- Are we going to use the term “elder” or “pastor”?
The Bible uses both these terms (and others) for the same office within the local church. Both mean the same thing, so different people might use different terms“Elders” is typically more common in relationship to the group of men, where “pastor” is typically more common when referring to one of the men with his title “pastor_____”In public settings, you will likely hear the terms used interchangeably in order to reinforce that they are the same thing.
- How can multiple elders benefit Calvary Baptist Church?
– A plurality of men overseeing the teaching
– A plurality of men leading the church
– A plurality of men entrusted with pastoral authority
– A plurality of men overseeing the spiritual health of the flock
– Never leaving a church without steady pastoral leadership – which has hurt our church in the past.
- How can multiple elders guard against one man having too much power that could lead him to temptation and sin?
Jesus is the chief shepherd of the church, and He holds the pastors in the local church responsible for leading, teaching, training, overseeing, and stewarding the authority He gives them as His under-shepherds.It is irresponsible for an elder to hand to another that which Jesus Christ will hold him accountable for on the day of judgement. When all these responsibilities are invested in just one man, he can easily be seen as a dictator. I strongly believe that having a plurality of elders in a church protects against any one man having too much power. Each elder (including the lead pastor) is accountable to the group of elders biblically.One of the goals I have in having a plurality of elders is that each elder will have personal accountability by other elders. I believe that we should strive for an ideal minimum of three elders so that no one elder can push an unwise direction, or personally cause a Biblical direction to be hindered.Each member of the church is to submit to Christ, to the congregation of the church, and to the elders. Each elder likewise is accountable to submit to Christ and the congregation of the church, but as long as there is only one elder, he will never have to functionally submit to the elders of the church as every other member does, because he only has to submit to his own opinion. It is a dangerous thing for you to be without an elder shepherding and looking out for you spiritually. It is a dangerous thing for me to be without and elder shepherding and looking out for me spiritually. Much of the pastoring of my soul has come from outside the church, and from Pastor Lee while he was serving as a fellow elder. I believe that caring for elders spiritually is best done by fellow elders within the context of the local church. It is a dangerous thing for you to have a shepherd that has no elders shepherding and looking after him – because we are all prone to the same sinful heart.
- Are we voting on either Bill or Brian, or both?
Each will be voted on individually. It is not an “either/or” decision.
- What does multiple elders look like from a financial perspective?
Let’s consider two passages that help us answer this question:Matthew 10:8-10 “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.”Here, Jesus is giving the apostles instructions for a particular time. In a future passage (see below), God gives allowance for and encourages compensation.1 Timothy 5:17-18 “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.’”Any time a church publicly acknowledges the character and giftedness of a man and calls them to shepherd, lead, and oversee God’s church, it is honoring them. This would be the “single honor” all elders share.The “double honor” is that of physical/financial provision. Financial provision can be given to elders who “rule well” and who spend more time “labor[ing] in preaching and teaching.” This verse does not teach that it must be given, but that such elders should be considered worthy of it. Many churches can afford to pay some elders and not others, and many others can’t afford to pay their elders at all.This does not create two separate biblical positions (“paid elders” and “unpaid elders”), but neither does is mandate that every elder have to receive the same financial provision – or any financial provision. The amount of financial provision will naturally determine the amount of time each elder is able to give towards actively ministering, as any elder working a full-time job outside the church would not be expected to carry the same task load as one being supported by the church. Churches can and have gotten creative in this and have even had elders who are paid “part time.”
For adding elders from within our church, I believe it is best to start by acknowledging a man’s character and gifting (the “first honor”) and then in time it will become clear if a “double honor” would be a right and healthy next step for both the church and the elder.
- Shouldn’t elders have a Bible college degree?
In 1 Timothy and Titus, we find listed qualifications for elders. Those qualifications can be broken down into three main categories of qualifications:Elders must have a right relationship with their family
Elders must have a right relationship with others in their community
Elders must have a right relationship to God and His WordMany churches have called a pastor counting on a Bible college degree to guarantee his right relationship to God and His Word, but having little to no knowledge about how he meets the previous two qualifications. Pastors come from churches, and when we call pastors some will have more obvious strengths in one area or another. The important thing is not that they have reached a particular status but that there is an evident character and giftedness being displayed that will continue to grow. Today we have many more resources than just Bible college to improve knowledge and ministry skills like – online courses, seminars, conferences, training events, easy access to many books. Every elder should be tapping into these resources to continue to grow in their giftedness to teach, but they should also be growing in their character, which will best be seen in their relationships with their family and others.If Calvary Baptist Church acknowledges these men as elders gifted by Christ to His church, they will no doubt continue to grow in their gifting just as Paul commanded Timothy to continue to do.
- Will you (Pastor Mark) be doing less work if Brian and/or Bill become elders?
No. I anticipate spending no less time ministering, but instead, to give more focused attention to some specific areas of ministry such as preaching, music, and more equip classes to help build ministry skills.Both Brian and Bill have desired areas of ministry focus that will mean them leading some specific ministry efforts. The largest blessing to me, however, will be the ability to share the burden that pastoring is. I love you dearly in the Lord, but shepherding is mentally taxing, emotionally draining, and can be spiritually exhausting. I don’t believe this is a burden God intended for a single man to carry.
- How many deacons voted to call Brian and Bill as pastors?
This is a question that causes some concern for me. I am assuming this question was asked out of mere curiosity, but I think that we can all see how this kind of question can be easily weaponized to cause division. Wanting to protect against that, I asked the pulpit committee how they thought it would be best to handle this question. Together, we unanimously agreed that we would stand together as a unit behind the nomination of Brian and Bill as pastors.
- What is the job description of this new position, and what does it involve?
The position is not a new one, but the exact same as mine. We will divide up some responsibilities, but the role is that of spiritual oversight and shepherding the church. Both Bill and Brian have already been leaning into this role as I have asked them to continue using and growing their giftedness. In accordance with Brian’s desire to focus more on teaching, I would see him eventually leading more of the adult Sunday school ministry as well as possibly leading some meetings. In accordance with Bill’s desire for more discipleship, counseling, and outreach ministry, I would see him continuing to gain experience and education in counseling and leading discipleship efforts and possibly leading the missions committee.
- Will there be term limits for the position?
No, any pastor remains in office until he resigns or is removed by the congregation.
- Do we vote on Lead Pastor again now that we will have multiple pastors?
The congregation of our church voted me in as Lead Pastor when we changed the constitution to allow for multiple pastors. The congregation will vote on that again when that position is vacant. I want to reassure you that there is no expectation for that position to be vacant in the near future.
- How will the title of pastor change the practicality of what they do?
As I have said, they have been leaning in strongly to elder work in their care for church members, in their preaching and teaching and leading, as well as in them giving me more guidance. They will continue to lead their care group as pastors. They will continue to be involved in the teaching ministry. One of the bigger changes will be them having a completely equal voice with me as fellow pastors of the church in regard to direction and leadership decisions.
- Will they have more responsibility in the church than they already have? (they are preaching, teaching, leading, but they are deacons)
They are doing much elder work currently while not having the title. The reason we are bringing them forward as elder candidates is not because we desire to fundamentally change their function but because we want to officially recognize their giftedness. Preaching, teaching, and leading are all elder functions. The fact that these men have shown their giftedness in these things is exactly why we have nominated them to the position of elder.
- What roles are the additional pastors going to be filling? Are they relieving Pastor Mark of certain duties? Will they have a particular focus? (youth pastor, children’s pastor, etc.)
We have talked about splitting up some of the committee meetings to have other pastors leading instead of just me. We have talked about Bill being more involved with missions and outreach and I have asked Brian to give consideration to eventually leading our church members’ meetings if he is acknowledged as a fellow elder. If someone wanted to look at Bill as a discipleship pastor or outreach pastor, I think that would be in line with our intent. If someone wanted to see Brian as a teaching pastor or pastor of Sunday School, that would be in line with our intent. Officially, both men will simply be pastors so that as the needs of our church change, they are also free to adjust their focus to best meet the needs of our church.
- How many times will the new pastors be preaching a month?
I will remain the main preacher in the weekly worship service, but they certainly have an open invitation for whenever the Lord might lay a particular message on their heart. Certainly you could expect to hear them preach – at the very least – once a year, likely more.
- How will it change the way you work with them? You meet with them all the time now. How does being a pastor change that?
Again, they have been leaning into elder functions heavily. It may not look dramatically different from the outside as far as time spent together, but it would signify a change in authority in that we would all be equally responsible for the direction and teaching of the church as its elders.
- Can you explain the difference between a deacon and a pastor and how that will be seen in the church?
The congregation of the church is responsible for “ruling” decisions. That is, affirming what is biblical or disavowing what is unbiblical. This would apply to the doctrine of the church. It applies to adding or removing members. When we add a member, the congregation makes a “ruling” on whether or not they believe the spiritual reality of the person’s conversion. Adding elders and deacons is giving public acknowledgement that the men are qualified and gifted – as the Bible instructs. The congregation has the authority to add or remove members, deacons, and pastors.The Bible describes the office of elder by using several words. Some of those words are: overseer, shepherd, teacher, elder, pastor, and even bishop. This role is said to lead, guide, teach, rule, correct, and defend. This role is primarily concerned with the spiritual wellbeing of the church and those in this role answer before God as the “under-shepherds” Christ has given to the church.Deacons were created in Acts 6 to serve the church. The very word deacon means “servant.” This position was created so that the elders could give ministry tasks to the deacons in order for the elders to devote their time to the spiritual needs of the church. Each deacon was selected by the congregation and approved by the elders. From what we can see, it appears that the deacons primary role focussed on meeting the physical needs of the church so the elders could give themselves more fully to meeting the spiritual needs of the church.
- Why so many pastors and limited deacons?
I think we would all acknowledge that though we are not a large church, there are more people present than one man can adequately care for spiritually. The care groups have come to be seen in some light as pastoral care groups designed to meet spiritual needs rather than physical needs that are more in line with what we see as a deacon’s ministry. For that reason, if Bill and Brian are added as pastors, they will continue to lead their care group but look to reach out as a pastor meeting spiritual needs. In many ways, I believe our church has been expecting deacons to do the work of elders (such as in regards to the care group ministry) and that has prevented some men who are qualified to be deacons from wanting to serve. When we demand that deacons do elder work, we limit the amount of deacons we can have. By doing a better job delineating between the two offices and their roles, my hope and prayer is that we would end up having more qualified men willing to serve as deacons.
- If/When Bill and/or Brian get voted in, will we at that time have to vote in a deacon to replace one or both of them, or will they hold two offices?
If Brian and/or Bill is called to be fellow elders, we will turn to addressing these needs. As stated previously, my hope is that we would have more qualified men willing to serve as deacon as we add elders to allow the elders to do the elder work which frees the deacons to give themselves more fully to the work of deaconing. For right now I would like our full attention to be focussed on if these men are qualified and gifted for elder work. We have been beneficiaries of their labors in the Word for a couple years now and this is an opportunity to give the official acknowledgement.