AFCC COWBOY CHURCH CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS
Under the guidance and leadership of the Lord Jesus Christ, we the members of _________________
Cowboy Church adopt the following constitution in order to declare and preserve the principles of our
faith, the freedom of our church, and the rights and responsibilities of our individual members
ARTICLE I. NAME
The name of this church is ______________________Cowboy Church and incorporated under the
laws of the State of ___________________.
ARTICLE II. PURPOSE
The church is to be a fellowship of baptized believers brought together to carry out the work of Jesus
Christ. It is organized and maintained to fulfill the following Mission Purpose Statement: The mission
of the Church is to reach the lost and unchurched people in the cowboy culture with the gospel of
Jesus Christ and provide a church home where they can become more like Him. The church will
accomplish this mission by holding to these values:
Simplicity- The church will strive to keep all things it does as simple as possible.
Non-judgmental approach- The church will foster a non judgmental atmosphere in all it does, accepting
people just as they are, just as Christ himself does.
Practice of Biblical Christianity- The church will practice biblical Christianity. This will be practiced by
the leadership and the congregation.
Empowerment with Accountability- The church will strive to empower as many people as it can to serve
Christ through the church and bring out the giftedness in them while holding them accountable for their
actions and commitments.
Power of the Gospel- We believe that Jesus Christ is Head of the church and in the power of the gospel
for salvation of souls and healing of body, mind and spirit.
Elimination of barriers to the cowboy culture- The church will do all that it can to lower or eliminate the
barriers preventing the Gospel of Jesus Christ from reaching people in the cowboy/western culture.
ARTICLE III. DOCTRINE
AFCC See attached
We recognize the Baptist Faith and Message (1963) as our statement of doctrine with the exception
of the description of scriptural officers in (VI. THE CHURCH). In accordance with Acts 14:23 we
recognize the Elders and Lay Pastors as scriptural officers. The Lay Pastors will serve in the Biblical
role described in scripture as Deacon.
ARTICLE IV. POLITY AND RELATIONSHIP
Jesus Christ is the head of the church; the true source of all that the church is and does, and His glory
is to be the objective of every act, function, and motive of the body, both individually and corporately.
It is before Him that all other leadership must bow. He communicates his will for the church through
His word, the Bible. He gives additional guidance by means of the specific leading of the Holy Spirit
who indwells the heart of each believer. He calls forth elders in accordance with Acts 14:23 for the
church to whom He gives responsibility for the oversight of the church body and the shepherding of
its members. Persons meeting the membership requirements and making a written request for
membership shall constitute the membership. All internal groups created and empowered by the church
shall exist to further the purpose of the church. They will be accountable to the church. As an
autonomous local church, this church is not subject to the control of any ecclesiastical body. However,
it relates to the American Fellowship of Cowboy Churches and other entities of like faith in sharing the
gospel with the whole world. If an entity this church cooperates with ceases to agree with or support
the mission of this church, this church reserves the right to disassociate with that entity.
ARTICLE V. ORDINANCES
SECTION I. BAPTISM (John 3:13-17, I Peter 3:21, Romans 6:4)
A baptized believer is one who has been scripturally immersed and understands baptism to be a symbol
of the salvation which has already been accepted in their life by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
SECTION II. THE LORD’S SUPPER (Luke 22:17-20, I Corinthians 26)
The church will observe the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis as led by the Pastor.
The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act whereby the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine,
memorialize the death of Christ and anticipate His second coming. This observance is open to anyone who has
accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior and is seeking His righteousness.
ARTICLE VI. AMENDMENTS
This Constitution may be amended by a three-fourths (3/4) vote of the active
resident members present at a church conference called for that purpose.
Amendments may be proposed by the Elders or by written petition signed by
25% of the active resident members and duly presented to the Elders.
Proposed amendments for church consideration shall be announced at the regular
worship service and made available in written form to the congregation two weeks
prior to the called church conference in which they will be voted on.
ARTICLE I. MEMBERSHIP
SECTION 1. ESTABLISHING MEMBERSHIP
Membership in the Church is open to anyone who meets the following qualifications:
A. A member must have personal commitment of faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.
B. A member must have been baptized by immersion after faith in Christ as a testimony of salvation.
C. Membership may be established in the following ways:
Candidates may join by affirming that they are baptized (immersed) believers in the Lord Jesus Christ,
holding to the historic teachings of Christianity. Members joining by statement of faith that hold
membership in another church are responsible for notifying their former church of their new membership
Candidates accepting Christ as their Savior and requesting believer’s baptism by immersion will be
accepted as members upon baptism.
D. All candidates for membership shall give a verbal testimony of their conversion, baptism,
current relationship with Christ and acceptance of the church’s mission statement and doctrinal
teaching to the pastor or designated member of leadership.
SECTION 2. TERMINATION OF MEMBERSHIP
A person’s membership may be terminated in one of the following ways:
B. Transfer of Membership
If a member conducts himself in a manner which brings the name of Christ and the church into
disrepute, or is found to be undermining church unity, it will be the responsibility of the elders under
the guidance of the pastor to attempt to restore the member in a spirit of love according to the guidelines
set forth in Matthew 18:15 -17 and other scriptures. If the member fails to respond positively to these
attempts or a member vocally espouses a believe system or doctrinal interpretation that is contrary
to what is taught in this church and it is deemed, by the elders, to be detrimental to the spiritual health
of the congregation, exclusion will require a consensus of the elder body.
If a member requests erasure or offers proof of membership in a church of another denomination,
his name will be removed from the roll.
SECTION 3. RIGHTS OF MEMBER
Each active resident member present, 18 years of age and older, shall be entitled to one (1) vote
on each matter submitted for a vote at any called church conference. The right of a member to vote
shall cease upon the termination of his membership in the church. The right of a member to vote may
be suspended if the member is involved in an unresolved elder intervention or if the member is no longer an active resident member. An active resident member is a member on the church roll who lives in or around the _________________ area and attends the church’s regular worship services at least 6 times in a 90 day period. Active resident members have the right to vote on the following matters: the call of the pastor, the annual church budget, indebtedness associated with land acquisition and/or building improvements, cumulative indebtedness for all other aspects of church business that exceeds 20% of the annual church budget, the disposition of all or substantially all of the assets of the church, the merger or dissolution of the church, and any other matter submitted by the elders to the church for a vote.
ARTICLE II. MINISTERIAL LEADERSHIP
SECTION 1. PASTOR (Ephesians 4:11-13, I Timothy 5:17)
Upon a vacancy in the pastorate the Elders are responsible for determining the process for calling a pastor. In accordance with Acts 14:23 the elder body must be included in this process. Spiritual authority will be given to the new pastor by appointment of the elder body. The congregation will vote to acknowledge his appointment and submission to his spiritual authority by extending a call. The Elder body must be in consensus on a single candidate before they are submitted to the church for a vote. After reaching consensus on a single candidate the elders will set a time and date for the candidate to be received by the church. On that date, a church conference shall be called and after a full discussion, a vote will be taken by secret ballot. A three-fourths (3/4) vote of the active resident members of the church present and voting is required to extend a call. If a call is not extended by the church to the candidate, or if the candidate declines to accept, then the Elders will continue the process.
The pastor shall be the spiritual leader of the congregation. In that capacity, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the leadership of the Holy Spirit, he shall preach and teach the word of God, lead the church in a regular worship services, administer the ordinances of the church, serve as moderator at church conferences, provide leadership to the ministerial staff, serve as over all administrator of the church with consensus of elders, work to implement the model of church structure and function laid out in this constitution and generally fulfill all his pastoral duties as set forth in Scripture.
The pastor’s duties with the church may be terminated by resignation, death, or dismissal. If the pastor’s effectiveness comes into question, dismissal must be preceded by appropriate interventions in accordance with scripture by the elders. Termination of the pastor will require consensus of the elder body, excluding the pastor and a 50% vote for dismissal by the congregation. The Pastor’s duties may be terminated by consensus of the elder body, excluding the pastor, without a vote if the pastor is indicted for a felony crime or if the elders determine the pastor has engaged in immoral behavior with another person that rises to a level requiring termination.
. SECTION 2. PROFESSIONAL MINISTERIAL STAFF
If it is determined by the pastor and or elders that additional professional ministerial staff other than the pastor is needed for fulfilling the church’s mission they may be employed by the church. The elders will seek out candidates to fill the position. The pastor will make the final selection for the staff position.
Professional ministerial staff persons will have specific and written job descriptions as outlined by the pastor.
The minister’s duties with the church may be terminated by resignation, death, or dismissal. Dismissal can be made by the Pastor with consensus of elders.
SECTION 3. LAY PASTORS
A. Purpose and Function
Lay Pastors fill the scriptural office of deacons. (Acts 6:1-4, I Timothy 3:1, 8-10)
They are directed by the pastor to help him carry out ministry duties. They are appointed and replaced by the pastor, with consensus of elders, at his discretion. They may be attached to one or more ministry teams. They do not run or lead the teams, they resource the team and act as a liaison between the team and the pastor. They may be called on to participate in the worship service help the pastor minister to the needs of the congregation.
Lay pastors shall be appointed as needed by the senior pastor with consensus of elders. If there is no pastor they may be appointed by the elders.
D. Term of Office
Lay pastors will be appointed to a one year term, but may serve multiple terms by mutual consent of the senior pastor, the elders, and the lay pastor.
A Lay pastor may be removed before their term of office expires by death, resignation, or dismissal by the pastor and or elders.
SECTION 4. ELDERS (Acts 14:23, 15:2, 20:17, Titus 1:5, James 5:14, I Peter 2:25, 5:1-4)
A. Purpose and Function
Elders shall serve to provide spiritual leadership and accountability to the church in accordance with scripture. They will provide a brotherhood of support and accountability for the pastor, assist the ministry teams with difficult issues, serve as arbiters in matters of conflict or church discipline and in general provide spiritual leadership, guidance, and assistance wherever and whenever appropriate. The elder body shall be made up of four appointed men including the pastor, who is the lead elder.
Spiritual authority comes from God through His Holy word and through his calling of men. Once an elder’s calling has been recognized, upon his appointment to the elder position in the church he will assume all spiritual authority granted to him through scripture. This authority will cease upon his leaving of office at the appointed time.
Elders model what it means to be Christ like. Elders are an example for the congregation of how to live a Christian life, this includes how to relate to other Christians, how to relate to non-believers, how to have an active personal relationship with Jesus. Elders may be utilized for discipleship of the congregation by leading bibles studies, filling the pulpit and providing spiritual counsel to the congregation under the pastors’ direction and generally using their God given gifts and talents to minister to the congregation. An elder cannot occupy a dual leadership role if there is a conflict of interest that could jeopardize the pastor/elder relationship.
A Brotherhood of Support and Accountability for the Pastor
Elders must be committed to the Pastor and act as a buffer between the Pastor and his critics; they also are an accountability group for the pastor, prayer partners of the pastor. Elders are to meet with the pastor on a consistent regular basis for consultation, prayer and fellowship.
Decision Making Body
Elders use their spiritual authority to empower the congregation to make ministry decisions though teams within scriptural and constitutional guidelines. Elders are a decision making body is when (1) they are moved, as a body, by the Holy Spirit and are in consensus, issues in administration or church direction come up. (2) When a ministry team cannot reach consensus on an issue, (3) when the functional structure does not exist or breaks down, (4) in matters of church discipline or pastoral accountability.
DUAL ROLE SECTION HAS BE ELIMINATED
All discussions between the elders are strictly confidential; this includes not discussing elder issues with the spouses of elders or other church members. Breaking confidentiality is grounds for removal. Elders do not meet without all the elders present including the pastor if this is possible. The pastor must be informed if the elder body is going to meet to discuss issues involving the pastor and he must be allowed to be present at such a meeting. The Pastor-Elder and Elder-Elder relationships must be 100% transparent.
An Elder must be someone who the existing elder body believes has a true calling from God that has been demonstrated by service. God’s Word gives us specific qualifications, in 1 Timothy 3:1-12, for men who are called to serve as leaders in our church. Below are the biblical and culturally relevant qualifications that apply to Elders.
1. Elder must acknowledge the importance and respect God gives to someone called to lead the church.
2. Elder must be someone with a good testimony in his home, the church, and in the culture God has called this church to reach. The church acknowledges that none are without sin; however, an Elder must be someone who is seeking righteousness.
3. If an Elder is married, he must currently have one wife and be engaged in a biblical marriage. He must love his wife as Christ loves the church. Previous divorce alone is not grounds for disqualification.
4. Elders are called to handle very difficult situations at times and must be able to control their personal feelings, emotions, and actions in order to seek what God would have them do and not follow their own desires.
5. An Elder must be a man who is respected in the church, at home, and in the culture. An Elder must respect people in his family, the church, and his community.
6. An Elder must be willing to open his home and give of his time to meet and the serve the people in the church.
7. An Elder must spend time in Gods Word and be comfortable and willing to instruct others in the church about the scriptures.
8. An Elder must not be controlled by alcohol or engage in any activity that impairs his ability to make sound decisions or damages his testimony in the church, home, or culture.
9. An Elder must be able to handle situations calmly without becoming verbally, physically, or emotionally abusive.
10. An Elder must never be involved in matters that cause dissension in the church if the matter is not required by scripture.
11. An Elder must be someone who is willing to put the needs of the church above his own desire for worldly possessions.
12. An Elder must be leading his family the way God directs in Scripture and be involved in the lives of his family.
13. An Elder must not be new Christian. While Spiritual maturity is something none of us will completely attain until we are in the presence of God, it is also something that takes time. An elder must meet a minimum level of maturity as outlined in Hebrews 6:1-2.
14. An Elder must be in good standing with people who are not a part of the church. He must have credibility with the rural/western culture we are seeking to reach.
15. An Elder must look to Gods Word for the direction to lead the church.
16. An Elder must be someone who has been tested by active service and leadership in the church and have an adequate depth of knowledge of scripture to lead.
17. Best practice would be for an Elder to be an active resident member of the church for no less than two (2) years, however if there are no called, scripturally qualified men in the congregation to serve as elders then the elder does not have to be a member of the church.
18. An Elder must a have an understanding and desire to see that the Mission of the church and its values are upheld.
19. An Elder can not have a spouse or family member who serves as paid or volunteer staff including but not limited to church clerk, church secretary or church finance secretary.
20. Elders must be willing to rearrange their daily schedules or do whatever it takes to ensure the Mission of the Church and any business necessary is fulfilled.
21. If arguments and disagreements arise in the church an Elder must be able to take a neutral position, suspend judgment, hear both sides, and seek only Gods direction based on Scripture.
22. Elders must be men of age and maturity.
C. Selection and Term of Office
Thereafter on or about January 1st of each year, in accordance with Acts 14:23, the elder body will appoint the new elder(s). All terms will be three years and only one new elder is to be appointed each year. The congregation will affirm the elder selection by a majority vote. Short terms will be determined by lottery. Best practices would be: after an elder has rotated off for a year he will be eligible to be a candidate for elder again if it is determined that he is still qualified, however if there are no scripturally qualified men to serve in the elder role the elder can serve multiple terms by mutual consent of the pastor and elders.
Any active resident member of the church may bring a written scriptural reason for removal of an elder if they have two witnesses. Elders other than the Pastor may be removed from office by their own decision or by consensus decision of the other elders. Removal shall be based upon being spiritually unqualified, the inability to serve or as a result of the process laid out in Matthew 18:15-17 and other scriptures or failure to fulfill their commitments as an elder.
Elder vacancies can occur by death, resignation, or removal. When a vacancy occurs, the existing elders shall select an interim to fill the vacancy until the next election.
ARTICLE III. SUPPORT STAFF
The pastor and or elders determine the need for support staff. Once a need is determined budget approval by the church must be in place before a position can be filled. Once applicants are narrowed to no more than three the pastor will be included in the interview process and must be in consensus with the team before the position is filled.
Support staff persons will have specific and written job descriptions as outlined by the pastor and elders.
Dismissal may be made by the Pastor and the elders.
ARTICLE IV TEAMS
SECTION 1 GENERAL MINISTRY TEAMS (Mark 3:13-18, 6:7-13, Luke 6:12-16, I Corinthians 12:17-31)
A. Purpose and Function
Ministry teams shall be organized to carry out the specialized ministries of the church. Each ministry team shall have specific functions and responsibilities as assigned or approved by the pastor and/or elders.
Ministry teams will be made up of consensus members and supporting team members. There will be no less than 4 no more than 10 consensus members and as many supporting members as needed to carry out the mission of the ministry team. Consensus members are responsible for attending regularly scheduled ministry team meetings and reaching consensus on decisions. Supporting team members will have individual functions and responsibilities as assigned by the consensus members. A staff member or lay pastor will be assigned to each team to offer assistance and serve as a liaison between the team and the senior pastor and will be responsible for ensuring that the team functions properly. Teams will function by consensus, not majority vote. Teams must arrive at decisions that can be supported by each member of the team. If consensus cannot be reached, the matter must either be tabled or prayed about before being addressed again or placed before the pastor and elders for a final decision. Ministry teams that have their own budget line must make a justified budget request for the annual budget. The ministry team is responsible for staying within their budget and giving an account of all of their activities at the monthly leadership team meeting. The teams make their own decisions about what they will do in their particular areas of ministry and they will choose how to allocate their budget dollars as long as they follow the process laid out in this document. Teams will hold firmly to the Mission Statement of the church and filter everything they do through this mission statement.
Consensus members must be active resident members of the church in good standing, have credibility with other church members, have a passion for the mission of the team, and be determined to make the team a top priority in their lives and desire to use their talents and abilities to accomplish the team’s mission. They must be willing to practice biblical Christianity. Non church members can be active on ministry teams as supporting team members but cannot be consensus members that make decisions.
D. Formation of Teams
General Ministry teams may be formed as needed by the pastor and/or elders.
E. Selection and Term of Office
Consensus members of general ministry teams are appointed by the pastor and/or elders or by someone enlisted by the pastor and elders to appoint members. The term of office for general ministry team members will be one year, but members may serve multiple terms by mutual consent. All selections of consensus members must be approved by the Pastor.
If a team member causes conflict, fails to carry out his or her responsibility to the team including meeting participation, or otherwise hampers the work of the team, every effort should be made by the team leader and assigned staff person to rectify the issue in a positive redemptive manner. However, if the problem persists, a team member may be removed by the pastor and/or elders.
SECTION 2 STANDING TEAMS
A. Purpose and function
Standing teams shall be in place to assist in finding and providing the tangible resources necessary to effectively carry out the church’s ministries and business.
Standing ministry teams shall be composed of six members serving two year terms with (3) members rotating off each year. A staff member or lay pastor will be assigned to each team to offer assistance and serve as a liaison between the team and the senior pastor and elders. Each year, one member of the team shall be designated by the pastor, lay pastor or staff member to be team leader and will be responsible for ensuring that the team functions properly. Teams will function by consensus, not majority vote. This means that teams must arrive at decisions that can be supported by each member of the team. If consensus cannot be reached, the matter shall either be tabled or placed before the pastor and elders for a final decision.
Qualifications for standing ministry team members will be the same as those of general ministry team representatives. (Article IV. Section 1.)
D. Standing Teams
The standing teams of the church shall be:
THE PERSONELL TEAM HAS BEEN ELIMINATED
1. Facility Team
The Facility Team will be made up of 6 members. This team is responsible to ensure that the church has adequate facilities to effectively carry out its ministries. They will oversee the care, maintenance, and use of all facilities and grounds except the arena. They will not oversee paid staff. The Facility Team will also assist the pastor and elders with long range planning which will ensure that the church has adequate facilities to meet future needs.
2. Audit Team
The Audit Team is made up of no less than 3 no more than 7 members. They meet once a month to audit the financial records. They only verify and report. They have no decision making authority about how money is spent. The Audit Team may be called on by the pastor to help put together an annual budget to be presented to the church for a vote.
3. Arena Team
The arena team shall be responsible for the oversight, care, maintenance, and use of the arena. They will work with the Leadership Team as well as other ministry teams to develop strategies and plan events that will utilize the arena to effectively reach the cowboy/western culture for Christ and provide the hub for family life in the church. The Arena Team will be structured and function the same as a general ministry team as described in Article IV, Section 1, B. Any financial accounts are subject to the audit team and finance secretary and all financial activity is subject to the policies and procedures set forth by this church for the handling of finances. The qualifications for the arena team will be the same as for the general ministry teams as described in Article IV, Section 1, C. The formation of the arena team will be the same as for a general ministry team as described in Article IV, Section 1, D.
The selection and term of office will be the same as for a general ministry team as described in Article IV, Section 1, E.
Grounds for removal are the same as for a general ministry team as described in Article IV, Section 1, F.
E. Selection and Term of Office
Members of standing ministry teams may be appointed by the pastor and/or elders, or be enlisted by others who have been given that authority by the pastor and elders and do so under their supervision. The term of office for standing ministry team members will be two years with two members rotating off each year.
If a standing team member causes conflict, fails to carry out his or her responsibility to the team, or otherwise hampers the work of the team, every effort should be made by the team leader and assigned staff person to rectify the issue in a positive redemptive manner. However, if the problem persists, a team member may be removed by the pastor and/or elders, or by consensus decision of the other team members.
SECTION 3. LEADERSHIP TEAM (Mark 6:30-31)
A. Purpose and Function
The Leadership Team will serve to provide a forum in which the various ministry teams can brainstorm, coordinate activities and events, share resources, and generally work together to enhance the overall effectiveness of the church’s ministries. It will be responsible for setting the church calendar and holding all ministry teams accountable to the church’s mission statement, values and constitution.
The Leadership Team will consist of the team leaders from each ministry team, the pastor, the elders, the lay pastors, and staff. In addition, its meetings will generally be open to the participation and input of the entire church membership. Leadership team meetings shall be moderated by the senior pastor or a person whom the senior pastor will designate.