How we are governed
We believe that the church of Jesus Christ is made up of many local congregations, each of which is directly answerable to Christ for its life. For some decisions, such as the recognition of who are fellow-believers fellowship with the church, and major items of expenditure, we call together the members of the church to make these decisions collectively.
Christ has also given to his church pastors, otherwise called elders or overseers. Their task is to teach the local church, to care for the believers, to reach out to those who are not yet believers, and to give leadership to the congregation. This leadership is to be with a servant attitude, and by the Word of God. Pastors have no power to tell people what to do apart from what is taught in Scripture.
Christ has also given to his church servants, who are called “deacons”. Their task is to look after the practical life of the local church, so the pastors are not distracted from their work.
At the moment the church has no official links with other associations or groups of churches, although it is in discussion with some associations with a view to affiliation. However, we enjoy warm relations with a number of Bible-believing churches in this country and overseas.
POPLAR BAPTIST CHURCH CONSTITUTION
As adopted on 5th September 1998
1.1 The Church shall be called Poplar Baptist Church
2.1 Membership shall be open to all persons who have a credible profession of faith in Christ as their Saviour, have been baptised as believers, and come to meetings of the Church at least once a week, unless prevented from doing so by factors such as illness or temporary stay elsewhere.
2.2. Additions to membership shall be
a) for new believers, by baptism
b) for believers who are already baptised when they start to attend the Church, by the agreement of the Church Business Meeting, following an interview by three members of the Church.
2.3. Removals from membership shall be
a) by the member tendering his or her resignation, or
b) by the Church terminating the membership for reasons such as church discipline or lack of attendance.
2.4 Members who are under the age of 18 shall be “non-voting members”, that is they shall not vote at, and sometimes may be excluded from, Church Business Meetings, but shall in all other respects be treated as members of the Church. They become voting members of the Church on their 18th birthday.
3.1 Elders must be men who are “above reproach” and able to teach, as described in 1 Timothy 3.1 – 7 and Titus 1.6 – 9. Their task is to teach the Bible and lead the Church. They must wholeheartedly adhere to the Basis of Faith, and teach according to Scripture.
3.2 There may be one or more elder(s).
3.3 Elders may be asked to work full or part time for the Church, at the request of the Church. Those who work for the Church have their salary set by the Church, or by a committee appointed by the Church.
3.4 Elders are appointed by the Church. They cease to be elders when they resign or are dismissed by the Church.
4.1 Deacons must be men of blameless character, who wholeheartedly embrace the Gospel, as described in Acts 6.1 – 6, 1 Timothy 3.8 – 10, 12 – 13 and adhere to the Basis of Faith. Their task is to relieve the elders of administrative and practical responsibilities and to serve the Church.
4.2 Deacons, and particular office bearers, such as Treasurer or Secretary, shall be appointed by the church. They cease to be deacons when they resign or are dismissed by the Church.
5. Church Business Meetings
5.1 Decisions which need to be made by the Church shall be made at Church Business Meetings. These include
– Additions to membership of those who are already baptised
– Removals from membership
– Church discipline
– Appointment or dismissal of elders and deacons
– Major financial expenditure
– Changes to main meeting times
– Changes to the Constitution
5.2 Church Business Meetings shall be held at least once every three months. They shall be called by the elders, or, if there are no elders, the deacons, notice being given at all Sunday meetings on the Sunday preceding the meeting. A Business Meeting may also be called by at least three members writing to the elders, or if there are no elders, the deacons, at least three weeks before the proposed date.
5.3 Church Business Meetings will normally be open for any to attend, but if a matter of particular sensitivity is to be discussed, the elders, or deacons if there are no elders, may say when the meeting is announced that only voting members are to be present.
5.4 If a member wishes that a particular item should be discussed at a Church Business Meeting, he or she should speak with or write to the elders, or there are no elders, the deacons.
5.5 All Church members must be informed in writing of a proposal to appoint, censure, or dismiss an elder or deacon, or to change the Constitution, at least two weeks before the Church Business Meeting at which the proposal will be discussed.
5.6 One of the elders shall be the chairman of the Church Business Meeting, of if there is no elder, one of the deacons, unless a meeting decides to appoint a special chairman for that meeting.
5.7 Fifty per cent of the voting members of the Church must be present at a Church Business Meeting for decisions made at the meeting to be valid (that is for there to be a “quorum”), except for meetings for the appointment or dismissal of elders or deacons, or to change the Constitution, in which case 75% of voting members must be present for there to be a quorum.
5.8 Where there is no clear consensus on a matter which has been proposed, the matter shall be put to a vote of voting Church members. If a proposal is agreed by the majority of the voting members present at a duly convened Business Meeting, it shall be deemed the decision of the Church. If there are equal numbers voting for and against a proposal, the chairman shall have the casting vote.