Constitution And By-Laws
Tianjin International Christian Fellowship
Adopted December 15, 2016
ARTICLE I: NAME OF FELLOWSHIP
The name of this fellowship shall be “Tianjin International Christian Fellowship”, of Tianjin, P.R. China.
ARTICLE II: PURPOSE
The purpose of this church is to have Christ radiated in Tianjin and beyond by reaching, serving, and equipping a diverse expat community.
ARTICLE III: STATEMENT OF FAITH
The Scriptures: We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
God: We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ: We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
The Condition of Man: We believe that man was created in the image and likeness of God, in innocence and without sin. In Adam’s sin humanity fell, inherited a sinful nature, became spiritually dead and alienated from God and so must be regenerated by the Holy Spirit so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel.
Salvation: We believe that God commands everyone everywhere to believe the gospel by turning to Him in repentance and receiving the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit: We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling and power the Christian is enabled to live a godly life characterized by loving God supremely and others sacrificially.
The Second Coming of the Lord: We believe in the personal, bodily 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.
The Resurrection: We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
The Church: 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.
ARTICLE IV: FELLOWSHIP COVENANT
Having been drawn by the Holy Spirit to receive Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, and on my public profession of my faith in Him, having received water baptism in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I do now enter into covenant with this church as one body in Christ.
I promise, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, to strive for the advancement of this church for the glory of Christ, in proclaiming, ministering, witnessing and educating; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines;
To contribute in a cheerful and regular manner to the expenses of this fellowship to help fulfill its mission.
To walk with fellow Christians in brotherly love; to help those who are weak in the faith, sick or in distress, remembering them in prayer.
I also promise to study the scriptures and maintain family and private devotions; to bring up my children in the way of the Lord; to seek the salvation of lost kindred and acquaintances;
To work honestly in the world; to be just in my dealings, faithful in my commitments, and exemplary in my behavior;
To abstain from harmful habits and appearances of evil, as consistent with the Holy Scriptures;
To return to no man evil for evil, but be always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Savior to seek it without delay, and to use my leisure time to build body, soul, and character, as well as Christian fellowship.
When I move from this place, I will as soon as feasible, unite with some other church where I can carry out the spirit of the covenant and the principles of God’s word.
ARTICLE V: AMENDMENTS
Amendments to this constitution may be introduced; conditional upon a written approval from at least two (2) active members of the Elders and a detailed written presentation of the amendment submitted to the Elders at least one month prior to a regularly scheduled meeting of the Elders. Suggested amendments will be reviewed with all active Elders. Request for said changes shall not be acted upon until a subsequent elder meeting, at which time an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the elder membership present shall be required for acceptance. All proposed amendments must be posted 30 days prior to the vote of the elders to allow for comments from congregational members to elders.
These By-Laws are intended to provide a simple but adequate form to govern a local church, to advance strong covenantal relationships, and to assure that any issues that do arise will be quickly addressed and remedied through their application.
ARTICLE I: MEMBERSHIP
Any person may become a member of Tianjin International Christian Fellowship if they have: received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their life, demonstrated in their manner of life the presence of Christ, demonstrated their obedience to Christ in baptism, agree with the Statement of Faith, Church Covenant and agree to be governed by the constitution and by-laws of this church. A member will officially covenant and agree, in writing, to the Church Covenant. The word “member” shall not be deemed to hold any ownership in Tianjin International Christian Fellowship. Likewise, the word “Membership” referenced herein reflects only a spiritual unity and shall not be deemed to have any legal status.
Associate membership is available for anyone who wishes to remain a member of his/her home church in the country their passport was issued. The procedure for becoming an associate member as well as the responsibilities and the privileges are the same as for regular membership.
The membership of any individual member shall be automatically terminated without notice if the member in question has not attended a regular worship service of the church in the preceding thirteen months.
Scripture indicates some latitude in how matters of church discipline are to be handled. Where possible the pattern taught by Jesus in Matt 18:15-17 shall be followed with the intent of restoring the sinning brother or sister. If there is no repentance, the elders may remove that individual from membership.
ARTICLE II: FELLOWSHIP MINISTRIES
The ministries of the church are to be consistent with the Fellowship Covenant and Statement of Faith. They are to be under the supervision of the Elders. In order for a ministry to be considered as a ministry of the fellowship it must be under the Scriptural authority of the fellowship so as to insure appropriate accountability, integrity, and management of such ministries.
A fellowship Organizational Chart which describes the fellowship ministries and responsible supervisory staff is to be maintained under the supervision of the Senior Elder or his designee.
ARTICLE III: ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE
This fellowship shall operate according to an Elder led form of government as specified in the By-Laws. Qualified men shall be appointed to serve as Elders from the membership.
ARTICLE IV: FELLOWSHIP LEADERS
The spiritual leadership and general oversight of this fellowship is the responsibility of the Elders. The administrative leadership is vested in a body known as the Strategic Council.
Elders are responsible for leading the fellowship to function as a New Testament fellowship; (references: Matthew 16:16, 18; Romans 12:4-5; I Corinthians 3:9, Ephesians 1:22, 23; Colossians 1:18, I Peter 2:9; and other New Testament instructions). Their primary tasks grow out of the instructions in Ephesians 4 to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, and Acts 20:28, to be the overseer and shepherd of the fellowship. They shall lead the congregation and the organizations, to perform their tasks. This purposeful leadership is provided through preaching, teaching, guiding the organizational units, and leaders; and through counseling with persons and groups in the fellowship. Elders shall normally administer the New Testament ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and shall perform other duties according to the scriptures. As the Holy Spirit may direct in accordance with the New Testament teachings, they are to have oversight of discipline within the fellowship.
As New Testament officers of the fellowship, the deacons are responsible before God and to the membership. The qualifications, ordaining and/or functioning of the body of deacons, shall be in accordance with the following scriptures: Acts 6:1-15, I Timothy 3:8-13, Matthew 18:15-17, I Corinthians 5:9-13, and I Thessalonians 5:12-15.
They are to be zealous to guard the unity of the Spirit within the fellowship in the bonds of peace. They shall be persons of prayer, striving continually to acquaint themselves more fully in the scriptures through Bible study. They shall serve as a council of advice and confer with the elders as necessary pertaining to the welfare and work of the fellowship. They shall assist the elders in the ordinances of Baptism and Lord’s Supper.
They are to establish and maintain fraternal relations with and inspire oversight of all the membership of the fellowship. Especially, they are to seek to know the physical needs and serve the whole fellowship in relieving, encouraging and developing all who are in need.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
The Board of Directors is comprised of The Elders. The following people are considered the legal officers of the church:
Chairman – The Chairman of the Elders
Vice Chairman – The Vice Chairman of the Elders
Secretary – The Secretary of the Deacons
The treasurer, as financial officer and custodian of the church’s funds and other liquid assets, shall be responsible for implementing the financial program of receiving, recording, disbursing, and reporting of all monies and gifts to the church. The treasurer shall render timely reports of all receipts, disbursements, fund balances, and other information pertaining to the financial status of the church. Clerical and bookkeeping functions may be delegated to others. The Treasurer shall ensure that all permanent and important financial records of the church are preserved.
MINISTRY AND COMMITTEE LEADERS:
Ministry and Committee leaders are responsible to monitor and carry on certain ministry, business, administrative tasks of the church. They are selected by the church elders annually for a one (1) year term. Leaders have responsibilities characterized in these bylaws. Their work shall be further clarified in a job description for each position approved by the church. All Ministry and Committee leaders must be members of good standing and in agreement with the Statement of Faith as well as the Fellowship Covenant.
ARTICLE V: AUXILIARY ORGANIZATIONS
No organization nor small group shall be formed nor considered as part of the church before its sponsors have submitted their plans to the Elders and received approval. Organizations must be in agreement with The Statement of Faith.
ARTICLE VI: FINANCES
All funds needed for the maintenance of Tianjin International Christian Fellowship shall be provided by voluntary contributions, tithes and offerings. Every member shall decide before God what he or she can cheerfully give to the support of the Lord’s work at home and in the foreign field (Malachi 3:10, I Corinthians 16:1-2; Romans 12:8).
ARTICLE VII: MEETINGS AND RULES OF ORDER
Section 1: Regular Services
A. Corporate worship shall be held at least weekly. Meeting times for services shall be decided upon by the Elders.
B. The Lord’s Supper shall be celebrated at least monthly.
Section 2: Business Meetings
A. The fiscal year shall be from January 1st to December 31st.
B. The Annual Business meeting of the church shall be held each year at a date and time designated by the Elders to deliver reports, including a report of the prior year’s activities, prior year’s finances and a budget for the following year’s activities, and to update the members on any business matters that the Elders decide.
C. Occasional “Special” business meetings may be called by the Elders. Written notice of such special business meetings shall be printed in the church bulletin and announced in two consecutive Sunday morning worship services prior to the meeting. The notice shall state the time and the purpose of the meeting. Only the items mentioned in the notice shall be acted upon at the special business meeting.
D. Only members of Tianjin International Christian Fellowship who are at least eighteen years of age, in good standing and currently residing in Tianjin shall have the right to vote in person on matters which with Elders might bring to the members for a vote.
ARTICLE VIII: AMENDMENTS
Amendments to these By-Laws may be introduced; conditional upon a written approval from at least two (2) active members of the Elders and a detailed written presentation of the amendment submitted to the Elders at least one month prior to a regularly scheduled meeting of the Elders. Suggested amendments will be reviewed with all active Elders. Request for said changes shall not be acted upon until a subsequent elder meeting, at which time an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the elder membership present shall be required for acceptance. All proposed amendments must be posted 30 days prior to the vote of the elders to allow for comments from congregational members to elders.