Dave Everson

What do the Elders do?

EldersIt occurred to me recently that I mention the elders a lot, but I don’t talk much about what they actually do. Or even who they are.

There’s nothing like admitting a group exists, and then not talking about what it does, to make people think there’s some kind of secret society running the show from behind the scenes. As much fun as that would be, it’s simply not the case. Please allow me to pop that balloon:

Elders generally

This is a helpful article on elders–both their job and their qualifications, based on New Testament guidelines. With one important exception,* we generally subscribe to the principles this article outlines.

We believe that when we appoint an elder, we are recognizing spiritual maturity, giftedness, and authority that God has already bestowed upon that person. As we look for new elders, we ask, “who is already ‘elding’?”**

Elders at Mosaic

Put into practice, Mosaic’s elder team provides spiritual oversight and leadership of the church. They meet monthly, seeking guidance from God for directing the church and navigating critical spiritual problems or decisions. And they do that through extended prayer and discussion.

Mosaic is structured so that spiritual authority and leadership flow from the pastor and elders to the Board and other congregational leaders. We have heavy congregational involvement in running the church and its ministries and in carrying and influencing Mosaic’s culture. But it’s the elders who bear the primary responsibility for discerning God’s direction and vision and speaking that guidance into our worship and the work we do together.

Mosaic’s elders avoid reaching into the day-to-day decision-making that’s handled by the staff, Board, Trustees, and other leaders. This is a tricky but critical line to walk.

Here’s a recent example: At the September elder meeting, we discussed the possibility of providing financial support to other organizations. We discerned the Lord leading us to make such giving a priority in Mosaic’s 2014 budget. And so, at the following Board meeting, we asked the Board to find a way to do that. We offered some specific suggestions about who to give to and how much. But ultimately, the Board  will take the lead in finalizing those details.

We’ve also prayed over and discussed things like vision, location, and the shape of my role as pastor.

Active elders

The current elders are Eric Brown, Sue Jacobs, Darren Stevenson, and Keith Woodbridge. As pastor, I’m considered the “lead elder.”

“Elders emeritus”

Once a person becomes an elder, he or she remains an elder as long as they continue as members of Mosaic. From time to time, an elder may step down from active participation in the elder team, becoming “elders emeritus” or “inactive” elders (until we come up with a better title). We occasionally invite them to participate in key discussions where their wisdom would be helpful. As our former pastor, Don Riling is an “elder emeritus.”

Notes:

* Some churches believe (as the author of this article does) that women may not be elders. However, Mosaic does not restrict eldership to men.
** Eric Brown gets the credit for coining this outstanding phrase.
(photo credit: shira gal)