How to Organize a Church - Part 1
The church is the body of people who have believed on Jesus Christ for their salvation, and have been baptized
into the fellowship of His death and resurrection and have been organized on the plan and for the purposes
of a Christian church as outlined by Jesus Christ and His apostles in the New Testament.
When it seems necessary to organize a church in any locality care should be exercised by those interested
to establish whether or not there is a real need for such a church and a hopeful future of enlarging usefulness
To this end those interested should meet together several times and discussed the matter fully,
making it an object of serious and earnest prayer.
Also they should seek the advice of leading pastors and brethren of other neighboring churches.
When it has been decided to organize church, the organization may be effected in any one of three ways.
Those interested may meet together, choose a temporary moderator and clerk from their own number,
formulate a resolution like the one that can be seen on these pages later.
They adopt the same by a standing vote and by signatures on the document, and proceed to the election
of officers and the discharge of such other business and functions that are proper to a church.
Those interested may invite one or more pastors or ordain ministers to be present at a meeting
as suggested above for the purpose of giving counsel.
When the meeting has come to order a temporary moderator and clerk may be chosen.
If the visiting ministers approve the action, those interested may proceed to organization as outlined above.
The best and most approved procedure is that those who are interested in the organization of a church
hold a meeting, at which time they adopt a resolution, inviting three or more neighboring churches
to send representatives for the purpose of forming a council, under whose direction the church will be organized.
When the people in the council come together, the council should organize by choosing a moderator and clerk.
After a devotional the council is then ready to hear reasons given by those interested in organizing a church
in that particular location.
After the matter is: discussed, if the council is then of the opinion that such a church the organized,
they will proceed in the following order: a resolution, wording something like the following,
should be prepared in advance and ready to submit for approval:
"Whereas, it appears to us that there is a real need for a church in this locality and after much prayer
and seeking divine guidance, and much consultation with our neighboring brethren and churches,
and after the calling of a council to consider the matter, such council has voted that there is a need
for such a church, it is resolved that we _____________________ __________________________
_________________ ______________________ __________________ do now enter upon the organization
that direction of the council, composed of the following members __________________________
________________________ ____________________ ____________________ _________________
_____________________________ ____________________ __________________
representing the following churches, _____________________ ______________________
____________________ __________________ _________________ __________________
by the adoption of our church covenant which is as follows:
"Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour,
and on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost, we do now in the presence of God, angels, and this assembly, most solemnly
and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.
"We engage therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love;
to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness, and comfort; to promote its prosperity
and spirituality, to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrine; and contribute cheerfully
and regularly in support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor,
and the spread of the gospel to all nations.
"We also engage to maintain family and private devotion; to religiously educate our children;
to seek the salvation of our family and acquaintances; and walk circumspectly in the world;
to be just in our dealings; faithful in our engagements; and exemplary in our behavior;
to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger.
To abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage, and be zealous in our efforts
to advance the kingdom of our Saviour.
"We further engage and watch over one another in brotherly love; remember each other in prayer,
to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech;
to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Saviour
to secure it without delay.
"We moreover declare that when we remove from this place, we will as soon as possible unite
with some other church, where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God's Word."
By the adoption of the following articles of faith:
Declaration of Faith
I. Of the Scriptures
"We believe that the holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure
of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error for its matter; that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us; and therefore is, and shall remain
to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions shall be tried.
II. Of the True God
"We believe that there is one, and only one living and true God, an infinite, intelligent Spirit, whose name is Jehovah, the Maker and Supreme Ruler of heaven and earth; inexpressibly glorious in holiness, and worthy of all possible honor, confidence, and love; that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons,
the Father, the, and the Holy Ghost; equal in every divine perfection, and executing distinct
but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption.
III. Of the Fall of Man
"We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker; but by voluntary transgression
fell from the holy and happy state; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint but choice; being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil;
and thereby under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defence or excuse.
IV. Of the Way of Salvation
"We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace; through the mediatorial offices of the Of God;
who by the appointment of the Father, freely took up on him our nature, yet without sin; honored the divine law
by his personal obedience, and by his death made a full atonement for our sins; that having risen from the dead,
he is now enthroned in heaven; and uniting in his wonderful person the tenderest sympathies with divine perfections,
he is in every way qualified to be a suitable, a compassionate, and an all-sufficient Saviour.
V. Of Justification
"We believe that the great gospel blessing which Christ appears to such as believe in him is justification;
that justification included the pardon of sin, and the promise of eternal life on principles of righteousness;
that it is bestowed, not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done,
but solely through faith in the Redeemer's blood; by virtue of which faith his perfect righteousness
is freely imputed to us of God; that it brings us into a state of most blessed peace and favor with God,
and secures every other blessing needful for time and eternity.
VI. Of the Freeness of Salvation
"We believe that the blessings of salvation are made free to all by the gospel; that it is the immediate duty
of all to accept them by a cordial, penitent, and obedient faith; and that nothing prevents the salvation
of the greatest sinner on earth, but his own inherent depravity and voluntary rejection of the gospel;
which rejection involves him in an aggravated condemnation.
VII. Of Grace in Regeneration
"We believe that in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again;
that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind; that it is effected in a manner above
our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit, in connection with divine truth, so as to secure
our voluntary obedience to the gospel; and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance,
and faith, and newness of life.
VIII. Of Repentance and Faith
"We believe that repentance and faith are sacred duties, and also inseparable graces,
wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God; whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt,
danger, and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition,
confession, and supplication for mercy; at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ
as our Prophet, Priest, and King, and relying upon him alone as the only and all-sufficient Saviour.
IX. Of God's Purpose of Grace
"We believe that election is the eternal purpose of God, according to which he graciously regenerates,
sanctifies, and saves sinners; that being perfectly consistent with the free agency of man, it comprehends
all the means in connection with the end; that it is a most glorious display of God's sovereign goodness,
being infinitely free, wise, holy, and unchangeable; that it utterly excludes boasting, and promotes humility,
love, prayer, praise, trust in God, and active imitation of his free mercy; that it encourages the use of means
in the highest degree; that it may be ascertained by its effect in all who truly believe the gospel;
that it is the foundation of Christian assurance; and to ascertain it with regard to ourselves demands
and deserves the utmost diligence.
X. Of Sanctification
"We believe that sanctification is the process by which, according to the will of God, we are made partakers
of his holiness; that it is a progressive work; that it is begun in regeneration; and that it is carried on in the hearts
of believers by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, the Sealer, and Comforter, in the continual use
of the appointed means especially, the Word of God, self-examination, self-denial,
watchfulness, and prayer.
XI. Of the Perseverance of Saints
"We believe that such only are real believers as endure unto the end; that their preserving attachment
to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors; that a special providence
watches over their welfare, and that they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
XII. Of the Harmony of the Law and the Gospel
"We believe that the law of God is the eternal and unchangeable rule of moral government;
that it is holy, just, and good; and that the inability which the Scriptures ascribe to fallen men to fulfill its precepts, arises entirely from their love of sin: to deliver them from which, and to restore them to a Mediator to unfeigned obedience to the holy law, is one great end of the gospel, and of the means of grace connected
with the establishment of the visible church.
XIII. Of a Gospel Church
"We believe that a visible church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant
in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the ordinances of Christ; governed by his laws;
and exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by his word; that its only Scriptural officers
are bishops or pastors and deacons, whose qualifications, claims, and duties are defined
in the Epistles of Timothy and Titus.
XIV. Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper
"We believe that Christian baptism is the immersion in water of a believer, into the name of the Father,
and Son, and Holy Ghost: to show forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem, our faith in the crucified, buried,
and risen Saviour, with its effect, in our death to sin and resurrection to a new life; that it is prerequisite
to the privileges of a church relation; and to the Lord's Supper, in which the members of the church
by the sacred use of bread and wine or grape juice, are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ;
preceded always by solemn self-examination.
XV. Of the Christian Sabbath
"We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord's Day, or Christian Sabbath; and is to be kept sacred
to religious purposes, by abstaining from all secular labor and sinful recreation, by the devout observance
of all the means of grace both private and public; and by preparation for that rest that remaineth
for the people of God.
XVI. Of Civil Government
"We believe that civil government is of divine appointment, for the interests and good order of human society;
and that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored, and obeyed, except only in things opposed
to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of the conscience and the Prince of the kings of the earth.
XVII. Of the Righteous and the Wicked
"We believe that there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked;
that such only as through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God,
are truly righteous in his esteem; while all such as continued in impenitence and unbelief are in his sight wicked,
and under the curse; and this distinction holds among men, both in and after death.
XVIII. Of the World to Come
"We believe that the end of this world is approaching; that in the last day Christ will descend from heaven,
and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution; that a solemn separation will then take place;
that the wicked will be adjudged to endless punishment, and the righteous to endless joy;
and that this Judgment will fix forever the final state of men in heaven or hell, on principles of righteousness."
By the choice of the following name:
"__________________ ___________________ Church"; and by the choice of such officers
as may now seem advisable.
Resolved, second, that these resolutions be signed by all parties hereto and be spread in full
upon the minute book of the church.
This resolution should be adopted by a standing vote and formally signed by all the parties immediately thereafter.
Then the council may give the right hand of fellowship to the members of the new church,
assist them by the choice of the usual officers (moderator, temporary or permanent, a clerk and treasurer,
and one deacon at least should be chosen).
The church is then ready to perform any of the functions that properly belong to a church.
This plan of procedure may be altered somewhat in detail, as the circumstances may seem to require,
but in general some such procedure as that outlined above is essential to the proper organization of the church.
Every church will want to be connected with the organized work of the denomination or association,
if it has been regularly organized, no question will be raised: if on the other hand there has been irregularity
in its organization, embarrassing questions may be raised.
That is why we urge the regular procedure in such matters.
Order of Service for Organizing a Church
1. Devotional services. (Songs, Scripture reading, and prayer).
2. Choice of temporary moderator and clerk. (If the first method is used as outlined above,
all interested have part in choosing these officers.
If the second method is used these officers are chosen from the ministers present,
and if the third method is used, the council chooses its own officers).
3. Statement of reasons why church ought to be organized there.
4. Motion to adopt resolution as given above.
5. Names of those proposing to vote for and sign the said resolution called, and letters of dismissal
from of the churches of like faith and order are read.
6. Motion is made and if carried, the parties sign the resolution.
(Before motion is made all items will be discussed and settled, such as the name, the covenant,
and articles of faith).
7. The permanent officers of the church are elected, provided that only those necessary at the time
are to be chosen in order to avoid haste.
8. The right hand of fellowship is given to the members of the new church by the members of the council
or the ministers present from other churches of like faith and order.
9. Doors of the church opened to receive members in the usual way.
Part 2 is about Officers of the Church
The above material has been adapted from "The Pastor's Manual" by James Randolph Hobbs, 1934