Each of the four major chapters answers the question as to why elders are crucial in the church today. Most works on elders are written for the pastor or church leader, but this volume speaks directly to the church member. Benjamin L. Merkle grounds this study about church elders in the Word of God as he clearly and succinctly informs laypeople as the to the necessity and biblical role of elders and deacons.
Log In Sign Up. Missional Church Leadership Structures. Dustin Conner. Things like strategy, discipleship methods, mission, vision, preaching, core group development, and the like are all important issues that must be discussed and figured out before and during the start of a new church. Strategy, methods, mission, vision, and the like cannot happen apart from leadership that understands how to effectively communicate these ideas to the members of the new church.
Leadership structure and function can vary between different church planting models while still maintaining similar biblical and practical similarities. The typical broad church models are traditional, cell group based, house church, and missional communities based. This paper will examine the leadership structures and functions of churches that are made up of missional communities to see how elders, deacons, and the laity all work together to accomplish the mission of God. The roles of elders, deacons, and the laity will be defined and placed onto the grid of the missional communities based church in order to see how a church that is a network of missional communities might organize and function under biblical leadership.
Why Elders? A Biblical and Practical Guide for Church Members
To understand what eldership looks like in a church made up of missional communities, a description of elders, deacons, and laity must be laid out followed by how those three are typically organized in the four main categories of church models. Next, the functional organizational structure of the missional communities-based church model will be examined noting the similarities and differences between the models.
Three Areas of Leadership in a Local Church. Some churches have one pastor, several deacons, and many church members who lead teams or committees and vote on all decisions. House churches may not even have a designated pastor or deacons and simply govern themselves as a small body as they see fit. From Scripture, we see that it is quite right to have all three—laity, deacons, and elders— involved in the work of the ministry of the local church.
A healthy church has all three submitting to each other and working together. Church Leadership and the Laity. In the book of Acts, the Spirit uses apostles, elders, deacons, and regular church members for ministry. Exemplary church members who prove themselves through their work and character are then qualified to become a deacon and then possibly an elder. Deacons are the leading servants for the church as they oversee the service-oriented functions of a local church body. On Church Leadership.
Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, , The biblical qualifications for male and female deacons can be found in 1 Timothy In modern day churches, the role of deacon seems to vary. Some churches see the deacons as the leaders of the church who meet and make decisions for the church similar to what a board of elders would do. Other churches utilize deacons for specific roles in leading a service ministry because they have proven themselves able and willing to lead in a service ministry.
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Church Leadership and Elders. In the New Testament, the primary leaders of the church are called elders or overseers which most modern day churches would call a pastor. Elder and overseer are used interchangeably in the New Testament, they are never given different qualifications, they have the same function, and 4 Ibid. Regardless, in Acts 6 and in 1 Timothy 3, deacons are to be leading servants inside and outside of the church. Why Elders? To better understand how a church of missional communities organizes their leadership elders, deacons, and laity , it is important to examine how the common church models organize their leadership and then note some similarities and differences with the missional communities based churches.
Traditional Churches and Their Leadership. Most churches in America would probably be categorized as traditional models of churches. The traditional model can have one or several elders, usually a deacon board, and teams or committees led by regular church members. The elder s primarily teaches the Bible from the pulpit during the Sunday gathering and church members teach the Bible through on or off campus small groups such as Sunday school classes or home groups.
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In some traditional churches the deacons oversee the decision-making of the church with the senior pastor elder and in churches of plural elders they may oversee a specific service ministry such as building and grounds or finances. Often, the senior pastor or lead elder 7 Merkle, Benjamin L. Disciple-making is done through the weekly preaching and small group classes. Cell Based Churches and Their Leadership. A cell based church resembles a traditional church but is a network of home groups spread throughout an area that meet regularly in homes and all together as one larger body for a celebratory worship service on Sunday morning.
The leadership structure is similar to a traditional church in that there could be one senior pastor or there could be a team of elders with one lead elder. The elder s and deacons of a cell church focus on developing lay leaders to lead and pastor a cell group in their home and these cells are focused on discipleship and reproduction.
The senior pastor of a cell church is advised to have a team of either elders if the church has a plurality of elders or staff of leaders to oversee a network of cells and to also be responsible for a particular ministry in the church like missions or Christian education. House churches are very different from traditional and cell based churches even though these latter two models do often have smaller groups of their church who are regularly meeting in homes.
House churches see the gathering of believers in a house as the church itself. House churches have a simple, decentralized structure view each member as a minister and as such many house churches do not have an official pastor yet most do.
Accessed July 23, Milton Keynes, U. Kindle Ebook, location Churches that see themselves as a network of missional communities basically operate in three realms. The first is the realm of intimate disciple-making and accountability in groups of two to three people of the same gender. These groups meet at least weekly when the group deems best.
The second realm of church life for a church of missional communities is the missional communities themselves. These are groups of usually some churches say up to 50 who meet in homes, bars, coffee shops, and anywhere else. These groups are not united around a Bible study per se but are united in their mission of making disciples in a specific context. Missional communities exist more as an extended family who gets together frequently for community and hangs out with each at various times throughout the week.
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The third realm of a church of missional communities is the gatherings of the missional communities. Gatherings are done differently by the various churches but the basic idea of getting a group of missional communities together for corporate worship and celebration is the same. Depending on the size of the church, some may have several gatherings taking place on a Sunday in different places and 12 Ibid. Soma Communities in Tacoma Washington has two levels of gatherings. In a church that sees itself as a collection or network of missional communities, the organization and leadership structure utilizes a variety of the styles mentioned in the other three church models.
Much like a cell-based church, a church of missional communities meets in smaller groups scattered throughout the city or community and leaders are intentionally developed to start new missional communities. And missional communities based churches often see their missional communities as functional churches that can celebrate communion, baptisms, and teach the Scriptures much like a house church.
In light of the other models, a church made up of missional communities is a mixture of the other models but with one key difference: a missional community is more than a Sunday school class, small group Bible study, or cell group…they are 14 All information on Soma Communities was taken from their website which has videos, articles, and other pages that give a broad description of what their missional church looks like in the different realms.
See Driscoll, Mark, and Gerry Breshears.
Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, , pages The leadership structure of missional communities resembles the cell group church in that the lead elders are to oversee the development of lay people to lead the missional communities. The success of the missional communities lies in the hands of the equipped lay leaders who faithfully lead and pastor their missional community better viewed as an extended family to live out the mission of God and reproduce more disciples of Jesus.
August 06, Accessed July 21, Accessed July 20, Leaders are often fearful of house groups becoming independent.
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