17 Nov 2003

Revised 7 May 2018

Table of Contents



  • Section 1.  Qualifications
  • Section 2.  Admission
  • Section 3.  Conduct
  • Section 4.  Absence and Withdrawal
  • Section 5.  Discipline
  • Section 6.  Property Rights


  • Section 1.  The Congregation
  • Section 2.  Meetings
  • Section 3. Officers of the Corporation
  • Section 4. Elder Board
  • Section 5. Nominating Committee
  • Section 6. Ministry and Support Staff
  • Section 7. Dismissal


  • Section 1.  Ministry and Operations Teams
  • Section 2.  Other Church Organizations




Bylaws of Salem Evangelical Free Church, Fargo, ND

17 Nov 2003

Revised 9 May 2016


The members of the congregation of Salem Evangelical Free Church shall commit themselves to promoting the following scriptural truths through the strength Christ provides (Philippians 4:13). These truths should characterize the member's participation in this body:

  1. an acknowledgment that worship of God is central to the life of the Body (Hebrews 13:15, Psalm 150);
  2. a reliance and waiting upon the Holy Spirit to guide the member's contributions to the Body (John 16:13-14);
  3. a demonstration of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the member's life  (Galatians 5:22-23);
  4. a commitment to the spiritual growth and maturity of one's self and the other members (Ephesians 4:13-16);
  5. a recognition of the priesthood of all believers (I Peter 2:5, 9);
  6. a focus on Christ as the center of the fellowship (I John 1:3 & 7, Colossians 1:17, 18);
  7. a commitment to the concept of the Body of Christ and the importance of each individual member (I Corinthians 12);
  8. a visible witness to the person of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20, John 13:33-35);
  9. a desire to build church unity on the basis of love (Ephesians 4:2-3, John 17:20-23); and,
  10. a demonstration of justice in the member's action and a commitment to speak out against injustice (Hosea 6:8).



Any person who confesses faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who has the assurance of salvation, and whose character, conduct, and reputation are in accord with their confession, who subscribes to the Statement of Faith, is of an age to understand and accept the Constitution and Bylaws of this organization, and who is willing to participate in it through attendance, prayers, service, and material means, may become a Member of this organization, hereinafter referred to as "the Church."

Section 2.  ADMISSION

Admission as a Member of the Church shall be as follows:

  1. Persons interested in membership shall be given a copy of the Constitution and Bylaws of the Church and be instructed in church doctrine, core values, mission, vision, and policy by the Ministry Staff, Elders, or Elder designates.

  1. Following such instruction, persons interested in membership shall submit a written application form and meet with at least two Elders to give personal testimony of their salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and evidence of their understanding of and agreement with the Statement of Faith, the Constitution, Bylaws, core values, mission, and vision of the Church.

  1. The names of the candidates shall be published in the Church bulletin prior to the date of their acceptance as Members. If any Member has a valid reason for objecting to the acceptance of any candidate into the Church, the Member shall immediately present to the Senior Pastor and/or Elders their reasons for the objections. The Elder Board shall consider the scriptural validity of the objections.

  1. Candidates shall be approved by the Elder Board and introduced as new Members to the congregation at the next business meeting. Membership is effective at the time of final Elder Board approval and no sooner than two weeks following publication in the Church bulletin.

Section 3. CONDUCT

Members are expected to live a life worthy of the Lord, bearing fruit in every good work, and growing in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:10). This includes

  1. Living daily to please the Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit and in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Cor. 6:10, 19-20; Rom 6:13; Col 3:1-17).

  2. Studying the Bible and praying faithfully and diligently (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Col. 4:2; Psalm 119:9-11; 1 Peter 4:7; 1 Thes. 5:17).

  3. Supporting the people and ministries of the church (1 Peter 4:8; Acts 2:42-47).

  4. Being faithful, in so far as possible, in attending worship and prayer services, business meetings, and other ministries of the church which will aid in spiritual growth (Heb. 10:25).

  5. Using the spiritual gifts and abilities God has given to serve others in the church (1 Peter 4:10-11; 1 Cor. 12:7-11).

  6. Giving regularly, proportionately, generously, and cheerfully for the work of the Lord (Malachi 3:8-10; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 9:7).

  7. Being accountable to the church for correction and discipline relating to sinful behavior not in harmony with scriptural principles (Gal. 6:1; Matt. 18:15-17).


  1. Members may be removed from membership at their own request by giving an Elder a letter that states the Member’s intention to withdraw and the reasons therefore. If a Member requests to withdraw because of specific problems or disappointments with the Church, the Elder Board shall attempt to resolve those matters so that the Member may remain in the Church and enjoy greater fruitfulness and personal spiritual growth. If the Elder Board is unable to resolve those matters, it shall offer to assist the Member in locating a church of like faith and practice that can respond more effectively to his/her gifts and needs.

  2. A Member may be considered “Inactive” if absent from Church services for a period of twelve months or longer. Inactive Members shall not have the privilege to vote at congregational meetings and not be counted for determination of a Quorum.

  1. Any person, absent more than one year, from whom no communication has been received, may be dropped from the roll by the Elder Board after an attempt has been made to contact the absentee Member.

Section 5.  DISCIPLINE

  1. If, in the studied opinion of the Elder Board, a Member is living in a manner which is not in harmony with Scriptural principles, the Member shall be interviewed and counseled by the Elder Board according to Matthew 18:15-17 and Galatians 6:1. The restoration of the erring Member should be the primary purpose, and love the primary motivating force in these interviews.

  2. If, after the interview, the Member should choose to be unrepentant, the Member shall be removed from membership. Removal shall be accomplished upon recommendation from the Elder Board and by a two-thirds majority vote of the Assembled Members.


The private property of the individual Members of the Church shall be exempt from corporate debt and corporate legal liability.


We believe that it is critical that we be led and directed by the head of the Church, Jesus Christ. In that spirit and based on our understanding of the pattern of Scripture, we set forth the following on how this Church will be governed.


  1. Our government shall be congregational in its form in the sense that all leaders are accountable to the congregation. Under Christ, ultimate authority in the Church shall reside in the Members.

  2. The Members shall entrust Church policy matters, ministry oversight, and operations oversight to a group of godly men called Elders. These will be Members who by virtue of giftedness and character can be trusted to act in accordance with the mind of Christ.

  3. The Elder Board is empowered to make decisions and act in all matters except the following, which must be brought before the Members for approval:

  1. Hiring the Senior Pastor.

  1. Any of the following which exceeds 5% of the most recently approved General/Missions Fund Budget: Building new buildings, remodeling existing structures, or buying or selling real estate.

  1. Incurring debt with principal or signing leases in excess of 5% of the General Fund Budget most recently approved by the Members.

  1. Changing the Bylaws.

  1. Annual General Fund budget.

  1. Affirmation of the corporate Treasurer, corporate Secretary, lay Elders, and Nominating Committee members as established elsewhere in the Bylaws.

Section 2. MEETINGS

  1. Active Members are the Members who are not Inactive Members. (see Article I Section 4.B)

  2. Twenty-five percent (25%) or more of the Active Members 18 years of age or older represented in person or by proxy shall constitute a Quorum for the transaction of Church business. Once a Quorum is determined to be present, it shall remain in effect throughout the meeting.

  3. The Church shall meet at least twice a year to conduct business. Elders, Nominating Committee members, and the corporate Secretary shall be affirmed at the Spring meeting. The General Fund Budget shall be approved and the corporate Treasurer shall be affirmed at the Fall meeting.

  4. Special business meetings may be called by the Senior Pastor, Chairman of the Elder Board, or by a request signed by 25% or more of the Active Members.

  5. Notice of regular and special meetings shall be published at least two weeks prior to the date of the meeting.

  1. The Elder Board Chairman shall conduct Church business meetings. In his absence, the Vice Chairman shall preside. If both are absent, then a lay Elder selected by the Elder Board shall preside. In all matters of parliamentary procedure not provided for in these Bylaws, the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order (Revised) shall govern.

  1. The Assembled Members for a particular vote consist of the Active Members at a Church business meeting who are (a) 18 years of age and older, (b) represented at the meeting in person or by proxy, and are (c) casting a vote on a matter. All Active Members who have attained the age of 18 years have the right to vote.

  1. Unless otherwise provided by these Bylaws or by a rule of parliamentary procedure, any matter considered by the Members shall be decided by a majority of the votes cast by the Assembled Members. 

  2. Quorums and motion passage percentages for particular matters addressed by groups such as, but not limited to, the Elders and Nominating Committee may be specified in the Policy and Procedure Manual.


The Church is incorporated under the laws of the State of North Dakota as a non-profit religious organization. The Officers of the Corporation shall have vested in them all the powers and authority usually ascribed to commercial corporate officers and will have authority to use these titles when necessary in handling corporate or civil matters involving the Church. They serve without compensation, other than normal and reasonable reimbursement for expenses they incur in their roles. Officers of the Corporation must be Members of the Church, must be 18 years of age or older, and must meet all other legal requirements for their positions. The Officers of the Corporation are as follows:

A. President

  1. The corporate President also serves as the Chairman of the Elder Board and presides over meetings of the Elder Board and the Church.

  2. The corporate President may serve as an ex-officio member of all teams and committees or may appoint a representative in his place.

B. Vice President

  1. The corporate Vice President shall fill the role of corporate President and Chairman of the Elder Board in that person’s absence.

C. Treasurer

  1. The corporate Treasurer shall be elected for a term of two years that begins January 1.

  2. The corporate Treasurer shall have charge of accurate recording and reporting of church funds, except the Deacons’ Fund.

D. Secretary

  1. The corporate Secretary shall be elected for a term of two years that begins July 1.

  2. The corporate Secretary shall keep an accurate record of the proceedings and decisions at all business meetings of the Church, such records to be approved at the following business meeting.

  3. The corporate Secretary shall preserve in a safe place all Church records including records as may be required by the State of North Dakota.

E. Selection

  1. The corporate President and Vice President are elected by the Elder Board from the Elder Board. The term of office runs from June 1 of one year to May 31 of the following year or until re-affirmed or until a replacement is identified.

  2. The corporate Treasurer, Secretary, and Financial Secretary shall be selected and presented to the congregation by the Nominating Committee and be affirmed by at least 85% of the Assembled Members.

  3. The responsibilities of the Officers of the Corporation are defined in the Bylaws and in their respective job descriptions.

Section 4. ELDER BOARD

The Biblical role of Elder is that of overseer. The general role of the Elder Board, in addition to providing policy guidance and overall governance, is to provide for the spiritual life and direction of the Church. This includes serving the body through imparting vision, counseling, exhorting, teaching, encouraging, disciplining, and preserving unity. The Elder Board shall constitute the Board of Directors of the Corporation, as that term is defined by North Dakota law governing non-profit corporations.

Qualifications, Size, and Terms
  1. An Elder shall be recognized as desiring to serve in the role (1 Pet 5:1-3), fulfilling the Biblical requirements of I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1, and being 18 years of age or older.

  2. The Elder Board shall consist of a minimum of five lay Elders who are not Ministry Staff, plus the Senior Pastor. The desired number within the range shall be determined by the Elder Board.

  3. Elder candidates shall be selected and presented to the congregation by the Nominating Committee and be affirmed by at least 85% of the Assembled Members.  

  4. The term of an Elder shall be three years with terms starting on June 1; however, the Elder Board may adjust the terms so that approximately one-third of the board is elected each year.

  5. All Elders serve on the Elder Board without compensation, other than normal and reasonable reimbursement for expenses they incur for this role.

  1. The Elder Board shall meet at least twice a year with two weeks notice given to Elder Board members.

  2. Special meetings may be called on shorter notice by the Senior Pastor, the Chairman of the Board, or any two members of the Elder Board.

  3. A majority of Elder Board members shall constitute a Quorum for matters requiring approval by the full elder board.  A majority of Elder Board subcommittee members shall constitute a Quorum for matters requiring approval by an Elder Board subcommittee.

Specific Elder Board Duties
  1. Be a primary source of encouragement, support, and counsel for the Senior Pastor as he provides spiritual leadership.

  2. Administer confidential or sensitive matters of Church Discipline.

  3. Determine what shall be the doctrinal teaching of the Church.

  4. Serve as a council of appeal to determine scriptural appropriateness whenever Members dispute an action taken or a decision made by the Ministry Staff, a Ministry Team, or an Operations Team. The Elder Board shall have authority to overturn decisions of Ministry Staff and any team.

  5. Provide a written or oral report to the congregation annually regarding their activity during the past year and plans for the coming year.

  6. Approve delegates to the EFCA district and national meetings, as well as representatives to other meetings and organizations such as the Park Christian School Board.

Conflict of Interest

If a conflict of interest by an Elder or Pastor should arise, that Elder or Pastor shall abstain from being involved in the decision in which there is a conflict of interest.


  1. The Nominating Committee shall consist of a minimum of six members including at least one Pastor, two Elders selected by the Elder Board, and at least three at-large members. The number of at-large lay members shall be greater than or equal to the sum of the number of Pastors and Elders.  The Elder Board shall appoint the Chair of the Nominating Committee.

  2. The three at-large members will be presented to the Church by the Nominating Committee and affirmed by the Assembled Members by no less than an 85% majority.  

  3. Nominations for Officers of the Corporation, Elders, and Nominating Committee members are not accepted from the floor.

  4. The term for the at-large Nominating Committee members is two years. The term for lay Elder Nominating Committee members is one year. All Nominating Committee terms begin on June 1.

  5. The Nominating Committee shall present candidates to the Church as needed to fill un-expired terms. If the un-expired term has less than one year remaining at the time of affirmation, the person chosen by the Members for the position shall serve the remainder of that term plus a full term.

  6. Nominees for the various positions may seek the office themselves, or may be nominated by someone from within the congregation, or nominated by the Nominating Committee itself. In any case, nominees should want to serve in the proposed office, having been contacted and having consented to do so prior to their name being placed on the ballot that is presented to the Members. The Nominating Committee shall present the ballot to the congregation no less than two weeks prior to the business meeting through the Church bulletin. Additional directives to the Nominating Committee may be found in the Policy and Procedure Manual.

  7. If a candidate presented by the Nominating Committee to the Church for a position is not affirmed by the Assembled Members, the matter shall be referred back to the committee. The committee shall seek input from the Church and present another candidate to the Church for affirmation at a special business meeting. The current holder of the position may serve until a replacement is affirmed.


A. Role of the Elder Board
  1. The Elder Board shall be responsible for development, maintenance, and implementation of a Church staffing plan.

  2. The Elder Board shall approve and oversee implementation of the Personnel Policy Manual for church employees. Except as otherwise noted, the Senior Pastor shall be treated as Ministry Staff.

  3. The title given to each Ministry Staff member shall be determined by the Elder Board based on the nature of their ministry, their training, and their background.

B. Senior Pastor
  1. The Senior Pastor shall minister to the congregation by preaching and teaching the Scriptures, discipling individuals and groups, watching over and promoting the spiritual welfare of the Church, and leading the congregation in a practical Christian life. Specific responsibilities shall be listed in the job description and approved by the Elder Board. He shall be a voting member of the Elder Board and an ex-officio member of all committees and teams.

  1. The Senior Pastor shall be chosen by not less than a three-fourths (75%) majority of the Assembled Members at any regular or special business meeting of the Church. The vote to call a Senior Pastor shall also include acceptance into Church membership for the candidate and, if the candidate is married, his wife. He shall be called for an indefinite period of time.

  1. A two-month written notice of termination is required both of the Senior Pastor and the Church unless changed by mutual agreement or unless the Senior Pastor is being terminated for misconduct.

  2. The Senior Pastor Search Committee shall submit qualified Senior Pastor candidate(s) to the Church for consideration. The committee shall consist of four at-large members elected by the congregation and one member selected by the Elder Board. The Nominating Committee shall provide a slate of four to eight candidates. The congregation may nominate candidates from the floor, as long as their consent has been obtained at least one week before the congregational meeting where the at-large committee members are being elected. The four candidates receiving the largest number of votes shall be elected. The committee shall select its own chairperson. Members of the Senior Pastor Search Committee must be Members of the Church.

C. Ministry Staff and Support Staff
  1. The Ministry Staff shall consist of men and women who are called of God to dedicate themselves to vocational ministry. They shall give servant leadership to the area of ministry where they have been called to serve.

  2. The Support Staff shall consist of people who are employees of the Church who do not have leadership responsibility and have roles that support the Elder Board, Ministry Staff, and/or Ministry Teams. Examples include, but are not limited to the following: administration, clerical, reception, and buildings and grounds.

  1. Ministry Staff and Support staff shall work under the direction of a supervisor designated by the Senior Pastor.

Section 7. DISMISSAL

  1. Ministry Staff, Support Staff, Officers of the Corporation, Elders, and Nominating Committee Members may be dismissed from office by a two-thirds majority of the Elders voting on the matter. Any member(s) of the Elder Board being considered for dismissal is ineligible to vote on the matter and may be excluded from some or all of the discussions.

  2. No accusation shall be made by the congregation against the Senior Pastor, Elder, or any other Ministry Staff member except by the written complaint of at least two witnesses (1 Timothy 5:19). If the Senior Pastor, Elder, or Ministry Staff member has committed an act of grievous misconduct, he/she may be terminated by the Elder Board without notice.



  1. The Elder Board shall oversee the ministries of the church. Examples include, but are not limited to, Ministry Teams focused on Children, Youth, Men, Women, Adult Small Groups, Worship, Congregational Care, Social Concerns, Outreach, and Missions. Oversight should be done in light of Biblical principles and the Church's values, mission, and vision.

  2. The Elder Board shall approve and oversee the Policy and Procedure Manual for the Church. The Senior Pastor will be responsible for day-to-day compliance and matters that arise with respect to the Manual and make recommendations for exceptions or changes to the Elder Board. The official copy of the Policy and Procedure Manual shall be signed and dated by the Elder Board Chairman and kept in the church office. Copies of the Manual shall be marked as copies.


  1. The Elder Board, Ministry Staff, and Ministry Team Leaders may form sub-teams or sub-committees as needed to carry out their ministry charters or job responsibilities. The parent group is responsible for each sub-group.

  2. No other organization shall be formed or considered to be a part of the Church activities before the sponsors have submitted their plans to a Ministry Team Leader or the Elder Board for their approval and sanction.

  1. The Policy and Procedure Manual shall contain a list of Partner Organizations that, while existing independently from the Church, have a complementary relationship to it. The Manual shall define privileges available to Partner Organizations of various kinds. The Elders are responsible for approving, reviewing, and removing organizations from the list.



  1. The Church fiscal year shall run from January 1 to December 31 of a given year.

  2. The Elder Board shall approve fund raising methods used by the Church or Teams.

  3. The Ministry Team responsible for the Deacons’ Fund may expend money received and on hand for that fund without prior approval from the Church. Disbursements must be consistent with the Policy and Procedure Manual for the fund.


These Bylaws may be amended or altered by a two-thirds majority vote of the Assembled Members at any regular or special business meeting of the Church, providing notification of the proposed alteration or amendment has been made to the congregation at least two weeks prior to such meeting.