Harvest Evangelical Free Church
As members of Harvest Evangelical Free Church, an Evangelical Free Church, in order to carry out more efficiently the commissions given by Jesus Christ to His church do establish the following Constitution to which we voluntarily submit ourselves.
ARTICLE I: NAME
1.100 The name of this organization shall be Harvest Evangelical Free Church, a member of the Evangelical Free Church of America.
ARTICLE II: AUTHORITY AND AFFILIATION
2.100 Authority: The government of the church is congregational, and the Congregation, at its business meetings, is the legislative and governing body of this organization.
2.200 Affiliation: This Church shall be affiliated with the Evangelical Free Church of America, both at the district and national levels. It will support the works of the Midwest District Conference, support their missions and will unite in the furtherance of the Gospel of Christ in the measure that the Church itself may officially decide.
ARTICLE III: STATEMENT OF FAITH
(See Attachment 1, “Statement of Faith of The Evangelical Free Church of America”)
ARTICLE IV: MEMBERSHIP
4.100 Membership of this church shall be composed of those individuals who, through saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, have been born again, who manifest the fruit of a genuine Christian life, who are in harmony with the aforementioned Doctrinal Statement. (See section 7 of By-laws for membership procedure and expectations.)
ARTICLE V: VISION (MISSION AND VALUES)
5.100 The purpose of this church is to Join God in the Harvest by
5.101 Planting. Building relationships with people so that we can model and share the gospel of Christ.
5.102 Growing and maturing in Christ through the ministries of Harvest EFC.
5.103 Equipping and training the believer to make a spiritual contribution to the lives of people. 5.104 Sending and empowering people from our church to serve in other ministries.
5.200 The core values of this church, by which the church shall fulfill its Purpose, shall include, but are not necessarily limited to:
5.201 God's Word – It is the truth and final authority on faith and how we live our lives. (II Timothy 3:16).
5.202 Prayer – It is the power that fuels our ministries and impacts lives. (Ephesians 6:18; James 5:16).
5.203 Evangelism - We desire to join God in the harvest, which means sharing His message of salvation and inviting people to enter into a relationship with God. (Matthew 28:19; Romans 10:14).
5.204 Discipleship - We desire to see people grow in their relationship with God and multiply themselves by making disciples. (Matthew 28:19).
5.205 Community – We value relationships. We value sharing our lives with one another, for it is in community that we grow spiritually. (Acts 2:42-47).
ARTICLE VI: PROPERTY
6.100 This church shall have the power to receive, by gift, purchase, or any other means, such real, personal, or mixed property as is authorized by the laws of the State of Kansas and as is deemed necessary for the business of the church, and shall have the power to dispose of such property by deed of trust or any legal means. All such property shall be held in the name of the church.
6.200 In the case of a division of the church, the property shall belong to those who most closely abide by its Constitution and By-Laws as determined by the Midwest District Board who shall be given the power to decide in such an event. Members are not to bring lawsuits before the civil courts, except to enforce a decision of the District Conference (1 Corinthians 6:1-11).
6.300 In the case of dissolution of the church organization, the property shall be assigned to the Midwest District Conference of the Evangelical Free Church of America, to enable said conference to renew the work or use values thereof for further Gospel enterprises. The church shall be considered dissolved if so decided by the church membership, or when the church has not held an annual meeting for three years, or when less than six members remain.
7.100 Amendments to this Constitution must be submitted to the members in writing and adopted as a preliminary step at any scheduled business meeting of this Church. They must be voted upon as previously adopted and without further amendment at the succeeding business meeting. The proposed amendment must receive the affirmative vote of three-fourths (75%) of the membership present and voting.
Harvest Evangelical Free Church
SECTION 1 – STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENT
Ultimate authority in the church will reside in the members of the congregation. They elect Elder Board members. Once elected, the elders will handle the operational needs of the church except for the following: changing the constitution and by-laws, approving the annual budget, final disciplinary actions to dis-fellowship, calling or releasing paid pastoral staff, adding to or changing the facility, purchasing property and major changes in ministry as recommended by the Elder Board. Elder Board meetings are open to members of the congregation and any voting member may request to speak to or bring a matter before the Elder Board at any regular scheduled meeting. The Elder Board may choose to close the meeting to visitors while in executive session.
Authority for day-to-day ministry matters will reside in a group of godly men called the Elder Board. The Elder Board will appoint task forces needed to execute the total church ministry following any guidelines given in these by-laws.
SECTION 2 – ELDER BOARD
Qualifications. Elder Board members will be mature, godly men who display the qualifications stipulated by the Scriptures (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9, 1 Peter 5:1-4). All Elders will be members in good standing of Harvest Evangelical Free Church.
Organization. The Elder Board will consist of three (3) men elected from the church membership by the congregation. This board shall be enlarged by one (1) Elder for every additional 25 members when the membership exceeds fifty (50). In addition, the pastor will serve as a full member of the Elder Board.
The Elder Board will be self-organizing. The various functions required to carry out the business and ministry of the church will be parceled out among the board members on an annual basis. Interest, training, and spiritual gifts will be used to make these choices.
Chairman. The office of Chairman will be elected by the elders form the Elder Board. The Chairman will preside at all church business meetings and Elder Board meetings. He will work with the Pastor in drawing up the meeting agendas.
Term of Office. Elders shall be elected at the annual meeting of the church for a term of (3) years, and when possible an equal number shall rotate off the board each year.
Function. The Elder Board will have a three-fold function. First, they will build and develop their spiritual lives as well as the lives of their families. Second, they will oversee the spiritual development of those who attend Harvest EFC. This involves positive impartation of truth, refutation of error, and the administration of discipline. Third, they will guide the church toward health by assessing the needs of the church, planning, implementing and evaluating in light of the overall church's mission, vision, values, and goals.
Meetings. The Elder Board will meet monthly or as often as is necessary to adequately lead the church. These meetings will be open to the church membership for their input and concerns, except when the Board enters into executive session.
Reporting. Minutes of all Elder Board meetings where the business or programs of the church are discussed will be taken by an appointed secretary and posted for the congregation's review.
Accountability. The Elder Board is directly accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ for all its actions (Hebrews 13:17). The Elder Board is also accountable to the congregation. Any decision of the Elder Board may be affirmed or overturned by action of the membership at any business meeting. (See section 10 - “Quorum.”)
SECTION 3 – ELECTED OFFICES/COMMITTEES
In addition to the Elders, the congregation shall elect from its membership the following officers whose names have been submitted to congregation by the nominating committee. Their terms shall be one year. If the elected individual cannot complete his/her term, the elders will make an appointment and notify the membership of the appointment.
Secretary. The secretary shall accurately record the proceedings of all congregational meetings. The secretary shall see that all records are filed and preserved. (Duties listed in job description).
Treasurer. The Treasurer shall disburse the funds. He/she shall report the financial standing of the church at the business meetings. (Duties listed in job description).
Financial Secretary. He/she shall receive and count all monies for the church. He/she will deposit weekly funds into the prescribed accounts and report such deposits to the Treasurer. (Duties listed in job description).
The congregation shall elect from the floor the following committee members. The election shall take place no later than the quarterly meeting prior to the annual meeting.
Nominating Committee. This committee shall consist of five (5) members. The pastor, an elder and three (3) elected from the membership. The committee shall elect a chairperson. The chairperson will schedule and facilitate the meetings necessary to complete their duties. (Duties listed in job description).
Budget Committee. The Budget Committee shall consist of five (5) members, the Treasurer, the Financial Secretary and three (3) elected from church membership. They shall gather financial information from the various boards and ministry teams and create a budget proposal. This proposal will be presented to the congregation at the annual meeting for congregational approval.
Additional Nominations. Additional nominations, who have given their prior consent, to serve may be received from the floor by any member at the annual or quarterly business meeting.
SECTION 4 – MINISTRY TEAMS
The Board of Elders shall appoint or affirm various ministry teams or individuals that are necessary to accomplish the vision of Harvest Evangelical Free Church. The appointment will be for (1) year and the person may serve unlimited number of terms. The various ministry teams and appointments will be subject to the congregation's approval.
Accountability. Each ministry team shall be placed under the oversight of an Elder. A representative from the committee may be asked to meet with the Elder Board for discussion and accountability.
SECTION 5 – PASTOR
The senior pastor shall meet the qualifications for his calling as outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. He shall be a worthy example in his life and teaching, shall subscribe to the Statement of Faith, and shall agree to abide by the constitution and by-laws. He shall be, or willing to be, licensed and/or ordained and shall be willing to cooperate fully with the Evangelical Free Church of America.
The pastoral candidate must receive a three-fourths (¾) majority vote at any regular or special congregation meeting to be called as pastor. The call shall be for an indefinite period of time. Upon acceptance of this call, he and (if married) his spouse shall become church members. They shall cease membership at the termination of their ministry.
The pastor's duties are detailed in the job description.
Both the pastor and membership shall have the right of termination of such services on 30 days notice or at a period mutually agreed upon.
LETTER OF CALL
The letter of call extended to the potential Pastor must be considered a contract and it must at least contain a statement on the following items as provisions: the decision of the congregational meeting, salary, job description, professional expense, and vacation time. Housing and moving allowances to be determined after consulting with the candidate.
SECTION 6 – ADDITONAL MINISTRY STAFF
The securing of additional personnel shall be done by recommendation of the Elder Board to the Church membership at a business meeting. To do so, the membership must approve a written job description and approve the budget for financial compensation.
Accusations against any of the staff must be in writing and supported by at least two Church Members in order to be considered by the Elder Board. These accusations are to be handled in the same manner as those against members under the procedure outlined in the section entitled, “Conflict Resolution & Restoration.” (See Section 8).
If the Elders find the staff person is ineffective in carrying our expected ministry responsibilities, the membership will be informed on this decision and the elders shall call for a vote of termination. A three-fourths (¾) vote is needed for termination of a staff person.
Ministry staff oversight will be delegated to the Senior Pastor. In the event that an issue cannot be resolved within the staff structure, the staff member may request for a hearing concerning the unresolved issue with the Elder Board.
SECTION 7 - MEMBERSHIP
QUALIFICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP
Membership in the congregation shall be open to those who:
- Have confessed biblical faith in Jesus Christ, and who are seeking to honor Him as Lord.
- Are at least eighteen (18) years of age.
- Have completed the Newcomers Class of instruction on the vision, mission, and core values of Harvest EFC and doctrine of the Evangelical Free Church of America.
- Letters of transfer will not be accepted for membership into Harvest EFC.
APPLYING FOR MEMBERSHIP
Those who desire to become members of this church may apply for membership by contacting any member of the elder board, Pastor or Church Secretary for a membership application.
It is the membership that gives assent and encouragement to the people and the ministries of the congregation. Members will be expected to:
- Exercise their spiritual gifts by serving their church body.
- Pray for the church.
- Financially support the ministry.
- Attend business meetings.
- Pray for and support the leadership.
- Support the mission, vision, and values of Harvest EFC.
ACCEPTANCE INTO MEMBERSHIP
- After completing the Newcomers Class, those wishing to become members will interview with the Elder Board where they will share their confession of faith and sign a church covenant and discipline procedure statement. Confirmation of membership will be by a 3/4 vote of members present at the next business meeting.
- Once approved, new members may be received into fellowship of the church at any regular Sunday service, at which time they are encouraged to share their personal testimony.
TERMINATION OF MEMBERSHIP
Members may make a written request to the Elder Board to withdraw their membership. The Elder Board shall contact any member who is absent from services for 12 months without satisfactory reason (after being contacted and exhorted by the Elder Board), and shall be removed from the membership by ¾ vote of the members present at a business meeting. Though the main form of disciplinary action is outlined below, other means of discipline guided by other biblical texts can or will be followed as the elders see fit.
SECTION 8 – CONFLICT RESOLUTION & RESTORATION
PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE
The most common cause of church conflict is not maliciousness, but misunderstanding. Frequently it is because of my mistaken interpretation that I attribute another's words and or action as misconduct or meanness. Therefore, the first rule in conflict resolution is the presumption of innocence. Assume they are innocent of wrongdoing. The offended should prayerfully ask himself/herself if he/she is willing to forgive the matter and put it in the past. If so, it must never be used against the offender. “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” (Colossians 3:13).
Second, the guilt or innocence of the offender should be ascertained by speaking personally and privately to the offender. If the offender listens and responds in humility seeking forgiveness the offended must accept and grant forgiveness. “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” (Matthew 18:15).
Third, if no admission of guilt or reasonable clarification is expressed, the offended should follow the Scriptural injunction and return to the offender with at least two of the church elders (Galatians 6:1). These witnesses will desire to see relationships restored and the Lord glorified. “But if he will not listen, take one or two others along so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” (Matthew 18:16).
Fourth, should the preceding actions reach no satisfactory conclusion, the matter should come before the local church. “If he refuses to listen to them (witnesses), tell it to the church.” (Matthew 18:17a).
Fifth, the local church will administer discipline. Guided by the elders, the church will vote to dismiss the offender from fellowship and revoke their membership. A three-fourths (¾) vote of the members present will be required to remove the offender from membership. “Expel the wicked man from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:13).
In all of the above the aim is the restoration of one's brother and sister in Christ. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1). Any person after being removed from the membership and later repenting and desiring to join the church will meet with the Elder Board, who then can recommend this person/s acceptance as a member. They shall be voted on by the congregation in the same manner as any applicant for membership.
SECTION 9 – AMENDMENTS
These by-laws may be amended by the following procedures:
The Elders may propose amendment/s at any business meeting as set forth in this section.
Proposed amendments from membership must have at least ten members' signatures. This proposed amendment must be submitted to the Elders prior to any scheduled meeting.
Elders shall then submit it to the congregation for a first reading at any scheduled business meeting.
The proposed amendment(s) shall then be presented to the membership for their vote at least three (3) months after the date of its first reading. Copies of the proposed amendment(s) will be made available at the church thirty (30) days before the meeting date.
Amendment(s) so submitted will be voted on by ballot and shall be adopted upon receiving the votes of three-fourths (¾) of the members present. (See Quorum, pg. 10).
Any number of amendments may be submitted and voted upon at any one meeting, considering the above procedure has been followed.
These by-laws shall be subject to review at least every seven years and, as necessary, revision will be made. The review procedure will be undertaken by a “by-law committee” of three members, approved by the members of this congregation at a scheduled business meeting. Any and all revisions and/or amendments will be approved by the procedure set forth in the amendments to the by-law section.
SECTION 10 – BUSINESS MEETINGS
The government of the Church shall be congregational with authority vested in its members. Major decisions shall be determined by the church membership at properly announced business meetings.
The annual meeting of the membership shall be held during the month of January at which time church business will be conducted, all officers shall be elected, and the church budget will be presented by the Budget Committee.
The quarterly business meeting shall be held during the first month of each quarter of the calendar year.
Special business meetings may be called at any time by the Elders or by a written petition from the congregation, submitted to the Elders, and supported by 1/3 of the voting members to deal with major decisions that need to be addressed before the next scheduled congregational meeting.
Quorum for business meetings shall consist of twenty-five percent (25%) of the resident members.
Announcements of meeting shall be given at least two morning worship services prior to the meeting.
A majority vote of those present will decide all issues at business meetings except to call a pastor, buy or sell estate, or make constitutional amendments which will require a minimum of three-fourths (¾) vote of those present.
SECTION 11 – ADMINISTRATIVE AND MINISTRY POLICY
The following positions are held with the full realization that some Christians and Christian churches may have different views. We have stated these positions so that unnecessary tensions can be avoided. It is also recognized that members of this church may have personal views that are different than those stated. We have voluntarily committed ourselves to these positions for the sake of unity and growth of this church.
Role of Women in Ministry. This church has taken the position that women may use their spiritual gifts in a wide range of ministry settings. We have also agreed that women will not serve in the positions of Senior Pastor, Church Chairman, or Elder.
Qualifications of Leadership. This church will seek to raise up men and women to serve as leaders. We hold that a leader must have godly character as outlined in Scripture (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1;6-9). However, past history does not necessarily qualify or disqualify a person for or from leadership. In looking for spiritual leaders, we will seek individuals who are following Jesus Christ, and who desire to serve God and their church.
Divorce and Remarriage. We hold that the passages that speak of “husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2,12; Titus 1:6) as meaning being committed to one spouse for a life time. Divorce and remarriage does biblically prohibit a person from holding the office of Elder; however, divorce and remarriage will not automatically disqualify a person from other leadership positions or ministry opportunities.
Non-member Participation in Ministry. Non-members will be encouraged to participate at any level of ministry except elected positions. Non-members will not vote at business meetings of the church. This reflects the desire to encourage ministry over membership.
Speaking in Tongues. Speaking in tongues has caused much confusion in many church groups; therefore, we have adopted the following position: Believers who practice the gift of “speaking in tongues” shall not be excluded from the church body. It is held that “tongues” are not necessary or significant to the spiritual life and testimony of the church. Since “speaking in tongues” can be a divisive force, those who practice “speaking in tongues” are asked to restrict such practice to their private life.
Mode of Baptism. Baptism is a step of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. Baptism has no saving power. Although there are different modes of baptism, we practice immersion as it best symbolizes the believer's identification with Jesus Christ's death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:1-7), and the new spiritual life experienced in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Communion. The elements of the Lord's Supper are symbolic of the Savior's death, burial and resurrection. It has no saving merit. Communion will typically be observed on a monthly basis.
Same-Sex Marriage Statement. The statement of faith does not exhaust the extent of our beliefs. The Bible itself, as the inspired and infallible Word of God that speaks with final authority concerning truth, morality, and the proper conducts of mankind, is the sole and final source of all that we believe (2 Timothy 3:6). For purposes of Harvest Evangelical Church’s faith, doctrine, practice, policy, and discipline, our Pastor and Elder Leadership Team is Harvest EFC’s final interpretive authority on the Bible’s meaning and application.
Consequently, Harvest EFC believes God has ordained marriage (Genesis 1:27, Genesis 2:24) and defined it as the covenant relationship between a man, a woman, and Himself (Ephesians 5:21-33). Harvest Evangelical Free Church will only recognize marriages between a biological man and a biological woman (Genesis 2:24; Romans 1:24-27). Further, the pastor and staff of Harvest EFC shall only participate in weddings and solemnize marriages between one man and one woman. Finally, the facilities and property of Harvest EFC shall only host weddings between one man and one woman. (Adopted January 31, 2016)