Jesus is Head:
Jesus is the Head of the church (Eph 1:22). A healthy church is a Jesus-focused church. We are to find out what He is doing and join Him. Then to do His will, His way, with His heart. The Holy Spirit organizes the church, and it is the role of church leadership to ensure that He is free to do as He pleases with His church.
Jesus is the one who calls people into leadership roles, and He gives them the power and authority to do his will. A person has spiritual authority only in so much as he or she is doing the will of Jesus. The body is called to submit to authentic spiritual authority (Heb 13:17). Leaders must make hard calls about difficult issues. Not everyone will be happy with those choices, however, when we submit we honor God, and those He has placed in charge we will see fruit. We want to be a church where love is more important than avoiding mistakes, so we give leaders the ability to make mistakes, learn and grow.
Man cannot appoint and promote leaders. God does. The call to leadership is first a call to serve God, and then people. Leadership is a gift of the Spirit. Therefore one must bear fruit within the gift in order to operate in that role. The number one priority and qualification of leadership is to have a pure heart. Leaders must lead from the front, and demonstrate what it looks like to live unto Christ. It is the leader’s job to ensure that people are equipped to do ministry (Eph 4:12), and to create environments where they are able to minister.
The Senior Elder:
God places his vision for the direction of the church in the heart of the senior elder. His job is to see that the vision of the Lord is implemented, and to gather a team of people who God has called to implement that vision. Eighty percent of his time should be spent equipping: vision casting, leading, training leaders, preparing to preach and modeling ministry. The Bible teaches, “It was he who gave some ….to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be equipped (Eph 4:11).”
The Senior Elder can be any of the five fold equippers but typically is an apostle. The Senior Elder is called to train and choose his replacement. The Senior Elder must approve of ministry positions and hire all staff.
The Senior Elder is to train and appoint elders. These are people who are called to oversee areas of the church. The Senior Elder leads and gives direction. The Elders oversee and manage a particular area of ministry making his vision a reality. An elder may be any of the 5-fold equippers. However, the 5-fold equippers do not oversee the church, the elders do. An Elder is required to have 100% buy-in into the mission, vision, values and DNA of the church. John Wimber said the way that you will know you have elders is that “an elder elds.” An elder will live the lifestyle before he is given the title.
Meets the moral criterion of 1 Tim 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9
Relationship with God is first priority (Acts 6:1-6).
They care for the needs of the members of the body (1 Peter 5:1-4, Acts 20:26-27).
They will use their talents to equip and build up the body (Eph 4:11-13).
They will teach with theological responsibility and correct and rebuke the church (1 Tim 3:13, 1 Tim 5:17).
They will heal the sick (James 5: 14-15)
They will make disciples (Matt 28:14-20).
The Leadership Team:
The Senior Elder and Elders form the leadership team. Its role is to oversee the affairs of the church (excluding finances). This team will meet regularly for leadership meetings.
The Senior Elder leads this team. We believe that God has called that person to lead the church, and will place his vision for the church in his heart. The team members serve as godly advisors. Each team member is expected to give unfiltered godly counsel from their unique perspective. The goal of the meetings is to unify the Elders around the Lord’s vision, and to develop and implement plans to accomplish His will, His way, with His heart.
We believe that God’s will is typically marked by unity. Therefore, we strive for unity in all decisions. However, we recognize the fact that the church is not a democracy, and that the Senior Elder from time to time must exercise authority without complete uninamity so as to keep us aligned with God’s vision.
Ordination is being set apart for lifelong public ministry. It is public recognition of what God has already been doing through a person’s life. God’s calling on a person’s life should be recognized by the body He serves in and by each individual internally. The scriptures wisely warn, “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others (1 Peter 5:22).” John Wimber used to say “it is a whole lot easier to lay hands on than to lays hand off.” We ordain elders and five-fold equippers.
Licensing is a year by year role. It is practicing being an “elder.” The goal is to mentor a licensee into maturity. A licensee is given the right to marry, bury, and perform the sacraments. If and when, this is a paid position it allows the minister rights to a housing allowance and to drop out of the social security program. One’s license will automatically renew each year unless the member leaves the local church or it is revoked by the Senior Elder. Once a housing allowance is approved it will automatically renew every year until the position is terminated.
The Senior Elder and Elders have decided that it is wise and prudent to delegate the business and financial element of the church to the stewardship team. The purpose of this team is to make the vision of the leadership team a reality using principles of good stewardship and godly faith.
It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:11-13).
The Five Fold Equippers
Equipping is training others to do ministry. The Bible teaches that there are 5 different types of equippers, set apart to build the church up and mature it. An equipper is a practitioner who bears a lot of fruit in a given area, and has a knack for training others. These equippers can operate at either a local, regional or national level.
Apostle—takes the gospel into new areas, plants churches, and has spiritual authority to speak into the lives of the other four equippers. Ministry is typically confirmed by signs and wonders. That person builds leaders, plants churches and passes on Kingdom DNA.
Prophet—someone who hears from God clearly, accurately, and frequently.
Evangelist—someone who is able to draw unbelievers to check out Christ, helps them develop a relationship with Him, and mentors new believers.
Teacher—someone who teaches the scriptures clearly and with sound doctrine, and trains the church how to think biblically.
Pastor—someone who cares for the sheep. They have a Father’s heart for the flock, and helps meet their needs. They often offer the ministry of relationships and inner healing.
When the 5-fold equippers operate together then church is built up into maturity. A healthy disciple needs to be equipped by all five equippers. If they are not equipped, they will not develop properly. These are equipping position not governing positions. Their job is to prepare people for works of service. It is the elder’s job to rule the local church.
Note: An elder can be any of the 5-fold equippers or not be an equipper.
Because we are a church that is committed to having healthy and powerful ministry we are selective in the type of equippers that we want to expose our members to. We want them equipped by people who have high markings on the right side of the following scale:
Unsound Doctrine--------------------------------------- Sound Doctrine
Poor Character------------------------------------------- Godly Character
Powerless ministry-------------------------------------- Powerful Ministry
Why we practice an Elder lead model vs. an Equipper lead model:
Peter (an apostle) ruled the local church he oversaw as an elder.
“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed (1 Peter 5:1).”
Elders are called to direct the affairs of the church.
“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching (1 Tim 5:17).”
Paul told Titus to appoint elders to govern the local church, not apostles.
“The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you (Titus 1:5)”
A small church may not have an apostle, but it needs to have elders. However, they should be in relationship with an apostolic ministry. Yet is should be lead by an apostolicly gifted person. In church plants, it is typically the case that it is five years before local elders are ordained.