ARTICLE V: Church Membership
Section 1. Purpose of the Fellowship. The congregation of Christian believers at Newtown Bible Church shall constitute a spiritual body united for the spiritual purposes set forth in Article II of this constitution.
Section 2. Eligibility for Active Membership. Active membership in Newtown Bible Church shall be open to all who confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, who manifest a life transformed by the power of Christ and who have been baptized by immersion upon profession of faith.
Section 3. Confirmation Privileges. Membership in this church shall not vest any person with any proprietary rights in the Corporation, but shall only entitle the member to confirm those matters submitted to the church membership by the elders. Confirmation privileges are restricted to members who are not under any disciplinary action and who have passed their eighteenth (18) birthday. Such declarations are not binding upon the elders or the Corporation, but are used to communicate the opinion of the membership and assist the elders in the discernment of God’s will. Members shall not vote by absentee or proxy ballot. Membership shall not be assignable inter vivos by any member nor shall membership vest to any personal representative, heir, or devisee.
Section 4. Applications for Membership. All requests for membership shall be made to an elder. Upon making such a request, the applicant shall be enrolled in a class for prospective members wherein they will have the opportunity to review the Statement of Faith and this Constitution. After completing the class the prospective member shall meet with the elders for a personal interview where they shall express their hearty agreement with the Statement of Faith and Constitution and testify of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Section 5. Denial of Membership. If, after meeting with a prospective member, the elders determine that the applicant does not confess Jesus Christ as his/her Lord and Savior, or that there is lack of evidence of a godly lifestyle, membership shall be denied. The decision made by the elders shall be final and there shall be no appeal to any court from the decision.
Section 6. Admission of Applicants. Applicants for membership shall, if possible, present themselves at a worship service designated by the elders, at which service such applicants shall be admitted to membership after publicly testifying of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and affirming their membership commitment.
Section 7. Responsibilities of Members. Members shall seek to glorify God, exercise their spiritual gifts for the mutual benefit of the Church and submit to the loving rule of the elders.
Section8. Termination of Membership. ParagraphA. Ways of Termination.
(1) Death. When a member of the church dies, his/her name shall be removed from the membership roll.
(2) Transfer. When requested, the elders may grant to a member a letter of commendation to another church. No such letter may be given to a member who is under church discipline. The elders may refuse to send a letter of commendation to any church which in their judgment is disloyal to the word of God or does not exercise godly care over its members.
(3) Resignation. Membership in this church is voluntarily and jointly initiated and entered into by individual Christians and Newtown Bible Church according to the procedures described in Section 4 of this Article. Accordingly, members may not terminate their membership unilaterally under all circumstances. As a general rule, a person may resign from membership in Newtown Bible Church, but the member should first consult with the elders. However, a resignation offered by a person under church discipline will be regarded as invalid and the church may proceed in accordance with the procedures outlined in Article V.8.A.4. and 5. of this constitution.
(4) Church Discipline.
(a) The purpose of church discipline is to effect a return to a biblical standard of conduct and doctrine in a Christian who errs (Gal. 6:1), to maintain purity in the Church (1 Cor. 5:6) and to deter sin (1 Tim. 5:20). Anyone professing to be a Christian and identifying with this local church, whether a member or not, is eligible for church discipline. Resignation of membership, no longer attending this church or refusal to meet with those involved in any of the stages listed in Article V.8.A.4.b. of this document will not prevent this process from continuing and the church from rendering a decision based upon the testimony available.
(b) Christians associating with this church who err in doctrine or conduct shall be subject to dismissal according to Matt. 18:15-18. Before dismissal however, it is the duty of any Christian of this church who has knowledge of a believer's error regarding doctrine or misconduct to warn and correct such erring Christian in private, seeking his/her repentance and restoration. If said erring believer does not heed this first warning then the warning Christian shall again go to the erring Christian accompanied by one or two believers, preferably elders, as witnesses. The one or two witnesses shall examine the warning believer, the accused and the charges to determine if in fact the accused is erring according to doctrine or conduct. If the accusations are false or mistaken then no further disciplinary action will be taken and the warning believer shall seek the forgiveness of the one accused. If the accusations are accurate then the warning believer and the witnesses shall warn and correct the erring believer a second time, seeking his/her repentance and restoration. If, after this second warning, the erring believer is found to be stirring up dissension by being a factious person he/she may be immediately excluded from the congregation according to Titus 3:10-11. If said erring Christian is not being factious, but still refuses to heed the first and second warnings, then the elders, upon careful and prayerful investigation, shall tell it to the church and encourage the believers to seek the repentance and restoration of the erring believer. If said erring believer refuses to heed the three warnings of the first believer, the elders and the whole church, he/she shall be publicly dismissed from the church.
(c) This process will continue to conclusion whether the erring believer leaves this church or otherwise seeks to withdraw from membership to avoid the discipline process. There shall be no appeal to any court from such a decision. If at any point in this process said erring Christian heeds the warning and demonstrates repentance, he/she shall be restored to fellowship.
(5) Removal from Church Membership. A member who shall be absent from the services of this church for a period of six (6) months, without plausible reason or excuse, shall be removable from membership at the discretion of the elders. A reasonable effort shall be made by the elders to notify them in writing of such action.
Paragraph B. Implications of Termination.
(1) Newtown Bible Church does not exist in isolation from the universal Church of Christ which is composed of all true churches. Accordingly, open and forthright communication among churches is vital for the purity, peace, edification and unity of the Church universal. Therefore, the elders may, at their discretion, disclose to the members of Newtown Bible Church and to other churches the circumstances under which a person’s membership was terminated.
(2) Newtown Bible Church does not exist in isolation from society at large. Accordingly, it has a moral obligation to act with integrity and maintain its testimony before the civil authorities and society in general. Therefore, the elders may, at their discretion, disclose to anyone outside ecclesiastical circles the circumstances under which a person’s membership was terminated.
(3) Termination of membership does not give license to former members to sow discord, spread false teachings or slander, or to engage in any behavior which threatens the peace and unity of this church and the Church universal. Accordingly, when it is established that a former member is behaving divisively, the elders may issue whatever warnings they deem appropriate to preserve the peace and harmony of this congregation and the Church universal.
Section 9. Meetings of the Membership.
Paragraph A. Regular Meetings. A regular annual meeting of the church members shall be held at the principal office no later than March 31 of each year. At such meeting, the members shall consider reports of the affairs of the Corporation and transact such other business as the elders determine shall be brought before the meeting, including but not limited to the recognition of the appointments made by the elders of those who shall serve as elders, and the recognition of the appointment of those qualified in the diaconate.
Paragraph B. Special Meetings. The elders may call special meetings of the members at any time.
Paragraph C. Notice of Meetings. Notice of regular meetings shall be published in the church bulletin and announced from the pulpit for two (2) successive Sundays prior to the meeting. Notice of special meetings shall be published in the church bulletin on the Sunday immediately preceding the meeting and given from the pulpit at least seven (7) days prior to the meeting.