We believe in the biblical model of local church leadership as shepherding overseers. We believe, based upon God’s Word, that the normal pattern for shepherding oversight leadership is plural overseers. This leadership team is led by God’s Spirit, according to His Word, for the glory of Christ, and for the overall spiritual health of our local church family. We believe each local church family should have such a leadership team, as described in the New Testament documents. We believe that God calls various men who fit the criteria laid out in 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; Acts 13:1-3; 20:28-31; 1 Peter 5:1-4; 1 Timothy 5:17-20; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; James 3:1; and Hebrews 13:7,17. Shepherding-Overseers (or “elders”) are to oversee the overall church family and her ministries. Typically, they are not to be involved in all the “nitty-gritty” details of every aspect of every facet of our local church’s ministries. They are to “oversee”, provide overall oversight, to provide doctrinal protection, and to provide overall ministry direction per the vision, purposes, and mission God has given to us (i.e. to keep us on track toward the goals God has set for us, etc…). As God raises up more ministry team leadership, the elders will help to provide training and equipping, as necessary, for ministry team leadership development. Delegation within the context of ministry is very important, and therefore that is, also, one aspect of the overall duties and responsibilities of the elder team. For more on what we look for in a godly, servant-hearted, humble, loving, wise, and truthful man as a possible candidate of being an elder on the team, please view the following document (please CLICK HERE to view it [in PDF document format]).
Although it may be true that at first many of the local church families that were planted in the early parts in the book of Acts seemed to not have an eldership leadership team, it seems that Paul the apostle, later, made sure that godly men were in leadership over those churches, eventually. It seems to be the biblical normal pattern for local church family leadership, multiple elders, not just one pastor (one “shepherding-elder”).
Within our eldership leadership team (elders), the Lead Pastor-Teacher (pastor) has a specific role. Not only is he one of the elders, but he is given charge for the overall leadership direction of the team, as well as for the church family. He is in charge of “leading the charge”, so to speak, regarding the overall vision, mission, purposes, and direction of the overall ministry of our local church family. Although the pastor, as each of the other elders, has individually submitted to the local church family and to each other on the eldership leadership team for each others’ spiritual accountability to grow in the Grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ, to live a humble, godly, and servant-hearted life, to have solid godly marriages and family lives in seeking to raise our children in a godly manner, etc… the pastor has a specific role of being the leading facilitator on the elder team. But, he is not surrounding himself with “YES-MEN”… that is not the point here. The pastor is given charge of overall team leadership to facilitate the other elders to lead the overall church ministry, together. The pastor’s role on the team is more of a “lead facilitator” and “leadership developer”, to provide shepherding care to his fellow elders, as well. The pastor does not “call all the shots”, as some may think, but has been given overall visional and directional leadership charge over the local church family, and the rest of the elders will work together with him to help to fulfill that vision and direction in leading the church, the pastor along with the elders, together, as a team, on the same page, following our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the overall HEAD of our local church family.
All of the elders on the eldership leadership team, including the Lead Pastor-Teacher, are first and foremost accountable to God, secondly to their wives respectively (as applicable), then to each other, and then to the local church family. The eldership leadership team is not above God’s Laws and “rules of the game” as displayed in the New Testament (see 1 Timothy 5:17-20; Matt. 18:15-17; Luke 17:3-4).
There are many false, unholy, unreal, and unbiblical expectations for pastors, elders, and others who are in some sort of leadership capacity within a local church. One expectation is that the pastor must be the best friend of every member of the church he oversees… or at least, a friend in some way to everyone, etc. Of course this is completely unreal and unbiblical. Another false, unholy, unreal, and unbiblical expectation is that the “pastor” must visit every member in their homes, not to teach, but just to “hang out” (of course, he must “invite” himself into their home). Again, there are no examples of this in Scripture. And still another false expectation, is that the pastor is to do the bulk of all the ministry and supply any kind of leadership to all ministries, etc… (and the rest of the congregation just sits back and “judges” his performance and preaching, etc…) Of course, these are all “traditional” expectations of many “traditional” church-goers of many churches across our nation. But these are NOT biblical expectation NOR are they biblical mandates for pastoral-related leadership of any capacity in any local church. The following LEADERSHIP MODEL is based, strictly, upon the biblical precepts, principles, and patterns found in Holy Scripture. These principles are what we will follow regarding leadership within our local church family.
As our ministry grows, as God provides, directs, and allows (for His Glory and Pleasure), we will seek to always follow the “Jethro Principle” and “SPAN of CARE” Principle in all that we do (for more of these principles please see Exodus 18:13-27; Deuteronomy 1:9-18; Matthew 11:28-30; Galatians 6:1-5; and 1 Peter 2:9). [Please CLICK HERE to see a “visual” illustration of these overall principles]
The “Jethro Principle” espouses a framework-model of leadership: leaders over “10’s”, “50’s”, “100’s”, and “1,000’s”. This godly, wise and servant-hearted framework of leadership fits well within the ministry team leadership needs of a New Testament-based local church family. These biblically-based principles teach that the eldership leadership team cannot and should not DIRECTLY lead all areas of ministry, nor should they lead all aspects of every ministry, etc. Ministry Team Leaders need to be prayerfully raised up and biblically trained and equipped to cover various specific ministry teams of our local church family’s ministries (per the examples and criteria found in Acts 6:1-7 & 1 Timothy 3:8-13). Each level of leadership needs to be cared for and “covered” by the level above them. Thus a “leader of 10’s” would have some care and oversight by a “leader of 50’s”, and so on… all the way up the various levels of this framework… and then the overall oversight would rest with the eldership team, who would oversee the overall ministry team leadership system. Thus, in this way, we will follow the “Jethro Principle” in our ministry team leadership development and placement process.
The “SPAN of CARE” Principle is based upon the “Jethro Principle” but adds the Body-Life Ministry principles found in Matthew 11:28-30 & Galatians 6:1-5. Also seeing the overall ministry thrust of 1 Peter 2:9 (every believer is a “minister” – the “priesthood of the believer”) and overall ministry principles found in Romans chapter 12, as well, we can confidently explain this “principle”: each disciple of Jesus Christ needs to receive care and love within his/her local church family. And, each disciple of Jesus Christ needs to care for others within his/her local church family. Although, each disciple needs to care for others, he/she should NOT care for too many (see Matthew 11:28-30).
To Continue Studying Deeper, here are some other related Teachings by Pastor Andy Thomas:
- Simply Biblical Church Leadership (Acts 6:1-7) – Part 1
- Simply Biblical Church Leadership (Acts 6:1-7) – Part 2
- Simply Biblical Church Leadership (Acts 6:1-7) – Part 3
- Simply Biblical Church Leadership (Acts 6:1-7) – Part 4
- Paul’s Charge to the Ephesian Elders – Part 1
- Paul’s Charge to the Ephesian Elders – Part 2
- Paul’s Charge to the Ephesian Elders – Part 3
- Local Church Leadership As It Should Be – Part 1
- Local Church Leadership As It Should Be – Part 2