The Doctrine

3. Government

 

The local Church recognizes the sole Headship of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that He is Prophet, Priest and King to His people, the great Shepherd of His sheep. This authority is never delegated, but is communicated by the Holy Spirit in accordance with His Word. That Word reveals that the church is to be administered by elders and deacons.

Elders are responsible for the spiritual administration of the church, and include the one appointed as pastor (Ephesians 4:11), a man set apart for prayer and the ministry of the Word as the under-shepherd of the flock. He shall be adequately maintained (so far as is possible) in material necessities. All such responsibility requires spiritual grace and divine calling, and demands the qualifications laid down in Scripture, especially in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1.

Where elders already exist, it is their responsibility to bring others whom the Lord has gifted for spiritual oversight before the church for their whole-hearted approval and appointment. Where no elders exist, the Fellowship should watch for God's guidance to make suitable appointments as His gifts to particular men become apparent, and, as necessary, help of other like-minded churches should be sought in the calling of a full-time pastor.

Deacons are responsible for the business and material affairs of the church which includes a ministry of compassion to those in need, and should be appointed by submitting names for the elders to bring before the church, of those suitable for this office. A high proportion of those present at the church meeting should be in favour for such men to be elected. 

If an elder or deacon prove not to be fitted for his office, it is the responsibility of the officers and church to recognize this. In such a case, he should be asked by the church to resign or else be relieved of his office. If the elder concerned be fully maintained by the church, 6 month's notice shall be given or equivalent remuneration be substituted.

We do not believe that there is any rightful place for committees, except as a temporary measure to deal with specific problems, but the gathered church shall be prayerfully concerned with every aspect of her life.

Since all members gathered at a church meeting are to share in the responsibility of church matters, all ought to have a right to speak at those meetings, not forgetting that authority should be duly recognized. Such meetings should be called by the Elders as often as necessary and at least once a year; special meetings may also be called if specifically requested by 50% of the membership. Due notice shall be given for all such meetings (normally 2 Sundays) and the Elders shall be responsible for the Agendas: 50% of the membership (excluding those who have relocated and are therefore unable to attend) shall be deemed a necessary quorum for business to proceed. To foster the fullest possible participation of the Church in deciding questions of import, the membership may be polled by paper ballot or written correspondence on issues as determined by the elders. The result of this method of decision-making shall be recorded as the decision of the Church. It should be remembered that confidence must be placed in those in authority, and that the Elders are responsible for ensuring that all meetings are conducted in an atmosphere of prayer, love and mutual trust.

Services of believers' baptism are to be held as often as necessary, and the Lord's Supper is normally to be observed at least once a month. This latter service is primarily designed for members of the local church. However, visiting believers in fellowship with a true gospel church will be welcome at the Lord's table in order to give visible expression to the unity of the true Church of Christ. Such admission of visitors shall be at the discretion of the elders.