Again, a reminder: the funky formatting is because I’m transferring info from my previous blogspot, and it randomly applies the colored text and blocks…
Shocking Sections of By Laws with Neilson’s Notes (not mine):
SECTION B – All persons desiring to unite with this Church shall sign an application to become a part of the fellowship, complete the required member process, sign the member covenant, and shall appear before at least one church member making a confession or reaffirmation of their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Candidates coming in by transfer of letter from another church will follow the same procedure. Candidates having been approved by at least one church member must affirm by signature their agreement with the Doctrinal Statement and the Bylaws of Mars Hill Church. They must also agree to support in worship, giving, and service, and satisfy other conditions of fellowship defined by the Council of Elders.
Note: There is no scriptural basis for such a covenant. The church is the collective members of the body of Christ. Assembling together for worship, for teaching, for prayer and for fellowship demands no formal legally binding covenant. Any such covenant as this serves as primarily as a basis for coming under church discipline if such covenant is deemed by the executive eldership to have been broken by the member. See below.
SECTION C – Church Discipline. The threefold purpose of church discipline is to glorify God by maintaining purity in the local church, to edify believers by deterring sin, and to promote the spiritual welfare of the offending believer by calling him or her to return to a biblical standard of doctrine and conduct.
1. Members of Mars Hill Church and all other professing Christians who regularly attend or fellowship with this church who err in doctrine, or who engage in conduct that violates Scripture as determined by any two or more elders, shall be subject to church discipline. Each potential case of discipline will be weighed on its own merits and dealt with according to Scripture.
Note: Matthew 18 was decidedly not followed in the present proceedings against two church elders. Since they were not protected scripturally, there is no assurance that members would be treated any differently. These by-laws then serve as the basis for church abuse, not church discipline.
1. Members of Mars Hill Church are not guaranteed confidentiality regarding issues of church discipline, and understand that in submitting themselves to the authority of the church, issues of a sensitive or personal nature may become known to others. This includes, but is not limited to, notification of the authorities if a crime has been committed or if a real threat of someone being endangered exists, as well as other violations of scripture that may not result in physical danger.
Note: These unspecified violations have recently resulted in public disclosure of characterizations of elders which included; “mistrust, divisiveness, power-hungry and sinful.” These accusations are matters of opinion, however being leveled by executive elders, take on the weight of truth and serve more to assassinate character than uphold the purity of Christ’s body. This then becomes the basis for church abuse, not church discipline.
1. Those who are members of the church or who regularly participate in church activities may be dismissed from the church by the agreement of at least two elders. The dismissal of a church member may be made known to all church members.
Note: There is no mention here of what violations may result in such dis-fellowshipping. There may be a scriptural basis or there may not be. It may be for reasons that are mere opinions, false accusation, general violations, sinfulness, divisiveness, disagreement, or other unspecified conduct. There is no mention of the biblical procedure according to Matthew 18, and there is no recourse by the member to have his name cleared or his fellowship reinstated. All of which is decidedly unscriptural.
1. A person dismissed from Mars Hill Church for disciplinary reasons may be reinstated to full membership if the person’s repentance is accepted as genuine by the elders that oversaw the person’s discipline.
Note: A brother offended is harder to win than an enemy. If the elders who dismissed the member are to judge the sincerity of the repentance, there may well be personal affront to overcome. Thus these same elder’s opinions of true repentance may in fact be biased, and they should rather recuse themselves. Repentance is a change of mind, heart and direction. These are verifiable and observable, and may be determined by any of the elders in church leadership.
1. Each member of this church, and every other professing Christian who regularly attends or fellowships with this church, agrees that there shall be no appeal to any court because of a discipline process or dismissal. A member who is under discipline by the church, as defined in the previous paragraphs, forfeits and waives the right to resign from Mars Hill Church. Resignation is possible only by a member who is in good standing and who is not under any disciplinary action.
Note: It is decidedly unwise for any person to give up his legal rights in a free society to a heirarchal structure which affords no real accountability. You must ask yourselves why there is no possible appeal to any court? Why? Not even for criminal behavior? Why? No right to resign? Who would relinquish this right? To what other organization do you belong which demands this?
6. Separate and apart from the process of church discipline, but subject to the discretion and approval of any two or more elders, a member, non-member regular participant in church activities, or other individual, may be notified that he or she is not to be present upon church premises or at church activities for such a period of time as is deemed necessary for the safety and well-being of others. Such required absence may, but need not, be concurrent with church discipline of that person.
1. Separate and apart from the process of church discipline, but
subject to the discretion and approval of any two or more elders, members who have not met all of the criteria of church membership for a period of six months or longer may be removed as a member of Mars Hill Church and may be asked to no longer attend Mars Hill Church.
Note: Though Christ is initially mentioned as the head of this church, it is readily apparent that the real headship of this body resides with only three men without oversight
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO WANT TO DIVE INTO THE BY-LAWS, I FOUND A SITE THAT SEEMS TO HAVE THEM ALL AND WITH EDITORIAL NOTES; IT LOOKS LIKE NEILSON HELPED WITH THE NOTES AS THEY ARE SIMILAR, BUT THIS IS MORE COMPREHENSIVE IN ITS SCOPE… HAVE AT IT!