ARTICLE I NAME
The legal name of the corporation shall be “GraceLife Florida, Inc.” This corporation is operated under the Not-For-Profit Corporation Laws of the State of Florida, USA. We are a church and, except in legal communications, will use ‘Church’ vice ‘Corporation’.
ARTICLE II PURPOSE
The purpose of GraceLife Florida, hereafter referred to as the church, is to glorify God and bring people to Jesus Christ using all methods and means to make and release disciples, plant churches, and send missionaries. The church’s mission is to work together as members of the body of Christ in such a way that by the power of the Holy Spirit the Living Christ and His Word will be brought to bear upon every aspect of life so that, in turn, the greatest number of people will come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ by faith and grow as His disciples in Faith, Hope and Love, glorifying God by following Christ daily.
ARTICLE III LOCATIONS
Church offices are located in Deltona, Fl. The worship facility is rented in Deltona Fl. These locations may change as the church grows and their precise location does not invalidate these bylaws.
ARTICLE IV - DOCTRINAL STATEMENT
Essential agreement with the doctrinal statement is required of all members, officers, staff persons, and all other persons exercising a ministry of instruction or leadership under the auspices of this church.
By the term "essential agreement", it is meant that a person must give fundamental and substantial agreement to the Doctrinal Statement and if there is any disagreement, this must be brought to the attention of the elders who will then decide whether the deviation is serious enough to keep the person from the position in question.
1. We believe in one God, Creator of all things, holy, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in a loving unity of three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Having limitless knowledge and sovereign power, God has graciously purposed from eternity to redeem a people for Himself and to make all things new for His own glory.
2. We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.
3. We believe that God created Adam and Eve in His image, but they sinned when tempted by Satan. In union with Adam, human beings are sinners by nature and by choice, alienated from God, and under His wrath. Only through God’s saving work in Jesus Christ can we be rescued, reconciled and renewed.
4. We believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, fully God and fully man, one Person in two natures. Jesus-Israel’s promised Messiah-was conceived through the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father as our High Priest and Advocate.
5. We believe that Jesus Christ, as our representative and substitute, shed His blood on the cross as the perfect, all-sufficient sacrifice for our sins. His atoning death and victorious resurrection constitute the only ground for salvation.
6. We believe that the Holy Spirit, in all that He does, glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. He convicts the world of its guilt. He regenerates sinners, and in Him they are baptized into union with Christ and adopted as heirs in the family of God. He also indwells, illuminates, guides, equips and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service.
7. We believe that the true church comprises all who have been justified by God’s grace through faith alone in Christ alone. They are united by the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ, of which He is the Head. The true church is manifest in local churches, whose membership should be composed only of believers. The Lord Jesus mandated two ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which visibly and tangibly express the gospel. Though they are not the means of salvation, when celebrated by the church in genuine faith, these ordinances confirm and nourish the believer.
8. We believe that God’s justifying grace must not be separated from His sanctifying power and purpose. God commands us to love Him supremely and others sacrificially, and to live out our faith with care for one another, compassion toward the poor and justice for the oppressed. With God’s Word, the Spirit’s power, and fervent prayer in Christ’s name, we are to combat the spiritual forces of evil. In obedience to Christ’s commission, we are to make disciples among all people, always bearing witness to the gospel in word and deed.
9. We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believer to godly living, sacrificial service and energetic mission.
10. We believe that God commands everyone everywhere to believe the gospel by turning to Him in repentance and receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that God will raise the dead bodily and judge the world, assigning the unbeliever to condemnation and eternal conscious punishment and the believer to eternal blessedness and joy with the Lord in the new heaven and the new earth, to the praise of His glorious grace. Amen.
ARTICLE V - THE CHURCH COVENANT
1. We purpose, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to worship God in Spirit and in truth. (John 4:24), to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind; and to love our neighbor as ourself. (Luke 10:27).
2. We purpose, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another, in love being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1-3).
3. We purpose, by the power of the Holy Spirit to support the work of the Church by our attendance, our service, our prayers, and our giving; (Heb. 10:25, Eph. 4:16, Eph. 6:18-19, I Cor. 16:2, 2 Cor. 9:7) and to work together as members of the body of Christ to bring others into a personal relationship with Christ by faith and to help them grow as His disciples in faith, hope, and love. (Mt. 28:19-20).
ARTICLE VI - MEMBERSHIP
Any person who has received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and desires to live a consistent Christian life may make application for membership. Church membership is limited to those who make a credible profession of faith in Christ as Lord and Savior.
Each person requesting membership will meet personally with one or more elders to give a statement of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and essential agreement with the beliefs and distinctions of this church. Unanimous vote of the elders who have met with the prospective members is required for approval.
Once the church is able to conduct membership classes, they will become part of the membership process. Until that time, the Lead Pastor will make a determination if additional instruction is needed for candidates.Once established, exemptions from membership classes may be allowed in specific circumstances with the unanimous approval of the pastor and Elder Board.
Believers who would like to unite with this church but who are only temporarily residing in this location may become associate members of the church without ceasing to be members of their home churches. An associate member shall have all rights and privileges of the church, with the exception of holding an office in the church.
The Elder Board shall review the church membership from time to time, as deemed necessary, at which time members who are openly opposed to the Doctrinal Statement, the Church Covenant, or the Form of Government, or who are indifferent to the life and work of the church will be contacted either personally or by letter. If the issue remains unresolved, they will be removed from the membership.
Any member, other than those with physical disabilities, who fails to attend or participate in the worship and work of the church for a period of one year will be removed from the membership and informed by letter. Any member removed from the membership can appeal to the Elder Board for reinstatement.
ARTICLE VII - FORM OF GOVERNMENT
The ultimate authority in the church rests with the Elder Board, affirmed by the membership. This leadership, vested in a group of spiritually mature people known as elders, are charged with shepherding and directing the church as outlined below.
We believe that the best and most Biblical form of church government is a combination of what are commonly called the "congregational" and the "federal" forms. By this, we mean that in a local church, the congregation should be actively involved in decision making and government of the local church’s own affairs (congregational), and yet a council of spiritually qualified elders should have general oversight and authority for the spiritual welfare of the church under Christ. We support this view of church government because we find both congregational involvement (Mt. 18:17; Acts 6:3,5; 15:2,30 I Cor. 1:10; 5:1-13; Phil. 1:27; 2 Thess. 3:14) and oversight of a plurality of elders (Acts 14:23, 20:17, 28:30; I Tim. 3:1-7, 5:17-19; Titus 1:5-9; Heb. 13:7) in Scriptures.
The Board of Directors shall act as the governing board of the church until such time as Elders are appointed. At that time, the term ‘Board of Directors’ shall not apply, their role assumed by an Elder Board, and all past connection to a ‘Board of Directors’ is severed.
The Elder Board is an advisory body to the Lead Pastor and serves to assist in the direction of the church as a governing council. It replaces the ‘Board of Directors’ but performs many of the same functions.
The Lead Pastor will appoint the first Elders based on his personal knowledge, investigation, and prayerful consideration of the qualifications, intentions and best interest of the congregation. He will appoint no less than two (2) elders initially. The Lead Pastor will serve as a 1st Elder, the first among equals. Should the need arise to add more elders, they will be added in even numbers so the Lead Pastor can cast deciding votes if needed.
After the initial Elders are named by the Lead Pastor, future vacancies will be filled by the process of a nomination review committee recommending individuals to the Elder Board.
Changing the number of elders does not require changing the bylaws.
The Elders shall be men sound in faith able to teach with wisdom and discretion, blameless in life, and by the holiness of their walk, examples to the flock. They shall endeavor by God's grace to serve in full conformity to the standards set forth in this constitution for their particular office, and especially as found in the Word of God (I Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9). They shall be in essential agreement with the Doctrinal Statement of the church and meet the qualifications listed above under the Lead Pastor’s qualification section.
Elders shall serve without salary or compensation, with the exception of the Lead Pastor and other staff specifically paid for their services outside the Elder Board.
Christ, as Head of the church governs the church through elders who are called and equipped by Him and recognized by the vote of the congregation. The elders are to be leaders and servants of the congregation in the handling of the affairs of the church.
They must oversee the government, discipline and spiritual welfare of the church, protecting it from corruption in doctrine and in morals. They are to encourage discipleship as well as oversee the worship, instruction, fellowship and outreach of the Church.
The Elder Board oversees and evaluates the Lead Pastor and approves policies for conducting the business and coordinating the activities of the church.
The church cannot be bound to any contract or pledge of credit without prior consent of the elders.
The Elder Board will establish policies and procedures for employing persons to assist in carrying out the purpose and the functions of the church.
The Elder Board will administer church discipline consistent with scriptural teachings.
The elders will serve as trustees and, as trustees, will serve as legal holders of all property of the church.
One Elder will be specifically charged with managing and/or overseeing the management of Finances as a Treasurer would do for other organizations.
A quorum of more than one-half (1/2) of the Elders shall be present for the Elders to conduct Church business.
The Elder Board shall consist of not fewer than three individuals, a majority of whom must be other than employees or staff and/or related to the Lead Pastor or other members of the elder council by blood or marriage.
The Lead Pastor shall be a member of the Elder Board and serve as chair. He may temporarily assign that responsibility to another elder. Should the Lead Pastor be incapacitated, a vote of the Elder Board will assign temporary responsibility to one of their own.
After the initial Elders are named by the Lead Pastor, future vacancies will be filled by the process of a nomination review committee recommending individuals to the Elder Board.
The Nomination Review Committee shall consist of the Lead Pastor, and at least 2 church members appointed by the Elder Board. The committee shall solicit nominations from the congregation’s members, compile a list of potential candidates, and conduct interviews. They shall then prepare a list of those persons most qualified and willing to serve as Elders, and at a corporate gathering announced 7 days in advance, share those candidates with the congregation in an effort to open channels of interaction and communication with current elders. This includes both affirmation and expression of concerns. At a time no earlier than 21 days, the Elder Board will make a decision based on this input and introduce/install the new elder(s) at a corporate gathering.
TERM OF APPOINTMENT
The normal term of office for Elders shall be three (3) years. The nomination review committee shall interview each Elder whose term is expiring and recommend if the person should be reaffirmed or granted a two (2) year extension of term for purposes of continuity. Elders who are approved by the Elder Board will be presented at a time to be announced in advance.
An Elder may voluntarily step down for any reason. If an Elder does not inform the Lead Pastor of his intention to step down, it will be assumed he wishes to remain a member of the Elder Board and will be evaluated for continuation.
If an active member believes that he has evidence that an Elder is no longer qualified to serve as an Elder he must:
Meet privately with the Elder in question and attempt to resolve the problem;
If no resolution is achieved in step 1, present a written grievance to the Elder Board. The Elders must (a) determine the facts which shall be binding in all subsequent proceedings unless challenged by the accused Elder, (b) draw conclusions based on the facts found, and (c) make recommendations regarding the grievance. Neither the accused Elder (s) nor the accuser (if an Elder) shall take part in the final determination of (a), (b), or (c) above.
The termination of an Elder may only be effected by a majority vote of the total Elder Board (accused excepted)
D. When an Elder is removed because of sin that is deemed sufficient to disqualify him from shepherding, and if he refuses to repent from that sin, the removal shall be accompanied by a public rebuke, and notice shall be made before the church and the congregation thereof at a regularly-scheduled worship service as prescribed in 1 Timothy 5:20.
To the extent permitted by law, the Elder Board may appoint from its members a committee or committees, temporary or permanent, and designate the duties, powers, and authorities of such committees.
VACANCY OR INCAPACITY
In the event of a vacancy or incapacity of a member of the Elder Board, the Lead Pastor will review all those previously considered for the position of elder, and propose an individual from that list to the Elder Board for approval. If there are no qualified lists of people previously screened, the Nominating Committee process governs. The Elder Board shall appoint a successor to fulfill the uncompleted term of service.
ARTICLE VIII DEACONS
The Deacons shall be men of spiritual character, honest repute, exemplary lives, brotherly spirit, warm sympathies, and sound judgment. They shall endeavor by God's grace to live and serve in full conformity to the standards set forth in this constitution for their particular office, and especially as found in the Word of God (I Tim. 3:8-13). They shall be in essential agreement with the Doctrinal Statement of the Church.
Purpose and Number of Deacons.
The exact number and purpose of Deacons will vary as needed. No amendments of these bylaws is needed to change the number, role, or duties of Deacons.
The Deacons shall operate under the general supervision of the Elders. Each Elder will generally oversee one or more Deacons.
Deacons will have roles and responsibilities that could include:
a. Care of all church property.
b. Ushering at regular and special services of the Church.
c. Heads of Committees, such as Finance, Outreach, Communion, etc
d. Ministering to the sick, poor, aged, neglected and troubled.
e. Other administrative tasks essential to the functioning of the Church as determined by the Elder Board.
The selection of Deacons shall be effected by the same order of procedures and for the same term of office as prescribed for Elders.
The termination of a Deacon's service prior to the normal date of expiration may be effected by the same order of procedure as prescribed for the termination of Elders.
ARTICLE IX LEAD PASTOR
The man who fills this office shall be sound in the faith, apt to teach, blameless in life, and possessing a competency of human learning. He shall exhibit a sobriety and holiness of life becoming the gospel. He shall rule his own home well and have a good report of them that are without. He shall be in essential agreement with the Doctrinal Statement of the Church.
It shall belong to the office of the Lead Pastor to feed the flock, by reading, expounding, and preaching the Word; to administer the ordinances with the other Elders; to provide leadership and guidance to the church and elders, to oversee with the other Elders the entire church program; and to serve as moderator of the Elder Board and the congregation.
Calling a Pastor to act as Lead Pastor.
The Lead Pastor shall be recommended to the church by a three-fourths (3/4) or more vote of the total elder board and a two-thirds (2/3) majority of the convened eligible church members shall be required. The Pastor shall be voted on by secret ballot. Upon accepting the call, the Pastor shall become a member of the Church and an elder.
The Lead Pastor, as well as each Elder must be an active member of this church and possess the qualifications described in 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:6–9. He shall be:
Blameless as a steward of God; above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6–7)
Husband of one wife; a one-woman man (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6)
Temperate, sober, vigilant (1 Timothy 3:2)
Sober-minded, prudent (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8)
Of good behavior; orderly, respectable (1 Timothy 3:2)
Given to hospitality (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8)
Apt to teach; able to teach; he can exhort believers and refute false teaching (1
Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9)
Not given to wine (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7)
Not violent; not pugnacious (1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7)
Patient, moderate, forbearing, gentle (1 Timothy 3:3)
Not a brawler; uncontentious; not soon angry or quick-tempered (1 Timothy 3:3;
Not covetous; not a lover of money; not greedy of base gain (1 Timothy 3:3, Titus
Rules well his own house; his children are faithful, not accused of rebellion to
God (1 Timothy 3:4; Titus 1:7)
Not a novice; not a new convert (1 Timothy 3:6)
Has a good report or reputation with outsiders (1 Timothy 3:7)
Not self-willed (Titus 1:7)
A lover of good men and things (Titus 1:8)
Just, fair (Titus 1:8)
Holy, devout (Titus 1:8)
Self-controlled (Titus 1:8)
The Lead Pastor may be removed from office if he is found to be physically or mentally incapacitated or spiritually unqualified (according to pertinent Scripture, including 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:5–9), after thorough corroborating investigation by the Elder Board (or a duly appointed Committee of the Board, at the sole discretion of the Board), in accord with the procedures prescribed by pertinent Scripture, including Matthew 18:15–18 and 1 Timothy 5:19.
The Lead Pastor’s removal requires at least 4/5 vote of the Elder Board and affirmation via an Aye/Nay verbal solicitation of the membership at a meeting called for this purpose.
The Elder Board shall appraise the Lead Pastor and each Elder at least once a year. The appraisal does not have to be in writing. This appraisal shall be for the threefold purpose of: (1) reviewing with the Pastor the spiritual condition of the church as seen by the elders; (2) the elders' expression of his performance in the fulfilling of his duties, and (3) the Elders recommended corrective action where considered necessary.
Financial Support - Compensation and Benefits
The Lead Pastor shall be compensated for services by a compensation and benefits package. The Elder Board shall review the Lead Pastor’s compensation and benefits package at least annually. The Elder Board will have final approval, by a majority vote, for all compensation and benefits packages changes.
Interim Pastor. In a case of emergency or when the church is without a pastor, the Elder Board shall have the power to appoint an interim pastor. The appointment shall not exceed two years. Should the Lead Pastor be unable to return, the Elder Board will begin the search for a replacement.
ARTICLE XI STAFF
The staff of the Church will consist of all full-time and part-time paid Church workers. The Lead Pastor is not considered a member of the staff.
In order to accomplish the work of the church, other workers may be employed as necessary. Procedures relating to their selection, employment, and termination shall be the responsibility of the Elder Board.
Pastoral staff shall consist of associate pastors, and assistant pastors as well as other full- time and part-time ministers.
Pastoral Staff Qualifications.
The persons who fill pastoral staff positions shall be sound in the faith, blameless in life, and possess a competency of human learning in the respective fields. They shall exhibit a sobriety and holiness of life becoming the gospel. They shall rule their own homes well and have a good report of them that are without. They shall be in essential agreement with the Doctrinal Statement of the Church.
Pastoral Staff Duties.
Each pastoral staff member shall be carefully selected by the Elder Board as to spiritual gifts for his respective ministry. All staff members will work under the direction and authority of the Pastor and are ultimately responsible to the Elder Board. Any qualified member of the staff may also serve as an Elder. The majority of active elders serving at any time must be non-staff members. No member of the staff may vote on Pastor or staff salaries or the removal of Pastor or staff.
Pastoral Staff Calling.
Associate pastors are called by the Elder Board by the same procedure as the Lead Pastor. Upon accepting the call the associate pastor shall become a member of the church and an elder. Each associate pastor will be part of a team ministry with the freedom to develop his own program within the bounds and philosophy of the ministry of the Church as prescribed by the Elders' board and under the direction and authority of the Lead Pastor.
Assistant pastors, and other full-time and part-time ministers are called by the elders. They shall become church members as soon after joining the staff as practicable and by the same procedure as all other members. They are eligible to become elders according to the same procedure as all other members and subject to the qualifications already mentioned. They will work under the direction and authority of the Lead Pastor and are ultimately responsible to the Elder Board.
Pastoral Staff Termination.
The termination of a pastoral staff member's services may be effected at any time by the same order of procedure as prescribed for his call.
Pastoral Staff Evaluation.
The Elders shall formally appraise a pastoral staff member at least once a year. This appraisal shall be for the purpose of: (l) reviewing with him his compatibility with the Pastor, other staff members and the congregation (2) the Elders expression of his performance in fulfilling his duties as outlined by the evaluation and (3) the Elders recommended corrective action where it is considered necessary.
ARTICLE XII CHURCH MEETINGS
An annual congregational meeting shall be for the purpose of affirming the proposed yearly budget.
If not approved by the Elder Board or not affirmed by the congregation in an ‘Aye/Nay’ verbal approval, the previous year's budget will remain in effect.
Bi-weekly congregational meetings will continue until a budget is approved by the Elder Board and affirmed by the members of the congregation.
No major indebtedness shall be incurred nor any major financial transaction made without approval of two-thirds (2/3) vote of eligible members present at a duly called congregational meeting.
Conduct of Meetings.
The proceedings of the annual meeting and other congregational meetings shall be conducted and overseen by the Elders in a way that is consistent with the Church's by- laws.
ARTICLE XIII CHURCHES ‘PLANTED’
All of GraceLife Florida’s church ‘plants’ shall abide by and be governed by this Church By-Laws.
ARTICLE XIV FINANCE
All funds given to or received by the church for operation, development, and maintenance shall be deposited in Elder Board approved banks or other federally insured institutions under the supervision of the Elder/Treasurer. The church may accept gifts of real and/or personal property at the discretion of the Elder Board.
The term ‘Treasurer’ includes an individual Elder appointed to execute that fiduciary function.
All undesignated contributions shall be part of the general fund.
Ministries of the church may receive offerings and raise funds as authorized by the Elder Board. Monies shall not be solicited or collected from members for any cause without the consent of the Elder Board.
Handling of Offerings and Receipts
Offerings shall be counted by at least two, authorized individuals, not related by blood or marriage, before the funds are removed from the church facility. An offering-receipts report shall be signed by those counting the offering and submitted to the Elder/Treasurer.
Written receipts shall be issued to donors for tithes, offerings, and other monetary contributions. IRS rules must be followed for acknowledgment of all cash and non-cash gifts.
Funds shall be deposited within 24 hours of receipt or as soon as possible thereafter.
Disbursement of funds shall be under the supervision of the Elder Board. Checks shall require two, approved signatures. Signatories shall include the Lead Pastor, Treasurer, and other officers or members of the elder council. Checks shall not be pre-signed nor affixed with a stamped signature.
The church shall not invest its funds in non-governmentally regulated investments or in a business in which a pastor, member of the Elder Board, Deacons or staff would directly benefit. The church may raise revenues through fund-raising activities and contributions consistent with the nonprofit laws of the state and Internal Revenue Code as it applies to 501(c)(3) corporations.
The Elder Board may, by a majority vote and as documented in official minutes, authorize others to enter into contracts or execute and deliver instruments in the name of and on behalf of the church. Such authority may be general or restricted to specific instances.
The church fiscal year shall be January 1 through December 31.
The church shall have a biennial, audit review conducted by an independent auditor.
ARTICLE XV PROPERTY
All property, real or chattel, shall be received, held, sold, transferred, or conveyed in the name of the church corporation. Real property owned by the church shall not be sold, leased, mortgaged, or the title otherwise encumbered except by action of the Elder Board.
ARTICLE XVI RESOLUTION OF DISPUTES
Scripture instructs Christians to handle disputes among members of the church within the church, not in civil courts. (1 Corinthians 6:1-8.) If a member feels there is an offense or misunderstanding with another member, the pastor, and Elder, staff pastor, or ministry leader, he or she shall go to the other individual promptly in love in order to resolve the difference. If the offense cannot be resolved on an individual basis, the two parties shall meet together with an Elder to resolve the dispute.
ARTICLE XVII CESSATION
Should the church become extinct or dissolved, all assets remaining after discharging the obligations and responsibilities of the corporation shall be turned over to a religious, educational, or charitable organization or organizations decided by the Elder Board whose objectives are in harmony with those of GraceLife Florida. Such recipient organization or organizations must also be exempt from federal income taxation under the provisions of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. In no event may any of the assets of the church, upon dissolution thereof, be paid to or inure to the benefit of any individual member of the church no matter their position.
ARTICLE XIX AMENDMENT TO BYLAWS
Amended by Elder Board. The Elder Board may alter, amend or repeal these By-Laws, or adopt new By-Laws, by the affirmative vote of three/fifths (2/3 in the case of 3 person Boards) Elders present at the time the vote is taken. The text of changes shall be made available for review by the members and affirmed with a simple ‘Aye/Nay’ verbal approval/disapproval at a meeting announced at least 7 days in advance to the members.
These By-Laws and appended Rules and Regulation shall become effective when approved by the Elder Board and they shall replace any previous By-Laws, Rules, and Regulations.