The Elders are servant leaders whose primary concern is to provide spiritual oversight, direction, and leadership for the overall Church, entrusting the implementation of that direction to ministry leaders and staff, under the leadership of the Senior Pastor. Senior staff leadership is held accountable for fulfilling the Elders’ direction. The tasks and responsibilities of the Elders vary greatly and require discernment as they seek to keep the Church on a Biblical course. The Elders have the final decision-making power in the Church and their responsibilities include:
- Determining the overall vision and future direction of the Church;
- The Godly stewardship of the Church’s tangible and intangible resources;
- Encouraging the Senior Pastor, his/her staff and volunteers;
- Creating policies to define clearly Church values and Biblical operating procedures;
- Ensuring the Church’s teachings and practices reflect accurate Biblical theology and, when needed, confront false teaching;
- Listening to, and communicating with, the people of the Church, with care, discernment and clarity;
- Providing avenues for conflict resolution; and
- Providing direction on financial or risk-management issues.
Guidelines for Elders
Essential Components of an Elder
The Biblical teaching on church leadership begins and ends with the character of the individuals who are called to the leadership team of the church. Our evaluation of individuals who aspire to serve as Elders at Trinity Church includes a comprehensive process to evaluate the “Five Cs,” with the primary focus on Character.
1. First “C”—Character (1 Timothy 3:2–7 and Titus 1:6–9)
- Above reproach—Elders must lead by example and demonstrate a lifestyle free from patterns of sin.
- Committed to Fidelity—Elders, if married, must be devoted and faithful spouses.
- Temperate—Elders must be self-controlled, and enslaved to nothing.
- Prudent—Elders must be sober, sensible, wise, balanced in judgment, not given to quick, superficial decisions based on immature thinking.
- Respectable—Elders must demonstrate a well-ordered life and honorable behavior.
- Hospitable—Elders must be unselfish with personal resources, willing to share blessings with others.
- Able to teach—Elders must be able to communicate truth and sound doctrine in a non-argumentative way.
- Not addicted to wine—Elders must be free from addictions and willing to limit their liberty for the sake of others.
- Not combative or quick-tempered—Elders must be gentle, patient, and able to exercise self-control in difficult situations.
- Uncontentious—Elders must not be given to quarreling, gossiping or selfish argumentation.
- Free from the love of money—Elders must not be stingy, greedy, or for sordid gain, or preoccupied with amassing material things.
- Guide own household with love, wisdom and dignity – Elders must be committed to pursuing a healthy family life, and, if they have children, pointing them toward Jesus.
- Not a new convert/not a new believer—Elders must not be new believers. They must have been a Christian long enough to demonstrate the reality of their conversion and depth of spirituality.
- Good reputation with outsiders—Elders must be well-respected by unbelievers and free from hypocrisy.
- Not self-willed—Elders must not be stubborn, or prone to forcing their opinions on others or abusing authority. They must be servant-minded and committed to mutual accountability.
- Loving what is good—Elders must desire the will of God in every decision.
- Just—Elders must desire to be fair and impartial. Their judgments must be based on scriptural principles.
- Devout—Elders must be devoted Christ followers, seeking to be conformed to His image. They must be committed to prayer, worship, the study of Scripture, and the guarding of their spiritual walk.
- Holding fast the faithful Word—Elders must be stable in the faith, obedient to the Word of God, and continually seeking to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.
2. Second “C”—Competence: Defined as specific, Holy Spirit-endowed gifts and abilities, combined with skills acquired through training and life experience.
3. Third “C”—Chemistry: The intangible quality of being practiced at speaking truth with love, and being committed to pursuing unity, rather than uniformity within the Eldership.
4. Fourth “C”—Courage: The ability, when needed, to enter into difficult exchanges and defend the faith, the Church, and individuals in ways that preserve and maintain healthy relationships in community.
5. Fifth “C”—Calling: The ability to sense God’s calling on one’s life for a particular season of service to the body of Christ: “I think God is in this.”
Essential Spiritual Gifts for Elders
The spiritual gifts of discernment, wisdom, and leadership are considered foundational gifts for those who serve as Elders; however, the presence of other gifts such as teaching, administration, encouragement, and mercy greatly enhance Elder functioning.
The gift of discernment is the divine enablement to distinguish between truth and error. It is the ability to discern the spirits, differentiating between good and evil, right and wrong. Scripture references are: 1 Corinthians 12:10; Acts 5:1–4; and Matthew 16:21–23. People with this gift:
- Distinguish truth from error, right from wrong, pure motives from impure motives.
- Identify deception in others with accuracy and in an appropriate manner.
- Determine whether a word attributed to God is authentic.
- Recognize inconsistencies in a teaching, prophetic message, or interpretation.
- Can sense the presence of evil.
The gift of wisdom is the divine enablement to apply spiritual truths effectively to meet needs in specific situations. Scripture references are: 1 Corinthians 12:8; James 3:13–18; 1 Corinthians 2:3–14; and Jeremiah 9:23–24. People with this gift:
- Focus on the unseen consequences in determining what next steps to take.
- Receive an understanding of what is necessary to meet the needs of the body.
- Provide divinely guided or given solutions in the midst of conflict and confusion.
- Hear the Spirit provide direction for God’s best in a given situation.
- Apply spiritual truth in specific and practical ways.
The gift of leadership is the divine enablement to envision the future of the church coupled with a humble heart to serve others. Scripture references are: Genesis 12:1; Isaiah 43:18–19; Matthew 7:7; Matthew 20:25–28; Luke 22:27; John 10:3–4, 11; I Corinthians 2:9–13; and James 1:5. People with this gift:
- Are servants by nature; eager to see the church prevail in the world.
- Demonstrate spiritual foresight that anticipates the work of God.
- Allow Scripture and prayer to inform their decision-making process.
- Impart vision to others using clear communication.
- Can assess significant past events and their potential for impact on the present and future.
- Are able to think creatively and apply ideas and concepts in new ways.
- Desire accountability in fulfilling their responsibilities and meeting the needs of those they serve.
The gift of teaching is the divine enablement to understand, clearly explain, and apply the Word of God, causing greater Christ-likeness in the lives of listeners. Scripture references are: Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28–29; Acts 18: 24–28; and 2 Timothy 2:2. People with this gift:
- Communicate biblical truth that inspires greater obedience to the Word.
- Challenge listeners simply and practically with the truths of Scripture.
- Present the whole counsel of God for maximum life change.
- Give attention to detail and accuracy.
- Are committed to consistent personal time of biblical study and reflection.