For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of God’s people.
(1 Corinthians 14:33)
We are all familiar as Americans with the importance of a constitution as it is the foundation or framework of our country, but there are many types of constitutions, not just the American constitution. In fact most non-profit organizations, corporations, and even churches have constitutions that lay the framework as to how each of those entities are governed. Most states require a constitution because a constitution legally establishes an organization and states the purpose of the organization and expresses the type of governance to be followed for that organization. By-laws provide more detailed instruction on how that governance is to be carried out.
Constitution and By-laws Provide Order and Protection:
Constitutions and by-laws not only legally form an organization, but also provide protective measures or safeguards for all of us and help guide us in our behaviors toward one another. Church constitutions and by-laws draw from the Holy Scriptures as their foundation. Church constitutions and by-laws ensure that no one individual or individuals can take control of the church and use it for their own benefit or purposes. Constitutions and by-laws keep the church checking its self and the membership knowing what their responsibilities are. They keep the church organized in a manner where everyone’s expectations are perfectly clear. They also safeguard the integrity of our leaders while expressing the will of the congregation while giving guidance, principles, and procedures to follow so that there are certain expectations for everyone in the church.
Why Are these Safeguards and Guidance Important?
This is not our church nor is it any one person's (or one family's) church. This is the church of Jesus Christ that Christ promised He would build and the gates of Hades wouldn't stop it (Matthew 16:18). Christ alone is the Chief Cornerstone of the church, along with the Apostles and Prophets who are part of the foundation. We are simply the living stones being built upon it, but there is always the necessity to have order, clarity, and not chaos. The Apostle Paul wrote that “all things should be done decently and in order” (1st Corinthians 14:40), “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace —as in all the congregations of God’s people.” (1st Corinthians 14:33).
Constitutions and By-laws are Living Documents:
Church Constitutions and By-laws, like all constitutions and by-laws are a living document meaning that they can be changed throughout the ages to address new issues or change something that is no longer relevant in the current era. To change a constitution, the entire membership body (i.e. the congregation) must assemble for a business meeting that was previously announced to the membership to consider and vote on the proposed amendment(s). The procedures for doing so are dictated by the constitution itself.
We have a church constitution because we believe that the operation of the church should be transparent and orderly. Our church constitution and by-laws reflect our founding members attempt to implement New Testament church life within our congregation and all additional attempts to continue to do so with our most recent amendment or revision occurring in 2009. It is important for all of us to read and be familiar with the constitution and by-laws of Zion so that we all may work together to ensure that they are adhered to. Our church constitution and by-laws can be read here.