(As amended in August 2008)
Article I: Church Covenant
Having been led, as scripturally baptized Christian believers, to be banded together as members of the New Hope Church we do now in the presence of God, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.
John 1:12, Acts 10:47; Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 12:4-5, 1 Corinthians 12:1-31
We promise, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to commit ourselves to advance in Christian growth and discipleship and to endeavor to make the lordship of Jesus Christ a reality in our lives. Because of this commitment, we agree to strive to make the following practices characteristic of our personal lives.
We therefore agree to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of our church in knowledge, holiness, and mutual encouragement; to work together for our Church's spirituality, to follow the Bible in our worship, in our beliefs, and in our practices, and to contribute cheerfully and regularly with tithes and offerings in the support of our ministry, the expenses of our Church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel through all nations.
Ephesians 5:2, 2 Corinthians 9:7, 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, Matthew 28:19-20, Titus 3, Malachi 3
We also agree to engage in prayer and Bible reading both individually and with our family members on a regular basis; to educate our children in the faith; to seek the salvation of our relatives and acquaintances; to be honest in our business; to keep our word to others; to be loving in all our speech and actions; to honor our bodies as the temples of the Holy Spirit; to refrain from practices that may be a stumbling block to others; and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Savior.
Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 4:20-32, Colossians 3:5-17, Romans 14:1-5
We further agree to care for one another in brotherly love, to assemble with the church in worship, to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress, to refrain from showing partiality to others, to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and determined to seek reconciliation without delay according to the rules of our Savior.
Matthew 18:15-17; James 2:1-5
We moreover agree that when we move from this Church we will unite with another church of like faith, where we can carry out the principles of God's Word. Amen.
Article II: Statement of Faith
Section A: Of the Scriptures
We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men and that all its words are fully and divinely inspired in the original texts. We believe it is a perfect treasure of heavenly instructions; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without mixture of error for its content; that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us, and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds and opinions shall be tried.
2 Timothy 3:14-17, 2 Peter 1:21
Section B: Of the True God
We believe that there is one, and only one living and true God, an infinite, intelligent Spirit, whose name is Jehovah, the Maker and Supreme Ruler of heaven and earth, inexpressibly glorious in holiness, and worthy of all possible honor, confidence and love; that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, equal in every divine perfection, and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption.
Exodus 3:14-16, Isaiah 40:3, Isaiah 9:6-7, Hebrews 11:16, John 1:1-14
Section C: Of the Fall of Man
We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker, but by voluntary transgression fell from the holy and happy state, in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint but by choice, being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil, and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin without defense or excuse.
Genesis 3, Romans 5:12, Ephesians 2:1, Romans 1:18-32
Section D: Of the Way of Salvation
We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly by grace through the mediatorial offices of the Son of God, who, by the appointment of the Father, freely took upon Him our nature, yet without sin, honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and by His death made a full atonement for sins; that, having risen from the dead, He is now enthroned in heaven, and uniting in His wonderful person the tenderest sympathies with divine perfections, He is in every way qualified to be a suitable, a compassionate, and an all-sufficient Savior.
Romans 3:21-4:8, 1 Peter 3:18, Hebrews 4:14-16
Section E: Of Justification
We believe that justification is the great Gospel blessing which Christ secures to those who believe in Him, that justification includes the pardon of sin and the promise of eternal life on principles of righteousness; that it is bestowed, not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the Redeemer’s blood, by virtue of which faith His perfect righteousness is freely imputed to us of God; that it brings us into a state of most blessed peace and favor with God, and secures every blessing needed for time and eternity.
2 Corinthians 5:21, Titus 3:4-7, Ephesians 1:3, Romans 3:21-28
Section F: Of the Freeness of Salvation
We believe that the blessings of salvation are made free to all by the Gospel; that it is the immediate duty of all to accept them by sincere, penitent, and obedient faith; and that nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth but his own inherent depravity and voluntary rejection of the Gospel, which rejection involves him in an aggravated condemnation.
Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:24, Romans 4:4-5, John 3:17-20
Section G: Of Grace in Regeneration
We believe that, in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated or born again; that regeneration gives a holy disposition to the mind; that it is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit in connection with divine truth so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the Gospel; and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance, faith, and newness of life.
John 3, Ephesians 2:4-10, 2 Corinthians 5:17
Section H: Of Repentance and Faith
We believe that repentance and faith are sacred duties, and also inseparable graces, brought about in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God, whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession, and supplication for mercy; at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King, and relying upon Him alone as the only and all-sufficient Savior.
Mark 1:15, Acts 4:12, Acts 3:22, Hebrews 7:15-27, Matthew 2:2
Section I: Of God’s Purpose of Grace
We believe that election is the eternal purpose of God by which He graciously regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners; that election is perfectly consistent with the free agency of man; that election embraces all the means which God uses to consummate our salvation; that election is a most glorious display of God's sovereign goodness which is infinitely free, wise, holy and unchangeable; that election utterly excludes boasting and promotes humility, love, prayer, praise and trust in God, and our active imitation of His mercy; on the other hand, that election encourages us to use every means in the highest degree to share God's grace; that salvation in a believer’s life causes a holiness that can be observed in our conduct by both believers and unbelievers alike; that such changed lifestyle is the proof of our salvation to others, and is to be pursued by ourselves with the utmost diligence.
Romans 9:11-12, Acts 13:48, Romans 10:5-13, 1 John 2:5-6
Section J: Of Sanctification
We believe that sanctification is the process by which, according to the will of God, we are made partakers of His holiness; that it is a progressive work; that it is begun in regeneration; and that it is carried on in the hearts of believers by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, the Sealer and Comforter through the continual use of the appointed means—especially the Word of God, self-examination, self-denial, watchfulness, and prayer.
John 15:3, John 17:17, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Section K: Of the Perseverance of Saints
We believe that such only are real believers as have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior; that their walking in good works which God has before ordained for those created in Christ Jesus is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors; that a special providence watches over their welfare, and that they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, and that these real believers are eternally secure.
Philippians 1:6, Philippians 2:13, John 17:11, Ephesians 2:10, Romans 8:34-39, 1 John 5:12-13
Section L: Of the Harmony of the Law and the Gospel
We believe that the law of God is the eternal and unchangeable rule of moral government; that it is holy, just and good, and that the inability, which the Scriptures ascribe to fallen men to fulfill its precepts, arises entirely from their love of sin. The one great end of the Gospel and the means of grace connected with the establishment of the visible church is to deliver fallen man from sin and to restore him through a Mediator to unfeigned obedience to the holy law.
Galatians 3:24, Romans 5:20-21, 6:15-23, 9:30-33, 11:25-32
Section M: Of a Local Gospel Church
We believe that the local visible church as founded by Christ is a congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel, observing the ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws and exercising the gifts, rights and privileges invested in them by His Word; that its only Scriptural officers are pastors (bishops / elders) and deacons, whose qualifications and duties are defined in the Epistles of Timothy and Titus.
Acts 2:41, 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9
Section N: Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper
We believe Christ instituted only two ordinances to be practiced in His Church: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We believe that Christian Baptism is the immersion in water of a believer in the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, to show forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem our faith in the crucified, buried and risen Savior and our death to sin and resurrection to a new life. We believe that any born-again person of like faith may partake together with us in the Lord's Supper as we commemorate the dying love of Christ, preceded always by solemn self-examination.
Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 8:34-40, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, Matthew 26:26-30, Romans 6:3-4
Section O: Of the Day of Corporate Worship
We believe that the first day of the week, by New Testament practice, is the day for congregational worship and is to be kept sacred for this purpose.
Romans 14:5-6, Acts 20:7
Section P: Of Civil Government
We believe that civil government is of divine appointment for the interests and good order of human society, and that civil leaders are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored and obeyed, except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture, who is the only Lord of conscience and the Prince of the kings of the earth.
I Timothy 2:1-3, Matthew 22:17-21, Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-17
Section Q: Of the Righteous and the Wicked
We believe that there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked; that only those who through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God, are truly righteous in His esteem, while all who continue in impenitence and unbelief are in His sight wicked and under the curse; and this distinction holds among men both in life and after death.
John 3:36, Romans 8:1, Revelation 20:11-15
Section R: Of the World to Come
We believe that the end of this world is approaching, and that in the last days Christ will descend from Heaven, raise the redeemed dead and rapture the living believers to final reward and endless joy with Christ. Following the millennial reign of Christ, the unsaved dead will be gathered in resurrected bodies before the Great White Throne, at which time they will be judged for their unrighteous works and be cast into Hell, their fixed and final state for eternity.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11, Revelation 20:7-15, Matthew 24:3-14
Article III: By-Laws
Section A: Church Name
The name of the Church shall be the New Hope Church of Oak Lawn.
Section B: Object
The object of the Church shall be to promote the spiritual welfare of its members by ministering to the needs of entire families, to aid in the moral and social welfare of the community, and to assist in spreading the Gospel throughout the world.
Section C: Admission of Members
Any person professing faith in Jesus Christ, giving evidence of a change of heart, having been examined and recommended by one or more of the Pastors/Elders, and having received a 90% vote of the Church, may be admitted into membership. Names shall be printed in the Church bulletin two weeks prior to the vote of the Church. Baptism by immersion is required for those candidates who have not previously been baptized.
Section D: Duties of the Members
The duties of the members shall be such as are fully given only in the Word of God and summarized in the Church Covenant.
Section E: Dismissal of Members
Sub-section 1: By Request
Any member requesting a letter of good standing to a church of like faith may receive such a letter and be removed from the membership of the church by a two-thirds vote.
Sub-section 2: By Forfeiture
Any member, who for a period of six months is absent from the services of the Church, fails to communicate, and who is guilty of non-support of the Church will, upon recommendation of the elders and vote of the Church, forfeit his or her membership.
Sub-section 3: By Church Discipline
The disciplinary process of the church will be conducted in the following manner:
1. To secure the repentance of a believer who has fallen into sin. Galatians 6:1
2. To maintain the purity of Christ’s church in the world. 1 Corinthians 5:7-9
b. The disciplinary process MUST be used when areas of sin (public or private) or spiritual indifference are present in the life of a church member.
c. Any member may initiate the disciplinary process against another church member by
adhering to the following steps:
1. He or she must first determine in his/her own heart that he/she is in a right relationship with God and is not guilty of the same sin of which he/she is accusing another. Galatians 6:1 Matthew 7:1
2. The process described in Matthew 18:15-17 must be followed in order to attempt to secure the offending party’s repentance. This means first approaching the offending party privately and attempting to secure that person’s repentance and reconciliation. Matthew 18:15
3. If the previous step is unsuccessful in securing the offending party’s repentance, then the accuser must confront the offender again—this time in the presence of one or two witnesses. Matthew 18:16
4. If the previous steps are unsuccessful in securing repentance or if the offending party is not available or is unwilling to meet with the accuser, the offense may now be brought to the church. The accusation must be presented in writing to the Pastors/Elders and signed by the accuser and at least one witness. The Pastors/Elders will then schedule the matter to be heard by the church. The accusation signed by both accuser and witness(s) must be presented to the accused at least one week prior to the scheduled hearing. Matthew 18:17
5. Evidence against the accused must be presented to the church only in the meeting in which the accused is scheduled to appear. The church may proceed if the accused refuses to appear. The accused may call others to speak on his/her behalf if necessary.
6. Upon hearing the evidence and the defense of the accused, the church will vote on whether the accused is to be retained in the membership. A two-thirds vote is necessary to remove the accused from the membership of the church. Matthew 18:17
7. The repentance of the accused party shall be considered adequate grounds for terminating the above process at any point. However, such repentance is not to be considered sincere unless restitution and apologies both public and private where necessary are made. 2 Corinthians 2:5-9
8. An accused party who is removed by the church is to be prayed for and ministered to, as any non-member would be. He/she may be readmitted to the church upon sincere repentance and following the standard membership admission procedure.
9. Restoration of a removed member who held a position of leadership prior to removal does not necessarily qualify that person to immediately resume his/her former position of leadership upon readmission into the church membership.
1 Timothy 3:1-12
Sub-section 4: By Death
Section F: Officers
The officers of the Church shall be: Senior Pastor, Associate Pastor(s), Unsalaried Pastors (hereafter referred to as Elders) and Deacons.
Section G: Description of Officers' Roles and Responsibilities
Sub-section 1: Pastors/Elders
The church shall appoint a Senior Pastor, Associate Pastor(s) and Elders to lead the ministry of the New Hope Church. All Pastors/Elders must be scripturally qualified to hold office (1 Timothy 3:1-7) and are charged with the responsibility of leading the spiritual work and general oversight of the church. They shall be ex-officio members of all commissions and shall formulate and dissolve these commissions as needed to accomplish the spiritual objectives of the church (e.g. Christian Education, Missions, etc.). They shall approve all materials used in the church and Christian Education program. They shall appoint a nominating committee. They shall attend to matters of church discipline and shall act as a mediatory council when occasion arises involving the spiritual welfare and relationship of members of the Church. They shall solicit and authorize the disbursement of funds for benevolent needs. Additionally, they shall from time to time make pronouncements regarding pressing issues of doctrine and practice, which will become binding upon ratification of 80% of the members voting in a regular business meeting of the Church.
Sub-section 2: Senior Pastor
The Senior Pastor shall have charge of the Church in all things spiritual, preach the Gospel and administer the ordinances. He shall act as moderator of all business sessions of the Church unless otherwise requested by the majority of the voting members present. His relationship may only be dissolved upon not less than 30 days notice given by either a two-thirds vote of the Church in favor of removal or by the Pastor himself. He shall be responsible for the supervision of all officers and paid staff.
Whenever a vacancy shall occur in the pastorate whether by death or removal, the remaining Associate Pastor(s)/Elders shall become a Pulpit Committee to present candidates to the Church from which the Church shall elect (by a three-fourths majority vote of the members present at a specially called meeting of which two weeks notice has been given) a new Senior Pastor to fill the vacancy.
Sub-section 3: Associate Pastors
The Church may call as many salaried Associate Pastors as the need and finances shall provide. They shall be called upon recommendation of the Pastors/Elders and by a three-fourths majority vote of the members present at any business meeting of the Church.
Their job description shall be prepared by the Senior Pastor in consultation with the other Pastors/Elders. Their relationship may only be dissolved upon not less than 30 days’ notice given by either a two-thirds vote of the Church in favor of removal or by the Associate Pastor himself.
Sub-section 4: Elders
Elders shall be elected by a two-thirds majority of the voting members present at the annual meeting for a term of 3 years. There shall be a sufficient number of elders to care for the affairs of the church (three being the minimum) and there shall be at least one more than the number of salaried Pastors. The terms are to alternate so that not more than one- third of the elders are to be elected at each annual meeting, except when irregular vacancies occur.
It shall be the duty of each Elder to be responsible for the spiritual encouragement of families of the Church through visits, prayer and example.
It shall be the duty of the Elders to distribute the elements of the Lord's Supper, to solicit and disburse funds for benevolent needs, to assist the salaried Pastors, to visit the sick, and in general to counsel, cooperate with and aid the Senior Pastor in administering the spiritual interests of the Church.
Sub-section 5: Deacons:
The roles and responsibilities of the Deacons shall be as follows:
a. The Deacons shall have general oversight of the business affairs of the Church. They shall also acquaint themselves with civil laws pertaining to churches, seeing that such laws are obeyed. They shall be responsible for the safekeeping of legal documents and be the advisors of the church in legal matters or matters pertaining to the purchase or sale of property. They shall also propose the annual budget including salaries of all paid staff.
b. Their qualifications are those given in Acts 6:1-6 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13.
c. Deacons shall be elected to serve for three years, one-third the number being elected each year. No Deacon may serve two terms in succession. There shall be a sufficient number of deacons to care for the affairs of the church, three being the minimum.
d. The Deacons shall appoint from amongst themselves individuals for the following Church offices:
1. A Church Treasurer who shall maintain a current fund and a building fund and shall disburse monies only by check and in accordance with a church-approved budget or by vote of the congregation. He shall prepare written monthly and annual reports.
2. A Financial Secretary shall keep a record of all monies received and turn the funds over to the Treasurer. He shall keep a record of all tithes and offerings and send an annual statement to each donor.
3. A Church Clerk shall keep an accurate record of all business meetings, draw up all church documents, and statistical reports, keep an accurate record of the church membership, reporting annually on the same, and maintain an up-to-date church directory.
Section H: The Lord's Supper
The Lord's Supper shall be observed at least monthly during a regular or special service of the church.
Section I: Support of the Church
The work of the Church shall be supported by tithes, offerings and contributions.
Section J: Church Government
Sub-section 1: Authority
The government of this church is vested in the membership. (It is a democratic form of government.)
Sub-section 2: The Accounting Year
The accounting year will be the calendar year: (January 1st though December 31st).
Sub-section 3: Nominating Committee
The Nominating Committee shall consist of a minimum of five church members of which no more than two may be pastors, elders or deacons. They shall be commissioned to prepare and present at the annual business meeting a list of qualified and willing nominees for the various elected offices and commissions. The members of the Nominating Committee shall be presented to the church for approval at a regular business meeting to be held no later than mid-November.
Sub-section 4: Annual Meeting
The annual meeting shall be held after the evening service on the second Sunday in January, at which time all officers shall present written reports and new officers shall be elected. Officers serving for the current year shall continue in office through the annual meeting.
Sub-section 5: Regular Business Meetings
Regular business meetings shall be held at least three times a year at regular intervals through the year. The dates of these meetings for the upcoming year will be set by the church staff or planning commission and will be announced at the annual meeting and published in the annual report. All matters of business should be submitted to the Pastors/Elders and posted in a public place ten days prior to the meeting.
Sub-section 6: Special Business Meeting
A special business meeting may be called by the Pastors/Elders, Deacons or ten voting members, as the occasion may arise, providing the announcement has been made at 3 previous public services.
Sub-section 7: Quorum
Any business meeting of the Church shall require a minimum of 30 members of voting age (18 years of age or older) to constitute a quorum to do business. All questions shall be decided by a two-thirds vote, unless otherwise designated in this constitution.
Sub-section 8: Rules of Order
All questions of parliamentary law shall be decided by Roberts Rules of Order except where contrary to this document or the spirit and letter of the Bible.
Sub-section 9: Dissolution
Upon dissolution of the New Hope Church of Oak Lawn, its assets shall be distributed in accordance with the Articles of Incorporation, subject to the vote of the church.
Section K: Emergency Procedures
In the event of natural disaster or political upheaval, this church shall continue to fulfill its Biblical responsibilities.
If it is impossible to hold business meetings at stated times the Pastors/Elders shall call meetings at the most feasible times. Notice of such meeting shall be furnished to all members possible in the best manner possible. A quorum shall consist of those members present. Multiple meetings may be held if necessary, each under the direction of a pastor or a member appointed by a pastor. The several meetings could act on any single matter with the total vote being binding.
In such time, a member's loyalty to Christ and His church should be intensified. Circumstances will not be an excuse for failure to conform to God's Word. Church discipline shall be carefully practiced. Proof of a member's obeying any government in any matter contrary to the Scriptures (even if the civil penalty be severe) is adequate grounds for exclusion from the membership (Acts 5:29).
No constitutional item shall be legalistically followed if it hinders the Biblical program of the Church in adverse times. None of the provisions is to be construed as releasing us from any Bible doctrine or practice.
Article IV: Amendments
This constitution may be altered or amended by an 80% vote of the members present at any regular meeting, provided that the proposed amendment shall have been presented at two regular services and an announcement made in the Sunday service prior to the business meeting when such change shall be voted on.