Highland Baptist Church
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Helping People Follow Jesus
How is church governance accomplished at Highland? The responsibility and authority for governing the local congregation known as Highland Baptist Church, as prescribed by the church constitution, is vested in a leadership team collectively referred to as “the elders.” The elders of Highland are committed to diligently seeking God and His wisdom to oversee all of the ministries of Highland to the glory of Jesus Christ for His exaltation and for the equipping of the saints for ministry; for building up this local body of believers; and for promoting and enabling the expansion of His kingdom to our neighborhood, within our city, throughout our nation, and around the world.
Why do we follow this form of government? At Highland we follow the model of church leadership revealed in the New Testament wherein the church is to be led by a plurality of spirit-led men who are called by God and affirmed by the local membership. Through the consensual agreement of godly elders chosen from the congregation, a healthy system of checks and balances in leadership direction, financial accountability, spiritual guidance, and ministry implementation is achieved. By providing prayerfully-considered decisions and enforcing biblically-based policies the elders seek to ensure that ministry is carried out in a biblical, God-honoring way. The elders themselves are accountable to the membership of Highland and the whole of Highland’s leadership remains acutely aware of our accountability to the Head of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Highland’s elders serve the congregation by providing spiritual oversight, direction, and leadership for the overall life of the church as a means of empowering and enabling the ministry staff and lay leaders to implement that direction, under the leadership of the senior pastor. Senior leadership is held accountable for fulfilling the elder’s direction. The elders focus their gifts and time on their biblical mandate to lead and shepherd the church; the church staff and ministry leaders are given the opportunity to effectively use their gifts and talents as they lead their ministries and make practical decisions on how to implement and carry out the direction provided by the elders.
How are the elders chosen? The men who serve as lay elders are nominated by the congregation. Current elders initiate the process of adding new elders as needed. There is no prescribed number of lay elders. Following a prayerful screening and approval process, the current elders select men from among those nominated who they believe are to serve. The church then has a 30-day opportunity to express any concerns over a nominated elder candidate. A vote of the congregation is then taken to affirm or reject the selection of new elders. The lay elders are not paid staff. The complete elder team, all of equal status, consists of lay elders chosen by the congregation plus the staff elders, which must consist of at least the senior pastor. There is no set term for serving as an elder, but each of the lay elders must be reaffirmed by the congregation every three years.
What do the elders do? The responsibilities of the elders are diverse and, at times, weighty. The elders depend upon the prayer support of the entire body and the presence of the Spirit of Christ as they seek to steer the church along a sound biblical path. On a daily basis and in their weekly meetings, the elders tackle key issues facing the church. These include:
The basic outline of this document and some of the wording is patterned after a corresponding statement of elder leadership at Willow Creek Community Church, Chicago, Illinois.