VALUES

  1. Recognizing Christ as the Head of the church, we further recognize that He has appointed certain men of character to be spiritual elders, or pastors in the local church. These men have the final human authority in their church's affairs and decisions (Titus 1:5).
  2. We believe that the terms "elder," "overseer," and "pastor" each refer to the same position (Acts 20:17, 28).
  3. The New Testament model is that of a Christ-centered submissive plurality of pastors rather than a single pastor leadership structure (Acts 14:23; Phil, 1:1).
  4. Elder/pastors are to be appointed based upon the character qualities described in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.
  5. Leadership in the church must be radically different from leadership in the world. The greatest in the church must be the servant of all. Church leaders are to be humble servants, aggressively teachable, responsive to criticism, and models of always learning, growing, and improving.
  6. We believe that the character qualities and doctrinal understanding needed to become an elder/pastor/overseer are best developed within the local church. We view additional training (such as that offered by Bible schools or seminaries) not as a qualification for a pastor, but rather as a possible supplement to the equipping of a pastor within the local church (Titus 1:5).
  7. We value and esteem women in the church and encourage their ministry in various roles, but in accordance with the New Testament, we reserve the office of elder/pastor/overseer for men alone (1 Timothy 3:1; 2:12).
  8. A pastor/elder is to be a servant, modeling Christ-like humility, teachability and love, as well as a leader, demonstrating faith, courage and strength in managing the church (Luke 22:26; Hebrews 13:7).

COMMON PRACTICES

  1. Churches in our association have practiced a plurality of elders model with elders having equal authority in the church, rather than a traditional senior pastor model. Some churches have chosen to select one of the elders to provide servant-leadership to the community of elders for the management of the church. Yet, even in these cases, the church is being led by Jesus Christ through the community of elders, not through just one man.
  2. In GCC churches, the practice is for elders to be active as the spiritual leaders in the church, whether or not they are paid church employees.
  3. Our practice in Great Commission Churches is to encourage men and women to share the word of God with each other (Col. 3:16) – but to do so in a way that does not violate 1 Timothy 2:12: "I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man." How this verse is interpreted and applied varies somewhat from church to church and culture to culture.
  4. In Great Commission Churches our preference is to have more than one elder in each church. However, where this does not exist, our preferred practice is for that one elder to select a group of mature men to act as an advisory group in order to protect, encourage, and confirm him in his leadership of the church.
  5. Although there are exceptions, our general practice is to develop and appoint leaders (elders and staff) from within the local church.