Article 1: Authority
The following is established as a guide for the orderly functioning of the corporation, hereinafter called the church. Since the Holy Scriptures are ultimately binding on this church the following By-Laws are to be open for review so that they may be transformed: (1) when any of them is seen to conflict with God’s Word in any way; and (2) when any of them appears to be hindering the fulfillment of the stated principles of His church.
Article 2: Name
The name of the corporation, a church incorporated under the laws of the State of California, shall be First Family Church, Inc.
Article 3: Purposes
First Family Church exists to glorify God by preaching the full counsel of his Word in pursuit of the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20). We will fulfill this purpose through:
Celebration...worship - The church exists to glorify and worship God, and this means that, as a congregation, we are committed to Biblical corporate worship, as well as exhorting each other to individual praise and a lifestyle of genuine thankfulness (Psalm 95:6, 7a; John 4:23.)
Communication...teaching - First Family Church is committed to teaching the whole counsel of God with sound, biblical teaching that by God's grace -will result in significant life change (Colossians 1:28; II Peter 3:18)
Commission...evangelism - We, as a corporate body and as individuals, are committed to reaching the unsaved and bringing them to Jesus. The great commission is still our mission (Matthew 28:19, 20; Mark 16: 15; Luke 24:47-49; John 20:21; Acts 1:8).
Community...fellowship - First Family Church is committed to developing strong, caring, authentic relationship (Acts 2:42; Philippians 4:3; Hebrews 13:16).
The purpose and strategies of First Family Church are educational, charitable, and religious. Any one, or more, of these will motivate decisions of the governing body at any given time.
Article 4: Doctrinal Statement
This church subscribes to the doctrinal statement called: “The 2nd London Baptist Confession of Faith.” This document gives a concise statement of biblical doctrine, but it is no way equal to the sufficient and authoritative Word of God as contained in the 66 books which make up the Bible. The document is an assistance to us in unity, in direction, in controversy, and a means of edification in righteousness.
Article 5: Membership
Section One: Present Membership
All those whose names appear on the church membership roster of this church are members. This roster is kept and maintained by the current board of Elders.
Section Two: Member Qualifications and Admission
To qualify for membership at First Family Church, an individual must meet the following criteria and go through the outlined process:
Possess a credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior which is consistent with Scripture. (John 1:12-13; James 2:14-26)
Has been baptized by immersion, following his or her regeneration, and profession of said faith.
Attended a membership class to become acquainted with the doctrines and practices of First Family Church and the membership covenant.
Expresses substantial agreement to the teaching of Scripture as expressed in the Statement of Faith which we prescribe too (The Baptist Faith & Message 2000) which is covered in the membership class.
Sign up to be interviewed by two or more elders about becoming a covenant member of First Family Church, after attending the membership class.
Have your name announced to the Church membership on a Sunday morning following the membership class, that the current members may be praying for you.
Be interviewed by two or more Elders for the purpose of assessment concerning his or her Christian experience, doctrinal beliefs, and seriousness of intention to wholeheartedly support the total ministry of this church as well as to discuss the Church Covenant, and address any questions that arose from the membership class.
Be accepted by the Current Board of Elders.
Be presented to the congregation on the Lord's Day with a covenant signing ceremony.
Section Three: Duties and Privileges of Membership
In accord with the duties enumerated in the Church Covenant, each member shall be privileged and expected to participate, and be active in the life and the ministry of the church, using the Spiritual gifts, time, and resources that God has blessed them with for the glory of God and the good of the church.
Members of this church are privileged to serve in the ministry of the church, as the church works together, to glorify God. Those who serve in the ministries of the church, represent the church, as the church represents God in the ministries performed by the church. Non-members may serve on limited basis, in cooperation with, and in submission to the leadership (including ministry leadership), on a case by case basis, in accord with the policies of the church.
It is the duty and privilege of members to attend all member meetings and to take part in any membership vote, including matters of election towards the church offices. Members who have attained the age of 16 years old on or before a matter comes to the general membership of the church for vote or election, shall be eligible to vote. Members under the age of 16 are considered members in the fullest sense of the word, having likewise been united to Christ in faith, and having obtained the same Spirit as any other member. Therefore, they are blessed with many of the same duties and privileges of membership, as any other member in good standing possess. The only provisions for them comes, in the ability to cast a vote (they are welcome to share their opinion during any voting matter) and in being considered for a ministry lead position.
Section Four: Accountability in Membership
Any member consistently neglectful of his or her duties, or guilty of conduct by which the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be dishonored, and so opposing the welfare of the church, shall be subject to the admonition or the discipline of the Elders and of the church according to the instructions of our Lord in Matthew 18: 15–17 and the example of scripture. Church discipline then, should ordinarily be contemplated and practiced only after individual private admonition has failed.
Church discipline can include admonition by the Elders, suspension from the Lord’s Table for a definite period, removal from ministry involvement, removal from office, and finally, excommunication if reconciliation is not achieved. This discipline is to follow the pattern for discipline given in Scripture. (Matthew 18: 15–17; 2 Thessalonians 3: 14–15; 1 Timothy 5: 19–20; 1 Corinthians 5: 4–5).
The purpose of such discipline should be for –
- 1. The repentance, reconciliation, and spiritual growth of the individual disciplined ( Proverbs 15: 5; 29: 15; I Corinthians 4: 14; Ephesians 6: 4; I Timothy 3: 4–5; Hebrews 12: 1–11; Psalm 119: 115; 141: 5; Proverbs 17: 10; 25: 12; 27: 5; Ecclesiastes 7: 5; Matthew 7: 26–27; 18: 15–17; Luke 17: 3; Acts 2: 40; I Corinthians 5: 5; Galatians 6: 1–5; II Thessalonians 3: 6, 14–15; I Timothy 1: 20; Titus 1:13–14; James 1: 22);
- 2. For the instruction in righteousness and good of other Christians, as an example to them (see Proverbs 13: 20; Romans 15: 14; I Corinthians 5: 11; 15: 33; Colossians 3: 16; I Thessalonians 5: 14 [note this is written to the whole church, not just to leaders]; I Timothy 5: 20; Titus 1: 11; Hebrews 10: 24–25);
- 3. For the purity of the church as a whole (see I Corinthians 5: 6–7; II Corinthians 13: 10; Ephesians 5: 27; II John 10; Jude 24; Revelation 21: 2);
- 4. For the good of our corporate witness to non–Christians (see Proverbs 28: 7; Matthew 5: 13–16; John 13: 35; Acts 5: 1–14; Ephesians 5: 11; I Timothy 3: 7; II Peter 2: 2; I John 3: 10); and
- 5. Supremely for the glory of God by reflecting His holy character (see Deuteronomy 5: 11; I Kings 11: 2; II Chronicles 19: 2; Ezra 6: 21; Nehemiah 9: 2; Isaiah 52: 11; Ezekiel 36: 20; Matthew 5: 16; John 15: 8; 18: 17, 25; Romans 2: 24; 15: 5–6; II Corinthians 6: 14–7: 1; Ephesians 1:4; 5: 27; I Peter 2: 12).
Section Five: Termination of Membership
Members are expected to conduct their lives as they grow in Christian maturity in accordance with Biblical standards of holiness as outlined and affirmed in the covenant they signed upon entering into local membership at First Family Church. When a member knowingly ignores the direct commands and prohibitions of Scripture and is willfully breaking covenant with the church, he or she shall be dealt with according to the principles of discipline and restoration contained in Scripture as outlined in Article 5, Section 4 of this document. No member shall be automatically expelled from this church because of sinning. Members shall be expelled for being unwilling to repent of their sin when it is made known to them.
Members who leave First Family Church and unite with another Biblical church due to any number of reasons not associated with being in the discipline process, shall inform First Family Church so that their names may be dropped from the First Family Church membership roll.
Members who move away from the area, may also be dropped from membership after a letter has been sent informing them of this action. Decisions to drop members from the roll shall rest upon the Board of Elders. Members who have moved away temporarily such as missionaries, members of the armed services, and students, may continue as members in absentia.
Article 6: Leadership and Offices
Section 1: Summary
The Biblical offices in the church are Pastors/Elders and Deacons. Those that hold these offices receive a calling from God to hold the office and have that calling affirmed by the church. In addition, and in compliance with the Laws of the United States of America our church recognizes the corporate officers which may or may not be held by Elders under this constitution & by-laws, though the Lead Pastor shall not hold the corporate office of President/chairman, secretary, and treasurer of the corporation, First Family Church Inc (Article 2).
Section 2 – Elders
The Elders shall be comprised of men who satisfy the qualifications for the office of Elder set forth in I Timothy 3: 1–7; 5:22 and Titus 1: 6–9. The number of men in this office shall depend on the size and needs of the congregation and the giving of such men by God. No Elder shall hold the office of Deacon during his tenure. Subject to the will of the congregation, the Elders shall oversee the ministry and resources of the church. In keeping with the principles set forth in Acts 6: 1–6 and I Peter 5: 1–4, the Elders shall devote their time to prayer, the ministry of the Word (by teaching and encouraging sound doctrine), and shepherding God’s flock. While those principals are true for all Elders, some will be more engaged in formal and public teaching, whereas others may be more engaged in the details of ruling. Elders are subject and accountable to the church, to each other, and there is no superior authority between them, though responsibility will differ between them.
The church shall recognize men gifted and willing to serve in this calling, in accordance with the constitutional provisions on elections (Article 7.2). These men shall be received as gifts of Christ to His church and set apart as Elders. An Elder's term of office may be terminated by resignation or by dismissal. Any two members with reason to believe that an Elder should be examined for dismissal shall express such concern to the Elders and, if need be (in the case there are no other elders), to the congregation. Any such action shall be done in accordance with the instructions of our Lord in Matthew 18: 15–17 and 1 Timothy 5: 17–21. Any of the Elders may be dismissed by a two-thirds vote of the members at any official members’ meeting of the church.
The Elders shall take particular responsibility to examine and instruct prospective members, examine and recommend all prospective candidates for offices and the administrative/corporate positions, oversee the work of the Deacons and appointed church agents and committees (if needed), conduct worship services, administer the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Table, equip the membership for the work of the ministry, encourage sound doctrine and practice, admonish and correct error, oversee the process of church discipline, coordinate and promote the ministries of the church, and mobilize the church for worldwide missions. The Elders are further to ensure that all who minister the Word to the congregation, including outside speakers, share our fundamental convictions. The Elders may establish ministry positions or committees to assist them in fulfilling their responsibilities. The Elders may also propose funding for new paid staff positions. The membership shall approve all candidates to fill the positions of lead Pastor, Pastor, and lay Elders. The scope and approval of job descriptions for any staff position shall reside in the hands of those with hiring authority for that position. The Elders shall have primary responsibility for the employment, supervision, and evaluation of staff members. This responsibility may, on a case-by-case basis, be delegated to another staff member.
Each year the Elders shall present to the church an itemized budget. This budget shall be presented at our annual meeting (Article 7.2). No money shall be solicited by or on behalf of the church or any of its ministries without the approval of the Elders.
Section 3 – The Lead Pastor
The lead Pastor shall be an Elder. He shall perform the duties of an Elder described in Section 2, above, and shall be recognized by the church as particularly gifted and called to the full-time ministry of preaching and teaching. He regularly do all the pastoral duties set forth in Scripture, such as - preach on the Lord's Day, administer the ordinances of baptism and communion, and perform such other duties as usually pertain to that office, or as set forth in the constitution.
In the absence or incapacity of the lead Pastor the Pastors and Elders shall assume responsibility for his duties, any of which can be delegated.
Section 4 – Pastors
The church may call additional Pastors to assist the lead Pastor in the work of Pastoral ministry. All Pastors shall be Elders. He shall perform the duties of an Elder described in Section 2, above, and shall be recognized by the church as particularly gifted and called to the full or part -time ministry of preaching and teaching.
He shall assist the lead Pastor in the performance of his regular duties and shall perform any other duties as usually pertain to the office of lead Pastor, or as set forth in the constitution. In the absence or incapacity of the lead Pastor for defined periods of time (such as sabbatical or illness), the Pastor(s) shall assume the responsibility for his duties under the oversight of the other Elders.
Section 5 – Lay Elders
The church may call additional men to serve the church in the office of an Elder as lay-Elders. These men assist together with the Pastors in the ministry of the church and are Biblically qualified to serve in the office of Elder/Pastor. These men may also be elected to hold the administrative roles mentioned Article 6, Section 2. He shall also perform the duties of an Elder as described in Article 6, Section 2 above, and shall be recognized by the church as particularly gifted and called to the office, and share in equal authority with the Lead Pastor and Pastor(s).
Section 6 – Deacons
The office of Deacon is described in I Timothy 3: 8–13 and Acts 6: 1–7. The church shall recognize, in accordance with the constitutional provisions on elections, those who are giving of themselves in service to the church, and who possess particular gifts of service. These members shall be received as gifts of Christ to His church and set apart as Deacons and appointed to this office by the Elders. A Deacons term of office may be terminated by resignation or by dismissal. Deacons shall care for the temporal needs of members, attend to the accommodations for public worship, and encourage and support those able to help others and those with gifts of administration.
The Deacons shall receive, hold, and disburse a fund for benevolence, reporting on its use to the Elders at their request, and reporting to the church its total receipts and total disbursements only. The Deacons, with the agreement of the Elders, may establish unpaid administrative positions or committees of members to assist them in fulfilling their responsibilities in the church. Should the church have no Deacons, the Elders shall perform and assign out their duties.
Article 7: Official Meetings
Section One: General Meetings
The congregation, and especially the membership shall meet to discuss matters of the church as the need arises, and as it is called for by the Elders. No official meetings can be called without the Elders. The congregation and membership shall be given a two-week notice prior to the holding of a meeting. This notification can come through an announcement given on the Lord’s Day during a worship service, or through email correspondence.
Section Two: Selection of Officers
The Elders of First Family Church shall notify the congregation and especially the membership of a need to call new Officers during any two consecutive Lord’s Day services. Upon this notification, the membership is free to nominate men who meet the qualifications outlined in Article 6, over a four-week period from the second notification. The Elders, in accord with the principals outlined in Section 2 shall review the nominations, and select from the nominations, men to serve in the needed office. The names of the selected nominees to serve as Pastors/Elders, or Deacons shall be presented by the Elders to the membership at least four weeks prior to appointment and shall be directed by a chosen moderator, who is an Elder so that sufficient prayer and thought may be given towards this calling. The Elders should seek involvement from the general membership in the nomination process. Any member with reason to believe that a nominated candidate is unqualified for an office should express such concern to the Elders prior to that meeting. Members intending to speak in opposition to a candidate should express their objection to the Elders as far in advance as possible before the relevant church members’ meeting.
The moderator shall declare elected all men receiving a 2/3 majority of all votes cast for the office of Pastor/Elder or deacon. Abstentions will not be considered as votes cast.
The persons elected shall assume their respective offices upon election, unless another date has been specifically designated. The election of officers shall be held at a members’ meeting of the church in accordance with the principals set forth in Article 7, Section 1-3.
Calling of the Lead Pastor
In the calling of any man to this position, the same basic process of calling an Elder must be followed. In addition, however, the church must be given adequate opportunity to assess the preaching gifts of any potential lead Pastor and, before being asked to express its judgment, must receive assurance from the Elders that, having interviewed the man concerned, they are in no doubt as to his wholehearted assent to the statement of Faith and Church Covenant. Notice of the nomination of a man to be elected to membership and called as lead Pastor (which shall include, if necessary, election to membership of his believing wife if he is married and believing children) must be given at two Sunday morning services following the nomination, prior to the vote at a members’ meeting.
Calling of a Pastor
In the calling of any man to the position of Pastor, the same basic process of calling an Elder must be followed in addition to having been recognized and called by the congregation to the office of Elder, according to the process described in Article 6, Section 2. In addition, however, the church must be given adequate opportunity to assess the preaching gifts of any potential Pastor and, before being asked to express its judgment, must receive assurance from the Elders that, having interviewed the man concerned, they are in no doubt as to his wholehearted assent to the Statement of Faith and Church Covenant. Notice of the nomination of a man to be called as Pastor (which shall include, if necessary, election to membership of him and his believing wife if he is married and believing children) must be given at two Sunday morning services following the nomination, prior to the vote at a members’ meeting.
Calling of A Lay Elder
The calling of any man to the position of Lay - Elder requires that that man have been recognized and called by the congregation to the office of Elder, according to the process described in Article 6, Section 2. In addition, however, the church must be given adequate opportunity to assess the gifts of any potential Elder and, before being asked to express its judgment, must receive assurance from the Elders that, having interviewed the man concerned, they are in no doubt as to his wholehearted assent to the Statement of Faith and Church Covenant. Notice of the nomination of a man to be called as Elder must be given at two Sunday morning services following the nomination, prior to the vote at a members’ meeting. Such a man may then be called by the Elders to serve as an Elder in assistance to the lead Pastor and Pastor(s).
Calling of a Deacon
In the calling a candidate to the office of Deacon, the same basic process of calling an Elder must be followed, according to the process described in Article 6, Section 6. Notice of the nomination of a candidate to be called as Deacon must be given at two Sunday morning services following the nomination, prior to the vote at a members’ meeting.
Section Three: Meetings of the Elders
Elders meet on the third Monday of every month to discuss matters pertaining to the ministry and membership of the church. The meeting may take place on a different Monday if it is agreed upon by the Elders in advance. Members may request to meet with the Elders to discuss matters pertaining to the church, and the Elders will work to accommodate such meetings.. Notice of other meetings of the Elders shall be given to each Elder at least five days in advance. Notice may be oral and the minutes of the Elders meeting shall so indicate the reason for the meeting. Elders may meet anywhere. When an emergency or impromptu meeting is required, those Elders attending so long as a quorum of Elders is present, may transact the required business. Minutes shall be taken at all Elders meetings. Minutes shall be made available to all Elders within 72 hours of the meeting and sent via email. The Secretary of the Corporation shall maintain minutes of all Elders meetings and store them digitally. The following business matters require (2/3) two-thirds vote of all active Elders: (1) matters of salary; (2) discipline of an Elder or the members of his immediate family (in such case, the Elder in question must abstain); (3) voting for potential Pastor/Elder candidates; and (4) amendments to the By-Laws. All other matters before the Elders will be determined by a prayerful and majority agreement of the Elders quorum. Two-thirds of the Elders of the church shall constitute a quorum. The minutes shall record the vote of any business matter.
The Elders of the church shall meet each December for the purpose of selecting corporate officers among the Elders and members for the coming year. These officers will include a president, a secretary, and a treasurer. An officer may hold more than one office, except that the same person may not hold the office of president and secretary. All officers of the Church shall also be members (Article 5). The nomination of a member to an administrative office does not need to be announced to the church, but the acceptance of a nomination will be announced to the church.
Article 8: Financial Policies
The ministries and programs of First Family Church shall be funded by the voluntary gifts and offerings of God’s people. The treasurer of the church shall arrange for a written account of receipts and disbursements. The treasurer shall submit an annual report of the finances to the church, or more frequently as requested by the Elders, so that all might be aware of how God’ work is being carried out in the area of finances. When a need arises that requires a non-budgeted expenditure of greater than $1,000.00 a meeting of the Elders shall be called for the purpose of discussion, approval, or rejection of the expenditure. Non-budgeted expenditures in excess of $25,000.00 shall be approved by a majority of members eligible to vote in a special ballot called for that purpose. A non-budgeted expense under $1,000.00 shall be approved by the Elder in charge of the budgeted line-item in addition to the treasurer. The purchase or sale of any interest in real property shall be with the majority approval of the eligible voting membership. The acquisition by gift, bequest, or testamentary disposition of all other tangible property, with an equity value in excess of $25,000.00, either real or personal, shall be promptly reported to the membership. An annual budget for the following year shall be presented to the congregation for its information and advice. This shall be presented at the annual official meeting of the congregation (See Article 7, Section 1).
The Board of Elders shall make decisions in all financial matters and investments. Any decisions pertaining to financial matters and investments will require a 2/3 majority vote by the Elder Board with the expressed understanding that all funds belong to God and are thereby being used for his glory towards the goal of reaching people for the gospel and raising up disciples. No member of the board of elders shall be the investment agent or profit in any way from investment decisions made either directly or indirectly in the form of a commission or any other compensation.
Amended in March, 2023, by a vote of the membership