The mission of Christ Church Southampton (the “Church”) is to build Christ’s church by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the glory of God.
SECTION I: PARTNERSHIP
The Church is made up of Christian people who are committed to working together under God towards the mission of the Church. They are known individually as ‘Partners’ and collectively as ‘the Partnership’.
1. Admission to the Partnership
1.1 Anyone may apply to become a Partner, providing he/she submits to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, has been baptised according to the tradition of this or another church, is in full agreement with the Church’s Statement of Faith (see Appendix 1), is willing to respect the Church’s Doctrinal Distinctives (see Appendix 2) and wishes to pursue lifelong growth in faith, knowledge and obedience to Christ in the context of the Church community.
1.2 Applications for Partnership are made, in the first instance, by approaching any Elder.
1.3 The Elders are responsible for determining each applicant’s suitability for Partnership, relying on a person’s profession of faith, or any other evidence they deem appropriate.
1.4 Where a person applying to become a Partner was previously a partner or member of another church, the Elders may request a character reference from the leaders of that church.
1.5 Where a person is a partner or member of another church and wishes to remain so while temporarily resident in or around Southampton, he/she may apply to become an Associate Partner. Associate Partners are treated as Partners in all matters (including application, resignation, responsibilities and discipline). Should their residency in or around Southampton become indefinite, they will, on request, automatically become Partners.
2. Responsibilities of Partners
Partners of the Church are expected to demonstrate commitment to the Church by:
- regularly attending the Sunday gatherings and prayer meetings of the Church;
- serving the Church according to their gifting;
- regularly praying for the work and ministry of the Church;
- contributing financially to the work of the Church according to their means;
- actively participating in the mission of the Church;
- attending the Church business meetings; and
- submitting to the Elders consistent with the provisions of Scripture and this document.
3. Resignation of Partnership
3.1 A Partner may resign his or her Partnership at any time.
3.2 A Partner will normally be treated as having resigned from Partnership if he or she becomes a member or partner of another church (or moves away from the area) with no specific intention of returning.
4. Discipline of Partners
4.1. Where a Partner has departed significantly from godly doctrine or behaviour and fails to demonstrate repentance, he or she may be subject to the discipline of the Church.
4.2 The purposes of discipline are, in keeping with 1 Corinthians 5, (a) the restoration to spiritual health of the Partner concerned and (b) the spiritual protection of the Church.
4.3 Discipline may be exercised where a Partner:
- no longer affirms the Church’s Statement of Faith;
- no longer respects the Church’s Doctrinal Distinctives;
- behaves in such a way as to bring the Church into disrepute;
- consistently fails to fulfil the obligations of a Partner of the Church;
- makes false and malicious allegations against another Partner of the Church; or
- is no longer living in submission to the Elders.
4.4 Discipline may be exercised in any of the following ways:
- private admonishment by the Elders;
- public admonishment by the Elders;
- removal from a recognised ministry role;
- exclusion from the Lord’s Supper;
- suspension from the Partnership;
- dismissal from the Partnership;
4.5 Where a Partner has been the subject of any of the above measures, but the Elders determine that he or she has demonstrated repentance and sought forgiveness (whether of the Church in general or of those individuals affected by his or her conduct), the measures will be removed or reversed by the Elders. Where an individual has been dismissed from the Partnership, restoration will require a new application for Partnership.
SECTION II: LEADERSHIP
The Elders of the Church are the leaders, under Christ, of the Church, serving as “pastor-teachers”. Partners are expected to submit to their leadership, provided that such pastoral responsibility is consistent with the provisions of Scripture and of this document.
1. Responsibilities of Elders
The Elders will perform the following functions to maintain the Church’s ministry:
- ensure that true doctrine is maintained by Partners;
- organise the regular preaching and Bible-teaching at public and private meetings of the Church, ensuring that all who teach (including outside speakers) subscribe to the Statement of Faith and respect the Doctrinal Distinctives;
- equip and encourage the Partners for evangelism and ministry;
- take primary responsibility (delegating where appropriate) for the employment, supervision and evaluation of Church staff members;
- ensure the orderly administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper within the Church;
- exercise pastoral oversight of other Church activities;
- provide pastoral care for the Partners;
- exercise discipline of the Partners where necessary;
- call and co-ordinate the Church business meetings as required by this document;
- govern the Church according to the terms of this document and the requirements of Scripture
- appoint Partners who are suitably gifted and qualified to different roles and areas of responsibility within the Church as they see fit, in order to ensure that the Church continues to fulfil its mission;
- ensure that the reputation of the Church is protected by complying with the legal responsibilities of the Church including data protection, health and safety and safeguarding;
- ensure that an accurate record of Partners is maintained, that accurate minutes of the Church business meetings are kept, and that Partners receive such notice as is required by the terms of this document for the holding of business meetings (delegating any of these functions where appropriate); and
- by virtue of their office as Trustees of the Christ Church Southampton CIO discharge their duties as required.
2. The Qualifications of Elders
An individual being considered for appointment as an Elder must meet the following criteria:
- he is male;
- he is a Partner of the Church;
- he meets the criteria of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9;
- he is of recognised Christian character;
- he has a recognised gift of Bible teaching that he has exercised regularly in the Church or elsewhere;
- he has a recognised pastoral love for the people of God that he has demonstrated regularly in the Church or elsewhere;
- he has a recognised heart to serve the people of God that he has demonstrated regularly in the Church or elsewhere;
- he is in full agreement with the Statement of Faith and the Doctrinal Distinctives;
- he has a mature knowledge of the Bible and its teachings;
- (if he is married) his wife is a professing believer of recognised Christian character and a Partner of the Church; and
- (if he has children) he leads his family in a manner which demonstrates he is competent to exercise leadership in the Church.
3. The Appointment of Elders
3.1 There will always be at least three Elders, as far as is practicable.
3.2 The recognition of a new Elder involves the whole Church. Accordingly, where the Elders intend to propose the appointment of a new Elder, they will seek the mind of the Church by:
- informing the Partners of their proposal, at least one month before the Church business meeting at which the appointment will be discussed;
- inviting comments from the Partners as to the suitability of the proposed Elder for office according the qualifications listed above;
- specifically requesting that any Partner with knowledge of a matter that might render the proposed Elder unsuitable for office should bring the matter to their attention;
- investigating any matters that are raised with a view to determining whether the proposed Elder is suitable for office;
- reporting back to any Partner who has raised a concern.
3.3 The appointment will be deemed to have been confirmed by the Church if it is still supported by the existing Elders after they have sought the mind of the Church through the consultation process outlined above, and the Partners will be asked to recognise the spiritual leadership of the newly appointed Elder at a Church business meeting.
3.4 A newly appointed Elder will be commissioned into office at a subsequent Sunday gathering of the Church. He shall be required to declare publicly his full agreement with the Statement of Faith and the Doctrinal Distinctives of the Church and that he will faithfully discharge the duties of his office in accordance with the provisions of this document.
3.5 The appointment is indefinite. An Elder continues to serve as long as he continues to fulfil the qualifications for Eldership and is able and willing to discharge the requirements of the office.
3.6 An Elder may withdraw from office – either temporarily or permanently – at any time by giving written notice of his intention to do so.
3.7 An Elder may be removed from office where:
- he no longer affirms the Statement of Faith and/or the Doctrinal Distinctives;
- he has committed serious and repeated sin such as could undermine the credibility of his ministry or bring the Church into disrepute;
- he has failed to fulfil his responsibilities as an Elder;
- he is no longer able to fulfil his responsibilities as an Elder due to illness or incapacity but is unwilling to resign;
- the conduct of his wife or children is such as to undermine the credibility of his ministry or bring the Church into disrepute
3.8 Where a Partner makes an allegation of the type listed above, the Elders will thoroughly investigate the allegation on behalf of the Church, giving the Elder in question every opportunity for the allegation to be answered, and take action appropriate to their findings. If an Elder is to be removed from office in the Church, the remaining Elders will provide a statement on the matter to the Partnership.
4. Elders Meetings
4.1 The Elders are co-equal in respect of their authority in the Church, and are jointly responsible for the leadership of the Church.
4.2 They will meet regularly to discuss the business of the Church and to ensure that their functions are properly carried out.
4.3. The Elders will seek to reach decisions by way of consensus. Where the Elders are in disagreement, prayerful consideration will be given to the matter in order to seek future consensus on an issue. If consensus cannot be reached, decisions may be made where they are supported by the majority of the Eldership.
4.4 A Chairman shall be agreed by the Elders to chair any single Elders meeting. He will be responsible for an agenda being drawn up and for accurate minutes being kept, delegating where appropriate.
4.5 The Elders may invite any Partner to attend either a single Elders meeting, or a series of such meetings, if they consider that such attendance would be beneficial.
5. Paid staff
5.1 The Church (see paragraph IV.4.1) may employ and pay such staff as are deemed beneficial in pursuing its mission.
5.2 A Senior or Associate Pastor will serve as an Elder. He must therefore meet the qualifications for Elders, be appointed as an Elder and perform the duties of Elders as described above. He must also demonstrate particular gifting in preaching, teaching and training.
5.3 Other staff may be appointed to the Eldership independently of their position on the staff.
5.4 The employment of staff members, including remuneration, terms, conditions and termination of their employment, will be governed by an individual written contract.
SECTION III: CHURCH BUSINESS AND ADMINISTRATION OF RESOURCES
The Church recognises the need for wise stewardship of God-given resources – both tangible and intangible. There are roles to be played by specific individuals and the Church as a whole as we pursue this stewardship.
1. Church Business Meetings
1.1. The Church will hold an Annual General Meeting and other meetings as deemed necessary by the Elders.
1.2. Church business meetings will be called by the Elders with at least two weeks’ notice and will be chaired by one of the Elders.
1.3. The Agenda for an Annual General Meeting will normally include:
- a written or oral report from the Elders reviewing the state of the Church and outlining plans for the coming year;
- a written or oral report from the Elders on any changes in Partnership during the year;
- presentation by the Church Treasurer of examined or audited accounts (as appropriate) of Church finances for the last year; and
- other items of business as required.
1.4 In general, only items appearing on the Agenda will be discussed at the business meeting. However, where a Partner makes a request to the Elders at least ten days in advance of the meeting, and provided the Elders approve its inclusion, the additional item may be discussed.
1.5 Where such a request is declined, the Partner may introduce a motion at the business meeting calling for the issue to be discussed. If at least 75% of the Partners present support this motion, an Extraordinary Church Business Meeting will be called within 60 days, where the issue will be discussed and one or more resolutions may be proposed by the Partner. Both the Partner and the Eldership will issue a clarification of their views and concerns no later than 10 days before the meeting. Any resolution proposed by the Partner at the meeting and not supported by the Eldership will be passed if it is supported by at least 75% of the Partners present.
1.6 Unless other voting requirements are specified in this document, a resolution of the Church will be passed at a business meeting if it is proposed by the Elders and is supported by a vote of the majority of those attending the meeting.
2. Church Finances
2.1 The Church will at all times have a Treasurer appointed from the Partnership by the Elders.
2.2 The Church Treasurer will:
- maintain full and accurate records of the Church finances in a manner consistent with current accounting practices;
- make payments of the Church money only in accordance with the direction of the Elders or resolutions of the Church;
- present interim accounts, detailing any receipts and payments, to the Church at business meetings on request from the Elders;
- present examined or audited accounts (as appropriate) of the Church finances at the Annual General Meeting; and
- ensure that the Church possesses adequate and appropriate insurance for all Church activities, equipment and responsibilities.
2.3 Any of the duties of the Treasurer may be delegated to other Partners with the approval of the Elders, but must at all times remain under the co-ordination and supervision of the Treasurer.
2.4 The Treasurer may resign from office by giving three months’ written notice to the Elders.
2.5 The Elders may authorise the Treasurer to make payments, or enter into contracts committing the Church to payments, from Church funds, provided any single payment or (in the case of a contract) the financial commitment of the contract in any one year does not exceed 5% of the current year’s Church budget. Payments or contractual commitments exceeding this amount must be approved by the Partners, whether in the annual budget or by a separate resolution.
2.6 The Elders will appoint a suitably qualified independent person or organisation to examine or audit (as appropriate) the Church accounts annually.
3. Church Premises and Equipment
3.1 The Church may acquire the use of premises or purchase equipment needed to carry out Church activities.
3.2 The Elders may authorise any Partner to use the Church premises or equipment, provided that they have adequate maturity, instruction, and (where necessary) supervision.
3.3. The Elders may similarly permit the use of the Church premises or equipment by third parties or other organisations.
4. Authorised Church Activities
An activity will only be an activity of the Church if it is held with the prior authorisation of the Elders of Christ Church Southampton.
SECTION IV: THE INTEGRITY OF THE CHURCH
The Church is inevitably shaped by its key documents, its affiliations, those who participate in Church life and its legal responsibilities. In each of these, care must be taken to preserve the Church’s integrity.
1. Alteration to Church Documents
This document, the Statement of Faith or the Doctrinal Distinctives may only be altered if a proposed alteration is supported by the Elders and at least 75% of those present at a Church business meeting.
2. Affiliation to Organisations
2.1 The Elders may propose that the Church affiliates to any organisation where this would aid the church in its mission, provided that the organisation in question holds to doctrinal standards consistent with the Church’s Statement of Faith and does not admit into affiliation bodies which do not share such standards.
2.2 The Church will not affiliate to any organisation where such affiliation would mean that it is no longer able to operate as an autonomous self-governing body and fulfil its mission.
3. Inclusion of Non-Partners
3.1 Professing Christians who regularly attend the public gatherings of the Church will be regarded as being in fellowship with the Church and are consequently expected to respect this document, the Statement of Faith, the Doctrinal Distinctives and the leadership of the Elders.
3.2 Non-Partners who regularly attend the Church will ordinarily be invited to join with the Partners of the Church in celebrating the Lord’s Supper. This invitation will be given on the understanding that invitees are professing Christians and have been (or are seeking to be) baptised according to the traditions of this or another church.
3.3. The Elders may exclude from celebration of the Lord’s Supper non-Partners attending the Church who are not known to be professing Christians, or who are subject to the discipline of another church, or who are known to have committed open and notorious sin of which they have not repented.
3.4. Non-Partners may not attend Church business meetings unless expressly invited by the Elders. They will not be entitled to participate in any voting procedures.
3.5 Non-Partners may be excluded from public gatherings of the Church where they seek to disrupt the gathering or otherwise threaten the Church or any Partner present.
3.6 Non-Partners may not ordinarily exercise a role within the Church whereby they are entrusted with responsibility for the spiritual well-being of another person.
4. Legal structure
4.1 Where the Church or the Elders are said in this document to hold assets, enter into contracts of
employment or bear other legal responsibilities, they will do so by means of such legal structures as may be required for these purposes.
4.2 A Charitable Incorporated Organisation, registered at the Charity Commission under registration number 1164459, has been established to hold the assets for the work of the Church and to provide legal oversight for the activities of the Church and the Elders.