Constitution & Bylaws
Forest Hills Baptist Church is governed by a set of member-approved bylaws, and such standing policies and resolutions as may from time to time be adopted by the Church.
AUGUST churchwide business meeting
Join us Sunday, August 16 at 4pm in the Sanctuary (or from home via the link below) as we discuss, among other items, the final version of the Proposed Updated Bylaws.
As the result of several discussions over the past couple of years, church leadership has been prayerfully considering making updates to our bylaws to ensure that Forest Hills Baptist Church is properly structured to be and operating as the salt and light we are called by scripture to be.
Late last year, the Elders asked two of our Associate Pastors (Jake Day and Chad Mize) as well as the three Elders whose terms were expiring at the end of 2019 (Benny Hauk, Bill Carden, and Robert Pautienus) to review our current bylaws and see where we need to make changes. The Elders received the panel’s suggested changes and additions earlier this year. The Pastor Search Task Force also suggested some changes to the bylaws that they felt needed to be made from the discussions they were having as they did their work. In total, both groups believed that it would be ideal to have the bylaws updated before a new senior pastor candidate came to our church in view of a call.
Next, a final review was completed and some minor additions and changes were made by the current Elders, then our church committee’s Elder liaisons discussed the proposed updated bylaws with the respective chairperson for their input. The Chairman of the Elders also provided the Chairman of the Deacons with the proposed updated bylaws so that he and the Deacon Leadership Team could review them and provide feedback.
Now church leadership has finished their work and are presenting the proposed updated bylaws to you, the church family, for your consideration and approval.
DOCUMENTS & DOWNLOADS
- Current Bylaws (Revised July 20, 2016)
- Proposed Updated Bylaws (Revised Aug 5, 2020)
- Redline Comparison ~ Current & Proposed Bylaws
- Friday, July 10 — Proposed Updated Bylaws Available For Review
- Tuesday, July 21, 7pm — Online Q&A (Special Business Meeting)
- Sunday, July 26, 4pm — In-Person Q&A in Sanctuary (Special Business Meeting)
- Sunday, August 16, 4pm — In-Person & Online Churchwide Business Meeting with Q&A in Sanctuary
- Sunday, September 13 — Mail-in bylaws approval ballots sent out on or before this date (motion, pending approval)
- Sunday, September 20 — Electronic and mail-in bylaws approval ballots due to Church office (motion, pending approval)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Whenever governing documents are written for an organization or a church, they reflect the period of time in which they were written and are designed to be updated to reflect changing times. This is true with our current Bylaws in the face of our changing world as well. We believe the proposed changes will enable us to more effectively steward the Gospel mission that the Lord has given us within our current culture.
There are two reasons for publishing our statement of faith within our governing documents: First, while our statement is informed by these three historic SBC statements of faith, we have addressed and clarified some areas that were not addressed in the year 2000 (such as biblical definitions of marriage/sexuality) that we needed to clarify our beliefs on as a church. Second, from a legal standpoint, it has been recommended that if we were ever challenged in court on our beliefs it is best to have our statement of faith in writing in our governing documents rather than referencing a third-party document.
Eligibility requirements. Presently eligible elder candidates must have served as a deacon for three years. The proposed changes recognize that the offices of deacon and elder have different biblical callings and giftings. The new, proposed eligibility criteria include all of the following:
● Follows the biblical guidelines of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1
● Male, at least 30 years old
● A believer and member of the church for at least 5 years
● A practicing financial tither to the church.
The goal is to better reflect the scriptural criteria for being an elder.
Voting ability of the senior pastor. Presently the senior pastor is a non-voting ex-officio elder. The senior pastor and the ministers reporting to him go where the rest of the elders lead. Under the proposed changes, the senior pastor is an ex-officio voting elder, on equal footing with all other elders. There are two reasons for this:
● It’s biblical. Scripturally, the Pastor is an Elder/Overseer, without distinction. In fact, we have always used the same passages to determine the qualifications for both. This can also be seen in interchangeable terminology in Acts 20:17-35.
● It’s unifying. While granting a vote might appear to grant more authority to the pastor, allowing the senior pastor to vote gives him equal ownership and accountability for the decisions the rest of the elders make. We believe this will bring inherent unity between the senior pastor (and by extension the Ministerial team) and the lay elders, avoiding the historically problematic us vs. them paradigm. Decisions will be made together, in unity among lay leaders and vocational leaders.
Removal of an Elder. In the unfortunate event that an Lay Elder has disqualified himself from the position and a credible accusation is brought to the Elder body and they decided not to call a special called business meeting to remove the elder, the proposed Bylaws outline a process whereby a member can make a motion at a regularly scheduled business meeting to call a special called business meeting to remove an Elder who has disqualified himself.
Covenant. A covenant is our common agreement as believers with one another before the Lord regarding the things we pledge to do as church family and as individuals. It's designed to be used to regularly remind one another of what we have agreed to before the Lord. While we have always had a church covenant, it has rarely been used, is unknown by most and, in fact, different covenants have been published in different places. The proposed bylaws seek to streamline and update the covenant in a way that we can begin using it as it was intended to be used.
Membership Process. In our current bylaws, the process for membership is not defined. While the same traditional ways of expressing ones personal of faith in the Lord remain prerequisite (profession of faith/baptism, statement of prior profession/baptism, and transfer of letter), the proposed Bylaws clarify the process which we already use in meeting prospective members. This process: 1) helps prospective members understand who we are as a church and what we believe, 2) helps us understand who they are and what they believe, 3) provides an opportunity to share the Gospel when it is not understood and 4) Serves to aid each prospective member understand their giftedness with the hope that we can help them better assimilate into the church and serve effectively in the future.
Qualifications. The proposed Bylaws expand and further detail the biblical qualifications and responsibilities for being the Senior Pastor.
Accountability. As was addressed with the new Elder structure in the proposed Bylaws, the Senior Pastor is directly and functionally accountable to the other 9 Lay Elders. More specifically the new Bylaws give the Elders emergency authority to act in a temporary fashion if there was an extraordinary circumstance and immediate reason for the pastor to temporarily step away from his preaching duties (while elders investigate a credible accusation of inappropriate behavior, for example) and the senior pastor does not do so voluntarily, the proposed changes give the elders the authority to discreetly remove his preaching duties as a temporary measure. Only the congregation can permanently remove a senior pastor and the proposed changes do not change that. Practically-speaking it would take many weeks of investigation, communication, and organization to call a church-wide vote and leaders need the authority to act quickly, temporarily, in more extreme circumstances of potential pastoral misconduct. Furthermore, the proposed changes outline a process whereby a member can address disqualification of the Senior Pastor if: 1) The member has first brought the accusation to the Elders. 2) The Elders have investigated the accusations and decided not to recommend removal. 3) The member still believes the Senior Pastor has disqualified himself and needs to be removed.
Given the number of deacons required to meet the daily needs of our congregation and active nature of our deacon model, a temporary sabbatical from active service as a Deacon may become necessary. However, to make sure our qualified and elected pool of deacons can continue to meet the needs of the church, the proposed Bylaws limit the nature of that sabbatical to 3 years. Any leave of service beyond three years (except by approval of the Deacon Chair) constitutes removal from the Deacon body. This serves to keep deacons healthy who desire to serve, yet are in need of a sabbatical. It provides integrity and purpose to the sabbatical process while keeping the needs of the deacon family ministry met each year.
The roles of our committees remain virtually unchanged and remain an influential part of our church leadership structure.