CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS
We, the members of Gateway Church of Livermore, California, do ordain and establish the following articles, to which we voluntarily submit ourselves.
The name of this church shall be Gateway Church.
Section 1. We acknowledge no ecclesiastical authority other than our Lord Jesus Christ, who is head of the church through elders chosen and ordained according to precepts of Holy Scripture. The elders themselves at all times and in all their activities stand under the authority of Holy Scripture.
Section 2. The church may and does cooperate with other churches in areas of mutual interest. We may seek the assistance and counsel of other churches in matters of concern to us, but the decision of no other church or group of churches shall at any time be acknowledged as binding on this church.
The purpose of this church is to glorify the God of the Scriptures in promoting His worship, evangelizing sinners, and edifying saints. Therefore, we are committed to the proclamations of God's perfect law and the glorious gospel of His grace through all the world and to the defense of "the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
ARTICLES OF FAITH
Section 1. Religious Authority. The ultimate authority in all matters of faith, order, and morals is, and must be, the Bible alone. Furthermore, we believe the Bible in its entirety is God's written word to man, free of error in its original autographs, wholly reliable in history, science, and doctrine. Its divine inspiration has rendered the book infallible (incapable of teaching deception) and inerrant (not liable to prove false or mistaken). Its inspiration is plenary (extending to all parts alike), verbal (including the actual language form), and confluent (product of two free agents, human and divine).
Section 2. Doctrinal Standard. The doctrinal standard of this church is the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 (also known as “A Faith to Confess”). This historic document is an excellent summary of "the things most surely believed among us", and we find it to be an assistance in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteousness.
Section 1. Requirements for Membership. Any person who professes repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ, who manifests a life transformed by the power of Christ, who has been baptized upon the profession of his faith, who expresses substantial agreement with the doctrines and aims of this church, and who is willing to submit to its government shall be eligible for membership in it.
Section 2. Members. All who are received into the membership of the church according to the procedures set forth in Section 3 of this Article, who continue in regular attendance at the meetings of the church (cf. Sec. 5, Para. A), and who do not come under the corrective discipline of the church as set forth in Article VI, shall be considered members in good standing and entitled to all the rights and privileges of membership in the church.
Section 3. Procedures in the Reception of New Members.
Paragraph A. A person who desires to become a member of the church may apply to the elders and request to be interviewed by them. During the interview the elders will seek to determine whether that person has a credible profession of faith in Christ, has been scripturally baptized, is in substantial agreement with the doctrines of the church, and intends to give wholehearted support to its ministry and submit to its discipline.
Paragraph B. If the applicant is or has been a member of another church, effort will be made to determine the person's standing in that church and his reasons for leaving. At the discretion of the elders, a letter of inquiry concerning the person's standing may be sent to that church before his acceptance as a member in this church is determined.
Paragraph C. If the elders are satisfied that the applicant meets the requirements for membership, they shall announce the same to the congregation at a meeting of the church. A minimum of two weeks will be allowed for objections or questions to be raised to the elders by any member concerning the applicant's manner of life or doctrine. If no objection is raised which the elders consider to be valid, the person will be publicly received into the membership at a meeting of the church. The elders may postpone the reception of a person into membership until proper investigation can be made concerning objections which in their judgment are sufficiently serious.
Paragraph D. Acceptance into membership requires the approval of the church.
Section 4. Termination of Membership.
Paragraph A. Ways of Terminating Membership.
(1) By death. When a member dies, the person’s name will be removed from the membership roll.
(2) By transfer. When requested, the elders may grant a letter of commendation for a member in good standing to transfer to another church (Acts 18:27). No letter will be given for anyone under corrective church discipline.
(3) By resignation. Membership is a voluntary relationship jointly entered into by the individual applicant and the church. Thus, membership cannot be terminated by actions of a member alone. No resignation will be accepted from a member suspected of sin or under corrective discipline. Members seeking resignation shall first consult with the elders of the church.
(4) By exclusion. If a member habitually absents himself from the meetings of the church without showing just cause or if a person habitually ceases to practice the commitments of churchmanship outlined in this constitution, he may be excluded from the membership at the discretion of the elders.
(5) By excommunication. According to the teaching of Holy Scripture a congregation must cut off from its fellowship and visible membership any person who teaches or insists on holding false and heretical doctrine, who blatantly and persistently conducts himself in a manner inconsistent with his Christian profession, or who persists in disturbing the unity or peace of the church (Matthew 18:15ff; I Corinthians 5:1ff). The procedure to be followed in such excommunication is set forth in Section 2 of Article VI of this Constitution.
Paragraph B. Congregational Role in Termination. Termination of membership requires the involvement of the church as may be necessary to promote understanding, peace, and good order.
Section 5. Commitments of Membership.
Paragraph A. All members ought to attend meetings of the church unless providentially hindered (Acts 2:42; Hebrews 10:24,25). Because the Lord’s day is especially designed and suited for the benefit of the church (Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:1,2), the members should eagerly and joyfully participate in it with worship, fellowship, and service (Isaiah 58:13,14).
Paragraph B. All church members ought to make use of the various means of grace (I Peter 2:1-3) including reading the Bible, private and family prayer.
Paragraph C. Christians should financially support the work of the Lord by systematic and proportionate giving made through the local church (Malachi 3:8-10; I Corinthians 16:1-2; II Corinthians 8:9). The tithe (10% of one's income) is urged upon each member as an expression of worship and the biblical norm for basic giving, to which may be added gifts and offerings according to one's ability and the willingness of heart (II Corinthians 8:1-5; Exodus 36:2-7).
Paragraph D. Members ought to obey the teachings of Scripture concerning family life and civil government (Romans 13:1-7; I Peter 2:13-17).
Paragraph E. All members should strive for the good of the entire body through the exercise of Christian love and biblical prudence, with a view toward keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3; Philippians 2:4).
Paragraph F. Every member should bear witness to his faith in Christ through consistent Christian conduct and by the testimony of his lips (II Peter 3:15; Matthew 5:16).
Paragraph G. Each member of the church ought to render in his daily life loyal obedience to all the moral precepts established in the word of God (Romans 8:3-4). If God has not condemned or forbidden a practice in His Word, a Christian is at liberty to participate in it. The exercise of Christian liberty, however, must at all times be governed by an earnest desire to walk in the fear of God and to glorify Him in all things (I Peter 1:17; I Corinthians 10:31), a loving regard for the consciences of weaker brethren (I Corinthians 8:9; Romans 15:1-3), a compassion for the lost (I Corinthians 9:19-22), and a zealous regard for the health of one's own soul (Romans 13:14; I Peter 2:16).
Paragraph H. All who come into the membership of this church should recognize and submit to the authority which Christ has established in His church. This authority is in the congregation of the church itself (Matthew 18:17-20) and in the church offices of the elders (I Thessalonians 5:12,13; Hebrews 13:17) and deacons (Acts 6:3; Philippians 1:1).
Section 1. Formative Discipline. Every disciple of Christ must be under His discipline which is administered to each one through the church, according to I Corinthians 12:12-27. Mutual submission to one another and to the overseers whom the Lord has set over His church (Ephesians 5:21; I Peter 5:5) will result in the sanctification of each member individually and of the whole body of the church. There are occasions, however, when failure in the application of this formative discipline makes the application of corrective discipline necessary.
Section 2. Corrective Discipline.
Paragraph A. General Statement. Corrective discipline becomes necessary when heretical doctrine or disorderly, immoral, or scandalous conduct appears among the members of the church. In all such cases reasonable efforts must be made to resolve difficulty, correct error, and remove offense through counsel and admonition before more drastic steps are taken (Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20). The principles given in Matthew 18:15-16 and I Corinthians 5:1-13 must be carefully followed in all cases of corrective discipline. When admonition is not heeded, suspension of some of the privileges of membership may need to be imposed. If this measure fails, excommunication from the membership of the church may be necessary.
Paragraph B. Goal of Corrective Discipline. The goal of all corrective discipline is the glory of God (Ephesians 3:21), the purity and blessing of the church (I Corinthians 5:6), and the spiritual recovery of the offender (I Corinthians 5:5; Galatians 6:1).
Paragraph C. Reproof. Public reproof is an attempt to call an impenitent member to repentance for sin too blatant to be dealt with exclusively in a private manner or to deal with serious sin even when repentance is in evidence. Such reproofs may be given when public misconduct (Galatians 2:11-14), patterns of sin (Titus 1:12,13), or serious doctrinal error would threaten the unity or godliness of the congregation (Titus 1:1-3). If the reproof is not heeded, further discipline may be imposed.
Paragraph D. Suspension. Some misconduct by a member may require the suspension of some privileges of membership (II Thessalonians 3:6-15). The elders shall have the authority to impose suspension after notifying the membership of the reason for such an action to be taken.
Paragraph E. Excommunication.
(1) In addition to the cases mentioned above, there may be other aggravated and heinous sins which require the more timely action of excommunication by the church (I Corinthians 5:1-4).
(2) All acts of excommunication must be executed by the gathered church (Matthew 18:17; I Corinthians 5:4). To be valid, an act of excommunication must be approved by two-thirds majority of the votes cast.
Paragraph F. Restoration. Those who have been suspended or excommunicated, but give credible evidence of repentance, shall be forgiven and restored to the full privileges of membership (II Corinthians 2:6-8). This restoration shall be enacted by two-thirds majority of the votes cast.
BAPTISM AND THE LORD'S SUPPER
Section 1. General Statement. There are two ordinances of special significance which our Lord has commanded us to observe, namely, baptism and the Lord’s supper. There is no saving merit imparted to the recipient through the water of baptism or the bread and cup of the supper.
Section 2. Baptism. Only confessed disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ are proper candidates for baptism, and all such persons should be baptized (Acts 2:38). Believing that baptism is the God-ordained door of entrance into the visible community of the people of God, we shall receive into the membership of the church those who have been baptized in the biblical manner, which is by immersion and "into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).
Section 3. The Lord's Supper. Whereas baptism is the initiatory ordinance by which one enters the visible church and should be observed only once by each believer, the Lord's supper should be celebrated frequently by the assembled church (I Corinthians 11:26). While this is a most holy ordinance and should be observed with solemnity and dignity, the bread and the cup of the supper are and remain only symbols of the broken body and the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Only true believers who are in good standing should participate in this ordinance.
Section 1. General Statement. Jesus Christ alone is head of the church (Colossians 1:18), and He governs His church through officers whom He appoints and who are endowed by His Spirit with the gifts and graces needed to accomplish their work. Officers in the church are of two kinds, elders and deacons (Philippians 1:1; I Timothy 3:1-13). It is the duty of the church to seek and discover among its members those to whom Christ the Lord has imparted the necessary gifts for office-bearing, and after formally recognizing them by vote, to set them apart by united prayer, and then to submit to their authority.
Section 2. Elders.
Paragraph A. Elders are the "pastors and teachers" given to the church “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12). In view of the important responsibilities of this office, it is desirable that at least one elder should devote his full time to the work of the ministry and the oversight of the church. Any man called to this office must conscientiously affirm his agreement with the articles of faith and the constitution of the church. Should he at any time move from this position, he is obligated to make this known to the church.
Paragraph B. Elders are responsible for the spiritual instruction and oversight of the church, the implementation of discipline, and the shepherding of the souls of the church's members “as those who must give account” to God (Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:17; I Peter 5:2,3). Other men may engage in preaching and teaching with the guidance of the elders, provided they are in good standing with the church.
Paragraph C. The qualifications for a man chosen to fill the office of elder are clearly set forth in Scripture, specifically in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. An elder is not above corrective discipline if he has fallen into sin. I Timothy 5:19-20 must be followed if such an instance should arise.
Paragraph D. Scripture assumes the plurality of elders in each New Testament church (Acts 14:23). However, when there is only one elder, he should seek to carry out his pastoral role with close communication with the deacons. In the event there are no deacons, then the single elder should conduct his ministry in close communication with chosen members of the church. Any such arrangements are to be reported initially to the church and annually thereafter. Ministerial concerns or cases of church discipline against a sole elder shall be addressed by the deacons or members as referenced above.
Section 3. Deacons.
Paragraph A. Deacons are responsible to administer the ordinary business, secular affairs, and benevolent concerns of the church so that the elders may devote themselves without distraction to the biblical priorities of their office (Acts 6:3-4). They must fulfill the duties of their office in cooperation with and subjection to the elders.
Paragraph B. The number of deacons shall not be fixed. The church shall choose as many as are needed for the work to be done from among the men which give evidence of having the scriptural qualifications for that office (Acts 6:3).
Paragraph C. The qualifications for a man chosen to fulfill the office of deacon are set forth in Acts 6:3 and I Timothy 3:8-13. A deacon is not above corrective discipline if he has fallen into sin. The principles of I Timothy 5:19-20 must be followed in such an instance.
Section 4. Appointment of Officers.
Paragraph A. The local church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is responsible to appoint men to the offices of elder and deacon. The Lord’s appointment of an individual to either of these offices is manifested by the individual’s possession of the graces and gifts required in the Scripture, by his own conviction that God is leading him to serve in that capacity, and by the willingness of the congregation for him to serve among them. This is a matter of such importance that it should be accompanied by prayerful waiting on God for guidance, a careful perusal of the relevant passages of Scripture, and an honest evaluation of each man nominated to a particular office. These activities are the responsibility of every member and of the church as a whole.
Paragraph B. Nominations.
(1) Nominations to the offices of elder and deacon shall be made by the elders. At least annually, the elders shall seek the input of the members for potential candidates to either of the offices. Members may recommend officer candidates to the elders at any time.
(2) The elders may at any time during the year nominate a candidate and call a congregational meeting for his consideration. In no case may a man be nominated without his knowledge and prior consent.
Paragraph C. When the time comes to consider a nomination during a congregational meeting of the church, the candidate and any members of his immediate family who are present shall be excused from the meeting while his qualifications are openly discussed by the entire congregation in the fear of God and the light of Scripture. After that a written ballot shall be taken. While unanimity is desired, no less than three-fourths majority of the votes cast shall be required for the election of an office.
Paragraph D. Following the recognition of an office by the vote of the congregation, he shall be publicly installed in his office by prayer and the laying on of hands.
Section 1. The trustees shall be the legal representatives of the corporation in all major external business transactions, but only as directed by a resolution adopted by the congregation and shall have no executive powers not expressly conferred by such a resolution
Section 2. At least three of the church officers shall serve as trustees. If there are fewer than three church officers, those who are in office shall appoint other congregational members in good standing to serve as church trustees.
Section 3. Expenditures of more than $2500 must have the approval of the membership.
CONGREGATIONAL BUSINESS MEETINGS
Section 1. General Statement. There shall be an annual business meeting of the church held on the fourth Sunday in February. Additional congregational meetings may be called at other times at the discretion of the elders.
Section 2. Calling of Meetings. Elders, deacons, or trustees may call a congregational meeting.
Section 3. Notice of Meetings. Notice of all congregational meetings in which business is to be transacted by vote shall be given at regular worship services on two successive Lord's days immediately prior to the meetings. However, in the case of timely and urgent matters, such a meeting may be called on shorter notice by notifying each member of the time, place, and purpose of the meeting.
Section 4. Quorum. The members present at a congregational meeting shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
Section 5. Chairmanship. An elder shall preside at all business meetings.
Section 6. Voting.
Paragraph A. All members who have reached the age of eighteen years and are in good standing in the church may vote on any matter brought before the congregation.
Paragraph B. While unanimity is desired, a majority of the votes cast shall be required to pass a resolution, unless otherwise specified in this constitution.
Paragraph C. Whenever practicable, absentee votes may be cast by members in good standing who are providentially hindered from attending business meetings. Members wishing to cast absentee ballots must make their requests in a timely manner to the elders, who shall determine eligibility on a case-by-case basis.
Section 1. This Constitution and Bylaws may be amended by a three-fourths majority of the votes cast at a business meeting of the congregation.
Section 2. No proposed amendment may be voted on which has not been distributed to the congregation in written form at least two weeks prior to such a meeting.
Adopted: October 26, 1986
1. This document was amended on December 18, 2011.
2. The name of the church was officially changed January 15, 2012, to Livermore Reformed Baptist Church, DBA Gateway.