These bylaws shall function within the life of First Family Church of Ankeny, Iowa as rules of procedure. Although the procedures have a biblical and theological basis, this is not a statement of faith.
- “Church” All members, as defined below, of First Family Church of Ankeny, Iowa.
- “Members” Anyone who is a member of First Family Church of Ankeny, Iowa, according to the process outlined in Article 3, Section 2.
- “Charter Members” All of the members who voted to organize as First Family Church on September 12, 2004.
- “Elder Board” All Elders (defined in Article 4, Section 1), who serve on the Elder Board.
The purpose of this church shall be to glorify God, revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Scriptures. This church shall obey Christ’s directive for the Church recorded in The Gospel According to Matthew 28:18-20.
The Bible is the ultimate authority in all matters of faith and practice for this church. The Bible consists of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments. All Scripture is inspired by God (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 2:13), and inerrant.
Section 1: Qualifications for Membership
Members shall have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for their salvation, as described in the New Testament, shall have confirmed their desire to grow as a disciple, and shall have testified to their willingness to strive for unity in the body. If transferring membership from another church, he or she must be a member in good standing in the other church and meet the requirements of Section 1A.
Section 2: Receiving Members
Anyone who expresses the desire to become a member of this church shall be granted membership upon confirmation by an Elder or someone designated by the Elder Board that such person meets the qualifications of Section 1 of this Article. Though not required, new members are introduced to the church during one of the weekend services.
Anyone who does not meet the qualifications of Section 1 of this Article will be denied membership.
Section 3: Releasing Members
Any member shall cease to be a member of this church for any of the following reasons:
- A request for transfer of membership to another church is received. The Elder Board shall grant a release letter unless the member is under church discipline.
- The individual has been received as a member of another church and the Elder Board can confirm it. A credible person other than the individual concerned may supply oral or written confirmation.
- The member personally presents an oral or written request to cancel membership to any of the Elders. A request to cancel membership is not subject to a decision of the Elders to become effective, provided that the member is not under church discipline. (cf. Article 3, Section 5G)
- The member dies.
Section 4: Suspension of Membership
The Elders or someone designated by the Elders shall attempt to contact any member who has been absent from all public meetings of the church, including weekly services, for six consecutive months and encourage them to become active. The member shall have thirty days to re-affirm their membership by again attending public meetings. If a member does not re-affirm their membership within 30 days of the date they are contacted, their membership shall be suspended. However, the church shall not suspend the membership of any person who is physically incapable of attending public meetings and affirms their desire to remain a member of the church.
Section 5: Disciplining Members
Church discipline is a biblical process followed by the church only when a member is in serious violation of biblical truth. The goal of church discipline is not to punish a member. Church discipline is an act of love that has repentance and restoration as its end. (1 Cor. 6:1-4; Gal. 6:1-3; Matt. 18:15-17)
If the Elder Board becomes aware of allegations regarding a member who is violating biblical morality and/or espousing heretical doctrine (as determined by the Elder Board), the Elder Board shall approach the member in question to find out if the allegations are true. If the allegations are found to be false, the Elder Board shall dismiss the case and clear the name of the accused member in a manner appropriate to the situation. If the allegations are found to be true, the Elder Board will meet with the member in question to appeal to him/her to repent of the sin or the wrong teaching in question. If after meeting with the Elder Board the member in question does not repent of the sin and/or the wrong teaching in question, the Elder Board shall inform the church that the member will be placed under discipline at a special meeting of the church or at the next regularly scheduled meeting if it is timely to do so. Once under discipline, the member shall be removed from the membership roll of the church and listed as a suspended member under discipline. The member will be removed from any position of teaching or ministering unless and until they are formally restored by the Elders in accordance with item G of the Section. While a member is undergoing church discipline, he/she may not voluntarily resign his/her membership under the provision of Article 3, Section 3C of these bylaws. A suspended member under discipline may be received again as a member if the Elder Board determines that he/she has repented of the offenses for which discipline was exercised. A suspended member under discipline will not be given a verbal notice or letter of transfer to another church.
Section 6: Membership Record
The Elder Board and/or other member(s) designated by the Elder Board shall periodically review the current church membership record to confirm that it accurately details the active membership and that any members currently under church discipline are accurately noted.
This church recognizes two primary groups of officers called Elders and Deacons who are selected from among the church’s membership (cf. Acts 20:17-35; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-3; Hebrews 13:17; et al. and see Sections 1 and 2 below).
Section 1: Elders
The Elders are the overseers (“shepherds”) of this local church (1 Peter 5:22). The ministry of overseeing the congregation of First Family Church includes praying for the members of the congregation, individually and corporately; teaching sound doctrine (Titus 1:9); refuting false teaching (Titus 1:9); directing the affairs of the church (1 Timothy 5:17) and serving as an example of Christian life (1Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9).Together, the Elders, of whom the Lead Pastor is part, make up the Elder Board and share the responsibility and authority to give pastoral leadership in the church.
The Elder Board shall also be responsible for reviewing candidates to serve in the office of Lead Pastor when such office is vacant. Such review shall include the reviews noted in item B.3. of this Section. The Elder Board will be responsible to present a recommendation to the members to fill the position of Lead Pastor. Such candidate, excluding founding pastor, Todd Stiles, must be approved by at least 75% of the members in a regular or special meeting called by the Elder Board with at least two-week notice made available at a public meeting for the members.
The Lead Pastor or his designee shall have responsibility for directing the accountabilities of the ministry staff. If the office of Lead Pastor is vacant, the Elder Board will designate one of the Elders to direct the accountabilities of the ministry staff. The Lead Pastor, or his designee, will moderate the Elder Body and all Church Meetings. If the office of Lead Pastor is vacant or the Lead Pastor is unavailable and has not appointed a designee, the Elder Board will designate one or more of the Elders to moderate the Elder Body and Church Meetings. The Lead Pastor shall not be subject to items B.1. nor B.2. of the Elder Selection Process. The Lead Pastor will begin serving as an Elder on his hire date, and will continue to serve as an Elder as long as he continues to serve in the capacity of the Lead Pastor, subject to removal under item E. of this Section.
B. Elder Selection Process
The Elder Board shall keep an active list of potential candidates to serve in the office of Elder. Such candidates may be recommended by any member of the church or may express personally their own desire to serve in this capacity (1Timothy 3:1). If a candidate confirms their desire and interest in serving as an Elder, they shall be asked to attend specific training classes and/or mentoring relationships as directed by the Elder Board before being added to the list of potential candidates. At least once each calendar year, the Elder Board shall review the need to add or replace Elders. If the Elder Board determines that such a need exists, they shall prayerfully consider the men on the Elder candidate list to fill the identified need. Other candidates may be considered if the Elder Board considers it appropriate. All Elder candidates will proceed through the examinations listed below.
- An initial oral interview with one or more designated Elders, to confirm their commitment to unity, humility and ability to lead, initial qualifications, and maturity to serve/minister to the church body.
- A written doctrinal review to confirm their capability to proclaim and defend the doctrines of the faith.
- An interview with the entire Elder Board centered on their written doctrinal statements. This interview may also be used to ask further questions about the candidate’s spiritual walk and family life, should there be more.
- A community review of at least three unrelated persons outside the church who have had the ability to observe their activities and are able to confirm that they have a good reputation and respect in the community.
- After the Elder Board is able to confirm the candidate’s commitment to unity and ministry, the candidate’s ability to defend the faith, and the candidate’s good reputation, the name(s) of the candidate(s) shall be published in a format available publicly for three consecutive weeks. A candidate shall be introduced publicly during at least one publicly scheduled meeting. During the three-week period beginning on the first Sunday on which the candidate(s) name(s) are available publicly, the congregation shall have opportunity to approach any Elder and personally demonstrate a reason that a candidate should be denied to serve as an elder. If such personal testimony is confirmed upon review of the Elder Board, the person shall be removed from candidacy and from the Official Elder Candidate list.
Once the steps in section B.3. have been completed and the Elders are unified that each man being considered meets the biblical requirements for an Elder , the man or men coming alongside the other Elders will join the rest of the Elder Board for the next period of congregational affirmation described in section C.
Twice a year, all members of the Elder Board will be presented to the congregation for the purpose of on-going affirmation. During this time, the congregation will be reminded of the biblical role, qualifications, and responsibilities of the office of Elder, and each Elder will be introduced to the congregation. The congregation will also be reminded at these times of their on-going role to address conflicts or concerns in a manner consistent with Jesus’ instructions found in Matthew 18:15-20. If personal testimony of reproachable behavior is brought forward and confirmed upon review of the Elder Board, the Elder in question will be removed from office and will be disciplined according to our defined process for church discipline. If no such testimony is brought forward or such testimony is found to be either baseless or not in conflict with the qualifications of serving as an Elder as set forth in 1Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:5–9, the man shall continue to serve as an Elder. Names of all new Elders and Deacons will be communicated to the congregation in at least one regular Sunday morning service prior to the affirmation. New Elders and Deacons will be installed within four weeks of completing their initial introduction for affirmation unless a testimony of reproachable behavior is confirmed.
D. Tenure of Elders
It is desired that a man commit to a minimum of three years of service as an Elder for his initial tenure. At the conclusion of a three-year term, an Elder may opt to serve an additional one-year term. There is no limitation to the number of years an Elder is allowed to serve as long as he continues to be congregationally affirmed as described in C. and desires to serve, subject to dismissal in accordance with Section E.
When an elder steps down at the completion of a term, his time away from the Elder body will be no less than one year.
E. Dismissal of an Elder
An Elder can be dismissed from office at any time he is deemed to be disqualified. Any accusation against an Elder must be brought to the Elder Board by two or more members (1 Timothy 5:19). If the Elder Board determines that a fellow Elder is disqualified, he will be dismissed from the Elder Board.
F. Elder Decision-Making Authority
The Elder Board has the authority to carry out the responsibilities listed in Article 4, Section 1F of these bylaws. All matters of church business will be under the decision-making authority of the Elder Board except where restricted in the following areas that require a congregational vote:
- Appropriation of church funds for a capital expenditure in an amount that exceeds $50,000.00. (see “Church Meetings” Article 5, Section 3)
- Filling the position of Lead Pastor
Section 2: Deacons
Deacons are biblically qualified men with proven, godly character who consistently serve the church under the authority of the Elder Body. It is not that these men only have special assignments, though at times they might; it is, instead, that these men have regular assignments and serve the physical areas of the church consistently as a model of faithfulness and humility. (See Acts 6:1-7; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8-13; et. al.)
Recommendation of Prospective Deacons
A member may be recommended by the Elder Board, by any church member, or by himself.
Qualifications for Deacons. Deacons must meet the qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. The Elder Board will evaluate a prospective Deacon and determine whether he meets the listed qualifications. If the Elder Board determines that he is not qualified to serve as a Deacon, he cannot be appointed.
To appoint Deacons, the Elder Board will review interested and potential candidates regularly in conjunction with the current deacons. Any person appointed to be a Deacon will go through the affirmation process described in Section 1.C.
Tenure of Deacons
Deacons are free to serve as a deacon so long as they are biblically qualified, consistently serving, and their desire to continue to serve in the capacity of a Deacon is evident and affirmed by the Elder Board.
Dismissing a Deacon
A Deacon can be dismissed from office by the Elder Board at any time he is deemed to be disqualified.
Deacon responsibilities consist of the physical areas of the church; these are the needs which they are set apart and in which they consistently serve with godly character. Deacons share in the responsibility to identify needs or special assignments that may require the addition of more Deacons, or a realignment of responsibilities among the Deacons already serving.
Section 1: Purpose
Church meetings are a forum for the Elder Board to communicate with the church. These meetings are also for the church to vote on items in which the authority of the Elder Board is restricted.
Section 2: Scheduling
Church meetings will be scheduled as deemed necessary by the Elder Board. A list of decision items for which a church vote is necessary or desired should be made available to members at least one week in advance of that meeting unless a longer period of notice is required for an item addressed in these bylaws.
Special church meetings may be called at any time by the Elder Board. If a church vote is needed or desired in any special church meeting, a list of items for vote must be made available at least one week prior to that meeting, unless a longer period of notice is required for an item addressed in these bylaws.
Section 3: Voting
When the church meets to vote, the following definitions and guidelines shall apply, unless specified otherwise in these bylaws.
- A quorum of this church is 10% of the members.
- A majority of the Elder Board must be present when the church meets to vote.
The moderator for a church meeting may be the Lead Pastor, another Elder or any willing member appointed by the Elder Board.
Votes of the church can be taken either by a show of hands or by written ballot at the discretion of the moderator of the church meeting. Voting by proxy shall not be allowed. An absentee vote will not be accepted unless the Elder Board approves it. A decision to allow absentee voting must be made by the Elders at least two weeks before a vote is to be taken and reasonable attempts should be made to inform the congregation of this change to voting procedure.
A simple majority vote of a quorum of members is needed to approve an item in a regular or special church meeting, unless otherwise indicated in these bylaws. The Elder Board reserves the right to table a decision for an indefinite period of time or require a higher percentage of approval than otherwise noted in these bylaws to preserve the unity of the church.
Section 4: Rules of Order
A. An agenda shall be provided for any church meeting.
B. The moderator will recognize those who wish to address the church meeting.
C. The moderator may limit discussion after a reasonable amount of time has been allowed for every person wishing to comment on a motion.
D. All votes shall be decided by a simple majority unless otherwise indicated in these bylaws.
Section 1: Church Finance Team
The Church Finance Team shall be comprised of at least one Elder and two men and/or women appointed by the Elders. They shall work in cooperation with the Elder Board to accomplish the following:
A. Review the systems and procedures for handling of funds to assure that the finances of the church are managed in a way such that the risk of improper use of funds is appropriately minimized.
B. Produce monthly financial statements as requested by the Elder Board.
C. Formulate and present a budget to the Elder Board as described in Section 2.
Section 2: Budget Formulation
By September 1 of each year, the Church Finance Team shall request detailed budget proposals from those responsible for lines in the budget. These proposals shall itemize all proposed expenditures for the next calendar year. The budget proposals shall be due by October 1. These proposals shall be reviewed by the Elders and those responsible for overseeing church finances prior to a formal recommendation to the church.
Section 3: Budget Approval
The Church Finance Team shall cooperate with the Elders to formulate a final budget as approved by the Elder Board. The Church Finance Team shall also support the Elders in making a formal budget presentation to the church no later than December 15.
Those responsible for items in the budget are authorized to spend per month no more than 10% of their approved annual budget (for items detailed in that budget) or $100, whichever is greater. Additional expenditures must be approved by the Church Finance Team and reported to the Elder Board in the next regular or special meeting. The Church Finance Team must approve any expenditure that would cause a line item to exceed the amount budgeted for the fiscal year. The Elder Board must approve such expenditure if it will exceed 110% of the amount budgeted for the line item.
Section 4: Subsequent Church Action
No amendment to the budget can occur until the member(s) responsible for the line item affected has had an opportunity to consider the matter. If delaying the action would result in substantial spiritual or financial loss, the Elder Board may amend the budget at any regular or special meeting and notify those affected as soon as practicable.
Section 5: Other Financial Matters
The Church Finance Team shall maintain an accurate list of financial responsibilities and those who are assigned those tasks.
Bylaws may be amended at any regular or special church meeting. An amendment may be proposed by any member of the church. A written copy of the proposed amendment must be given to the Elder Board at least two weeks before the church meeting. If the Elder Board approves the proposed amendment, a copy shall be made available to every member of the church at least one week prior to the church meeting.
Statement on Marriage and Sexuality
- We believe that term “marriage” has only one meaning and that is marriage sanctioned by God which joins one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture.
- We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other. We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.
- We believe that any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography or any attempt to change one’s sex, or disagreement with one’s biological sex, is sinful and offensive to God.
- We believe that in order to preserve the function and integrity of the church as the local Body of Christ, and to provide a biblical role model to the church members and the community, it is imperative that all persons employed by the church in any capacity, or who serve as volunteers, should abide by and agree to this Statement on Marriage and Sexuality and conduct themselves accordingly.
- We believe that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
- We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity. Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual are to be repudiated and are not in accord with scripture nor the doctrines of the church.
Conflict of Interest Policy
All trustees, officers, agents, and employees of First Family Church shall disclose all real or perceived conflicts of interest that they discover or that have been brought to their attention in connection with this organization’s activities. A “conflict of interest” occurs where a person is responsible for promoting the interest of the ministry at the same time he or she is involved in a competing personal interest (financial, business, personal, or relational). “Disclosure” shall mean providing properly, to the appropriate person, a written description of the facts comprising the real or apparent conflict of interest. An annual disclosure statement shall be circulated to trustees, officers, and certain identified agents and employees to assist them in considering such disclosures, but disclosure is appropriate and required at any time conflicts of interest may occur. The written notices of disclosures shall be filed with the Elders or such other person designated by the Elders to receive such notifications. At the meeting of the Elders, all disclosures of real or perceived conflicts of interest shall be noted for the record in the minutes. An individual trustee, officer, agent, or employee who believes that he or she or an immediate member of his or her immediate family might have a real or perceived conflict of interest, in addition to filing a notice of disclosure, must abstain from participating in discussions or deliberations with respect to the subject of the conflict (other than to present factual information or to answer questions), using his or her personal influence to affect deliberations, making motions, voting, executing agreements, or taking similar actions on behalf of the organizations where the conflict of interest might pertain by law, agreement, or otherwise.
At the discretion of the Elder Board, a person with a real or perceived conflict of interest may be excused from all or any portion of discussion or deliberations with respect to the subject of the conflict. A member of the Elder Board, who, having disclosed a conflict of interest, nevertheless shall be counted in determining the existence of a quorum at any meeting in which the subject of the conflict is discussed. The minutes of the meeting shall reflect the individual’s disclosure, the vote thereon, and the individual’s abstention from participation and voting. The Elders shall ensure that all trustees, officers, agents, employees, and independent contractors of the organization are made aware of the organization’s policy with respect to conflicts of interest.
Updated: April 2016