy 3:16-5:2, Hebrews 10:24-25, 13:17, James 5:16).
Therefore, this church encourages and enjoins its members to make confession to and seek counsel from each other and especially from pastoral counselors.
Principles of Counseling:
Counseling at City of God Church is based on scriptural principles rather than those of secular psychology or psychiatry. The counselors of this church are not trained or licensed as psychotherapists or mental health professionals, nor should they be expected to follow the methods of such specialists.
The counselors of City of God Church seek to apply biblical principles to all aspects of life. If a member or regular attender of City of God Church seeks help in legal, financial, medical, or other technical questions, the counselor will apply Scripture to the matter to the best of his ability. The counselor will seek to cooperate with professional advisors and help members or regular attendees consider their advice in the light of relevant Scriptural principles.
Confidentiality in Counseling:
Confidentiality is to be respected as much as possible; however, there are times when it is appropriate to reveal certain information to others. In particular, when the Pastor/Elders of this church believe it is biblically necessary, they may disclose confidential information to appropriate people.
Typical circumstances include:
- When a Pastor/Elder is uncertain about how to counsel a person about a particular problem and needs to seek advice from other Pastor/Elders (Proverbs 11:14, 13:10, 15:22, 19:20, 20:18, Matthew 18:15-17).
- When the person who disclosed the information, or any other person, is in imminent danger of serious harm to himself or others unless others intervene (Proverbs 24:11-12). This is also required by United States law.
- When a person refuses to repent of sin and it becomes necessary to institute disciplinary proceedings (Matthew 18:15-20 and Constitution Article VI) or seek the assistance of individuals or agencies outside this church (see Romans 3:1-5).
- When required by law to report suspected child abuse or other illegal activity.
Article VIII –Meetings
Annual Meeting: At the annual meeting of the Church, the Pastor/Elders will submit a budget to the church members. A period of two weeks will be allowed for members to ask questions and raise concerns. The Pastor/Elders may call other meetings of the congregation, as deemed necessary.
For the sake of the God’s Kingdom work through the local expression of City of God Church, the day-to-day activities of the church are administrated by the Pastor/Elders and Deacons with the congregation’s help.
Article IX –Additional Policies
City of God Church also reserves the right to adopt additional policies for situations such as:
- Financial management such as handling and managing money, investments, etc.
- Employment Policies regarding personnel such as a code of conduct, job descriptions, etc.
- Processes for how meetings are conducted at both congregational and Pastor/Elder levels.
- Future facility usage issues.
- Other similar needs that arise within the church.
Article X – Amendments
City of God Church may later amend, revise, add to, repeal or rescind these By-Laws and/or adopt new By-Laws at pleasure by a majority vote of all the Pastors/Elders at any meeting of the corporation, provided that notice of the proposed alteration, amendment, revision, addition, repeal, or revision of the By-Laws or adoption of new By-Laws shall have been given at least 30 days preceding the meeting. Though it is often necessary to change a constitution as the church grows and changes, amendments should all be weighed carefully and a majority vote by the elders will be required to amend the constitution.
Article XI - Fiscal Year
The fiscal year of the corporation shall be January 1 through December 31.