VALLEY HEIGHTS COMMUNITY CHURCH
DEFINITION AND PURPOSE OF THIS DOCUMENT
This written document is a declaration of our beliefs and understanding of the Holy Scripture, as to our doctrinal beliefs and organizational structure and bylaws. This document is intended to promote unity in the faith among us, and to provide those interested in becoming a part of this ministry a clear understanding of our beliefs and objectives.
This local church shall function as an independent, evangelical, Bible church, committed to the fundamental, historic truths recorded in God’s inerrant revelation – the Holy Scriptures. All Elders, Deacons, Directors, and on-going teachers of Valley Heights Community Church, must be members in good standing who wholeheartedly agree with the Doctrinal Statement, Bylaw 1, of this church and be supportive of this entire document.
This document does not possess a higher authority than the Word of God. Neither is it a higher authority than that which God has invested in those believers He has appointed to lead in this local church (Heb. 13:17). The local church is a living, growing, and flexible body subject ultimately to the authority of Jesus Christ alone as it is declared in the Word of God (Eph. 1:22; 4:11-16). As we grow in our knowledge of the Word, this document is therefore subject to amendment according to the provisions of Bylaw X. This document is, however, to be followed in all its parts as a protection to all until part of all is amended according to its provisions.
BYLAW I: DOCTRINE
Since the Word of God is foundational and absolutely essential to true spirituality, Christian fellowship, the faith, and doctrinal accuracy, we believe that the most important function of this local church, and its central thrust, is consistent teaching and study of the Word of God (1 Tim. 4:6-7; Ps. 119:1ff; 138:2; Is. 66:2b; Rom. 15:4; 16:25-26: 1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Tim. 1:5; 4:1-16; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 4:1-3).
This document is not a higher authority than the Word of God. Neither is it a higher authority than that which God has invested in those believers He has appointed to lead in this local church (Heb. 13:17). It must be remembered that the local church is a living, growing, and flexible body subject ultimately to the authority of Jesus Christ alone as it is declared in the Word of God (Eph. 1:22; 4:12-16). As we grow in our knowledge of the Word, this document is therefore subject to amendment.
A. The Scriptures (Bibliology)
We believe that, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” By this we mean that in the writing of the whole Bible, men of God, “were moved by the Holy Spirit,” to write the very words of God. We believe that while there was progress in revelation from God, this divine inspiration extends equally and fully to all parts of the writings – historical, poetical, doctrinal, and prophetical and to the smallest word and part of a word as appeared in the original manuscripts. We believe that the whole Bible (sixty six books) in the originals is therefore without error, infallible, and God breathed.
We believe that the Bible is the only perfect standard of faith and Christian living. It is all we need for life and godliness. We believe that, whereas there may be several applications of any given passage of Scripture, there is but one true interpretation. The meaning of Scripture is to be found as one diligently applies the literal grammatical historical method of interpretation under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit (John 7:17; 16:12 15; 1 Corinthians 2:7 15; 1 John 2:20). [This method of interpretation affirms the belief that the opening chapters of Genesis present creation in six literal days (Genesis 1:31; Exodus 31:17), and the close of Scripture present a literal 1000 year (millennial) reign of Jesus Christ on earth after which comes the consummation of the ages! (Matt. 19:27-28; Acts 1:3, 6-7; Rev. 20:1-10).]
We believe that all Scripture centers about the Lord Jesus Christ in His person and work in His first and second coming, and that no portion, even of the Old Testament, is properly read or understood until it leads to Him. We also believe that all the Scriptures were designed for our practical instruction (Matt. 5:18; Mark 12:26, 36; 13:11; Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39; John 17; Acts 1:16; 17:2-3; 18:28; 26:22-23; 28:23; Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 2:13; 10;11; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Heb. 4:12; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).
B. God (Theology Proper)
We believe there is one living and true God, an infinite, all-knowing Spirit. We believe that God eternally exists in three persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – and that these three are One God, having precisely the same nature, attributes and perfection, and are worthy of precisely the same worship, confidence and obedience (Deut.6:4; Isaiah 45:5-7; Matt. 28:18-19; Mark 12:29; John 1:1-14; 4:24; Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Heb. 1:1-3; Rev. 1:4-6).
C. God the Father (Theology Proper)
We believe that God the Father, the first Person of the Trinity, plans and brings to pass all things according to His own purpose and grace (Psalm 145:8 9; 1 Corinthians 8:6). He is the Creator of all things (Genesis 1:1, 31; Ephesians 3:9). As the only absolute and omnipotent Ruler in the universe, He is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption (Psalm 103:19; Romans 11:36). His fatherhood involves both His designation within the Trinity and His relationship with all people. As Creator He is Father to all (Acts 17:24-31), but He is spiritual Father only to believers (Romans 8:14; 2 Corinthians 6:18). He has decreed for His own glory all things that come to pass (Ephesians 1:11). He continually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and events (1 Chronicles 29:11). In His sovereignty He is neither author nor approver of sin (Habakkuk 1:13; John 8:38, 47), nor does He lessen the accountability of moral, intelligent creatures (1 Peter 1:17). He has graciously chosen from eternity past those whom He would have as His own (Ephesians 1:4-6); He saves from sin all who come to Him through Jesus Christ; He adopts as His own all those who come to Him; and He becomes, upon adoption, Father to His own (John 1:12; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5; Hebrews 12:5 9).
D. The Lord Jesus Christ (Christology)
We believe that Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, possesses all the divine attributes, and in these He is equal and One with the Father (John 5:17-21; 10:30; 14:9; Hebrews 1:1-3).
We believe that, as provided and purposed by God and as pre-announced in the prophecies of the Scriptures, the eternal Son of God came into this world that He might make God known, fulfill prophecy, perfectly fulfill God’s law, and become the One true Saviour. To this end He was born of a virgin and received a human body and a sinless human nature (Is. 9:6-7; 52:13-53:12; Matt. 5:17; Luke 1:30-35; John 1:18; 3:16; Heb. 4:15; 10:4-10).
We believe that in the incarnation (God becoming man) the second person of the Trinity willingly laid aside His right to the full prerogatives of deity and took on an existence appropriate to a servant while never divesting Himself of His divine attributes. He became and remained a perfect man, sinless throughout his life; yet He retained His absolute deity being at the same time fully God and fully man (Matt. 1:23; Luke 2:40; John 1:1-2; 17:1-5; Phil. 2:5-8; Col. 2:9; 1 Peter 2:22).
We believe that in fulfillment of prophecy, He came first to Israel as her Messiah-King, and that being rejected of that nation, He according to the eternal counsels of God, gave His life as a ransom for all who would believe in Him (Matt. 10:5-6; 15:24; John 1:11-13; Acts 2:22-24; 14:46; Rom. 1:16; Mark 10:45; 1 Tim. 2:6; 1 John 2:2).
We believe that in infinite love for the lost, He voluntarily accepted His Father’s will and became the divinely provided sacrificial Lamb, bearing the holy judgments against sin which the righteousness of God must impose. His death was therefore substitutionary in the most absolute sense – the just for the unjust – and by His death, He became our Saviour (Isaiah 53:4-12; John 1:29; Rom. 3:25-26; 2 Cor. 5:14, 21; Heb. 10:5-14; 1 Pet. 3:18; 2 Peter 3:18).
We believe that according to the Scriptures, He arose from the dead in the same body, though glorified, in which He had lived and died, and that His resurrection body is the pattern of that body which ultimately will be given to all believers (John 20:20; 1 Corinthians 15; Phil. 3:20-21).
We believe that on departing from the earth, He was accepted of His Father into heaven and that His acceptance is a final assurance to us that His redeeming work was perfectly accomplished (Eph. 1:19-23; Heb. 1:3). We believe that He became Head over all things to the church which is His body, and in this ministry He never ceases to intercede and advocate for His people (Eph.1:20-23; 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb.7:25; 1 Jo 2:1).
E. The Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
We believe that the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, though omnipresent from all eternity, took His place in the world in a special sense on the day of Pentecost according to God’s promise, dwells permanently in every believer and, by His baptism, unites all believers to Christ in one body, and that He is the source of all power and all acceptable worship and service. (Gen. 1:2; Psalm 139:7ff; Ezekiel 36:22-27; John 7:37-39; 14:16-17; 16:7; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 6:19; Eph. 1:13-14; Eph. 2:22; Rom. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:11-12; Eph. 3:16, 20).
We believe His ministries to the Christian are the restraining of evil in the world to the measure of God’s will; the convicting of the world respecting sin, righteousness, and judgment; the regenerating of all believers; the indwelling of all who are saved whereby they are sealed to the day of redemption and anointed of God for service; the baptizing into the one body of Christ of all who are saved; and the continued filling for power, witnessing, teaching, leading, and service of those among the saved who are yielded to Him and who are subject to His will (2 Thess. 2:7; 1 John 4:4; John 16:7-15; John 3:3-6; Titus 3:5; 1 Cor. 6:19; Eph. 1:13-14; Eph. 4:30; 1 John 2:20-27; Rom. 8:3-14; 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 5:18; Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ by implementing His work of redeeming the lost and building up believers in the faith. We believe that the Holy Spirit administers spiritual gifts to the church. We believe that the Holy Spirit is sovereign in the bestowing of all His gifts, and that He does so for the common good. (John 3:6; 16:13,14; 1 Corinthians 12:4-13; Ephesians 4:7,12; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:3-4).
F. Angels, Fallen and Not Fallen (Angelology)
We believe that God created an innumerable company of sinless, spiritual beings known as angels which being created are therefore not to be worshiped; that one, “Lucifer, son of the morning,” the highest in rank, sinned through pride thereby becoming Satan; that a great company of the angels followed him in his rebellion, some of whom became demons and are active as his agents and associates in the carrying out of his unholy purposes, while others are “kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Ps. 148:1-6; John 1:3; Rev. 22:8-9; Col. 1:16; Job 38:4-7; Rev. 5:11; Is. 14:12-17; Ez. 28:11-19; Matt. 25:41; 1 Tim. 3:6; 4:1; 2 Pet. 2:4; Ju. 6).
We believe that satan, through subtlety, led our first parents into sin. This resulted in spiritual death and the subjection of all unredeemed mankind to satan’s power. Satan is the enemy of God and the people of God. In his warfare he appears as an angel of light even counterfeiting the works of God (Gen. 3:1-19; Rom. 5:12-14; Eph. 2:1-3; 2 Cor. 4:3-4; 11:3-4, 13-15; Eph. 6:10-12; 1 Peter 5:8; Rev. 12:7-11; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 1 John 4:1-3; Matt. 24:24; 1 Cor. 12:1-3).
We believe that satan was judged at the cross, though not then executed, and that he, a usurper (yet under the sovereign control of Almighty God), is “god of this world”; that at the second coming of Christ, satan will be bound and cast into the abyss for a thousand years and after the thousand years he will be loosed for a little season and then “thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone” where he “will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Ro. 16:20; 2 Cor. 4:3-4; Col. 2:15; 2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 20:1-3, 10).
We believe that a great company of angels remained holy and are before the throne of God from where they are sent out as ministering spirits rendering service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation (Luke 15:10; Eph. 1:21; Rev. 7:11-12; Heb. 1:14).
G. Man Created and Fallen (Theological Anthropology)
We believe that God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. We believe they were created free of sin with a rational nature, intelligence, volition, self determination, and moral responsibility to God. We believe that God’s intention in the creation of man was that man should glorify God, enjoy God’s fellowship, live his life in the will of God, and by this accomplish God’s purpose for man in the world (Gen. 1:26; 2:15-19; 5:1-2; Acts 17:24-26; Isaiah 43:7; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11).
We believe that as a consequence of sin, spiritual life was lost to the human race. We also believe that spiritual death, or totally depraved human nature, has been transmitted to the entire human race, the Man Christ Jesus alone being excepted. Every child of Adam is born into the world with a nature which not only possesses no spark of divine life, but is essentially and utterly incapable of choosing or doing that which is acceptable to God apart from saving grace (Gen. 2:17; 6:5; Ps. 14:1-3; 51:5; Jer. 17:9; Jo 3:6; 5:40; 6:53; Ro. 3:10-19, 23; 5:10, 12; 8:6-7; Eph. 2:1-3; 1 Tim. 5:6; 1 Jo. 3:8).
H. Salvation Only Through Christ (Soteriology)
We believe that, owing to universal death through sin, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless born again. This is a new life implanted by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, is absolutely essential to salvation, and only those thus saved are sons of God. We believe also that our redemption has been accomplished solely by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was made sin and was made a curse for us, dying in our place. (Rom. 5:12; John 3:3-6; Ez. 36:25-27; Titus 3:5; Eph. 5:26; Ja. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23; Lev. 17:11; Matt. 26:28; Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; Rom. 5:6-7).
We believe that the new birth of the believer comes only when the repentant sinner, as enabled by the Holy Spirit, responds in faith to God’s divine provision of salvation. We believe repentance is a vital part of believing, but is in no way in itself a separate and independent condition of salvation; nor are any other acts, such as confession, baptism, prayer, or faithful service to be added to believing as a condition of salvation (Jo. 1:12-13; 3:3-6, 16, 18, 36; 5:24; 6:29, 44, 65; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 16:31; Ro. 1:16-17; 3:22, 26; 4:5; Gal. 3:22; Acts 13:48; Acts 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25; Gal. 6:14-15; Phil. 3:3-9).
I. Election (Soteriology)
We believe that election is the act of God by which, before the foundation of the world, He chose in Christ those whom He graciously regenerates, saves, and sanctifies (Romans 8:28 30; Ephesians 1:4-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Peter 1:1-2).
We believe that sovereign election does not contradict or negate the responsibility of man to repent and trust Christ as Savior and Lord, and that God is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11; John 3:18 19, 36; 5:40; Romans 9:22 23; 2 Thessalonians 2:10 12; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 22:17). Nevertheless, since sovereign grace includes the means of receiving the gift of salvation as well as the gift itself, sovereign election will result in what God determines. All whom the Father calls to Himself will come in faith and all who come in faith the Father will receive (Jo 6:37 40, 44; Acts 13:48; Ja. 4:8).
We believe that the unmerited favor that God grants to totally depraved sinners is not related to any initiative of their own part nor to God’s anticipation of what they might do by their own will, but is solely of His sovereign grace and mercy (Psalm 115:3; Romans 3:10-12; Ephesians 1:4 7; Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 3:4, 7; 1 Peter 1:2).
We believe that election should not be looked upon as based merely on abstract sovereignty. God is truly sovereign but He exercises this sovereignty in harmony with His other attributes, especially His omniscience, justice, holiness, wisdom, grace, and love (Romans 9:11 16). This sovereignty will always exalt the will of God in a manner totally consistent with His character as revealed in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:25 28; 2 Timothy 1:9).
J. Justification (Soteriology)
We believe that when a repentant sinner exercises faith in Christ as a result of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, he passes immediately out of spiritual death into spiritual life and from the old creation into the new, is justified by God – that is declared righteous – is accepted before the Father as Christ His Son is accepted, loved as Christ is loved, is joined to Him and is one with Him forever. Though the saved one may have occasion to grow in the realization of his blessings and to know a fuller measure of divine power through the yielding of his life more fully to God, he is, as soon as he is saved, in possession of every spiritual blessing and absolutely complete in Christ (John 5:24; 17:23; Acts 2:38; 13:39; Rom.3:19-28; 5:1; 8:1, 33; 1Cor. 3:21-23; Eph.1:3; Col.2:10; 1John 4:17; 5:11-12).
K. Sanctification (Soteriology)
We believe that sanctification, which is a setting apart to God, is three-fold. It is already complete for every believer because his position toward God is the same as Christ’s position. Since the believer is in Christ, he is set apart to God in the measure in which Christ is set apart to God (1 Cor. 1:2, 30; 6:11; Gal. 2:20; 2 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 2:11; 10:10).
We believe, however, that every saved person is involved in a daily conflict — the new creation in Christ doing battle against the flesh (Romans 7:14-25; Gal. 5:17). By God’s grace, adequate provision is made for victory through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the Word of God (John 17;17; Gal. 5:16ff; Eph. 5:25-27). The struggle nevertheless stays with the believer all through this earthly life and is never completely ended (Philippians 3:12). All claims to the eradication of sin in this life are unscriptural. Eradication of sin is not possible, but the Holy Spirit does provide for victory over sin. Therefore, while the position of the believer in Christ is perfect, his present walk is no more perfect than his obedience in daily life. There is therefore a progressive sanctification wherein the Christian is to “grow in grace” and to “be changed” by the unhindered power of the Spirit (Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:9-10; 2 Cor. 3:18; 1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Peter 3:18). We believe that upon seeing the Lord, the child of God shall be like Him, and then be fully sanctified (Phil. 1:6; Col. 3:9-10; 1 Thess. 5:23; 1 Jo. 3:1-3).
L. Perseverance of Believers (Soteriology)
We believe that, because of the eternal purpose of God toward the objects of His love, and because of the unchangeable covenants of God, we and all true believers everywhere, once saved shall be kept saved forever. (Titus 1:1-2 cf. 2 Tim. 1:9 & John 6:37-39; 17:9; John 5:24; 10:28; 13:1; 14:16-17; 17:11; Rom. 8:29-39; 1 Cor. 6:19; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 2:1; 5:13; Jude 24).
M. Assurance (Soteriology)
We believe it is the privilege, not only of some, but of all who are born again by the Spirit, to be assured of their salvation from the very day they receive Him as Saviour and Lord; and that this assurance is founded wholly upon the testimony of God in His written Word and the witness of the Holy Spirit of God Who is in us who believe (Luke 10:20; 22:32; Jo. 10:27-29; Romans 8:1; Rom. 8:14-16; 2 Cor. 5:1, 6-8; Eph. 1:13-14; Phil. 1:6; 2 Tim.1:12; Heb. 10:19-23; 1 John 5:13).
N. The Church, a Unity of Believers (Ecclesiology)
We believe that the church is a unique spiritual body designed by Christ and is a mystery not revealed until the New Testament. Only those born of the Holy Spirit are members of the church, Christ’s body. All who place their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately placed by the Holy Spirit into one united spiritual body, the church, the bride of Christ, of which Christ is the head (Mat. 16:18; Eph. 2:11-3:6; Ro. 8:9; 1 Co 12:12-13; 2 Co 11:2; Eph 5:23-32; Rev 19:7-8; Eph 1:22; 4:15; Col 1:18).We believe that the purpose of the church is to glorify God by building itself up in the faith and communicating the gospel to the entire world. We believe that we are responsible to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8; Eph. 3:21; 4:1-6; 4:11-16).
We believe that the church is a family of believers committed to the Lord and to each other for the purpose of carrying out the work God has called it to; that is, the communication of God’s truth to the people of God, the worship of and prayer to God by God’s people, the loving care of God’s people for one another, and the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth. We believe the local church is to function autonomously under the lordship of Christ; that leadership in the church should be appointed on the basis of the Scriptural requisites; and that it is God’s intention that all believers publicly identify with a local assembly (Acts 2:41-47; 4:19; 5:29; 13:1-4; 15:2-4 1 Cor. 1:1-2; 1 Thess. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; Heb. 10:24-25; Revelation 2&3).
O. The Ordinances of the Church (Ecclesiology)
We believe that Christ, the head over all things to the church (Eph. 1:22), has commanded us to observe the ordinances of baptism and communion (Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 11:23-26). We believe that Christian Baptism is an outward expression of obedience reflecting the inward reality of new birth in Christ, and that it is a public confession of salvation by the believer showing forth his faith in, and identification with, the crucified, buried, and risen Saviour. It is also a sign of fellowship and identification with the body of Christ. (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38, 41-42; 8:12, 35-39; 10:47; 16:14-15, 32-34; 18:8; 19:1-5). The New Testament models baptism by immersion (Matt. 3:6, 16; Mark 1:5, 10; John 3:23 / note that the word, “baptize,” means “to immerse; submerge; to overwhelm.”
We believe the Lord’s Supper to be the privilege of all who truly believe in Christ as Saviour and Lord. We believe that it was instituted by the Lord as symbolic of His crucified body and shed blood on the cross of Calvary and is to be observed in remembrance of Him until He comes. We believe both ordinances are for believers only(Matt. 26:26-29; Mk 14:22-25; Lu. 22:17-20 1Co.11:23-29).
P. The Christian’s Service
We believe in the priesthood of all believers, and that all are responsible to Jesus Christ for their lives and service. We believe that divine, enabling gifts for service are bestowed by the Spirit on all who are saved. While there is a diversity of gifts, each believer is energized by the same Spirit and each is called to his own divinely appointed service as the Spirit desires (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6; Eph. 2:19-22; Rom.12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Pet. 4:10-11; Col. 3:23-24).
We believe that it is the explicit message of our Lord Jesus Christ to those whom He has saved that they are sent by Him into the world even as He was sent by His Father into the world. We believe that they are ambassadors and witnesses of Christ making Him known in the world (Matt. 28:18-19; Mark 16:15; Jo. 17:18; Acts 1:8; 2 Cor. 5:18-20; 1 Pet. 3:15).
Q. The Second Coming of Christ (Eschatology)
We believe in the imminent, personal, bodily and glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ for His redeemed ones (Jo. 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:51-58; 1 Thess. 1:9-10a; Titus 2:11-14). We believe that God has appointed a time of great tribulation in which His righteous judgments will be poured out on the unbelieving world (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 9:24-27; Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:15-30; Rev. 6:1-19:21). We believe that Jesus rescues His own from the coming wrath (1 Thess. 1:10; 4:13-18; 5:9-11; 2 Thess. 2:7). We believe that after the time of His wrath Jesus Christ will return to earth, with His saints, to establish His millennial kingdom (Matt. 24:29-31; 25:31-34; Lu 1:31-33; Acts 1:3, 6-7; 2:29-30; Rev. 3:21; 5:10; 19:11-16; 20:1-6).
R. The Eternal State (Eschatology)
We believe in the bodily resurrection of all people, the saved to eternal life, and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment. We believe that the souls of the redeemed are, at death, absent from the body and present with the Lord, where in conscious bliss they await the first resurrection, when spirit, soul and body are reunited to be glorified forever with the Lord. We believe that the souls of unbelievers remain, after death, in conscious misery until the second resurrection, when with soul and body reunited they shall be judged and shall suffer everlasting conscious punishment (Matt. 25:46; Luke 16:19-26; 23:42; John 5:28-29, 11:25-26; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23, 3:21; 1 Thess. 4:16-17; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; Jude 6-7; Rev. 20:5-6).
Structure of the Spiritual Leadership
The spiritual ministry of Valley Heights Community Church shall be under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ working in and through a plurality of Elders according to the New Testament pattern. Due to the limited capacity of one man, and the spiritual gifting of the body of Christ under Christ’s headship, authority, and preeminence, New Testament leadership in the local church appears to have been plural and equal with no system of hierarchy. Certain men will naturally function as leaders among the leaders because of their training, spiritual gifting, wisdom, knowledge, and experience, but all are equal and are accountable to Christ, to each other, and to the body for what they teach and how they lead. The Elders will be the spiritual decision-making body within the church.
BYLAW III: ELDERS AND DEACONS
Elders shall be men who are active members of this church and whose lives are characterized by the qualities set out in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9, and 1 Peter 5:1-4. These men shall hold to the doctrinal statement of the church in accord with the statements of Bylaw I, and be supportive of this entire document.
(a) -Above reproach; blameless; free from disgraceful character or conduct (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6-7)
(b) -Husband of one wife; lit. a one-woman kind of man (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6)
(c) –Temperate; alert; self-controlled (1 Timothy 3:2)
(d) -Prudent; sober-minded; sensible; sound in judgment (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8)
(e) -Respectable; of good behavior; orderly (1 Timothy 3:2)
(f) -Hospitable (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8)
(g) -Able to teach; apt to teach; he can exhort believers and refute false teaching (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9)
(h) -Not addicted to wine (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7)
(i) -Not pugnacious; not violent (1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7)
(j) -Gentle; patient, moderate, forbearing (1 Timothy 3:3)
(k) -Peaceable; Not a brawler; non-contentious; not easily angered or quick-tempered (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7)
(l) -Free from the love of money; not covetous; not greedy (1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7)
(m) -Manages his own household well; his children are trustworthy and are under control with dignity, not accused of rebellion to God (1 Timothy 3:4; Titus 1:6)
(n) -Not a new convert; not a novice (1 Timothy 3:6)
(o) -Has a good reputation with those outside the church (1 Timothy 3:7)
(p) -Not self-willed (Titus 1:7)
(q) -A lover of what is good (Titus 1:8)
(r) -Just, fair (Titus 1:8)
(s) -Devout; holy (Titus 1:8)
(t) -Self-controlled (Titus 1:8)
The Elder must first and foremost exercise a personal spiritual walk which promotes self examination. He must maintain a Christ-like servant attitude in life, serving with gentleness and humility. Elders are to joyfully undertake the following duties:
(1) Give themselves to prayer and the ministry of preaching and teaching the Word of God (Acts 6:1-4; 1 Tim. 5:17-18).
(2) Guard and protect the congregation from false teachers, and exhort and admonish the saints in sound doctrine (Acts 20:17, 28-31a; Titus 1:5,6a,9).
(3) Oversee, lead and provide spiritual direction for the activities and growth of the congregation (1 Tim. 5:17a; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 5:2a).
(4) Aid in finding and developing gifted teachers of the Word (2 Tim. 2:2).
(5) Warn and discipline as outlined in By-law VI (Titus 2:15).
(6) Teach, rebuke, support, encourage, counsel and lead in humility (1Tim.3:2; Titus1:9; 2:15; 1 Pet 5:5). ]
(7) Pray for and encourage the sick and weak in spirit (Acts 20:35; James 5:14).
The Elders will meet regularly to pray and study God’s Word, and to evaluate the progress of the church in fulfilling its mission. The Elders will select one of its members to serve as the chair person. The chair person will consult with the Pastor-Teacher in establishing the agenda for Elder’s meetings. The Elders shall strive to maintain open communication with the congregation, both to discern needs, concerns and viewpoints, and to communicate information and decisions (Acts 6:1-5; 11:22; 15:1, 6, 22; 16:2; Phil. 2:2-4).
The following procedures outline the steps necessary to appoint Elders: The Elders, in consultation with the membership should recognize those men whose lives characterize the qualifications laid out in Scripture. In addition, men who aspire to this office shall make themselves known to the Elders (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:6-9; Acts 14:23; 6:1f).
After a time of examination and prayerful consideration, if the Elders believe a man to be qualified, representation from the Elders will be appointed to approach each individual to determine willingness to serve and further determine qualification (1 Tim. 3:8; 5:22). If the individual meets the Biblical qualifications, demonstrates understanding of Biblical Eldership, is willing, and aspires to this office, the Elders will recommend the man to the congregation. An examination period of not less than three weeks before the next Membership meeting will be set in which the members will prayerfully consider: the recommendation, their willingness to submit to the individual’s leadership, and to address any concerns first to the prospective Elder and then if necessary to the existing Elders. At the Membership meeting the recommendation shall be made to the members to affirm the decision of the Elders. If the recommendation is affirmed, the new Elder shall assume office immediately.
D. Term of Elders
Elders are appointed to an indefinite term consistent with their continued desire, ability, and qualification to serve in this capacity. There must be an ongoing evaluation by themselves, by the other Elders, and by a continued willingness of the church body to submit to their authority (Rom. 12:3-8). Willingness to submit to their authority shall be affirmed at the annual general meeting. The removal of Elders from office shall be effected by personal resignation or by disciplinary actions in accordance with the following:
E. Voluntary Resignation
An Elder may step down at any time he so chooses. The Elder should prayerfully reflect on the decision and seek counsel from the Elders before making a final decision.
F. Involuntary Dismissal
Any Elder may be removed from office at any regular or special meeting of the Elders if he becomes physically incapacitated or is found to be spiritually disqualified (according to pertinent Scripture, including 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9), after thorough corroborating investigation by the Elders in accord with the procedures prescribed by pertinent Scripture, including Matthew 18:15-18 and 1 Timothy 5:19. 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 at a regularly-scheduled worship service as prescribed in 1 Timothy 5:20.
The Deacons shall consist of members possessing the qualifications described in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 and shall be nominated by the members of the church (Acts 6:1-6). The Elders will confirm the nominations and submit the names to the members for affirmation at the annual meeting. The Deacons shall serve for a term of one (1) year. The Deacons shall assist the Elders in the shepherding of the believers, aid in the general spiritual care of the church, and perform other duties as assigned by the Elders.
A Deacon shall be a man of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience, first tested and found above reproach. He must be the husband of one wife and a good manager of his children and his own household. His wife must also be dignified, not a malicious gossip, but temperate, faithful in all things (1 Timothy 3:8-13).
PASTOR-TEACHER AND CHURCH STAFF
The Elder given the responsibility as the primary teacher of the church when gathered, shall be called the Pastor-Teacher. Valley Heights Community Church recognizes that the Lord has given spiritual gifts to all believers and therefore does not expect the Pastor-Teacher to provide all the teaching, evangelism and training, etc., within the body (Rom. 12:3-8; Eph. 4:11-12; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; 1 Pet. 4:10-11). Rather, he is to equip the saints “for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12).
B. Qualifications and Duties
The Pastor-Teacher must meet the qualifications of an elder as set down in 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, and 1 Peter 5. He must be appropriately trained, and evidence spiritual gifting and calling in keeping with the mission and vision of this church. The Pastor-Teacher is an Elder and thus shares in the responsibilities of the Elders. As the primary teacher, the Pastor-Teacher must teach the Scriptures both by declaration, and by example.
In the event of a vacancy, the Elders shall be responsible to conduct a search for an appropriate candidate to fill the position. Once a candidate has been selected, the candidate must be presented to the membership for mutual examination. The candidate may then be called to serve as Pastor-Teacher upon a 90% majority vote in affirmation of the candidate
The Pastor-Teacher will serve indefinitely. The relationship between the Pastor-Teacher and the church may be terminated upon 60 days written notice by either party, or by mutual consent. The Pastor may be asked to resign by the Elders should they determine that he is disqualified. If he refuses, or believes he has been unfairly treated, then it is to be brought before the membership to hear the issues. A decision to reaffirm the Pastor-Teacher will then be decided by a 90% majority vote of the membership at a special meeting according to the guidelines in Bylaw V.
E. Non-Pastoral Staff
The hiring of non-pastoral staff (janitorial services, secretary, etc.), will be planned for and directed by the Elders.
BYLAW V: CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
A. Church Membership
We believe that all those who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and whose lives thus give ongoing evidence of true saving faith are members of the body of Christ. All such individuals are welcome at Valley Heights Community Church to enjoy the privileges and responsibilities of Christian fellowship, to worship God, to be ministered to through the preaching and teaching of the Word, and to participate in the ordinances commanded by the Lord, which are Christian baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
We believe the Scriptures emphasize that every believer should become identified and committed to a specific local assembly of believers following the leading and direction of God (Acts 2:41-47; 11:26; 13:1; Romans 16; Phil. 1:1; etc.). Although the Scriptures contain neither a mandate for nor a command against an official membership roll, Valley Heights Community Church does have a membership roll for the following purposes: to encourage unity and stability in doctrine, to aid in conducting business in an orderly manner, and to provide legal protection in important church decisions. An individual’s decision to be placed on the membership roll should flow from a commitment to this local church and its doctrinal understanding.
B. Procedure for Membership
Any individual 18 years or older who confesses Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, who is supportive of this document, and who exhibits a desire to continue to grow and mature in his walk with Christ, is qualified and eligible for membership in Valley Heights Community Church. Anyone who desires to become a member should contact one of the Elders and request membership. An Elder will meet with the individual to discuss this decision. If the individual meets the qualifications for membership, he/she will be placed on the roll and will be acknowledged before the congregation as a new member.
C. Membership Roll
The membership roll will be reviewed annually. Members may be removed from the roll by the member’s choice, by church discipline (Bylaw VI) or after extended non involvement with the body.
D. Membership Meetings
Membership meetings shall be open to all church attendees. However, all voting shall be by members only. The membership must receive notification through written notice or through public announcement of a meeting at Sunday services at least two weeks prior to the meeting. If two-thirds majority of the membership so agrees, a meeting may occur for which less than two weeks notice has been given.
- Annual Meeting
An Annual Meeting of the church members shall be held to conduct the business of the church which shall include but not be limited to the communicating of goals, budget, membership issues, and any other matters deemed pertinent by the Elders. A quorum for general membership decisions shall consist of 50% of the members.
- Regular Meetings
A regular meeting of the church members will be held at least twice a year to keep the members informed of major decisions and church issues and to promote a spirit of unity within the church.
- Special Meetings
The Elders may call a special meeting of the members at any time.
All voting is designed to show God’s leading within the membership on an issue. Unless specifically indicated within the Bylaws, a two-thirds majority vote in favor of an issue shall signify to the church leadership that the members agree with the decision being voted on. If the two-thirds majority vote in favor is not achieved, the leadership will reevaluate the situation. No steps will be taken on any issue that requires a vote without the two-thirds majority. Each member of the church in good standing shall be entitled to one vote.
BYLAW VI: CORRECTIVE CHURCH DISCIPLINE
We believe in the responsibility and necessity of church discipline as clearly outlined in Scripture. Church discipline has the divine authority of Scripture and is vital to the purity of the church. Members and all other professing Christians who regularly attend or fellowship at Valley Heights Community Church who promote false doctrine, or who engage in conduct that violates Scripture as determined by the Elders, shall be subject to church discipline.
A. The Practice of Church Discipline
1. When it is to be practiced
The key concerns in church discipline are: (a) the holy character of God, (b) the authority of the Bible, (c) the testimony of the body of Christ, (d) the effect upon the unity and purity of the church, and (e) the edification and restoration of the individual.
According to Scripture, there are five categories which warrant church discipline. These are:
a. Difficulties between members (Matt. 18:15-17).
b. Divisiveness – people causing divisions in the church (Rom. 16:17-18; Titus 3:9-11).
c. Disorderly conduct – conduct contrary to the prescribed commands of Scripture (2 Thess. 3:6, 11-15; 2 Tim.3:1-9).
d. Sins of the type mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5: incest, immorality (a broad term covering all kinds of sexual sins including homosexuality), covetousness, idolatry, slanderous speech, drunkenness, and swindling (1 Cor. 5:1, 11).
e. False teaching – erroneous teaching and views which concern the fundamentals of the faith, not lesser differences of interpretation (1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:17-18; also implied in Rev. 2:14-16; Phil. 3:2-3, 15-19; Rom. 16:17-18).
2. Practices for Church Discipline and Restoration
The primary goal in any church discipline is to “turn him back” (James 5:19-20) and bring the person to repentance so that he/she can be restored to the body. Principle: The kind, length and severity of the discipline depend on the nature and circumstances of the sin.
Sin: A momentary, uncharacteristic lapse into sin where there is genuine grief and repentance.
Response: Gentle restoration at the point of repentance.
Gal. 6:1 “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.”
Sin: More blatant sin (willful disobedience) or sin repeated over a longer duration, or unclear repentance.
Response: Warning, rebuke, correction.
Reprove in private. . . if no repentance proceed with step two (Matt.18:15)
Bring along a witness . . . if no repentance proceed with step three (Matt. 18:16)
Tell it to the church . . . if no repentance proceed with step four (Matt. 18:17)
Deal with the person as though he/she were an unbeliever (Matt. 18:17).
Sin: Severe sin on a long-term basis and no repentance
Response: Corporate grief (1 Cor. 5:1-2).
Judgment (1 Cor. 5:3).
Expulsion, excommunication from fellowship (Matt. 18:17; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 5:2- 5, 11-13; 2 Thess. 3:6, 11-15; 1 Tim. 1:20; Titus 3:10-11, 2 John 9-11).
Forgiveness, comfort, love when repentance is demonstrated (2 Cor. 2:6-8). Restoration to appropriate ministry after a significant pattern of obedience has been established (Luke 16:10).
In addition to the above process and procedure, the Bible speaks of the necessity to deal directly with a factious person. Titus 3:10 says, “Reject (shun; avoid) a factious man (person) after a first and second warning.
Discipline of an Elder – The whole church must be made aware of an elder’s blatant sin because he has been disqualified from being a shepherd. 1 Tim. 5:19-20 “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all…”
Response to church discipline – The members of this church, and all other professing Christians who regularly attend or fellowship with this church, agree that there shall be no appeal to any court because of the dismissal or because of public statements to the congregation at the Level 2 or Level 3 stages of church discipline. Members of this church who are under discipline by the church, as defined in the previous paragraphs, forfeit and waive the right to resign from this church. Resignations from membership are possible only by church members who are in good standing and who are not under any disciplinary action.
The safety and well-being of others on church premises – Separate and apart from the process of church discipline, but subject to the discretion and approval of the Elders (or a duly constituted subcommittee thereof), a church member, non-member regular attender, or other individual may be notified that he or she is not to be present upon church premises for such a period of time as is deemed necessary for the safety and well-being of others on church premises. Such required absence may, but need not, be concurrent with church discipline of that person.
BYLAW VII: Officers of the Society
A. Officers/ Directors
The officers of the Society shall be a Chairman, a Secretary, and a Treasurer. The Society may also have other officers as appointed in accordance with the provisions of Section 2 of this By-law. The Pastor-Teacher shall serve in an advisory capacity, giving spiritual direction to the Directors.
The officers of the Society shall be chosen annually at the Annual General Meeting. Each officer shall hold his office until he shall resign, be removed, or become otherwise disqualified to serve, or until his successor shall be qualified and elected.
- Additional Officers
The Society may appoint, and may empower the Chairman to appoint, such other officers as the business of the Society may require. Each shall hold office for such period, have such authority, and perform such duties as are provided in the Bylaws or as the Society may determine.
- Removal and Resignation
Any officer may be removed upon disqualification according to the provisions of Bylaw VI. Any officer may resign at any time without prejudice to the rights of the Society by giving written notice to the Chairman, or to the Secretary of the Society. Any such resignation shall take effect at the date of the receipt of such notice or at any later time specified therein; and, unless otherwise specified therein, the acceptance of such resignation shall not be necessary to make it effective.
A vacancy in any office because of death, resignation, removal, disqualification, or any other cause shall be filled by appointment of the Society according to the procedures of sections 1 and 2 of this Bylaw. Such vacancies shall be filled as they occur and not on an annual basis.
- Inability to Act
In the case of absence or inability to act of any officer of the Society and of any person herein authorized to act in his place, the Directors may from time to time delegate the powers or duties of such officer to any other officer or other person whom the Directors may select.
- The Chairman
The Chairman of the Directors shall give general supervision, and direction to the activities and officers of the Society. He shall preside at all meetings of the Directors, which are to be conducted according to the scriptural principles such as set forth in Philippians 2:2-8. The Chairman shall call for extraordinary meetings as necessary. He shall be responsible for representing the Society in all legal and financial matters, including insurance, loans, etc., in consultation with the Elders and the Directors. He shall have powers and duties as may be prescribed in the Bylaws, or by the Directors in consultation with the Elders.
If deemed necessary, a Vice-Chairman of the Society shall be appointed. In the absence or disability of the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman shall perform all the duties of the Chairman, and when so acting shall have all the powers of, and be subject to all the restrictions upon, the Chairman. The Vice-Chairman shall have such other powers and perform such other duties as from time to time may be prescribed for him by the Directors or the Bylaws.
The Secretary shall be responsible to record accurate minutes of meetings of the Directors and membership meetings, and make copies available as requested. The Secretary shall be responsible to be the correspondent of the Society, unless other arrangements have been made. He shall be responsible to file duplicate copies of all minutes/correspondence of the Society. The Secretary shall keep a copy of the Society’s Constitution and Bylaws, as amended to date. The Secretary shall keep a membership register showing the names of the members and their addresses.
The treasurer shall be responsible for all moneys of the church, keeping an accurate financial record. The Treasurer shall be one of the church’s signing officers. He shall be responsible for submitting a proposed budget annually, in consultation with the Elders and the Directors, for consideration and recommendation to the membership. The Treasurer shall be responsible for preparing monthly financial statements.
BYLAW VIII: FINANCES
Believers are to give financially from an attitude of commitment to the Lord (2 Cor. 8:1-6). Each believer is to give according to his/her ability with a cheerful heart (2 Cor. 9:7). Because giving is done to the Lord, it is critical that the local church handle the finances given with care and wisdom both for the glory of the Lord and for the testimony of His church (2 Cor. 8:20-21). It is the policy of Valley Heights Community Church to keep the congregation informed of its current financial status. This will occur at all membership meetings.
- Fiscal Matters
The church financial records will be reviewed annually by an independent agent appointed by the Directors.
- Acquisition and Disposal of property
Proposals for the acquisition or disposal of significant church property (land, buildings, real estate) must be publicized through written notice or public announcement of the proposal at Sunday services at least 2 weeks prior to the meeting scheduled for their discussion. A quorum of 2/3 of the membership is required for acquisition and disposal of properties. An affirmative vote of 75% shall be required to proceed with a decision for the acquisition or disposal of property.
- Finance Committee
When deemed necessary a Finance Committee shall be appointed to advise the Elders and Directors in regard to the financial aspects of the church’s operations. The responsibility of the committee shall include making recommendations regarding the annual and periodic budgets and the financial statements of the church and the reports, and activities of the independent agent.
BYLAW IX: GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES
A member who has a disagreement about a policy or procedure promoted by the church or its leadership should prayerfully approach the Elders. The Elders should seek to prayerfully accept and address any complaint thus presented and seek to resolve all problems and concerns in a Biblical manner (Romans 14:19).
BYLAW X: AMENDMENTS
This Document may be amended or replaced when the need for change is recognized by the Elders of the church. At the time such need is believed to be present, the Elders shall make provisional modification in light of Scripture and all essential information on this matter shall be communicated to the congregation in written form, providing adequate time for study and response. Any minor revisions (i.e. grammar, clarification of confusing wording, change of primary address of the church, etc.) may be confirmed by the Elders.
BYLAW XI: DISSOLUTION OF PROPERTY
The term of existence of Valley Heights Community Church is intended to be permanent. The property of Valley Heights Community Church is irrevocably dedicated to religious or charitable purposes. Upon liquidation, dissolution, or abandonment of Valley Heights Community Church, after providing for its debts and obligations, its assets will not inure to the benefit of any private person, but shall be distributed, as the existing officers direct, to a charitable organization in keeping with the mission of the church.