What do elders do?

Love that picture above.  It was awarded the “It’s not my job” award a few years ago for photos.

One of the things our elders work on every year on our retreat is defining our role.  This year we revisited some of the concepts that have always been foundation…added some definition to that…and added a new category that may sound negative at first, but we have found extremely helpful.  It could be the called (in the best spirit) “it’s not our job”.

Here’s where we landed:

1.  We have always said the primary function fo our elders is to GUARD and GUIDE Suncrest.  Guarding is about protecting, keeping our church as pure as possible.  Guiding is about listening to God, seeing Jesus as head of the church and responding to His leadership in setting the course for Suncrest.

2.  Some of this is still developmental (we see it as always in process), but this year, we put some categories to that.  We asked the question, “In what areas do we need to make sure elders guard and guide?”  A lot of this we’ve learned from other churches, but here were the major places:

  • Doctrine — to guard us from unbiblical teaching and to help us define what are “essentials” and what are not.  The old slogan “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things love.” has been an incredible guide for us along the way.  I think Suncrest reflects this phrase more honestly than any church I have ever seen.


  • Direction — This is a big picture issue for Suncrest.  Elders measure how we are doing against our mission and set the VALUES for our ministry.  Again, positively, they do not micro-manage.  Most anything at a STRATEGY level or TACTICAL level is left to the staff.  There may be some exceptions to that on high-level leadership development, but we know one of the keys to success is letting leaders lead.  We are “elder guided, staff led”.  As an example at Suncrest, our elders developed and landed on our 4C’s of following Christ (Cultivate, Connect, Contribute, Care).  Our staff is responsible for creating and leading ministries to help develop those 4 C’s in people’s lives.


  • Discipline — No one likes to think about about this.  Churches are of God, but they are made up of imperfect people.  Imperfect people sometimes actually become openly unrepentant in their rebellion or become undermining and divisive within this Body of Christ.  Whenever those issues begin to put the unity of the church at risk, our elders address it with a healthy, but direct process.  Our elders have only had a few occasions over the years where the issues rose to this level, but they were ready when those came.  It’s hard…and the long-term goal is always redemptive…but the health of our church too important to let divisive people keep us from our mission.


More in the next post…

~ by Greg Lee on May 4, 2008.

One Response to “What do elders do?”

  1. […] on May 11, 2008. With Greg’s recent blog postsabout our elders, it’s a reminder to pray for them. “Lord, thank you so much for our […]

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