Report of the

Study Committee on:

Women Serving as Deacons


Introduction

            In our initial assignment we were to answer the question: “Does the Scripture allow women to serve as deacons?” Our report in 2005 answered this question affirmatively. Likewise the Conference approved that recommendation at first reading. At that time, this committee also cautioned the presentation of new legislation by this comment: “Churches in which the leadership is satisfied that the Bible permits women deacons should be allowed to do so. The study committee wants to emphasize that we think Annual Conference should not require the practice of using women in the role of deacon. However, the committee encourages that the door be open to this biblical practice.”

            In that light, our assignment by the 122nd and 123rd Annual Conferences was to define “minister” more precisely with the intent of providing “legislation covering the entire Article 204.” Footnote

            Before presenting the proposed legislation, the following material is presented in anticipation of the fear that underlies much of these discussions: Is allowing women to be deacons the first step in the “slippery slope” for allowing women to be elders? The core concept around which most of the material culminates is this sentence: “Moreover, though the English word deacon has roots in the Greek word for ministry or minister Footnote , this etymological connection gives no basis for women being elders.” (Proposed in section 204-2.2) Although an attempt has been made to clarify and change terminology, the title “minister” has been kept as an appropriate title for the elder who holds that position.


So, what is in this massive report?

            1.         An explanation of the theological flow of the rewording of the legislation.

            2.         An explanation of using the word “position” instead of “office.”

            3.         Biblical evidence for having men only serve as elders.

            4.         The proposed legislation.

                        a.         The small, 9-point print is untouched legislation. Sometimes printed in both columns just for clarity sake.

                        b.         Left column – proposed legislation. The proposed legislation includes newly- proposed changes and second reading changes from this committee PLUS italic paragraphs for second reading from the other study committees.

                        c.         Right column - present form of the F&O we are proposing to change. Some words are highlighted to signify where the change occurred.


I. An Explanation of the Flow of the Proposed Legislation.

            The 204 section of legislation has been renumbered to reflect a logical/theological flow of thought. Basically it flows like this:

A. Elders

1.The authority of the plurality of elder-rule; the work of elders; men only.

2.Ministers and Pastoral Staff - elders working at the behest of elder board.

a.Deacons working under the authority of the elders.

                                    b.        Church Staff hired by the church and working under the authority of the elders.


            To explain more fully: our Article of Faith 18-3 states well, “The Head of the Church administers the affairs of His body through overseers chosen by Himself and selected by the people…” Hence, the only singular administrative function in the local church belongs to Jesus (1Pet. 5:1,4; Col. 1:18). Yet He engages a plurality of elders to get that work done.

            “Even churches that claim to be governed by a plurality of elders have redefined eldership so that its original purpose and noble standing have, in practice, been eclipsed by the ordained pastor and his staff.” Footnote The study group wanted to clearly avoid this misunderstanding.

            Elders of NT churches exercised freedom in assigning specific tasks or areas of responsibility to individuals among the eldership and within the local body. The proposed legislation describes the broader responsibilities of the plurality of elders. Within the local church, some responsibilities are reserved for the elders alone while other ministries are transferable outside the plurality of elders. The idea to let the legislation be outlined in such a fashion that it highlights the theological importance of elder-rule church government seems practical and perspicuous. Among other things, pastors would be seen to serve more clearly at the behest of the elder board. Elder boards would be free to formulate their pastoral staff, church staff, boards and committees according to local ministry needs. Men performing tasks that include responsibilities reserved for elders would be required to be elders; others would not.

            The legislation champions the plurality of elder-rule while at the same time recognizes the position of “minister” in our local churches. Strauch describes the principle “first among equals” when he points out that Peter and John bore no special title or formal distinctions from the other apostles and likewise elders who receive double honor formed no official class or receive no special title. “The advantage of the principle of “first among equals” is that it allows for functional, gift-based diversity within the eldership team without creating an official, superior office over fellow elders. Footnote Some changes already in progress in our denomination would be validated by this biblical foundation -- a pastor not having to serve as chairman of the elder board; elders not having to sit on every committee.

            The overall result would be that the appreciation of the position of elder would be increased.


II. An Explanation of Using the Word “Position” Instead of “Office.”

            Throughout the present Faith and Order, the word “office” is used to denote the positions of elder and deacon in the church. We have purposely replaced the word “office” with the word “position” or, “elder” or “deacon” when appropriate.

            The primary reason why we replaced the word “office” is because in our present, everyday language the word “office” conveys authority. This is precisely the idea to avoid when talking about the position of deacon - especially in discussions and new legislation regarding women as deacons. The new term avoids any kind of linguistic hints that the position of deacon is more than just a position of service and not of ruling or authority.

            Moreover, the terms “office” or “officer” are not used in the New Testament for these positions. Although some English translations include the term “office” in 1 Timothy 3:1 there is not a corresponding word in the Greek text.


III. Biblical Evidence for Having Men Only Serve as Elders.

            Why do we believe that the Scripture teaches that only men can hold the position of elder in the church?

            1.         In the list of qualifications for elder in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 there is no corresponding mention made of women’s qualifications, as there is in the discussion of qualifications for deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.

            2.         There is no mention of a female elder in the New Testament, unlike the specific mentioning of a female deacon in Romans 16:1. Footnote

            3.         There is a specific prohibition given in Scripture to women teaching and exercising authority over men – 1 Timothy 2:12.

            “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” We recognize that there are some disagreements over the interpretation of this passage; specifically, whether it is one command or two. However, whether 1 Timothy 2:12 is viewed as one or two commands, the conclusion of both interpretations remains the same – women should not teach in a way that exercises authority over men. Teaching is really an issue extraneous to our purpose. The question, “Can women teach men?” does not directly relate to our assignment. But, the verse clearly excludes women as elders because eldership requires “exercising authority” in the church.

            Teaching is an issue because it MAY infringe upon exercising authority. Moreover, previous committees which have studied this subject have concluded the same in 1977 Footnote and 2001 Footnote .

            Again, we recognize the different exegetical approaches to the verse but all come to same conclusion: women are excluded from the position of elder yet are allowed to teach in some capacity which does not exercise authority in the church (nor gives the impression that a woman is vying for a position of leadership in the church). How this teaching is worked out culturally in each church is a question outside of the realm of this report.

            Moreover, the concepts of “quietness” and “silence” enjoined on women in the New Testament strongly correlate to the concept of male-only eldership. Footnote

            4.         From Old Testament precedents of male leadership in the home, community and spiritual life to practices of the synagogue in the first century, women were not promoted to positions of spiritual authority. Furthermore, until the last century no women were accepted as elders or pastors in the local church. Church history confirms that the saints throughout the ages have come to the same conclusion. Footnote


IV. The Proposed Legislation.

 

1.         Whereas, the 122nd Annual Conference (2005) approved the possibility of women serving as deacons at first reading (2005 Yearbook, p. 34); and

Whereas, the Conference asked that study be made of the Principles of Order "to provide legislation covering the entire Article 204 making clear distinction between the qualifications for the offices of elders and deacons and a clarification of the word "minister" (2005 Yearbook, p. 34); and

Whereas, in doing that work the Committee identified other needed changes in Sections 201, 202, 204, 401-1, 401-2; therefore be it

Resolved, that “officers” and “church officers” be changed to “elders” in sections 201-5 and 201-6 as a First Reading revision to the Faith & Order.

 

2.         Resolved, that “pastor” be changed to “elders” in section 203-3.2 (5) as a First Reading revision to the Faith & Order.

 

3.         Resolved, that the new title and introduction “Article 204 - Elders, Deacons, Staff” be adopted as a First Reading revision to the Faith & Order.

 

4.         Resolved, that the new Article 204-1 Elders, 204-1.2, 204-1.3, and 204-1.4 be adopted as a First Reading revision to the Faith & Order.

 

5.         Resolved, that word “office” be changed to “position” in Article 204-1.6 as a First Reading revision to the Faith & Order.

 

6.         Resolved, that the new Article 204-2.1 and Article-204-2.2 be adopted as a First Reading to the Faith & Order to replace the former Article 204-1.1 through 204-1.3.

 

7.         Resolved, that Article 204-4.1 and 204-4.3 be adopted as a First Reading revision to the Faith & Order at second reading with additional word changes for “office” to become “position”.

 

8.         Resolved, that the new Article 204-4.2 and Article 204-4.3 be adopted as a First Reading addition to the Faith & Order.

 

9.         Resolved, that “lay elder” be changed simply to “elder”, that “office” be changed to “position”, and “exercise” be changed to “hold” in Articles 401-1.1, 401-1.8 and 401.19 to be adopted as a First Reading revision to the Faith & Order.

 

10.       Resolved, that changes listed under #2, pg. 195 of the 2006 Yearbook for Article 401-2 be approved at Second Reading. 

 

11.       Resolved, that “office” be changed to “position” and “exercise” be changed to “hold” in 401-2 as a First Reading revision to the Faith & Order.

 

12.       Resolved, that “office” be changed to “position” in 404 as a First Reading revision to the Faith & Order.


























 

Women Serving as Deacons Study Committee: Carl C. Cassel, Chairman; Michael J. Tannous, Secretary; Clifford B. Boone, David W. Eisenhower, Richard A. Moyer, Dr. Robert C. Newman, Ralph E. Ritter.


Rewording Articles

 


 































201-5   That our Lord, the Head of the Church, for the edification of the body and the evangelization of the world, has appointed elders in the visible church to preach the Gospel, administer the ordinances, and exercise discipline.


201-6   That, although the character, qualifications, and authority of the elders are described in the Holy Scriptures, the electing of persons to oversee shall rest with the body.




























































































()To pray daily for the elders and the ministries of the Church (Rom.10:1; Mat.9:38; Acts 4:29; Eph.6:18,19; Acts 13:2 4)
















Article 204 - Elders, Deacons, Staff


      Having called and assembled His church, our Lord provides for the leadership and care of each particular church by providing elders and deacons and enabling them to do their work. Elders are responsible to rule the church and must be qualified men, and deacons are responsible to serve the church and may be qualified men or women. Elders and deacons are the only terms describing continuing positions in the New Testament church. Those who serve in these ways do not create their positions, nor do their positions clothe the individuals with power, but the Lord endows individuals with gifts and qualifications (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1; 1 Peter 5) that enable them to do their work as God Himself has designed.


204-1 Elders


204-1.1 In the New Testament church Christ has provided men to hold the position of elder to oversee the life of His Church; those whom He commissions He enables to shepherd His Church.


204-1.2 The position of elder is given broad responsibility and authority in the New Testament. Because they are to be examples to the flock in godliness and to govern well, they are called elders. Because they are responsible for oversight and administration of the life of the church, they are called overseers or bishops. Because they are to care for and feed God’s people, they are called pastors (shepherds). Because they serve the people of the church, they are called ministers.


204-1.3 All elders together share the authority in and responsibility for the life of the church. Some elders are gifted and recognized as teaching elders; their primary authority and responsibility is in the Word and doctrine and secondarily in oversight. Other elders are gifted and recognized as ruling elders; their primary authority and responsibility is in oversight and secondarily in the Word and doctrine.


204-1.4 The work of the elders is to shepherd the flock. This work includes:

Guarding - spiritually protect the people by helping them understand truth and warn against falsehood (Acts 20:28).

Overseeing - administrate, coordinate plans and programs, and make those decisions that impact the entire congregation (1 Tim 5:17; 1 Pet 5:2).

Discipling - train, admonish and teach with special attention given to producing additional leaders (1 Thes 5:12; 2 Tim 2:2).

Supporting Bpray for those in the congregation who are Asick@ (or weak) physically, emotionally or spiritually (Jas 5:13-16).

Teaching - recognize the role truth plays in releasing people from the grip of sin (1 Tim 5:17; Titus 1:9; John 8:31-32).

Evangelizing - purposefully share the Gospel with unbelievers, (2 Tim 4:5).

Praying - devote themselves to prayer (Acts 6:4). Our Lord=s example (John 17) and His teaching concerning His post-ascension work on earth (John 14:12-14) leave elders no option except to consecrate themselves to intercessory prayer on behalf of their flock.

Serving - the elders are to be aware of their own spiritual gifts and be enthusiastically using them to serve the church (1 Tim 4:14; 1 Pet 4:10-11).


204-1.5 Elders, as leaders of the people, are chosen by the membership of the church on the basis of Scriptural qualifications.


[Second Reading & First Reading for number change]

204-1.6 Because of the qualifications and dignity of the position of Elder, each Particular Church careful consideration shall be given to ensure that a man who has been divorced or who has married a divorced woman has Biblically resolved issues in family, the church, and community raised by the divorce and has demonstrated since the divorce, stability of character and is presently characterized as above reproach, and if married, faithful to and exclusively committed to his wife.

204-2 Ministers


204-2.1 The Lord of the Church has given gifts to men called ministers in His church. This position is the first in the church in both dignity and usefulness. Although all elders are to be able to teach, some elders are specially gifted for teaching and preaching. The Lord of the Church has given those gifts to men we call ministers.


204-2.2 Terminology. The term “minister” is not used in Scripture to identify the specific position of elder, but to indicate the service to Christ and His people given by those who hold this position. "Pastor" is used as a gift to the church. Although neither "minister" nor "pastor" is used in Scripture as a specific position, these titles are used and are interchangeable in practice for those men we call ministers.

         Moreover, though the English word “deacon” has roots in the Greek word for “ministry” or “minister”, this etymological connection gives no basis for women being elders. A minister or pastor in the BFC must hold credentials in the BFC.



204-2.3 The Qualifications for the Ministry. The Christian ministry is a divine calling that makes high and holy demands on those who aspire to this work. Although the minister of the gospel preaches Christ and not himself, the personality of the minister is involved in the proclamation of the gospel and the performance of pastoral functions. It is imperative, therefore, to give heed to the qualifications imbedded in the Word of God. To minister effectively to his generation, a man must have certain spiritual, personal, physical, and educational qualifications.


Spiritual Qualifications.


(1) The Christian minister must give evidence of having been born again, of having the assurance of salvation, of being inwardly persuaded that he is called of God to the Christian ministry, and of being willing to make the necessary commitment.

(2) To minister in the name of Christ one must possess the gifts of the Holy Spirit and have a knowledge of God's plan and will.


Personal Qualifications.

[SECOND READING]


(1) The minister must have a love for the study of Scripture inasmuch as his primary function is to be pastor -teacher.

(2) The minister must possess qualities of leadership and administration, together with a willingness to assume responsibility inasmuch as he is an elder who numbers ruling among his duties.

(3) The minister, being accountable to God, must have a genuine love for people, exercise patience in dealing with them, be receptive to criticism and correction, and remain steadfast in his duties inasmuch as he is an under-shepherd of the flock of God.

(4) The minister must not be a lover of money inasmuch as he is to be a lover of God.

(5) The minister must be willing to forgo personal rights and privileges for the sake of ministering to others inasmuch as he is to be an example of a servant.

(6) Because of the qualifications and dignity of the office of pastor, when considering a man for ordination, the Ministerial Candidate Committee and Credentials Committee shall give careful consideration to ensure that a man who has been divorced or has married a divorced woman has Biblically resolved the issues in family, the church, and community raised by the divorce, and has demonstrated since the divorce stability of character and is presently characterized as above reproach, and if married, faithful to and exclusively committed to his wife.


Physical Qualifications.


              The Christian minister must be a mature man who is physically and mentally fit, being free from impairments that would vitiate the effectiveness of his ministry. His physical and mental fitness should give promise that he will be able to bear the demands of the ministry. To help in determining one's fitness, a questionnaire supplied by the Ministerial Candidate Committee is to be completed by a medical doctor and returned to the secretary of the Committee. - Delete


Educational Qualifications.


(1) All men desiring to be ordained to the ministry of the BFC shall have been graduated from college/university and are encouraged to pursue a seminary degree. The minimum requirement is 3 years of theological training or its approved equivalent. A man may be an applicant or candidate during the period of his training, but the 3 years of theological study shall be completed before he becomes a probationer. Exceptions to these rules may be made for some mature men; however, in no case will a man be recommended for ordination examination before completing the equivalent of 3 years of theological training.


(2) Candidates for the ministry should be men of broad reading interests, giving evidence of understanding and practical wisdom.



204-3 Pastoral Staff


204-3.1 The pastoral staff of a Particular Church is composed of, and limited to, those men who are serving as ministers in the BFC. For an individual to serve as a minister in the BFC, he must be ordained by or have had his previous ordination recognized by the BFC or he must be under the care of the Ministerial Candidate Committee.


204-4 Deacons


204-4.1 The position of deacon is presented in the Scriptures as a position not of ruling, but of service. A deacon should be a person of deep spiritual life, exemplary conduct, and sound judgment (1Tim.3; Acts 6:1-8). This position is one of sympathetic service to the church and to the distressed, friendless, or sick, after the example of our Lord Jesus Christ.


204-4.2 Those who serve in this position should be known for their trustworthiness, their temperance, their faith, and their blameless life.


204-4.3 Deacons, as servants of the church, are chosen by the membership of the church on the basis of Scriptural qualifications.


204-4.3 Because of the qualifications and dignity of the position of Deacon, each Particular Church shall give careful consideration to ensure that a person who has been divorced or who has married a divorced person is presently characterized as above reproach, and if married, faithful to and exclusively committed to their spouse.


204-5 Church Staff


204-5.1 The church staff of a Particular Church is composed of individuals who are employed by that Particular Church. The church staff shall include the pastoral staff, but is not limited to the pastoral staff. Others included in the church staff would be secretaries, sexton, director of women’s ministries, director of children and youth, choir director, etc. The title, “Pastor”, when it is used in association with a person that is occupying a position on a church staff, is to be reserved for those who are members of the pastoral staff (see 204-3).


401-1   The Board of Elders


[Second Reading]

401-1.1 The Board of Elders shall be composed of the pastoral staff and all of the active elders of the congregation. The active elders shall designate at least one individual of the pastoral staff as a voting member of the Board of Elders, and shall designate others of the pastoral staff as either voting or non-voting members. The elders shall be elected by majority vote of the congregation. They shall be mature men who meet the qualifications of Scripture (1Tim.3; Titus 1; 1 Pet.5). If the congregation has more qualified elders than are needed to serve at one time, the number of active elders shall be determined by the congregation by ballot vote upon recommendation of the Board of Elders.


[Second Reading]

401-1.2 The elders shall elect one of its members to serve as chairman and one as secretary. Two thirds of the membership of the board shall constitute a quorum.






401-1.8 The Election and Installation of Elders. Every congregation shall elect elders, in keeping with the qualifications set forth in the Scriptures. Elders must be male members in full communion in the church in which they are to hold this position.


The term of service shall be decided by the Particular Church by congregational vote but shall not be for less than three years, except when a Particular Church desires a probationary term of service for newly chosen elders. When possible, the Board of Elders shall be divided into not fewer than three classes, as determined by the congregational vote in each of the Particular Churches. When a church chooses to elect elders for an unlimited term, the requirement for classes does not apply.

      In the event of a vacancy by death, resignation, or removal, a man may be elected to complete the unexpired term.

     When a man has been elected to this position and has declared his willingness to accept its responsibilities, he shall be set apart in the following manner. In a service of worship, the minister shall state in a concise manner the warrant and nature of the position of elder, together with the spiritual qualifications required for its exercise and the duties to be fulfilled. He shall then ask the candidate, in the presence of the congregation, the following questions:

(1) Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and conduct?

(2) Are you in agreement with the Articles of Faith of the Bible Fellowship Church?

(3) Will you endeavor to follow the Principles of Order of the Bible Fellowship Church?

(4) Do you accept the position of elder in the congregation and promise faithfully to perform all of the duties thereof?

(5) Do you promise to promote the purity, peace and unity of the church?

     After the elder-elect has answered these questions in the affirmative, the minister shall ask the members of the church the following questions:

(1) Do you, the members of the church, acknowledge and receive this brother as an elder?

(2) Do you promise to yield him all honor, encouragement, and obedience in the Lord to which his position entitles him?

     After all members of the church have answered these questions in the affirmative by holding up their right hands, the minister shall proceed to set apart the candidate by prayer to the position of elder and shall give to him and to the congregation an exhortation suited to the occasion.


401-1.9 The Board of Elders in each Particular Church shall determine which men are in agreement with the Articles of Faith and who will endeavor to follow the Principles of Order of the BFC. Each Elder shall annually declare in writing his agreement with the Articles of Faith, and his willingness to follow the Principles of Order of the BFC, and this declaration be included in the Board of Elders Report to the Congregation. No man can be divested of this position except by deposition for failure to maintain standards of doctrine and life in keeping with the dignity of the position.

 

200 - FORM OF GOVERNMENT


Article 201 - Preliminary Principles


201-1   That in seeking to be founded on the Word of God in practice as well as doctrine, the BFC sets forth this form of government as that which is in its judgment most clearly in keeping with the Holy Scriptures.


201-2   That the formulation of faith and practice must be in submission to the Holy Scriptures because God has not bound the conscience to the doctrines and commandments of men when they exceed or contradict His Word.


201-3   That every union of Particular Churches shall have the right, in harmony with the preceding principles, to formulate a faith and order that shall seek to provide a basis of fellowship always in submission to the written Word of God.


201-4   That this form of government shall seek to make this body a church that operates by written standards, which is not, however, to be understood as being opposed to love or spirit, but rather opposed to disorder and injustices that can so easily pervert right human relationships when authority is personal or when there is no accepted way of deciding issues that inevitably arise among men, however deeply they may be committed to Jesus Christ and to one another.


201-5   That our Lord, the Head of the Church, for the edification of the body and the evangelization of the world, has appointed officers in the visible church to preach the Gospel, administer the ordinances, and exercise discipline.


201-6   That, although the character, qualifications, and authority of church officers are described in the Holy Scriptures, the electing of persons to oversee shall rest with the body.


201-7   That careful adherence to these principles will contribute to the glory and happiness of the church in that it can own the blessing of our Lord, the Head of the Church universal, and also the approbation of an impartial public.


Article 202 - The Church


202-1   The Church -- Universal and Particular


202-1.1 Jesus Christ has established His rule on Earth in the church. The universal church consists of all those persons, in every nation, who make profession of faith in Christ and yield submission to Him and His rule. Because this multitude cannot meet in one place for worship and fellowship, the Scriptures indicate that these believers shall be divided into many Particular Churches.


202-1.2 A Particular Church consists of professing believers voluntarily associated in submission to the Holy Scriptures, for divine worship, godly living, and evangelism. The Particular Churches seek to demonstrate their participation in the church universal by forming unions with other Particular Churches that have a similar understanding of doctrine and organization.


202-2   Responsibilities of the Church Toward Members


202-2.1 Each Particular Church has been directed by Christ to minister corporately to the needs of individual members. The Elders of each congregation shall endeavor to establish a program that shall honor the body of Christ in fulfilling the following responsibilities toward members:


(1)To implement the corporate worship of God (John 4:23,24; Eph.5:19,20; Col.3:16)

(2)To promote the development of Christian character and conduct (Rom.6:1-23; 12:9-21; 14:1; 15:7; Gal.5:16-26; Eph.4:22-5:21)

(3)To maintain purity of life and doctrine (1 Cor.5:1-13; 1Tim.1:3-11; Titus 2:1-15; 3:1-11; Heb.13:9; 2Jo. 10,11; Jude 3,4; Rev.2:2,14,15,20)

(4)To instruct and train for Christian service and to give opportunity to serve (Rom.12:1-8; 1Cor.12:1-31; Eph.4:8-16; Mat.28:18-20; 2Tim.2:2)

(5)To impart a vision for evangelism and missions (Mat.9:36-38; 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Rom.9:1ff; Rom.10:1ff)

(6)To assist in building good relationships in family (Eph.5:22; 6:4; 1Pe.3:1-7), employment (Eph.6:5-9; 1Pe.3:18-21), community and state (Rom.13:1-7; 1Pe.2:13-17)

(7)To promote fellowship and hospitality (Rom.12:13; Heb.13:2,16; 1Pe.4:9; 3Jo.5-8)

(8)To minister comfort (2 Cor.1:3-7)

(9)To promote unity and harmony (1Cor.1:10-13; Eph.4:3)

(10)To care for the needy (Acts 6:1-8; 1Tim.5:3-16)

(11)To settle disagreements and administer discipline (Mat.18:15-20; 1Cor.5:1-13; 2Thes.3:14-15)


202-3   Qualifications and Duties of Church Membership


202-3.1 Qualifications. Anyone desiring to be a member of the BFC shall give testimony and evidence of faith in Christ and the new birth. He shall be in sympathy with the F&O, be baptized by immersion subsequent to salvation, and manifest holiness toward God and separation from the world (Acts 2:41-47).


202-3.2 Duties. Commitment to Christ and the BFC shall be manifested by the joyful acceptance of the following responsibilities:


(1)To live in keeping with the doctrines and standards of the Church as found in the F&O (John 17:15-17; 1Cor.5:6-11; 6:14-18; Eph.5:26,27; Titus 3:10; James 1:26,27; 2Jo.9,10)

(2)To exercise willingly one's spiritual gifts within the body (Eph.4:11-16; 1Cor.12:4-31; Rom.12:3-8)

(3)To minister under the direction of the Church (Acts 20:28; Heb.13:7; 1Pe.5:2,3; 1Tim.3:1; 5:17)

(4)To bear the message of the Church to the outside world (Mat.28:19,20; Acts 1:8; Mat.5:13-16)

(5)To pray daily for the pastor and the ministries of the Church (Rom.10:1; Mat.9:38; Acts 4:29; Eph.6:18,19; Acts 13:2-4)

(6)To support the program of the Church financially with the regular giving of tithes and offerings (Mal.3:10; 1Cor.9:13,14; 16:1,2; 2Cor.8:7-9; 9:6,7)

(7)To submit to those God has ordained as rulers in the Church (Heb.13:17; cf. also references under #3 above)

(8)To attend faithfully the stated meetings of the Church (Acts 2:42; Heb.10:25)

(9)To observe the Lord's Supper (1Cor.11:23-28)

(10)To demonstrate mutual care and concern for the other members of the Church (John 13:34,35; 15:12,17; Gal.6:1,2,10; James 5:9,16)


203-1 through 203-6 – no changes.


Article 204 - The Officers of the Church

 

Having called and assembled His church our Lord provides for the government of each Particular Church by conveying authority to officers whom He enables. The continuing officers in the church are Ministers, ruling Elders, and Deacons. The endowed man does not create the office, nor does the office clothe the man with power, but the Lord endows the man with gifts and qualifications that enable him to fill the office that God Himself has created.







204-2 Elders


204-2.1 In the New Testament church, Christ has provided men called elders, whom He has enabled and commissioned to govern with ministers in His church.














204-2.2 Men who bear this office share equally with the ministers the authority in and responsibility for the life of the church; but in contrast to ministers, whose primary authority and responsibility are in the Word and doctrine and secondarily in ruling, the primary authority and responsibility of elders are ruling and governing and secondarily in the Word and doctrine.



204-2.3 Those who fill this office should be examples to the flock of their sound faith, their blameless life and conduct, and their wisdom and discretion.



























240-2.4 Elders, as leaders of the people, are chosen by the membership of the church on the basis of Scriptural qualifications.




204-2.5 Because of the qualifications and dignity of the office of Elder, each particular church shall give careful consideration to ensure that a man who has been divorced or who has married a divorced woman is presently characterized as above reproach, and if married, faithful to and exclusively committed to his wife.




204-1 Ministers


204-1.1 The terms “minister” and “pastor” are interchangeable.


204-1.2 A minister or pastor in the BFC must be holding or seeking credentials in the BFC.




204-1.3 The Office of Minister. The Lord of the Church has given gifts to men called ministers in His church. The office of the ministry is the first in the church in both dignity and usefulness. The one who fills the office is described in the Scriptures by several terms. Because he has oversight of the flock of Christ, he is termed bishop. Because he feeds them with spiritual food, he is termed pastor (shepherd). Because he serves Christ in the church, he is termed minister. Because it is his duty to be an example to the flock in godliness and to govern well in the church of Christ, he is termed elder. Because he is sent to declare the will of God to sinners and to beseech them to be reconciled to God through Christ, he is termed evangelist.


204-1.4 The Qualifications for the Ministry. The Christian ministry is a divine calling that makes high and holy demands on those who aspire to this work. Although the minister of the gospel preaches Christ and not himself, the personality of the minister is involved in the proclamation of the gospel and the performance of pastoral functions. It is imperative, therefore, to give heed to the qualifications imbedded in the Word of God. To minister effectively to his generation a man must have certain spiritual, personal, physical, and educational qualifications.


Spiritual Qualifications.


(1) The Christian minister must give evidence of having been born again, of having the assurance of salvation, of being inwardly persuaded that he is called of God to the Christian ministry, and of being willing to make the necessary commitment.

(2) To minister in the name of Christ one must possess the gifts of the Holy Spirit and have a knowledge of God's plan and will.


Personal Qualifications.



(1) Inasmuch as the primary function of the minister is to proclaim the Word of God, the minister must have a love for study and an ability to teach.

(2) Inasmuch as the minister is an elder who numbers among his duties ruling and teaching, he must possess the qualities of leadership and administration, together with a willingness to assume responsibility.

(3) Inasmuch as the minister is an under-shepherd in the flock of God, he must have a genuine love for people, exercise patience in dealing with people, be impervious to criticism yet sensitive to correction, and be fearless.

(4) Inasmuch as the minister is to be an example, he must not be a lover of money and must be willing to forgo personal rights and privileges for the sake of ministering to others.














Physical Qualifications.


The Christian minister must be a mature man who is physically and mentally fit, being free from impairments that would vitiate the effectiveness of his ministry. His physical and mental fitness should give promise that he will be able to bear the demands of the ministry. To help in determining one's fitness, a questionnaire supplied by the Ministerial Candidate Committee is to be completed by a medical doctor and returned to the secretary of the Committee.


Educational Qualifications.


(1) All men desiring to be ordained to the ministry of the BFC shall have been graduated from college/university and are encouraged to pursue a seminary degree. The minimum requirement is 3 years of theological training or its approved equivalent. A man may be an applicant or candidate during the period of his training, but the 3 years of theological study shall be completed before he becomes a probationer. Exceptions to these rules may be made for some mature men; however, in no case will a man be recommended for ordination examination before completing the equivalent of 3 years of theological training.


(2) Candidates for the ministry should be men of broad reading interests, giving evidence of understanding and practical wisdom.



204-4 Pastoral Staff


204-4.1 The pastoral staff of a Particular Church is composed of, and limited to, those men who are serving as ministers in the BFC. For an individual to serve as a minister in the BFC, he must be ordained by or have had his previous ordination recognized by the BFC or he must be under the care of the Ministerial Candidate Committee.


204-3 Deacons


204-3.1 The office of deacon is presented in the Scriptures as an office not of ruling, but of service. A deacon should be a man of deep spiritual life, exemplary conduct, and sound judgment (1Tim.3; Acts 6:1-8). His office is one of sympathetic service to the church and to the distressed, friendless, or sick, after the example of our Lord Jesus Christ.










204-3.2 Because of the qualifications and dignity of the office of Deacon, each particular church shall give careful consideration to ensure that a man who has been divorced or who has married a divorced woman is presently characterized as above reproach, and if married, faithful to and exclusively committed to his wife.


204-5 Church Staff


204-5.1 The church staff of a Particular Church is composed of individuals who are employed by that Particular Church. The church staff shall include the pastoral staff, but is not limited to the pastoral staff. Others included in the church staff would be secretaries, sexton, director of women’s ministries, director of children and youth, choir director, etc. The title, “Pastor”, when it is used in association with a person that is occupying a position on a church staff, is to be reserved for those who are members of the pastoral staff (see 204-4).


401-1   The Board of Elders



401-1.1 The Board of Elders shall be composed of the minister and all of the active elders of the congregation. The lay elders shall be elected by majority vote of the congregation. They shall be mature men who meet the qualifications of Scripture (1Tim.3; Titus 1; 1Pe.5). If the congregation has more qualified elders than are needed to serve at one time, the number of active elders shall be determined by the congregation by ballot vote upon recommendation of the Board of Elders.







401-1.2 The minister shall serve as chairman of the Board of Elders; the board shall elect one of its members to serve as chairman and one as secretary. Two thirds of the membership of the board shall constitute a quorum.


403-1.3 to 403-1.7 – no changes.


401-1.8 The Election and Installation of Elders. Every congregation shall elect elders, in keeping with the qualifications set forth in the Scriptures. Elders must be male members in full communion in the church in which they are to hold this exercise their office.


The term of office shall be decided by the Particular Church by congregational vote but shall not be for less than three years, except when a Particular Church desires a probationary term of service for newly chosen elders. When possible, the Board of Elders shall be divided into not fewer than three classes, as determined by the congregational vote in each of the Particular Churches. When a church chooses to elect elders for an unlimited term of office, the requirement for classes does not apply.

     In the event of a vacancy by death, resignation, or removal, a man may be elected to complete the unexpired term of office.

     When a man has been elected to this office and has declared his willingness to accept its responsibilities, he shall be set apart in the following manner. In a service of worship, the minister shall state in a concise manner the warrant and nature of the position office of elder, together with the spiritual qualifications required for its exercise and the duties to be fulfilled. He shall then ask the candidate, in the presence of the congregation, the following questions:

(1) Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and conduct?

(2) Are you in agreement with the Articles of Faith of the BFC?

(3) Will you endeavor to follow the Principles of Order of the BFC?

(4) Do you accept the office of elder in the congregation and promise faithfully to perform all of the duties thereof?

(5) Do you promise to promote the purity, peace and unity of the church?

     After the elder-elect has answered these questions in the affirmative, the minister shall ask the members of the church the following questions:

(1) Do you, the members of the church, acknowledge and receive this brother as an elder?

(2) Do you promise to yield him all honor, encouragement, and obedience in the Lord to which his position office entitles him?

     After all members of the church have answered these questions in the affirmative by holding up their right hands, the minister shall proceed to set apart the candidate by prayer to the office of elder and shall give to him and to the congregation an exhortation suited to the occasion.


401-1.9 The Board of Elders in each Particular Church shall determine which men are in agreement with the Articles of Faith and who will endeavor to follow the Principles of Order of the BFC. Each Elder shall annually declare in writing his agreement with the Articles of Faith, and his willingness to follow the Principles of Order of the BFC, and this declaration be included in the Board of Elders Report to the Congregation. No man can be divested of this office except by deposition for failure to maintain standards of doctrine and life in keeping with the dignity of the office.

 

 

 

 


NOTE: Changes in bold below are second reading.

            Also, all the highlight/strikouts are proposed changes.

 

401-2  The Board of Deacons

 

401-2.1 The Board of Deacons shall be composed of all deacons duly elected by and from the congregation, and who meet the qualifications of the Scriptures. They shall be mature believers men who demonstrate spiritual wisdom and compassion so that they might serve the needy in a Christlike, merciful manner.

 

401-2.2 The Board of Deacons shall serve under the direction of the Board of Elders and shall elect a chairman and a secretary from among the membership of the board. The secretary shall be responsible to report the actions of the deacons to the Board of Elders. Two thirds of the board shall constitute a quorum.

 

401-2.3 The general responsibility of the deacons is one of sympathetic and benevolent service to the church, to the distressed, and to the friendless and sick, showing the mercy and concern of the church for the material and natural needs of others. The deacons shall assume the responsibility to care for such specific benevolent and material services as directed them by the Board of Elders.

 

401-2.4 The function of the deacons is to see that the material and natural needs of the church constituency are met so that the elders can give freely of their time and concern to the spiritual needs of the congregation.

 

401-2.5 Election and Installation of Deacons. Each congregation may elect deacons in keeping with the qualifications set forth in Scripture. Deacons must be male members in full communion in the church in which they are to hold this position exercise their office.

The deacon=s term of office shall be determined by the Particular Church by congregational vote, but shall not be for less than three years, except when a Particular Church desires a probationary term of service for newly chosen deacons. When possible, the Board of Deacons shall be divided into not fewer than three classes as determined by congregational vote in each of the Particular Churches.

In the event of a vacancy by death, resignation, or removal, a member man may be elected to fill the unexpired term of office.

 

In a service of worship, the minister shall state in a concise manner the warrant and nature of the position office of deacon, together with the Scriptural qualifications required for its exercise and the duties to be fulfilled. He shall then ask the candidate, in the presence of the congregation, the following questions:

(1) Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and conduct?

(2) Do you accept the position office of deacon in the congregation and promise faithfully to perform this ministry of service?

(3) Do you promise to promote the purity, peace, and unity of the church?

            After the deacon-elect has answered these questions in the affirmative, the minister shall ask the members of the church the following questions:

(1) Do you, the members of this church, acknowledge and receive this brother or sister as a deacon?

(2) Do you promise to give him or her all of the honor, encouragement, and support in the Lord to which his office entitles him or her?

After the members of the church have answered these questions in the affirmative by holding up their right hands, the minister shall proceed to set apart the candidate by prayer to the position office of deacon and shall give to him or her and to the congregation an exhortation suited to the occasion.

 

Article 402-1 and 402-2 – no changes

 

Article 404 - Choosing Leaders Other Than Elders and Deacons

 

404-1 Should the Board of Elders deem it necessary to have positions of church leadership other than elders and deacons, and other than officers and leaders of church organizations, it shall recommend to the congregation the creation of such positions of leadership. If the congregation approves, such leaders shall be chosen by one of the following ways:

 

(1) Election by congregational vote upon being presented by a nominating committee and nominated by congregational ballot

 

(2) Appointment by the Board of Elders

 

404-2 Though these leaders may not meet all of the Biblical qualifications for the position office of elder, nevertheless their lives shall be in keeping with the Biblical Principles for Living. Being chosen for one of these positions of leadership does not make one a member of the Board of Elders or the Board of Deacons.

 

404-3 The following shall be the procedure in case of death, resignation, or removal of a church leader other than an elder or deacon:

 

(1) The Board of Elders shall review and act on the resignation or removal of the leader.

 

(2) The Board of Elders shall either appoint someone or determine the time of a congregational meeting to fill the position vacated owing to death, resignation, or removal.

 

404-4 Officers and other leaders in church organizations shall be elected or appointed in harmony with the F&O and according to the bylaws of the Particular Church and/or the bylaws of the organization.