We, the members of Providence Baptist Church, do declare and establish this constitution for the preservation and security of the principles of our faith, and so that this body may be governed in a Scriptural and orderly manner. This constitution will preserve the liberties and state the responsibilities of each individual member of this church including its officers.
Section 1: General Statement This is an autonomous, congregational, elder-ruled Baptist church under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The membership retains unto itself the right of exclusive self-government in all phases of the spiritual and temporal life of this church. The membership reserves the exclusive right to determine who shall be members of this church and the conditions of such membership.
Section 2: The Warrant for Church Membership A genuine Christian's commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ is inseparable from his commitment to His truth and His people. This commitment ordinarily requires a formal, open, voluntary, solemn, and enduring commitment to membership in a local church. Following are some proofs of the existence of the local church which Christ ordained for His own glory and worship, and also for the spiritual benefit of His people, which shows the warrant for every true Christian to seek membership therein: (1) The New Testament presents the local church as a distinct and defined group of individuals covenanted together to worship God and carry out the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ. The local church is made up of a group of individuals who may be counted (Acts 2:41,42; Acts 4:4), added to (Acts 2:47; 5:14), and even subtracted from (Mat 18:17; I Cor. 5:12,13; II Cor. 2:6). (2) Each local church of Christ is called upon to select leaders and representatives from among itself (Acts 6:1-6; Acts 15:22; II Cor. 8:19,23), thus making it a formal organization with recognized officers (Phil. 1:1; Acts 14:23). (3) Fulfillment of the great commission implies church membership (Mat 28:18-20). In this commission there is an inseparable connection between making disciples, baptizing them, and then teaching them all things that Christ has commanded. It is clear from the Scriptures that the Apostles implemented this commission by gathering baptized disciples into local churches where they were taught all the things that Christ had commanded (Acts 2:38-42; I Cor. 4:1-7; Titus 1:7). (4) The whole of the New Testament presents a picture of disciples of Christ worshiping and serving Him in connection with some local church. We believe this is what Christ intends for His disciples to the end of the age.
Section 3. The Duties of Church Members Members of Providence are expected (1) first and foremost, to have a good confession of faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior; (2) to have obeyed the Lord Jesus in the ordinance of baptism; (3) to strive to be faithful in all the duties essential to the Christian life; (4) to attend regularly the stated services of the church unless providentially hindered; (5) to submit cheerfully to the eldership of the church (Heb. 13:17): (6) to give cheerfully to its support and its causes as God has prospered them; (7) to participate in its organized work and make available to the church such talents and abilities as God has endowed them with.
Section 4. Candidacy and Reception Any person may offer themself as a candidate for membership at Providence. We understand the Scriptural priority of serving the Lord in one of His churches and therefore welcome any and all persons who are Biblically qualified to join with us. However, we also recognize the vital importance of keeping the Lord's church sound in doctrine and holy in practice, and therefore we desire all potential members to understand and meet those Biblical qualifications. Members are to be received only upon the recommendation of the elders and by the consent of the church. The method of receiving members into Providence will be according to the following steps: Step 1: An initial interview with a minimum of one elder in the church, preferably two or more, for the following reasons: A. To ascertain by the applicant's testimony, with as much certainty as possible, that the proposed member knows the way of salvation and has a personal saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is necessary because we believe that church membership is for sincere professing believers only. B. To confirm by the applicant’s testimony that they have obeyed the Lord Jesus in the ordinance of Baptism. C. To make sure that the proposed member understands and is in general and substantial agreement with the doctrinal beliefs of our church. To discern this, the prospective member will need to become generally familiar with the confession of this church. It is not expected that every new member will fully understand all the doctrines we believe, but there must be a general soundness in faith, and a humble willingness to learn God's truth, together with a determination not to sow any discord in the church with regard to any doctrinal matters in which the prospective member might be in disagreement with the church. D. To make sure that the proposed member understands what is expected of members of the church. These expectations will include: (1) Fulfillment of the duties of church membership as outlined in Section 3. 5 | P a g e (2) Promoting the unity and spiritual well-being of the church through such things as Biblical relationships with other members, adherence to biblical truth, and submission to the care, oversight and leadership of the elders. (3) A godly, separated life which will promote the honor of Jesus Christ, His religion and His church (Jam. 1:27). Step 2: When the elder interview process has been satisfactorily completed, then the membership candidate will be presented before the church for formal membership. This process will include the following: A. At the next quarterly members meeting, the church will be made aware of the desire of the candidate to become a member. Additionally, one of the elders will give a brief summary of their endorsement based on their conversations as laid out in Step 1. B. The prospective member’s testimony will then be shared with the members who are present at the members meeting. This will either be shared by the prospective member themselves, or in some circumstances a reading of their written testimony may be shared. C. At this point, the membership candidate will be voted on. A 2/3 vote of those members present and voting shall be required for acceptance into church membership. If the vote passes, the candidate will be formally received into membership.
Section 5. Termination of Membership As is the case with receiving members, so the termination of church membership must be governed by Biblical principles. Accordingly, membership at Providence will be terminated in one of the following three ways: 1. Death - Physical death obviously warrants the removal of membership from the church roll. 2. Transfer of membership to another church - since the New Testament norm for all Christians is that they be members of true local churches, any person leaving the membership of one church should seek to transfer membership to another true church as soon as possible. We realize that this process may sometimes require a transitional period, and the elders will take such things into account when dealing with a member's transfer of membership. It will be the duty of the elders to handle transfer of membership in a way that accords with Scriptural principles. 3. Exclusion A. Exclusion, not under discipline - In some cases, a person’s membership may need to be terminated for reasons which, in the judgment of the church, may not warrant discipline. Such cases may include the resignation of a member who concludes that they are not a Christian; the resignation of a member who requests to be relieved from his church covenant obligations; the relocation of a member who no longer remains in contact with the church, or a member who has willfully not fulfilled the requirement of regular attendance. All of these potential examples are subject to the discretion and discernment of the elders. Additionally, no member may be excluded without sufficient attempts made on behalf of the elders to communicate with said member prior to removal. The church shall exclude such persons from its membership role, without the exercise of church discipline. B. Exclusion by excommunication - According to Holy Scripture, a church must exclude from its membership any person who persists in holding or teaching serious doctrinal 6 | P a g e heresies, who persists in unrepentant sin, or who persists in disturbing the unity and peace of the church (Mat. 18:15; I Cor. 5:1; Rom. 16:17; Titus 3:10,11). Excommunication should ordinarily be a last resort of the church, and often should not be exercised until milder forms of biblical discipline have been meekly, lovingly and prayerfully utilized in a sincere effort to restore the offending member. Such restorative efforts may include public verbal reproof (Mat. 18:17; I Tim. 5:20), and temporary suspension of certain privileges of church membership, such as the right to vote or participate in the Lord's Supper (Rom. 16:17; I Cor. 5:9-11; II Thess. 3:6,14). When other Scriptural means of restoring an offender have failed, the church must be willing to excommunicate an offending member (Mat. 18:17; I Cor. 5:13). Persons may be excommunicated by a 2/3 vote of the church utilizing a secret ballot (II Cor. 2:6). This will typically be done at one of the quarterly members meetings. As stated above, excommunication should ordinarily be a last resort. However, since some cases of sin (either moral or doctrinal) are so scandalous, gross and heinous in their nature, the church has a Scriptural right and mandate to immediately excommunicate those guilty of such sins if the honor of Christ and His church necessitate this (I Cor. 5:9-13). In those urgent cases the church may utilize a specially called members meeting to address the issue in a timely manner. All acts of church discipline, including excommunication, must be lovingly carried out for the glory of Christ, and the welfare and purity of the church (I Cor. 5:6), with the goal of eventually restoring the offender to good standing in the church (II Cor. 2:7).
Section 6. Restoration to Membership Since full restoration is the goal of all church discipline, all members of the church should unite in its exercise when necessary, praying earnestly for God's gracious, restorative blessing upon those who have been disciplined. It is also both the duty and privilege of the church to forgive and to restore to full membership a disciplined or excommunicated member upon satisfactory evidence of repentance (2 Cor.2:6-8). Thus, any person whose membership has been terminated for any offense may be restored by 2/3 vote of this church upon evidence of their genuine repentance and reformation.