Common Questions about Elders
Why is our church polity centered on multiple elders?
Because we believe this is the biblical model. The term elder is always used in the plural. Each church in the New Testament is lead by more than one elder. It is dangerous to put too much authority in one person’s hands. In his wisdom, God set up elder teams to watch over local churches.
Do the elders oversee just Christ Fellowship – Eldorado, or is their scope inclusive of future campuses that are being discussed, such as Living Spring Fellowship?
Today their scope includes all campuses of Christ Fellowship. In the future if we mutually decide for a campus to become an independent church they would develop their own elder team. It would also make sense in some campuses to have an on-site team providing leadership whether or not they are called “elders.”
What are the qualifications for elders?
They are the biblical qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. We use a tool for evaluation that briefly describes each trait. In addition we look for ones who have demonstrated that they are really on the Christ Fellowship team (Phil 2), owning the vision, modeling Christ-like behavior and demonstrating devotion by their serving and giving.
What number of elders does there need to be on the elder Team?
We do not have a set number, but do not want to have less than three or more than twelve for diverse enough wisdom and ease of decision making. So far in our history we have found about seven to be ideal.
How are ones selected to be elders?
See our Selection Process for the specific steps. The current elders appoint new elders, confirmed by circles of people who know them.
Who makes up the Christ Fellowship Elder Team?
Don Closson, Nick Ganter, Daniel Ramirez, Dave Lewis, Bruce Miller, Ron Ryan and Mark Wilson
Why is the Senior Pastor one of the elders?
Biblically the elders are to “pastor” (Ephesians 5; Acts 20, 1 Peter 5). It would be difficult for the senior pastor to provide leadership without being an elder. In churches where the senior pastor is not an elder we have seen dysfunction, confusion and division.
Do staff members (i.e., other Pastors) serve on the Elder Team?
Generally other staff members do not serve on the Elder Team. We have seen that dynamic undermine the leadership of the Senior Pastor who is the overall leader of the staff. It also creates an awkward situation for another staff member to be involved in the Senior Pastor’s annual review and compensation.
What is the difference between the roles of the pastors and staff, and elders?
The pastors and other staff are generally, but not always, paid for their work; elder are not paid, so they each have a unique vantage point. Generally the elders provide overall direction and the staff executes the ministry plans day to day.
What responsibility and accountability exists among the elders?
Elders have a responsibility and accountability first of all to Jesus Christ (Acts 20) who ultimately appointed them to serve the church for which he gave his own blood. Secondly they are accountable to each other. Thirdly, they are accountable to the church family. Additionally we have set up a safeguard for the unexpected. “In the case of irresolvable conflict among the elders and/or pastors of Christ Fellowship, two or more elders or pastors shall approach Chase Oaks Church to settle the conflict. The Chase Oaks Elders will serve as a mediator and all sides will agree to abide by the decision of the mediator.”
What is the term of “office” for an elder at Christ Fellowship?
We do not view eldership as an “office” but a role of service to the Lord. The elders at Christ Fellowship are not “elders for life,” but rather serve the Lord and the congregation at the pleasure of our Lord. An elder is not merely a church position, but rather a stewardship of service to Christ. As we do not have terms for those who serve with the children nor for pastors, so we do not for elders either.
Are there age restrictions for elders?
Elders need to be mature believers having a solid foundation in the faith, a proper standing among the body of Christ, and the community around them. We see thirty as a minimum age. Elders at Christ Fellowship that serve as part of the Elder Team have voluntarily set the age of 65 to be the point when one cycles off the regular team and then begins serving on a Senior Council which gives input to the current elders for the overall direction of the church. We have established an age-limit of 65 so that we continue to have younger thinking on our elder team. The Senior Council meets with the current elders quarterly for prayer and twice a year for discussion of matters before the church usually in January and June.
How often does the Elder Team meet?
Our elders typically meet twice a month for an “agenda meetings,” and seasonally we meet weekly for study of the Word and prayer,” where often our wives join us to evaluate our church in light of the New Testament and to pray for the church. Annually we take three days for an off-site planning retreat.
How can a member of the church raise a question, area of concern, or provide a word of encouragement to the Elder Team?
Each elder would welcome a conversation on any matter regarding the church. We seek the input of the church family. Elder contact information is publicly provided on the church website.
Can church members participate in Elder Team meetings?
Christ Fellowship elder meetings are open to the ideas and concerns of all actively participating members. Members are welcome to bring matters before the elders directly, during scheduled meetings, or at special meetings called to discuss specific issues. Church member participation in an Elder Team meeting will be coordinated through the Senior Pastor’s executive assistant.
We’ve heard of the Timothy Team, who and what are they in relationship to the Elder Team?
The purpose of the Timothy Team is to help develop emerging young leaders to be future elders, pastors or missionaries by exposing them to the working of our elder team for one year. They participate in all discussions, but have no voting authority. Typically the elders invite two men to work with us for a year.
Do elders “vote” on decisions?
Most of time our decisions are by informal consensus. At times, such when required legally, we will take a formal vote so that it can be included in the official minutes.
What happens if the elders disagree on an issue?
We usually wait. If one person or more disagrees with the majority strongly, we will take time to pray, aware that the Lord might be showing something to one person that the rest of us do not see. Sometimes one person will not come to agreement, but will encourage the rest to go ahead even though he cannot see it.
Does Bruce have ultimate authority over the elders?
Bruce remains under the authority of the elders even as he serves as one of the elders. He does not have veto power over the elders.
Can a woman be an elder?
Biblically elders are always masculine. While we believe that God has gifted women to serve, minister and shepherd, we believe that the Bible says men should be elders.
Are the elder’s meeting minutes available for a church member to read?
Yes, any member can contact the senior pastor’s assistant* to get a copy of elder minutes. They are public information.
How can someone with a problem, sickness or issue come to an elder’s meeting?
Simply contact the senior pastor’s assistant* and they can help you with when the meetings are and arrange your visit with the elders.
*The senior pastor’s assistant is Laurie Wright, firstname.lastname@example.org and 972.547.7017.