Article VIII: Elders
Section 1. Powers.
Subject to the limitations of this Constitution and of pertinent restrictions of the Religious Corporation Act of the State of Illinois, all the activities and affairs of Grace Church shall be exercised by or under the direction of the Elders, who are responsible for the shepherding and the spiritual oversight of the membership. Without prejudice to such general powers but subject to the same limitations, it is hereby expressly declared that the Elders shall have the following powers in addition to the other powers enumerated in this Constitution.
(a) To select and remove all the officers, agents, pastors, staff and employees of Grace Church, prescribe such duties for them as may not be inconsistent with law, or with this Constitution, fix the terms of their offices and their compensation.
(b) To make such disbursements from the funds and properties of Grace Church as are required to fulfill the purposes of this Corporation and generally to conduct, manage and control the activities and affairs of the Church and to make such rules and regulations therefore not inconsistent with law or with this Constitution, as they may deem best.
(c) To adopt, make and use the Corporate seal and to alter the form of such seal from time to time as they may deem best.
(d) To establish policies, positions and practices for Grace Church consistent with the purposes of the Church and the Church’s interpretation of Scripture.
(e) To borrow money and incur indebtedness for the purposes of Grace Church and to cause to be executed and delivered therefore, in the corporate name, promissory notes, bonds, debentures, deeds of trust, mortgages, pledges, hypothecations, or other evidences of debt and securities therefore, but only if consistent to Article XXVI, Section 1 of this Constitution.
(f) To carry on a business and apply any such profit that results from the business activity to any activity in which it may legally engage.
Section 2. Priorities of the Elders (Acts 20:28-35).
(a) To keep right with God: “Pay careful attention to yourselves.”
(b) To feed and lead the flock of God: “And to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”
(c) To warn and watch … to protect the flock (from false teachers and other emissaries of Satan): “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.”
(d) To pray and study: “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
(e) To be free from self-interest: “I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Section 3. Number of Elders.
The authorized number of Elders of the Church, shall always be a plurality, more than one, until changed by an amendment of this Constitution.
Section 4. Equality of Elders.
All Elders are equal in their leadership role at Grace Church, regardless of the position they hold in the utilization of their particular gifts, e.g., an officer of the Elders, Pastor/Teacher, etc.
Section 5. Selection of Elders.
(a) Candidates earnestly desiring the office of Elder, including the commitment inherent thereto, must initiate this request, in writing, to the Elders stating their desire to serve Grace Church as an Elder. The Elders will carefully examine the candidate as to his qualifications as outlined in Section 6 of this Article. The candidate must adhere to the doctrinal basis of this church and teach no doctrine contrary to the Doctrinal Statement as put forth in the Constitution of Grace Church of DuPage. After an appropriate trial period to insure harmony and like-mindedness, the candidate will then become an Elder after the unanimous approval of the Elders.
(b) The following steps will be the process by which an individual will be screened and evaluated in terms of discerning God’s hand upon that person’s life, in qualifying him for a leadership position within Grace Church:
(i) INITIATION: the individual responds to God’s working in his life by expressing a desire to serve in a leadership capacity.
(ii) CONFIRMATION: the Elders unanimously agree that the individual has the potential for leadership and thereby assume the responsibility to work with the individual toward that end.
(iii) DEMONSTRATION: the Elders will assign specific responsibilities of ministry within the Church for a period of time in order for the entire body to examine by observing the individual’s spirit and effectiveness in service.
(iv) PRESENTATION: if the individual’s service is deemed to be appropriate by the Elders for the designated trial period, the person in question will be presented to the entire Church for evaluation, examination, and affirmation as one whom God has qualified for leadership. The entire body will be given a 7-day period in which to express concerns or needed input to the Elders, personally.
(v) AFFIRMATION: after the Elders have acted upon the input of the congregation (if necessary), and if the Elders are in unanimous agreement that the individual has indeed been qualified by an act of the grace of God for leadership within the Church, the Elders will affirm what God has already done in the man’s life by setting him apart for the leadership position in question.
Section 6. Qualifications.
(a) Male (1 Timothy 2:12-13).
(d) Temperate (sober, vigilant) (1 Timothy 3:2).
(f) Of good behavior (orderly, respectable) (1 Timothy 3:2).
(k) Patient (moderate, forbearing, gentle) (1 Timothy 3:3).
(n) Rules well his own house (which embodies proper relationships with all family members still in his home, as well as the responsible financial management of his family’s needs) (1 Timothy 3:4, Titus 1:6, 1 Timothy 5:8).
(o) His children must be faithful, and while under his authority (i.e., unmarried and not a self-supporting adult), not accused of rebellion against God (Titus 1:6).
(p) Not a novice (not a new convert having shown at least 4 years of demonstrated growth) (1 Timothy 3:6).
(q) Has a good report or reputation with outsiders (1 Timothy 3:7).
(r) Not double-tongued (1 Timothy 3:8).
(s) A lover of good (people and things) (Titus 1:8).
(t) Just (fair) (Titus 1:8).
(u) Holy (devout) (Titus 1:8).
(v) Self controlled (Titus 1:8).
Section 7. Accountability and Removal of Elders.
Elder accountability is first and foremost unto God (1 Peter 5:1-5). It is mandatory, however, that the Elders must also be accountable to one another, at all times, to continue to meet the standards of the office of Elder as outlined in Section 6 above. Should sin in the life of an Elder, based upon the testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses (1 Timothy 5:19), cause him to no longer fulfill these standards, the Elders must deal with this issue immediately. It takes the unanimous decision of every Elder (not only a quorum), except the accused and those accusing, for the erring Elder to be removed from the office of Elder. Some offenses, even with proper repentance and forgiveness, will be more difficult to overcome than others because of the damage such offense has done to the credibility of the man both in the church body and to the public at large.
If, over a proper period of time, the erring Elder’s corrected behavior is perceived by the congregation and accepted by the Elders as worthy of a renewed leadership position, he shall be viewed as any other new candidate for the office of Elder and subject to the same requirements as listed in Section 6 above.
Any Elder, including the Pastor/Teacher, may be removed from office if he becomes physically incapacitated, spiritually unqualified as outlined in Section 6 above, or his inability to serve is established in the minds of the remainder of the Elders.
Section 8. Decisions of the Elders.
Decisions shall be reached after prayerful consideration only by unanimous vote of the Elders, in a spirit of humility with each Elder regarding one another before himself.
(a) Whenever the matter to be considered concerns calling or dismissing a pastor, approval, discipline or the dismissing of an Elder or Deacon, buying or selling real estate, major Church indebtedness in the form of a long-term obligation to repay, an amendment to or modification of the Constitution in general or the Doctrinal Statement, or the approval or modification of a Policy/Position Statement, a quorum as it pertains to the vote shall consist of all of the members of the Elders (with the exception of any Elder that is being voted upon), whether voting in person, or by telephone to be later confirmed in writing.
(b) The Elders may seek entire Church participation in decisions on some major issues so determined by the Elders in the following manner:
(i) Decisions made by the Elders will be presented to the entire Church for consideration and clarification at a meeting deemed appropriate by the Elders.
(ii) Questions of a clarification nature only will be answered by the Elders at the time of presentation.
(iii) Questions of an objectionable nature or other information deemed appropriate to support one’s objection will be directed to one of the Elders on a personal basis at some time other than the time of presentation and within one week from the time of presentation. If the Elder who is presented with the information relating to the objection is not able to answer satisfactorily the member’s concern, that Elder must take the information to all the Elders for consideration. To assist the Elders in their discussion of the issue at hand, the individual may be asked to meet with the Elders to clarify the concerns or objections.
(iv) Before any final action may be initiated the Elders must come to a unified decision. Should the new information presented prevent a unanimous vote of the Elders, no action will be taken. The congregation will be informed of this process in a manner deemed appropriate by the Elders, and no action will be taken on the issue at hand until unanimity is reached by the Elders. But should the Elders be unified after the consideration of the new information, the decision will be implemented as originally presented.
Section 9. Elder Appointed Membership Committees.
To promote efficient handling of Elder matters, the Elders may appoint various committees from within the Grace Church membership, which shall exist for that specific time period so directed by the Elders. These committees shall perform tasks solely in accordance with the duties and with powers specifically delegated by the Elders. The general functions of the committees will be:
(a) To bring considered recommendations to the Elders concerning ministries, and
(b) To provide a wider base of counsel to the Elders in their general oversight of specific ministries.
Section 10. Fees and Compensation.
Elders, as such, shall not receive any stated or fixed salary for their services, however, nothing herein contained shall be construed to preclude any Elders from serving Grace Church in any other capacity and receiving compensation therefore, such as the Pastor/Teacher, for example.
Any person receiving compensation directly or indirectly from Grace Church shall not be in a position to determine the nature or amount of said compensation.
Section 11. Rights of Inspection.
Every Elder shall have the absolute right at any reasonable time to inspect and copy all books, records and documents of every kind and to inspect the physical properties of Grace Church of which such person is an Elder, for a purpose reasonably related to such person’s interest as an Elder.
Section 12. Resignations.
Except as this Constitution and the Illinois Religious Corporation Act may provide, any Elder may resign effective upon giving written notice to the Elder Chairman or Vice Chairman, or must resign if subject to discipline under Section 7 of this Article.