Constitutions & By Laws

One of the most important legal aspects of organizing a church is that of forming the Constitution and By Laws. In decades past, most churches simply had a one or two page Statement of Faith which might also include how many deacons there were going to be and for how long they would serve with a few other items such as following Robert’s Rules of Order for all business meetings. Today, those types of documents will not suffice as protection for the church corporation, its ministries, or its members.

One of the most important legal aspects of organizing a church is that of forming the Constitution and By Laws. In decades past, most churches simply had a one or two page Statement of Faith which might also include how many deacons there were going to be and for how long they would serve with a few other items such as following Robert’s Rules of Order for all business meetings. Today, those types of documents will not suffice as protection for the church corporation, its ministries, or its members.

We have already begun to see churches find themselves in legal jeopardy from not having well written and culturally up to date Constitution and By Laws. We have also seen churches lose legal cases because they were not faithfully practicing and upholding their own rules and regulations. If it is in your Constitution and By Laws then you must follow the written document. If your church culture and practices have changed or needs to change due to growth or decline, then your documents must be amended to reflect those changes.

Wise leaders will include protections regarding doctrinal beliefs and other potential subjective religious beliefs that could affect the church in coming decades. As society continues to fall away from traditional values, the church must also include in detail their beliefs on such cultural hot topics as marriage, homosexuality, transgenderism, abortion, euthanasia, etc. While this may not provide complete protection from persecution and/or legal action against the church, it may help in any potential litigation. The church’s biblical beliefs on doctrine, religious topics, and cultural issues should all be contained in the Statement of Faith section. This section should not be able to be amended except to add further clarification and protection for the church, not to diminish the beliefs found within.

We fully understand that each church may have its own way of doing things, how things are worded, and varying beliefs on doctrine, and religious and cultural issues. The documents provided are simply a sample and not a dictate for churches to follow. However, the documents may be used as your Constitution and By Laws if you wish. Feel free to contact us for any assistance you may need in making the documents your own or to answer any questions that arise.

To aid those in either evaluating their current documents or those who are planting churches, we have provided a Sample Constitution and By Laws in its entirety to give a comprehensive overview of what to include and how to organize a church Constitution and By Laws. Yes, the document provided is lengthy and includes the verses written out rather than simply providing references.

We also have provided the same Sample Constitution and By Laws in an editable format in certain places to take into consideration that different churches call positions or boards by different names as well as may desire different requirements or time frames for accomplishing certain items.

A third Sample Constitution and By Laws is provided with notes explaining sections and the reasons for including those sections and protections in the document. We have found too often that many in leadership simply follow someone else’s work without fully understanding the “why” something is included or done. We do not want anyone to leave our website without full understanding of the importance of this document.

Download the documents you would like to view from the choices below. These documents are also available on our download page.

If you would like assistance in creating or reviewing your church’s Constitution and By Laws, feel free to contact us through the form below.

Introducing Ministry Rescue

Introducing Ministry Rescue

A new year often means a new focus, or more specifically, a re-newed focus. With the year being 2020, it is no wonder that many are using the term “focus” in their ministry visions and talk of the future. We are no different.

Hold Fast the Truth Ministries, Inc. was formally founded in 2002. This parent corporation includes many facets of ministry. Churchhelps.org was our original “baby” by providing links to many topics relating to church needs. As pastors called seeking counsel for situations they were facing, we expanded to include other resources. Century Baptist Church is the church planting arm of the ministry which allows us to assist as needed in emergency situations when a church is going through a difficult time. Ministry Imprint was added in 2018 as our newest addition which allows us to utilize technology to even further help with ministry evaluations and consulting.

This year we are launching a “branding” change for much of the ministry. Introducing, Ministry Rescue. This new name quickly identifies where we have found ourselves ministering the most in the last number of years. Weekly we are made aware of more churches who are struggling with many issues. Some may seem to be superficial wounds while others are life threatening.

Cultural shifts all over country are clearly affecting the church. We are actively pursuing better ways to help these churches through their hurts. The word “revitalization” is a term being used more today in our church circles. Revitalization of a church is needed even if the issue seem to be superficial. Catching hurts early allows churches to refocus or revitalize. Waiting too long to deal with issues makes healing more difficult, if possible at all. When a church reaches the level of life threatening a move to re-plant may be the only answer.

Our renewed focus will help churches to regroup, rebuild, and replant. We will walk churches through the steps of making changes that never violates any biblical principle while finding the best practical way of being a healthy church. If you would like more information, please feel free to contact us through this link: Contact Us

When Death Comes to the Church

It is never easy to watch a church fall towards death. Fear begins to grip the remnant as they wonder what will become of them, of the church’s legacy, of the community it is a part of. There are many reasons for a church dying, some are of their own doing, others are because of the damage of others. Regardless of the actual cause, it is always because of sin.

September has been a tough month. A high school friend passed away suddenly. A dear college and ministry friend died after a yearlong battle with brain cancer. Amid all of this was the 18th anniversary of 9/11. The idea of death has been a constant thought for the past few weeks. If you have never experienced the death of a loved one, then you may not understand that with the loss of that person is also other deaths. There is the death of dreams. The death of traditions. The death of hope for some when they can’t see how they could possibly go on. The end of stability and routine. Eventually these things will return, though changed, as time passes, and others come into their lives.

Death, however, does not only come to people. We have seen far too many churches die. The death of a church is rarely sudden. It is more along the lines of a cancer that eats away the life of the church. People slowly leave as they begin to see the inevitability. Often there is only a remnant of people that stay until the end.

The process of death is the same. Once a church has been diagnosed as dying there is often denial, an inability to accept reality. “We just have to have faith.” Once all the activities and “doing” and those doing all the “things” have been exhausted in order to “save the church” some of the faithful remnant begin the slow leave. The slow leave is when they stop serving like they used to. They don’t come as often. They are out of town more. Ailments flare up more often. Being at church is more painful than not being there. It is difficult to watch what you love die.  

Many times, people from the outside begin contacting the pastor with their concerns. Some will be encouragers and say to keep fighting. While this is a nice sentiment, it is tantamount to a doctor prescribing chemo or radiation for a patient on life support. An exhausted, discouraged church people cannot continue without seeing some glimmer of hope. Those who truly want to help will be completely honest with the pastor and the remnant. They may be gentle in their advice at first. However, if the advice falls on deaf ears, they may resort to being blunt. Their suggestions will then be this: merge or close. In other words, join with others in a life-giving move (a blood transfusion) or pull the plug.

We use the example of a roller coaster hill when illustrating the downward decline. Not many pastors or church members recognize the beginning of the downward fall. Once that downward turn begins there are steps to take to prevent the crash to the bottom. A complete review of how the church ministers, and more importantly the “why” everything is done, is necessary for a successful revitalization. Through the process, although brutal to complete, a plan of action can be determined to set the church on a new path of growth and life.

However, once the church is on that downward fall, it takes great effort and radical change to reverse course. Unfortunately, many churches refuse to take those necessary steps. Instead, they throw as much time and money as they have until all is spent. Or they do nothing and are satisfied to remain where and how they are if they can meet the bills. They are ineffective in any aspect. They eventually become a burden to the church community. Most sadly, once their doors do close, they are a poor testimony to the community at large. Churches do not die well. They certainly do not glorify our Lord and Savior when they do.

It is never easy to watch a church fall towards death. Fear begins to grip the remnant as they wonder what will become of them, of the church’s legacy, of the community it is a part of. There are many reasons for a church dying, some are of their own doing, others are because of the damage of others. Regardless of the actual cause, it is always because of sin. Until the sin is dealt with biblically, the church may not recover at all. God cannot bless His church when there is sin present. He didn’t bless the children of Israel whenever there was sin present in the camp. Why would we think He would bless a modern church if sin rules?

Rather than close their doors churches do have the option of merging with other believers of like faith. For many this is a scary prospect. But from death comes life. When a Christian dies we know that they have gone on to eternal life. When a seed is planted in the ground, it must die before life of a new plant can begin. Life can also come when two or more churches die to themselves and merge together.

In some cases, a struggling church merges with a stable church. This can happen in many ways. The struggling church simply joins with the stable church with the dying church’s assets sold or absorbed by the stable church. A stable church could also send their own members to the struggling church (especially if some distance away) to oversee it and grow a separate strong church in hope that one day the new church could once again become autonomous.

In other cases, several struggling churches could choose to merge together to grow a strong one. This is a bit more complicated as there is usually the issue of who is going to be the pastor. For these situations, someone (whether an evangelist or a seasoned pastor as interim) is usually needed to oversee the merger and to aid in the search for a pastor for the newly formed church.

In the case of mergers there is death also. Death of previous names. Death of some ministries. Death of traditions. Most importantly, however, there needs to be death of self of every member of each church. As this new church forms everyone must be willing to lay on the altar all those things that they want, they desire. It is only when this occurs that a church merger will become successful.

Death is never easy. But for the Christian, death is not the end. For a church, death does not have to be the end either. Death brings change but it also brings life. If your church is on the brink of death, consider what can be done to let it die and at the same time bring new life.

Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash

People or Perfection?

… perfectionism is not the same as the pursuit of excellence. In ministry, having a perfectionist mindset can be detrimental to your ability to minister with and to others.

Hi. My name is Melissa and I’m a recovering perfectionist.

I say recovering because truly it is a daily battle. Straighten that picture. Fluff that pillow. Refold the towels. Re-clean the kitchen after, ahem, others have done so. I have gotten better about NOT doing those things. The only area where I still “redo” is in loading the dishwasher, but this is a family agreement because the men of the home know I WILL make.every.dish.fit.somehow.

But I did some damage before I realized how my perfectionist ways were hurting my family.

Let me clarify that perfectionism is not the same as the pursuit of excellence. To pursue excellence, we focus on doing the best that we can within our gifts, talents, and abilities; we strive to do our best as unto the Lord. To pursue excellence does not harm or hurt another person. Perfectionism, however, becomes self-focused. It is based in pride in that we seek others to praise us for what we have done. It might also be based in fear which can cause us to feel paralyzed to the point of doing nothing. Both are compulsions that create an atmosphere of neglecting that which is good – people over perfection. Perfectionism often hurts others.

Are you a perfectionist? Does it have to be done just like you want? Do you go behind people and redo what they have done just so it “looks better” or “looks right”? Do you tend to fluff and fuss over decorating? Does it have to be done your way? Does your skin start crawling, hands start fidgeting, feet start tapping if you see something “out of place”? Are you unable to concentrate until you “fix” what is “wrong”? Do you have a comment regarding your neighbor’s (or stranger’s) Christmas decorations? (What were they thinking? They need to straighten those lights. How many blow ups do you need?)

Still not sure if you are a perfectionist or not? Ask your spouse. Ask your kids. Ask your friends. Ask your co-workers. I’m sure, if they are brave enough, they will tell you.

Did you know that the only other people who are going to notice when things aren’t “just so” are other perfectionists? Most people (and by this, I mean in the high 90% range) do not notice if something isn’t “right.” After all, exactly what is “right”? Is it your definition? If so, guess what? Everyone else has a definition as well. So there really isn’t a “right,” is there?

In ministry, having a perfectionist mindset can be detrimental to your ability to minister with and to others.

This is the tale of two pastors and their wives. Pastor #1, at one time, was bi-vocational before he became the pastor of a church where he pastored full-time. His secular vocation: professional painter. One day not long after the church had freshened the paint in the sanctuary two couples in the church came to the pastor and asked if they could paint a few walls in the education building to freshen it as well. They didn’t want any help or recognition. They simply wanted to serve the Lord, their pastor, and their church. Pastor #1 knew that they had some experience in painting, so he agreed to their offer and request. While Pastor #1 was away on vacation these dear folks came in and painted three walls of the education building as accent walls in a dark color which matched the doors and door frames. It was the style of that time and did look nice. When Pastor #1 returned he went to check on the progress of the project. It was complete. BUT.

He called my husband asking what he was going to do. When my husband arrived, he looked it over. It was a tad splotchy in places, particularly higher up (9-foot walls) where it would have been difficult to reach or see from the floor. What Pastor #1 failed to take into consideration was that the couples were all in their 70’s. Flexibility on ladders and diminishing eyesight led to a paint job that wasn’t exactly how the Pastor would have done it. Pastor #1, the professional painter, was experiencing great distress. My husband told him he had two options. 1) Leave it alone and receive it as work done “as unto the Lord” and a blessing from these dear people. 2) Redo the paint job but understand that he would more than likely hurt these dear folks’ feelings. Pastor #1 chose to leave it and learned to accept the blessing of his people “as unto the Lord.” After all, ministry is people.

Mrs. Pastor #1 also had a few perfectionist tendencies. As we worked with her, we noticed that she was usually the one to do all the decorating for certain events. She tried to play it off as she wanted to do it for the ladies but when it came down to it, she was a perfectionist. Over time it became an issue with the ladies. One day I explained to her that she was denying the ladies an opportunity of service as well as keeping them at arm’s length from her by not including them in the decorating. I suggested that if she was concerned with having things done “just so” to set up one table exactly how she wanted it to look and have the supplies available for the ladies to duplicate all the other tables. (They usually had 20 to 30 8-foot tables to decorate.) She agreed. The ladies were excited to be included and willingly set the remaining tables up exactly as the first. Camaraderie began to develop with Mrs. Pastor #1 and between the ladies. Ministry is people.

Same church several years later and there was a new pastor and pastor’s wife. We began to get to know this family and quickly realized that both had perfectionist tendencies. When we finally went back for a visit THE paint job was painted over. We remarked that we liked the new color. The conversation quickly went to how they couldn’t believe how terrible the previous paint job looked. We tried to tell them the story behind it, but it fell on deaf ears. We knew then that they might have a developing issue. As time passed, we watched as both Pastor #2 and Mrs. Pastor #2 began redoing things that their members had done. The reality of the seriousness of the situation became very apparent in preparing for a very large community outreach several years later.

We were able to assist them in the preparations for the event during the days leading to it. Pastor #2 asked a few of the teen boys to change the lettering on a roadside sign. The boys did so and left to run an errand. When they returned, they noticed that the job they had done had been changed. Not the message, but the placement of the letters. Their words: “Looks like Pastor changed what we did.” Ouch. For teen boys to notice, that is huge. Ministry is people, not perfection.

Mrs. Pastor #2 was not receiving very many positives either. They were having problems with people not volunteering to help with projects or events which resulted in Mrs. Pastor #2 “doing all the work”. She was one of the “fluff and fuss” type of perfectionists; everything had to look “just so.” She was exhausted. She also began making statements of being “done”. Yet, she still didn’t realize that it was her own doing that had caused the problem. As we helped with the preparations for the event, we noticed many of the ladies who did come to help avoided working with Mrs. Pastor #2. They passed her off to others. Comments of “what difference does it make what I do, she’s only going to change it” were overheard. As she gave instructions, eye rolls and audible sighs were observed. This was especially surprising as many of the ladies were in their 70’s and 80’s and not mere teenagers. Instead of creating an atmosphere of camaraderie she had inadvertently created one of hostility toward herself and ministering at the church in general. Ministry is people, not perfection.

Pastor #2 often commented in church how many hours Mrs. Pastor #2 put in working on projects “all by herself.” Although he believed he was praising his wife, he unwittingly was adding to the issue. He didn’t try to figure out why those who had once served willingly and readily stopped doing so. Instead, without realizing it, he was “service shaming” (a back-handed way of badgering) his people from the pulpit. The more he did it, the more resentment and an even greater unwillingness to serve grew.

There are four options when working with others in ministry and serving in practical areas.

Accept the work offered “as unto the Lord.” It is always our advice to anyone who is willing to serve in their church that whatever they do should be done as well as someone who might be paid to do the same job. This would be those big projects like painting, plumbing, or other construction related projects. It is the responsibility of the leader to ensure that the one offering is qualified to do it. For those projects where a professional is not needed it may become necessary to simply accept what was done as is and as unto the Lord even when it may not be how we would have done it. The Lord was pleased with their willingness to serve. We should be as well. This is the best option for ministry is people.

Provide an example or explicit instruction on what needs to be done if continuity or your “just so” is that important. (Remember, the “just so” isn’t always that important.) Communication is often lacking when things don’t go as you hoped they would. As we showed Mrs. Pastor #1, simply providing an example of how the table should be set was all that was needed for the ladies to happily serve without confusion and ensure that there was continuity in decorating. However, be careful in your “instructions.” Being too nit-picky in how something is done may not be the best especially when it is a job that may have multiple ways of accomplishing the same goal. Clear communication without nit-picking is a good way to have ministry focus on people. Too much nit-picking in your instruction places perfection over people.

Allow people to serve but go behind them “fixing” what they did to suit your desires. This is a dangerous option. You will be telling your people through your actions that what they did “as unto the Lord” was not good enough in your eyes. This is demeaning and dismissive. It is also very damaging to your ministry. Eventually your people will stop serving, because they know that you will go behind them and change it. Ministry is people, not perfection.

Decide to do the job yourself. If you feel the job must be done a certain way and that no one will do it the way you want, do it yourself rather than going behind “fixing” things. If you are going to serve, everything you do must be done “as unto the Lord.” Therefore, you must give up complaining that no one helps if you insist that things must be done a certain way. You have effectively telegraphed to your people that you do not want their help, at least not what they have to offer. If you cannot give up doing things yourself and complaining, you must realize that you will become exhausted. You will eventually become bitter toward others. You will one day become “done” with ministry because you feel no one is serving with you. Ministry is people. Ministry is not about perfection.

Pastor and Mrs. #1 figured it out and have gone on to serve in other churches successfully developing great lay leaders and volunteers. Pastor and Mrs. #2 still struggle today in their ministry. They have yet to identify their perfectionism. And they and their ministry are suffering because of it. Do you see yourself? Is this you now or perhaps somewhere in the past? Have you had an “aha” moment today? It is possible to overcome perfectionist tendencies, but you must be conscious of them. Once you are you will be able to choose people over perfection.

Idea Day Night

Come join us!

Join us Tuesday, August 20, 2019 for Idea Day Night from 6:30 to 9:00 pm. Come enjoy fellowship with other local ministry leaders. Round-table discussions will help to provide cultural context for your local church and community. Each host site chooses two topics for their event. The LaGrange, GA event will include video presentations by Thom Rainer on 7 Ideas for Church Revitalization and Josh Teis on 6 Ideas for Long-term Spiritual Health. Following each presentation the site host will moderate a time of discussion with all attendees. This is a great time of encouragement, ministry evaluation, and ministry help to aid the local church in reaching their community more effectively. The average time for the event is approximately 2.5 hours.

This Idea Night event is an outreach to provide a way in which more ministry leaders who might not be able to attend an Idea Day conference may be encouraged and uplifted in their ministries.

What is the Idea Day Network? It is a place for ministry leaders to share fresh ideas, resource information, and much more. The Idea Day Network also hosts Idea Days, an Idea Summit, and is now organizing ministry mentoring and coaching.

Rushed to the Hospital

… I want to share how the Lord is working even in this. It began more than a week ago, early in the week. I was not feeling well at all and was short of breath just standing. On Wednesday…

As many of you know, I have been dealing with breathing issues for some time now. In the past eight months I have been transported by ambulance to the ER three times. Doing the simplest of tasks has become anything but simple. Walking across a room can tire me out and prevent me from exerting energy on any level. I am asking prayer that either God gives doctors wisdom to determine the issue and have a solution or God just steps in and removes this from me.

I want to share how the Lord is working even in this. It began more than a week ago, early in the week. I was not feeling well at all and was short of breath just standing. On Wednesday I was trying to do as little as possible to gain the strength to get to church that night. However, I just couldn’t seem to maintain any decent consistency in breathing. After a few breathing treatments at home I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it that night. Melissa asked me if we were going; I told her I was going to try. I was ready to text the pastor and tell him I wasn’t going to be able to make it. I waited a few minutes to do so and, in that time, just prayed a simple prayer asking for strength to be able to go. I did not text the pastor; within fifteen minutes I was feeling really good. I got dressed and we left for church. It wasn’t until I had entered the church building that I got a text from the pastor that he wasn’t going to be able to make it. With a few adjustments to service order, I simply stepped in and did what I have done hundreds of times, “be instant in season and out of season.” Always be prepared to preach or handle anything needed to be done in the church. We sang songs (which has been difficult for me), I preached a message, then we left to go home. As soon as I walked out of the building to head to the car, I literally lost my breath. It was extremely difficult to catch my breath just to walk to the car.

It was a rough night Wednesday night into Thursday. Thursday, I took multiple breathing treatments and anything else I could think of to get on top of struggling with the breathing. Around 9 pm I felt as if I was going to be able to get on top of it and told Melissa I was fine (she had asked me if she needed to take me to the ER), I would do another treatment in a few hours, and felt like I could try to get some sleep. I am pretty sure she checked on me one other time shortly after that then went to bed. At a few minutes before midnight I started another round of a breathing treatment. I had been coughing up junk all week but I felt as if it was breaking up finally and I was going to sit up for a while getting it out of my system. Around midnight I remember sitting on the couch with a trashcan in front of me so that I could spit in it and thought that within 30 minutes I could have enough cleared so that I could breathe to sleep. This is how it has typically gone in the past. Sitting down staring at the basket and floor is the last thing I remember.

From midnight Thursday night until around 4 pm Friday afternoon I have no memories. Everything I am telling you now is what my family has relayed to me. About 2:15 am a text was sent out from my phone to Melissa and Nathan stating that I was not getting better and was going to need help. Somehow that message got sent. Nathan, who was still up, rushed into the room. According to him, he asked me questions. I told him to get Melissa. Nathan got her and she came running. She asked me more questions about taking me to the emergency room. My response was that I couldn’t make it to the car. Nathan called 911. First responders and an ambulance arrived quickly. (Remember, I have no memory of any of this.) They tried getting me on oxygen, breathing treatments, etc. I was not responding to any of it. It took them 30 minutes or more to try to stabilize the situation but there were no good results. One of the firemen ended up driving the ambulance so that both ambulance workers would be free to work on me.

I arrived at the ER and was taken to a cardiac care room where the medical team took over. They determined quickly that I was unresponsive and no treatment was working. With a quick blood test, they discovered that my CO2 levels were in excess of 90% in my blood. (For reference, “normal” is 40%.) They tried medication at first to no avail. They had to intubate me; in other words, place me on life support. They placed a breathing tube down my throat and hooked me up to a breathing machine. From there they took me to ICU to monitor how I was going to respond.

While all of this is going on Nathan got on the phone to get support. I am thankful he learned growing up in the ministry that you call. As ministers, our phones are always on and we are always there to help. He called and they came. THANK YOU to all the preachers and others who came by that night and morning. I am sorry I do not remember any of you being there, but I am thankful that my family knows there are those who care.

I also know that prayer works. Though the doctors did exactly what they needed to do, at the levels I was, this could have been a very long drawn out day or days before removing the tube or breathing on my own. I know prayer works because I went from the depths of poor condition to breathing room air with only slight oxygen assistance within hours. (The main breathing tube was inserted around 5:30 am and removed by 9:45 am.) As a matter of fact, my normal breathing and oxygen levels during the last eight months has stayed at or below 93%. By 7:30 pm Friday I was breathing on my own on room air with oxygen levels exceeding 95% consistently.

I do not understand all the technical stuff but I know God knows how He made us and He did a work that day. I know it was a long night and day for my family and I am so thankful for all those who stood with them and prayed. I was truly in the Lord’s hands as I have no memory of anything after midnight that night. Thank you, Lord, for what you did. Please continue to pray that healing will be done. I am asking for prayer for physical strength to work and minister. The Lord knows the needs in all areas: physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. We are in need of the Lord showing up and out as we move forward.

Under Construction

We are excited to be updating our website. Stay tuned as we make the move and major overhaul. It is LONG overdue!

1/2/18 – We have updated the information for the Ministry Tools tab. The drop down choices include Assessment Tools and Ministry Consulting. Both of these areas have been available since the founding of Hold Fast the Truth Ministries. However, we are now able to offer more comprehensive assessment tools for your church members and leadership team through new software. We are also in the early development stages of turning part of the ministry assessment into software to provide an even better evaluation of your ministry.

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