We, the members of Engage Church Albany, establish the following Articles of Constitution to which we voluntarily submit as our guide for operation as a church body.
ARTICLE 1: NAME
This body shall be known as Engage Church Albany (herein referred to as Engage).
ARTICLE 2: PURPOSE
The purpose of Engage is to glorify God by fulfilling the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-40) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
[Jesus said,] “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
Jesus […] said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (CSB)
ARTICLE 3: STATEMENT OF FAITH
Final authority for matters of belief and conduct:
The Statement of Faith does not exhaust the extent of our beliefs. The Bible itself, as the inspired and infallible Word of God, speaks with final authority concerning truth, morality, and the proper conduct of mankind and is the sole and final source of all that we believe. For the purposes of Engage’s faith, doctrine, practice, policy, and discipline, our leadership team is the final interpretive authority on the Bible’s meaning and application.
God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin and seek His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ (Acts 3:19-21; Romans 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity (Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31). Malicious behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual regardless of beliefs or practices are wrong and are not in accord with Scripture nor the doctrines of Engage (Galatians 5:14-26; Ephesians 4:26-32).
ARTICLE 4: AFFILIATION
Engage is autonomous and maintains the right to govern its own affairs, independent of any denominational control. However, recognizing the benefits of cooperation with other churches, Engage voluntarily affiliates with the Southern Baptist Convention in its local expressions and with Harbor Network nationally. Engage may also choose to cooperate with other like-minded churches, associations, and networks.
ARTICLE 5: MEMBERSHIP
Membership in Engage shall consist of all persons properly meeting the qualifications of membership (Bylaw 1).
ARTICLE 6: SAVING CLAUSE
In the event that any section of this constitution shall be declared unlawful or otherwise unenforceable, the declaration shall not affect any other portion of this constitution.
These bylaws define the policies and procedures necessary for the implementation of this constitution. No bylaw which violates any terms of this constitution shall be valid.
1. CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
Section 1 – Qualifications for Membership
The body of Engage will voluntarily enter into a mutual commitment with any individual who seeks membership by personally meeting with the pastor and being approved as qualified for membership by the pastor based on the following qualifications:
- A personal commitment of faith in Jesus Christ for salvation
- Baptism by immersion as a testimony of salvation
- Attending the “Engaging with Engage” class
- Agreeing with and abiding by the Statement of Faith of Engage (see Constitution, Article 3)
- Agreeing to live by the “Engage Commitment to Membership” covenant (see below):
- I will protect the unity of Engage by being known and knowing others
- by acting in love, mutual accountability and encouragement toward the other members and guests (John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Ephesians 4:29; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:16).
- by following the leaders as they follow the Lord in a biblical pattern (Ephesians 4:11-12; Hebrews 13:17).
- I will share the responsibility of fulfilling the purpose of Engage
- by attending faithfully (Psalm 122:1; Hebrews 10:23-25).
- by giving sacrificially (Lev. 27:30; Malachi 3:6-10; Proverbs 3:9-10; Matthew 23:23; 1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 8-9).
- by living godly before others (Romans 12:1-21; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 1:13-16, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8).
- by sharing Christ and praying for the spiritual and numerical growth of the church (1 Thessalonians 1:2; Philippians 1:3-5; Colossians 4:2-6; 1 Corinthians 10:32-33).
- by inviting the unchurched around me into our community (Luke 14:23).
- by warmly welcoming our guests at weekend services and Engage Groups (Romans 15:7; Colossians 4:5-6).
- I will serve the ministry of Engage
- by discovering and using my spiritual gifts, abilities, and passions in ministry on a regular basis (1 Corinthians 12; 1 Peter 4:10-12; Ephesians. 4:11-16).
- by developing a humble servant’s heart towards all those around me (Philippians 2:1-5, 7).
Section 2 – Voting Rights of Membership
Every member shall have the right to give input and vote on the following matters: the annual budget or any recommended changes to the annual budget, the merger or dissolution of the church, the acquisition of real property, changes to the constitution or bylaws of the church, and the calling or removing of paid staff. Each member 18 years or older is entitled to one vote.
Section 3 – Termination of Membership
Members shall be removed from the membership of the church for any of the following reasons:
- Transfer of membership to another church
- Request from the member
- Lack of Sunday Worship Attendance for a period of 3 months (after pastoral follow-up).
- Dismissal (overseen by the pastor(s) according to the following process):
- The member’s life and conduct is not in accordance with the membership covenant in such a way that the member’s life hinders the ministry influence of the church in the community.
- Procedures for the dismissal of a member shall be according to principles found in Matthew 18:15-17.
- Prior to church dismissal and in accordance with Matthew 18:15-17, the matter will be brought before a core group of spiritually mature members of Engage who are familiar with the member and/or the matter of concern. The pastor(s) will reach out to this core group for each individual occurrence when needed for prayer and restoration efforts. If the sinning member persists in their sin at this stage without a heart of repentance, the core group led by the pastor(s) will make the final decision for dismissal.
Section 4 – Restoration to Membership
Members dismissed from church membership shall be restored in a process overseen by the pastor(s) according to the spirit of 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 when their lifestyles are judged to be in accordance with the membership covenant. Restoration of members will be communicated by leadership to those members of the church who were involved in the Matthew 18 process described above.
2. CHURCH ORGANIZATION
Section 1 – Pastor(s)
Pastors are men gifted by the Holy Spirit, given to the church for its spiritual oversight. They are overseers, shepherds, elders, teachers, and examples to the church (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:2-4).
The scriptural qualifications for men who may be considered for the office of pastor are set forth in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Pastor(s) of Engage must agree, abide by, and teach according to the Statement of Faith (see Constitution, Article 3).
Pastors shall be chosen and called by the church when a need arises in the ministry of the church and/or when God raises up men within the church who possess the character and gifting of a pastor. If he is not already ordained, ordination will be scheduled within one year.
a) The pastor(s) will identify candidates and bring a recommendation to the church body. The church will have opportunity to meet and interview in an open forum any nominated pastoral candidate as well as hear him teach.
b) The election shall take place at a meeting called for that purpose of which at least two weeks’ notice has been given to church members. Election shall be by private ballot with an affirmative vote of three-fourths (75%) of those members present constituting a call.
Any misconduct charge against the pastor shall be presented to the pastoral team of Open Arms Church (until Engage has its own plurality of pastors) in accordance with the procedure in Bylaw 1, Section 3. Open Arms will oversee this process, determine the validity of the charge, and if warranted, dismiss him. They will then communicate the reason for dismissal to the church (1 Timothy 5:19-20).
Section 2 – Deacons
Deacons are men and women full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom; given to the church to
assist the pastor(s) in serving the church and are overseen by the pastor(s).
(Acts 6:1-6; I Timothy 3:8-13).
The scriptural qualifications for persons who may be considered for the office of deacon
are set forth in Acts 6:3 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13. Deacons must be members of Engage
that fully agree and abide by the Statement of Faith (see Constitution, Article 3).
a) The nomination process will be overseen by the pastor(s). Nominations among those persons who are members will be received by private ballot from the church membership.
b) The pastor(s), or a special team appointed by them, will review the nominations and conduct personal interviews with those persons who receive the highest percentage of nominations to ensure their qualifications.
c) Those who are interviewed, found qualified, and who accept the nomination will be presented to the church for ordination.
d) Deacons will be appointed to serve for three years. After serving three years, a deacon will be eligible for re-nomination.
Section 3 – Ministry Staff
1) Ministry staff are paid, non-pastoral men or women. Ministry staff can be hired from within the church or outside the church. (Ex. Children’s director, worship director etc.)
2) Qualifications: Ministry staff of Engage must be mature Christians with proven experience and a passion for the particular area of ministry. Ministry staff must agree and abide by the Statement of Faith (see Constitution, Article 3), and be a member of Engage.
3) Ministry staff shall be employed as the growth of the church determines the need for such services. The recommendation for establishing ministry staff positions to the church body will come as a recommendation from the pastor(s). The recommendation will be accompanied by a proposed job description. A vote by private ballot of those members present will then be taken to affirm the position.
4) The pastor(s) will be responsible for seeking out any new ministry staff. The pastor(s) shall recommend to the church the candidate for the position. Election shall be by private ballot of those members present.
5) The pastor(s) may dismiss ministry staff personnel and dissolve ministry staff positions.
Section 4 – Ministry Coordinators
a) The volunteer ministry coordinators will work with the pastor(s) and the ministry staff to implement the church’s purpose as it relates to their particular area of ministry.
b) The ministry coordinators shall serve the volunteer workers in their area of ministry by implementing accountability, providing direction and general oversight.
c) The ministry coordinators will seek to keep all open positions filled.
d) The ministry coordinators will submit budget requests to the church annually and operate their ministry within budget allotments.
a) Any member who is growing in Christian maturity, agrees and abides by the Statement of Faith (see Constitution, Article 3), and exhibits the gifts and abilities to oversee a particular ministry will be qualified. (Ex. Nursery, greeting, arts, music coordinators etc.)
b) The pastor(s) will approach qualified persons to seek their willingness to serve as ministry coordinators for one year terms. Coordinators may serve consecutive terms.
c) Ministry Coordinators may be dismissed from their roles by the Pastoral Team.
Section 5 – Special Teams
As needed, special teams may be formed by the Pastoral Team to assist in fulfilling the purpose of the church. Each team must have a specific task to be completed and upon completion of that task, the team may be dissolved by the Pastoral Team. (ex. See “Steering Committee” below)
Section 6 – Steering Committee
a) The Steering Committee shall review annually the salaries and benefit options for employees and seek input from pastoral supervisors to present recommendations to the church for inclusion in the annual budget (the pastors will not be involved in the review and recommendation of their own salaries).
b) The Steering Committee shall work with the pastor(s) to bring any new recommendations for paid staff before the church body for a vote.
c) The Steering Committee will seek to make decisions unanimously. Where unanimity cannot be reached, decisions will be made by a majority.
a) The Steering Committee shall consist of three to five members, renewed annually.
b) Team members are appointed by the pastor(s) from among those members of Engage
that agree and abide by the Statement of Faith (see Constitution, Article 3).
c) The Steering Committee may dissolve upon the institution of a plurality of pastor/elders.
Section 1 – Worship
Engage shall conduct regular worship services on Sunday (unless providentially hindered) and may choose to conduct services at other times during the week.
Section 2 – Prayer
Engage shall meet at announced times several times annually specifically for the purpose of prayer.
Section 3 – Member Meetings
Engage shall hold an annual member’s meeting to discuss the recommended budget and recommended church officers. A pastor will serve as moderator of all meetings. All meetings will be conducted and moderated in a manner of mutual love and respect.
A special meeting may be called by the moderator to be held at any regular service or meeting of the church or for a specifically called meeting at another time or place. The specific purpose of the meeting shall be clearly stated to the membership at least one week prior to the called meeting by announcement at Sunday services to those present and by email or U.S. mail to those without email.
No matters may be attended to at the member’s meeting except those for which it was called and previously announced.
Section 4 – Voting
A quorum must be established for a vote to be binding regarding all church business. A quorum shall consist of 51% of the current membership.
All matters of business shall be decided by 60% of those members present received by private ballot unless otherwise specified by this constitution and bylaws. Members may submit a signed absentee ballot in exceptional cases as approved by the pastor(s).
Section 5 – Church Year
The church fiscal year shall be from January 1 through December 31.
4. CHURCH FINANCE
The budget shall be the guide for expenditures of the anticipated receipts. It is understood that membership in Engage involves financial obligation to support the church and its ministries with regular, proportionate gifts. Confidential records will be kept for all gifts and an annual statement provided to each person or family. Monthly financial statements containing details of all monies received and spent are available upon request.
In the event Engage discontinues and is dissolved, its assets not required for payment of its liabilities and obligations shall be paid over and transferred to one or more organizations engaged in activities similar to our own and in agreement with Statement of Faith (see Constitution, Article 3). Such distribution shall be decided by a vote of the members of the church.
The constitution and bylaws may be amended at a meeting called by the moderator after notification has been sent to all members of Engage. Notification will be made at least two weeks prior to the meeting at which the proposed changes or additions are to be presented for approval. A 60% majority of those members present is necessary to change the constitution and bylaws. The constitution and bylaws will be reviewed at least every ten years by the leadership team.