Lakeview Church Zion IL

Lakeview New Consitution Q&A


What prompted the rewriting of Lakeview’s By-laws?

The merger talks with Grace and the deacons’ and pastors’ study of biblical eldership.

Back in 2013, the church leaders decided that it was in the church’s best interest to leave the Missionary Church denomination.  The church membership voted to leave the denomination which meant a new constitution had to be drafted.  The leaders worked together to rewrite the document, concentrating most of their effort on the Statement of Faith portion.  Some changes were made to the By-laws to remove the mention of the denomination but very few other changes were made.  The thinking was that the Statement of Faith was of utmost importance and the By-laws could be adjusted later.  After the Statement of Faith was finished, it was acknowledged that the new statement was in conflict in a few areas with the current By-laws and, therefore, the By-laws would have to be amended.  With this in mind, the congregation proceeded to vote and approve the new constitution in April of 2014.

Fast forward to 2018.  The leaders of Lakeview and the leaders of Grace Missionary Church entered discussions around the feasibility of merging the two churches together.  As we began comparing our church constitutions the leaders from Grace pointed out the contradictions between the Statement of Faith and the By-laws in the Lakeview Constitution.  When the merger talks concluded in July 2018, the leaders of Lakeview, being reminded of the work that needed to be done on the constitution, began to study Scripture along with the book Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch.  The work of rewriting the By-laws began in September of 2018. 

The new revision of the By-laws, then, is the completion of the work which began back in 2013.

How does the current Lakeview By-laws conflict with the Statement of Faith?

It conflicts in the areas of who elders and deacons are, their function and the general government of the church.

The Statement of Faith says, “We teach the literal, grammatical-historical interpretation of Scripture, which constitutes the only infallible rule of faith and practice.”  Since Scripture is the only infallible rule for practice then our practices need to align with Scripture.  The question is: Do our church practices reflect the teachings of Scripture?

The statement also says, “We teach that the one supreme authority for the church is Christ and that church leadership… [is] appointed through His sovereignty as found in the Scriptures. The biblically designated officers serving under Christ and over the assembly are elders (also called bishops, pastors, and pastor-teachers) and deacons, both of whom must meet biblical qualifications.  We teach that these leaders lead or rule as servants of Christ and have His authority in directing the church. The congregation is to submit to their leadership. “

In the current By-laws, there are multiple officers that are mentioned: senior minister, associate minister, secretary, treasurer, financial secretary, deacons, deacon chairperson, deacon secretary, trustees, trustee chairperson, trustee secretary, Christian Education director, chairperson of missions committee, member-at-large, executive board chairperson and elder.Whether or not the members of the nominating committee or the financial committee are officers of the church according to the By-laws is debatable.However, as you can clearly see, we have more than just elders and deacons as our Statement of Faith says.While the office of elder and deacon are based in Scripture as our Statement of Faith cites, the other offices are not mentioned.

Also, you can see a confusion in terms.In the current By-laws, an elder, senior minister or pastor (the By-laws use pastor and minister interchangeably) and the associate minister or pastor all hold different offices while our Statement of Faith says that they are one in the same office.

There is also a confusion in leadership.  The Statement of Faith says that the church is to submit to the leadership of the elders and deacons.  The By-laws, on the other hand, state that the leadership of the church and requisite submission belong to all of the other offices named above as well.   There is an obvious conflict here, but the conflict becomes even more apparent as we continue on.

The Statement of Faith says, “We teach that it is scriptural for true churches to cooperate with each other for the presentation and propagation of the faith. Each local church, however, through its elders and their interpretation and application of Scripture, should be the sole judge of the measure and method of its cooperation. The elders should determine all other matters of membership, policy, discipline, benevolence, and government as well.”  According to this the elders by their interpretation and application of Scripture are to determine the cooperation of the church with other churches, membership, policy, discipline, benevolence, and government. 

If you compare what is said to be taught in the Statement of Faith with what is practiced in the By-laws you will find some glaring problems.  For example, under the current By-laws, we have one elder.  That means, according to what is taught in the Statement of Faith, the one elder determines all matters of membership, policy, discipline, benevolence, government and church cooperation.  Of course, this is not how Lakeview currently operates.

Another example of a problem is found in the function and choosing of elders.  The By-laws say the deacons recommend the elder candidate to the Executive Board who then decides whether or not to approve him.  If the executive board approves then 70% of the membership has to approve.  If the deacons put forth another candidate for elder, does the current elder determine this matter of government as the Statement of Faith says he should?  No, he only becomes one vote of the 70% approval or the 30% disapproval.  Far from determining anything, the elder’s leadership is subject first to the deacons, second to the Executive Board and third to the rest of the membership.  Instead of submitting to the elder, as the Statement of Faith states, the congregation can choose to oppose him and approve another elder despite his disapproval.  The office of elder, according to the By-laws, is a mere honorary title not a leader of the church.

A similar issue arises in reference to the senior and associate pastor.  According to the Statement of Faith and Scripture, the senior and associate pastor hold the same biblical office of elder.  The senior pastor and associate pastor, along with the elders, should also be the sole determiners of church cooperation, membership, policy, discipline, benevolence and government.  Looking at the By-laws, it is clear that they do not.  The senior pastor is called by a 70% vote of the congregation.  Again, any current man in the role of elder or associate pastor has no more leadership in choosing the next senior pastor as any other member.  A vote of confidence may be called for on the senior pastor by the Executive Board and voted on by the membership.  This clearly shows that the senior pastor is subject to the Executive Board and the membership.  He is, therefore, not a leader and does not have the submission of the membership since at any time they can call a vote of confidence and excuse him from his office.  The associate pastor, far from being equal with the senior pastor and elder, is called and dismissed at the mercy of the Executive Board alone.  The membership, deacons, or any other member except those of the Executive Board have a say.

As you progress through the By-laws you find that the authority and leadership granted to the elders in Scripture and our Statement of Faith has been granted to the Executive Board and, ultimately, to the membership at large.  The Executive Board is given the power to call meetings of the church, call associate pastors and dismiss them, review the pastors salaries, call a vote of confidence against the senior pastor, oversee the finances of the church, propose a budget, appoint deacons as they desire ratified by the membership, appoint trustees as they desire ratified by the membership, oversee the business of the church, oversee the ministries of the church, to make recommendations to the church as may affect its general welfare, formulate policies, approve procedures, give oversight to all elected and appointed officers, approve the calling of elders that is ratified by the membership, appoint anyone to a vacant elective office until the next annual election, appoint the finance committee, rule over any committee or ministry (such as men’s ministry or children’s ministry), give approval of the forming of new committees or ministries, and in the event of dissolution the Executive Board recommends and the membership ratifies where the money from the church goes. 

As you can see, the Statement of Faith states the elders are the leaders of the church, have the authority to govern the church, and the membership is to honor them with their submission.  In the By-laws, the Executive Board is given the authority to lead and govern the church and receives the church’s submission except on a few special occasions when the membership votes and is not required to submit to anyone. 

From just these few examples, there are obvious conflicts between the Statement of Faith and the By-laws and therefore a rewrite of the Lakeview constitution must be done.

Lakeview has been functioning fine under the current Statement of Faith and By-laws for almost five years.  Do we really need to change it?

Yes, it’s confusing and we want to make sure we do what we say we teach.

It is true that despite the contradictions the church has continued to function.  However, this question is not a question of pragmatism (what works) but of integrity.  We want to practice what we say we teach.   If Scripture really is our rule of faith and practice, then the Statement of Faith and the By-laws should complement not oppose each other.

Where did the language for the new By-laws come from?

It came from the Bible, our current By-laws, and from other church By-laws.

The wording of the new By-laws is a fusion of a variety of different sources.  The work began with researching all the examples, commands and principles of Scripture regarding church government.  With this foundation in place, the current By-laws were compared with the Statement of Faith and Scripture.  Areas of conflict between them were flagged for rewriting or removal.  The next step was to consult church history and to examine several different By-laws from long-established churches that currently operate under a biblical elder lead government.  Following all this research, the work of writing began.  The work took about 6 months and at least 15 different revisions.  The deacons, elder and pastors reviewed the final draft, voted on and unanimously approved the new By-laws.

Is this a “power grab”?  What prevents the elders from being power hungry?

No, it’s not a power grab but an effort to be more biblical.  What keeps an elder from being power hungry is the same for all of God’s people: the work of the Holy Spirit, their own personal striving for holiness, and the obedience of God of the other church members in the areas of accountability, love, and submission.

The desire to move away from an Executive Board and membership voting model to an eldership model of church government is rooted in the desire to follow what is set forth in Scripture regarding the government of the church.  As we study Scripture, we find that membership voting, and an Executive Board, are not mentioned there.  However, elders and deacons are explicitly mentioned in Scripture.  In 1 Timothy and Titus, Paul commands his fellow workers to find and appoint elders and deacons to lead the churches.  The desire of the Lakeview leadership is to use the biblical terms and qualifications to prevent confusion, error and to give honor to God’s word as our only rule for faith and practice.

Could an elder become power hungry in the elder lead model?  Of course, because the elders are human and the temptation of using power and authority for corrupt gain is one scheme of the devil.  We believe that is why God said to have multiple elders leading the local church.  One man is an easy target for pride and power, but multiple men of equal status help prevent that from happening.  If an elder begins to stray in practice or doctrine the other elders have the responsibility to rebuke and correct.  Another way that corruption of power should be prevented is when the members of the church invest their lives and prayers into the elders.  A commitment to submission on the part of the membership and ever-growing love for God’s people on the part of elders is vital.  The Bible calls us to trust Jesus to lead his church.  The Holy Spirit is active in his church and will set up leaders and remove them if necessary.  Our call as members of his church is to be obedient to the leading and power of Jesus over his church.

The same question can be asked of our current system of multiple church offices and member voting. Does our current government allow members to grab power? 

Again, the answer is, yes because we are all sinners.  The answer to this question is not just hypothetical though, because we have seen over the years examples of those who have grabbed power and authority in the church to their and the church’s detriment.  The idea that a church member has the same amount of authority and power when it comes to voting as the pastors or elders do and the idea of a vote of confidence has led some individuals to not submit to the leadership or to openly rebel.  They seized power, though biblically, they were disqualified as being leaders.

No matter what form of church government we use the temptation to abuse power is there and that is why we all need to do our part as leaders or church members and fulfill the roles that God has given us.

Does this mean that the membership no longer votes?

In the proposed By-laws, there is nothing that requires the church membership to vote. 

Why are the church members not required to vote on the election of new officers or the budget? 

First, we see no evidence of church members voting in the Bible.  Historically, membership voting didn’t happen until after the time of the Reformation.  The churches that included membership voting into their government did so out of pragmatism not due to biblical command or precedent.  Many started voting as a reaction against the king being the leader of the church (which is not Scriptural either). 

Second, our Statement of Faith states, “Each local church, however, through its elders and their interpretation and application of Scripture, should be the sole judge of the measure and method of its cooperation. The elders should determine all other matters of membership, policy, discipline, benevolence, and government as well.”  If the elders are to determine these things, then there is really no need for the church members to vote. 

The new By-laws do not ban a church membership vote it just doesn’t require voting.  If the elders have an issue that they think will be beneficial for the church to vote on they can call a vote.

If I can’t vote, what’s the point of being a member of Lakeview?

Church membership should never be about voting but about submitting our lives to each other.

Hopefully, no one became a member of Lakeview just so they could vote or hold an office; that is a sad way to view membership.  On the other hand, becoming a member of a local church is about submitting to one another for their good and God’s glory.  Membership is a public declaration of your willing submission to the church leaders and your desire for them to watch over your soul (Hebrews 13:17) and of the commitment of your life geographically, socially, financially, vocationally, ethically and spiritually to the other members.  Biblical church membership is supposed to impact every day of our lives and every decision we make and is not just relegated to a vote once a year or for those that just want to lead something.  Our hope is that church membership will become more precious and meaningful in all of our lives.

How do these changes impact the average church attendee at Lakeview?

Not much at first, but over time they should expect more involvement, more communication, and more training.

Initially, most people will not notice any changes.  However, as we work through the process of putting the By-laws into action, we anticipate a few things. 

First, more men will be involved in leadership.  Outside of the elders, deacons will be called to oversee the physical and financial day-to-day operations of the church. 

Second, we desire and anticipate a growing communication between members and between members and the leadership.  The proposed By-laws require that the elders have regular membership meetings.  These meetings will be a normal means by which information between leaders and members is exchanged.  Reports from the deacons and those leading different programs of the church will be given along with the financial report.  Questions and suggestions from the membership will be taken.  Any special teachings or concerns that the elders have will be given to the membership.  The current plan is to hold these meetings quarterly and can be adjusted as needed.   Outside of the meetings, the elders will be looking to engage in the lives of the members as they seek to shepherd the souls they have been entrusted with.

Third, the church will have to be intentional in training up the next generation of leadership.  For the church to grow and thrive, the church will need young men that are biblically well-trained and are pursuing a holy lifestyle to replace the older generation of elders and deacons.  The church as a whole will need to find these young men and invest their time, energy and resources to prepare these new deacons and elders.

How do the current offices change under the new By-laws?

The church will follow the biblical model of having two offices: elders and deacons.

The office of elder will no longer be an honorary title but will function according to what is found in Scripture.  The proposed By-laws state the following:  “The elders are collectively responsible to oversee the following: ruling and shepherding,  equipping,  prayer/fasting,  teaching/preaching,  administering baptism and the Lord’s Supper,  administering church discipline and restoration,  prayer for the healing of the sick,  delegating responsibilities to the deacons, hiring and dismissing church staff, defining the responsibilities of church staff, and delegating responsibilities to the staff of subordinate ministries.  The elders will approve the annual budget.”

The office of deacon under the current By-laws provides spiritual advisement to the senior pastor and the Executive Board and oversees membership.  Under the new By-laws, the office of deacon will “under the general oversight of the elders, deacons will establish and manage the financial, physical, social and benevolent functions of the church.”

The Executive Board and its offices will be disbanded.  The elders will be responsible for setting policies and making decisions that impact the church.  The responsibility for leading Christian Education is also given to the elders.  The office of secretary will be disbanded.  The elders will choose among themselves to record the minutes of their meetings.  The minutes of the membership meetings will be taken by a person appointed by the elders.  The responsibilities of the treasurer will be given to a deacon.  The missions committee could still exist, however, an elder would provide oversight.  The member-at-large would be replaced by all the members themselves.  At the regular membership meetings, each member will be able to provide input and to receive all the reports and information that would normally be shared at an Executive Board meeting.

The trustee board would be disbanded and would be replaced by a deacon(s) that would provide oversight of all the physical property of the church.  The deacon(s) can employ volunteers or “trustees” to help with maintenance and to seek advice.

The individual offices of the senior minister and the associate minister would be subsumed by the elders. 

The nominating committee would no longer be necessary and is replaced by the elders and the membership.

The finance committee could continue to exist under the direction of the deacon(s) in charge of the church finances and general oversight of the elders.

If I don’t get to vote, do I have any say in the choosing of new leadership?

Instead of just voting for a name or someone you might know, the new By-laws encourages all members to be engaged in examining leadership candidates.

Though the new By-laws do not call for a vote from the membership for a new elder or deacon, the membership plays a critical role.  The new By-laws state: “Upon examination of the candidate and unanimous approval by the elders, the elders will provide a written letter of intent informing the members of the name and approval of the candidate.  The members will be given three weeks to provide any scriptural objections as to why the candidate is biblically unqualified for the position.  If the candidate receives the unanimous support of the church members, the elders will ordain the new elder to the ministry of eldership through the laying on of hands and prayer.”

Instead of a vote, the elders must get unanimous approval of a new elder candidate from the membership.  The membership would have three weeks to ensure that the man being considered is biblically qualified for the position.  So instead of just rubber stamping a vote, the membership is encouraged to vet the man themselves and compare him with the qualifications set forth in Scripture.  The same process is set up for the calling of new deacons.

What will the transition to the new By-laws look like?

The changes to the new By-laws will occur in stages as different responsibilities are shifted to different people.

Upon ratification of the new By-laws, the current pastors: Les Martin, and David Block, and elder John Swartz will begin to function as elders as defined by Scripture and the Lakeview Constitution.  The current deacons:  John Hough, Tom Hanson, Dan Litwiller and Brady Bush will be asked by the elders to enter the elder candidate process.  The elders will vet the candidates and upon unanimous approval will recommend these men to the church.  A formal letter will be sent to each member inviting them to vet the candidates and to share with the elders any scripturally-based reason why a candidate is not qualified for the office.  If no valid objection is made, then the four candidates will become elders. 

The By-laws require the presence of at least two deacons.  The process of installing them will happen early on if not simultaneously with the elders.  The deacon candidate process is similar to the elder candidate process. 

The elders will meet with those that currently hold an office that does not carry over into the new By-laws and discuss with them how their ministry may or may not change.  If a person’s ministry will change, then plans will be made with the elders and that individual on how and when the changes take place.  These changes will vary based on many different factors including but not limited to the ministry that is affected, the timing of when the elders and deacons are appointed, and how much a person’s ministry is affected.

The following questions were added on June 4, 2019

Section 5 (pg. 15) Maybe it should be obvious, but some may wonder, what are “biblical duties”?

Biblical duties include all commands given in Scripture to believers telling them how to live their lives.

Article V Section 5 says, “Those who are members of Lakeview Church are responsible to fulfill their biblical duties to each other and to the elders as well.”  The biblical duties of Christians toward each other is an extensive list and is contained throughout the entirety of the New Testament.   Many of these duties are mentioned and some elaborated on in the proposed constitution.  In the above section, there is a footnote that references five passages that mention specific duties the church member has toward someone who is a leader in the church.

To illustrate the extensiveness and comprehensiveness of these biblical duties that impact other church members I point you to the short passage of Titus 2:1-8 as an example.  Here we find at least 24 duties mentioned that relate to church leaders and the young and old of the church.

  1. Church leaders are to:
    1. Teach what accords with sound doctrine with:
      1. Integrity
      2. Dignity
      3. Sound speech
    2. Be a model of good works
  2. Older men are to:
    1. Be sober-minded
    2. Be dignified
    3. Be self-controlled
    4. Be sound in faith
    5. Be sound in love
    6. Be sound in steadfastness
  3. Older women are to:
    1. Be reverent in behavior
    2. Not be slanderers
    3. Not be slaves to too much wine
    4. Teach what is good
    5. Train young women
  4. Young women  are to:
    1. Love their husbands
    2. Love their children
    3. Be self-controlled
    4. Be pure
    5. Be working at home
    6. Be kind
    7. Be submissive to their own husbands
  5. Young men are to be self-controlled

Section 7 (pg. 15) Please define “consistently absent”.  Some people spend months at a time in Florida or elsewhere when winter is here.  Some clarification would be nice.

A dictionary definition of “consistently absent” is: to not be present; not in company or at such a distance as to prevent communication that is marked by regularity or steady continuity.

Article V Section 7 says, “Members of Lakeview Church who shall willfully, without plausible reason or excuse, consistently absent themselves from the regular worship of the church shall be subject to the steps of church discipline.”

First, this statement is a part of a larger paragraph on church attendance.  Taking the context in mind, the members in whom this sentence is speaking, are members of otherwise good standing that have not moved from the geographical area.

Second, this sentence excludes those that are absent unwilfully.  This would include those that are in the hospital, incapacitated due to illness or injury, those that are confined to a nursing facility or shut-ins.  These people have not chosen to be absent and therefore are still in good standing.

Third, this statement specifically targets members who choose to absent themselves from the regular gathering of the church without a plausible reason or excuse.  This would include not telling the membership why you are not attending or telling the membership a reason that the members feel is not plausible or worthy of belief or biblically sound.

Fourth, the idea of consistent absence must be viewed in light of Article V Section V that members are responsible to fulfill their biblical duties to each other and the specific duties that are to be done to the elders.  For example: Is this consistent absence violating the commands in Hebrews 10:24-25 which calls Christians to not make a habit of not meeting together and to stir one another to love and good works and to encourage one another?  Is this consistent absence preventing the commands of Hebrews 13:17 of obeying and submitting to church leaders?  Does it prevent the leaders from watching over their souls?  Does it rob the leaders of joy in serving and leave the member with no spiritual advantage? 

Fifth, the one that has been judged by the membership and elders to be consistently absent without a plausible reason or excuse, shall be subject to church discipline according to the steps outlined in Article XIII.  If the elders and members find that a fellow member is in error because of their consistent absence then, in accordance with Matthew 18 and Article XIII, church discipline begins with one person going to the erring member and talking with him/her and explaining their offense and encouraging them to resume regular attendance.  

Sixth, the statement allows for the addressing of this issue in a case-by-case manner rather than forcing an arbitrary requirement on the membership.  Many cases of members being absent have more to do with motive and/or an underlying sin, than it does with being absent for Sunday worship. Therefore, each case should be handled with care, love, and gentleness with the goal of restoration and education on the importance of gathering together as believers in worship.

Section 3 (pg16) It appears this speaks to elders being “domineering” and highlights no rank among the elders.  What about elders being domineering towards the congregation?

If an elder is domineering, then Article XIII Church Discipline and Article VIII Removal of Elders applies.

If an elder violates the command to elders to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you…not domineering over those in your charge,” 1 Peter 5:2, 3, then he is in error and is subject to church discipline as described in Article VIII Section 1 and Article XIII of the constitution.  The steps of 1). The offended party talks to the elder, if the elder refuses 2). The offended party takes one or two witnesses, if the elder refuses 3). the charges are presented to the board of elders.  At this point, the other elders must decide if the charges are valid and merit investigation and or trial.  If it does then the membership is informed of the nature of the charges and announce the date(s) of the scheduled investigation and/or trial and encourage the members to attend.  In the end, the elder either repents, is rebuked in front of the congregation and/or is removed from the office of elder.

In this case of domineering, a person would have to prove that the elder in question is exercising arbitrary control over another that is outside the authority given in Scripture and has an attitude of haughty superiority.  To make this charge against anyone, especially an elder, is a serious charge and must be taken seriously by both members and elders. 

Section 1 (pg. 19) I see in Acts 6:1-4 the members chose candidates to be deacons.  Where does the Bible talk about the other two ways listed in the by-laws?

See also 1 Timothy 3.

The three ways this question is referencing is found in Article X Section 1.  “A man who is a member of Lakeview Church may be considered as a potential deacon in several ways.  He may aspire to the office himself, the elders or deacons may approach him, or individuals may suggest his name to the elders or deacons.”

If you look at Acts 6:1-4, we find what some call proto-deacons.  These seven men were chosen to handle the daily distribution of food to the widows so that the twelve apostles could just focus on preaching the word.  This was an unusual time in the history of the church and could never be repeated again.  So, we must be careful in saying that these men held the biblical office of deacon and that this is a command on how to choose them.  In fact, Acts 6 is not very descriptive at all.  All of the disciples of Christ were summoned and told to put forward seven candidates of good repute, full of Spirit and of wisdom.  How did they do this?  What was their process?  We aren’t told.  Eventually, out of the thousands of men that were Christians at the time, only seven were chosen.  These went before the twelve apostles who had the final say in appointing them. 

If we want to use Acts 6 to guide us as to who can choose who deacon candidates are then we would have to say, everyone.  This is exactly what is stated in the statement in Article X Section 1 which says that the elders or deacons or individuals of the church can put someone forth as a candidate.

The question then remains can a man put his own name forth as a candidate?  If you look at 1 Timothy 3:1 we find this: “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.”  The word aspire means to seek to attain.  Verse 1 specifically mentions the office of overseer (aka elder).  But since Paul uses the connecting word “likewise” in verse 8 in reference to deacons, we can also say that if anyone aspires to the office of deacon, he desires a noble task.

Therefore, the constitution mentions that someone can put forth their own name or the current deacons, the elders or any individual from the congregation can put forth someone’s name as a candidate to be a deacon.

Section 1 (pg. 22) What if an individual or board does not want the authority of the particular ministry, or after doing it for some time, decides they no longer wish to continue in that role?

That could vary depending on how the elders structure the board or individual’s authority or type of ministry.

Article XIV Section 1 - Subordinate Ministries, says, “The elders may unanimously delegate to an individual or board the executive authority of any subordinate ministry established by the elders. This executive responsibility continues at the pleasure of the elders.”  This refers to an individual or board that is given executive authority to manage a specific ministry. 

For example, the Adventure Club numbers grow to a huge amount that Dave Block can no longer manage it without it impacting his other duties as an elder.  At the regularly scheduled membership meeting, the concern is brought forth by the membership.  The elders take the concern to their meeting and decide that a board of three people should be created to have executive authority over Adventure Club.  All of the specific details, including the scope of authority, how the board functions, who the board reports to, the responsibilities of the members of this board, how the board submits their report of their activities, even how a board member resigns, and a replacement is chosen is spelled out.  Then the elders would seek individuals that were qualified to fill these positions.  If a person or persons, no longer desired to serve then they would resign according to the procedure given to them by the elders.

This section does require that for all such individuals given this authority, their removal must be done by unanimous vote by the elders.  If the individual is an elder, then they are excluded from voting.

Will that mean all the “elders” will be delivering the Sunday messages alternating?

No, the new constitution does not state this.

Article VI Section 3 states, “Elders are responsible for those duties delegated to them by the body of elders…”  This means that the elders will perform different tasks as the elders see fit to divide up the responsibilities.

Article VI Section 4 states, “While all the elders are equally involved in ruling the church, some are to be recognized by the church as also given to the labor of preaching and teaching… the church acknowledges the variety of gifts and callings God gives to men and recognizes that some of the elders, though equal in rank and authority, are especially gifted and called to preach the Word and to teach right doctrine.”  This means that at least one of the elders must be called to preach though more can be called to do so if they are so gifted, they desire to preach, and the other elders appoint him to this task.  There is no mention in the Bible or the new constitution about how often or for what length of time an elder must preach. 

As Lakeview continues to train up godly men, we need to be open to allowing them opportunities to preach.  Some might find a gift that they never knew they had or others may realize that they are more gifted in other areas of ministry.  However, these opportunities will be guarded to prevent false teachers from speaking and also to ensure that everything in the church is done in order.

How did the deacons and likely the elders get appointed in the first place?

See the answer to the question above regarding Acts 6:1-4.  In the New Testament, the apostles or their delegates appointed the elders of the churches.

In Acts 14:23, we see Paul and Barnabas appointing elders in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch.  In Titus 1:5, Titus was sent by Paul to the island of Crete to appoint elders of the churches in every town.

There is a lot of emphasis on discipline in the bylaws and Q&A, but little about membership benefits. I can’t help but wonder if some of the pushback, in part, is simply that folks are concerned they will be punished regularly. I think you did a good job of addressing this a couple of Sundays ago, but it might be good to jot down some thoughts regarding what discipline is, why I might want it, and perhaps, where you might see this come into play. As I recall, in 30+ years we’ve had only one instance where we took a discipline matter to the church body. Given one instance of this happening, and multiple references to discipline in the by-laws, I can see how this disproportionate references to discipline would be concerning to congregants. 

The most succinct section on church disciple in the Bible is found in Matthew chapter 18 and specifically verses 15-17.  Church discipline in itself is a great benefit of church membership.

First, church discipline is not about punishment.  If you read Matthew 18 you will see that church discipline is grounded in humility, with a desire for forgiveness and reconciliation.  Only the unrepentant need to fear punishment but that doesn’t come by the church but by God himself.

Second, church discipline is not excommunication.  Disfellowshipping with a member is the last step in the process.  The idea of excommunication is not to punish someone but to bring them to the awareness of the seriousness of their sin with the hope of reconciliation.  It’s not punitive but corrective.

Third, church discipline begins when one member offends another and then they have a private conversation about the offense.  If the members of the church practice this first step of church discipline, then no one else in the church even finds out it happened.  The goal is that church discipline is happening all the time, and no one really sees it happening unless they have offended someone, or they have been offended.

Fourth, church discipline is a great blessing and benefit of church membership.  Biblical discipline is a sign that one person truly loves another.  Hebrews 12 and Ephesians 6 make the case that fathers that love, discipline.  Hebrews 12 also says that God the Father disciplines his children.  In fact, the writer of Hebrews goes as far as saying that if God doesn’t discipline you then you are not a child of God.  When a person enters into the church member covenant, the other members are saying that they will love this new member enough to discipline them.  This love that disciplines is a love that says to another person, “I love you too much to allow you to keep sinning.  I can’t stand by and watch sin destroy you.”  The great thing about real, loving, church discipline is that you have a whole membership of brothers and sisters watching out for you.  You have a group of people helping you kill sin in your life.  You have a group of people committed to helping you overcome those things that could harm your soul.  What a great benefit church discipline truly is to the members.

Do the deacons/elders consider other forms of church government sinful?

Not all forms, though some might be. 

There could be forms of church government that violate the direct commands of God.  This would be sinful.

There are other forms of church government that, though they are not sinful are not based on Scripture.  The question is: why would a church do anything that it cannot justify by Scripture?  This form of government may not be sinful but could be a sign of immaturity, a lack of Scriptural knowledge or a system based on pragmatism rather than the Bible.

There are yet still other forms that are based on Scripture, yet they vary in practice.  These are not sinful forms of government and at the same time are justified by Scripture.  This is the category that the elders and deacons are saying that the new proposed constitution is in.