Avenue Community Church
At Avenue Community Church we believe the Bible to teach us the following core principles in living together as God’s people:
- Being a loving family in our life together
- Listening to God as he speaks through his word by his Spirit
- Everyone playing a part in the life of the church
- Reaching out to all with the good news of the gospel
- Being God-centred in all we do
3.1 Application and conditions of membership
Church membership is for all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who are in regular attendance at Avenue Community Church.
Anyone wishing to become a member should speak to one of the elders. The elders will also encourage people to consider membership. The elders will decide on the person’s suitability for membership. The church will be notified both of applications for membership and when people are received into membership.
3.2 Responsibilities of membership
Members of the church should give themselves to living out life together as God’s people in line with our vision and values above. This includes:
- regularly attending the meetings of the church so as to spur others on and grow ourselves,
- seeking to live a life that honours God in every way as we live according to his word,
- making every effort to preserve the unity of the church as those whom Christ has reconciled,
- expressing our dependence on God by praying for each other and God’s work through the church,
- using in love the gifts God has given us for the good of the rest of the church,
- recognising our responsibility to love each other, care for each other and build each other up in the faith,
- contributing towards the church’s financial support,
- respecting the leadership of the church,
- bearing witness to the good news of the gospel as we are able.
3.3 Discipline of members
If a member’s beliefs, conduct or commitment to the church wilfully deviates from clear biblical teaching, the elders will take steps to encourage their repentance and restoration, in accordance with biblical principles. If all efforts to resolve such matters are unsuccessful, then the elders will recommend to the church that the person’s membership be suspended or terminated (see voting in 7.2 below).
The following references are to guide our thinking and practice in this matter: Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 5:1-5; 9-13; Galatians 6:1;1 Timothy 5:20; Titus 3:10-11.
We practice the baptism of Christian believers in obedience to the command of Jesus Christ (Matt 28:19-20). Application for baptism should be made to the elders. [Note: while as a church we practice baptism only of those who have professed faith in Christ rather than also the children of believers, agreement with this position is not a requirement of membership.]
4.2 Lord’s supper
We will regularly observe the Lord’s supper together in obedience to his command (Luke 22:14-20; 1 Cor 11:23-26). All those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord will be welcome to participate.
5.1 Responsibilities and qualifications
Elders are under-shepherds of the Lord Jesus who is head of the church and so they are responsible for leading the church, the teaching of the church and pastoral oversight of all areas of church life. They are to care for and lead the church with a loving servant attitude (1 Peter 5:1-4). In particular elders are responsible for:
- ensuring that the church is well taught in the Bible,
- leading the life of the church as loving pastors and overseers,
- praying regularly for the whole church family and life of the church,
- modelling unity to the church family by working well together,
- promoting closeness of fellowship within the church so that each member can contribute to and receive from the life of the church,
- encouraging the use of the gifts of each member for the good of the whole church family,
- setting an example in godly living, both personally and in family life, that others can follow.
Each elder must fulfil the New Testament qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) which we believe to include limitation of the role of elder to men.
5.2 Selection and appointment
As part of their responsibility to encourage the use of the gifts of all members, the eldership is expected to work actively to identify suitable candidates for the role of elder. Members of the congregation are encouraged to assist in this task by suggesting potential candidates. Candidates are nominated to the church by the eldership and their appointment will be confirmed by a vote of the membership (see voting in 7.2 below).
Pastors are employed by the church as staff elders. Their responsibilities are the same as for the lay elders but they may be given particular responsibility for certain areas such as the teaching of the church or aspects of leadership. In appointing a pastor the same procedure is followed as for a lay elder. In the case of an external candidate the membership must be allowed adequate opportunity to assess the suitability of the candidate before a vote is taken. Any pastor ceases to hold the office of elder when he leaves the employment of the church unless he is re-elected as a lay elder.
5.4 Period of service
Lay elders will serve for a period of 5 years, after which they will be eligible for re-election every 5 years up to the age of 65. Beyond this age they shall continue in office only by a vote of the church for periods of up to 2 years at a time. Pastors will be appointed without any set term of office unless otherwise agreed. Pastors will retire at the age of 65 and shall continue beyond that age only by a vote of the church for periods of up to 2 years at a time.
5.5 Removal from office
If any elder is suspected of heresy, gross incompetence or immoral conduct, or otherwise suspected of being unsuitable for their office, the elders will investigate such matters. If it becomes necessary to terminate the office of any elder a recommendation will be put to the church, and this recommendation will be confirmed by a vote of the membership (see voting in 7.2 below).
5.6 Other positions of responsibility
The elders may appoint people to take delegated responsibility for an area of church life. We see this to embody the Biblical principle of ‘deacons’ (1 Tim 3:8-13).
6.1 Pastoral staff positions
The elders may recommend other pastoral staff positions to assist in the work of church. They shall be individually responsible to the elders and deacons although responsibility may be delegated as appropriate. Appointment of such staff positions shall be in the same manner as for pastors. Conditions regarding removal from office are as for elders in section 4.5.
6.2 Non-pastoral staff positions
The elders may appoint someone to a non-pastoral staff position to assist in the work of church e.g. a secretary. The terms of office and period of service of such positions will be decided on a case by case basis in discussion with the membership of the church.
7.1 Regularity and notification of meetings
The church will meet regularly to discuss the business of the church – this should be at least quarterly. The elders will give at least 10 days notification of any resolution to be voted on at a meeting.
7.2 Voting at meetings
It is important that all decisions taken by the church are taken responsibly, in a way which is loving, and God-honouring. In particular, nothing should be said or done which would cause unnecessary hurt or embarrassment, and that a candidate for any position should only fail to be elected for clear and identifiable reasons. Therefore:
A. Voting shall take place only at a church meeting, for which at least 10 days notice has been given.
B. Only those who are members of Avenue Community Church may take part in a vote.
C. Voting is required for the following decisions: election of elders, appointment of pastoral staff members, appointment of long-term missionaries, changes to the constitution, removal of an elder or pastoral staff member from office, suspension or termination of membership and significant financial decisions. In all these cases a two-thirds majority of those voting is required and quorum of 50% of the membership must cast a vote (including abstentions).
D. Abstentions: members are free to abstain on any vote, but abstentions do not count in the calculation of percentages for/against a proposal.
E. Proxy votes for members unable to attend the meeting may be registered in advance.
F. Any church member who intends to speak against or vote against the election of an elder or staff member, should discuss their concerns with an elder before the proposed church meeting.
8.1 Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC)
The church is affiliated to the FIEC for the purpose of expressing our unity with other evangelical churches, and benefiting from the service the FIEC provides.
8.2 Other affiliations
Other affiliations may be considered at the discretion of the elders and ratified at a church members’ meeting.
The statement of faith and church constitution may be amended by a recommendation of the elders and confirmed by a vote of the membership (see voting in 7.2).