Constitutional Lessons

OK! This article really isn’t about the United States Constitution. It is about the South Side Church of Christ Constitution and By-Laws (1979 Edition). I will be the first to admit that I have never been a big fan of Constitutions and By-Laws for churches unless they are VERY well written. I understand that many were written, though, to protect congregations from denominational takeovers of property, finances and doctrines. Some were written because their state mandated they have some as an organization.
I have to admit, though, I really like the way our Constitution starts out. And you know what I like about it the best? The best part is that Article One and Article Two (Section 1) cannot be amended in anyway! That is a good thing, because those first few paragraphs are filled with sound Biblical doctrine. Here are a few things you will find (if you ever read your copy):
First is the NAME of the congregation! The congregation will always be known as the South Side Church of Christ! I am glad that the drafters of our constitution started off with this! In recent years many churches of our brotherhood have changed their names. The only problem is if Danville all of a sudden moved south of the church building. I don’t expect this to happen, but because we cannot change the name, we would be simply known as South Side Church of Christ on the north side of Danville. That would be fine with me as long as we continue to wear His name as a congregation!
Second is the PURPOSE of our congregation! Many of our churches have sent $1000’s to the denominational world to find out what their purpose is. You don’t have to buy a book or wait forty days to find out the purpose of South Side! All you have to do is look at our constitution (and they are free)! Saves us a lot of money and time! The constitution says our purpose is to “conduct a church”. Pretty simple, huh? But what did the writers mean by that? Good question (and you didn’t even have to wait for Ask the Preacher Night to get the question answered)! In fact, I don’t have to dig and study very much at all, because they told us what they meant by “conduct a church”. Here is what they meant, in their own words:
* We will be “known among religious bodies as the church of Christ”,
* We will have “Local autonomy” (self-governing),
* Members are known as Christians only,
* CONGREGATIONAL in form of government,
* No creed or articles of faith, other than those contained in the New Testament,
* Primitive ordinance of BAPTISM by immersion,
* Primitive ordinance of the LORD’S SUPPER shall be observed on the FIRST DAY of each week,
* Independent of any denomination, State or National, Ecclesiastical or other type of religious or quasi-religious organization,
* We are not to “support the United Christian Missionary Society or any other agencies of the ‘Disciples of Christ’ denomination, in any manner whatsoever”.
WOW! That says a lot about our congregation and the ones who put together this document. The last item listed above speaks of the time period they drafted the constitution, as many of our churches and colleges were taken over by the Disciples movement. Many of our congregations placed statements like these in constitutions to protect themselves.
Third is Membership Requirements of the congregation! The writers of the constitution wanted to make sure that South Side Church of Christ always had the same membership requirements as those given in Scripture. It was not open for our own interpretation!
Invitation to membership shall be extended to all:
* To those whosoever will believe with honesty and sincerity, that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of the Living God,
* To those who “confess this faith before men”,
* To those who are “fully repentant”
* To those who are “subsequently immersed in water into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the remission of sins”.
Sounds like the back of the bulletin (and the other side of this newsletter where the plan of salvation is laid out)! The message has not, and will not change at South Side! It is the same message that was taught in the New Testament! This message cannot be changed!
Oh, yes, the drafters of the constitution did allow for transfers, but only to those who had followed the New Testament pattern! Good for those authors of the constitution!
* To those who “by transfer of membership by letter, or statement of membership from a sister congregation of the Church of Christ holding identical membership requirements”
* To those who “by reaffirmation of faith and transfer of membership from another church where said candidate for membership has been previously immersed in water, “into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit””.

Standing firm on His Unchanging Word with you,


The Bible Only makes Christians Only!