Church Growth: Getting the Elders Out of the Way, Part 2

churchgrowthl.jpgI need to make two critical observation before we go further.

First, the big concern many readers will have is that the Carver model creates a “pastor” system, meaning, it makes us too much like the Baptists. You know — those people with congregations 5 times bigger than ours. Those people who baptized as many people from 1990 to 1999 as there are members in the Churches of Christ.

If I wanted to be a Baptist, well, I’d be one, and I’m not. But the question is what’s Biblical and what’s wise. What’s Baptist is really a pointless, even frivolous consideration.

My brother-in-law is a preacher. He likes to say, “I never tell my church that the Baptists go in their buildings through the doors, or else my church would insist on going in through the windows!”

Thinking like this is pure inferiority complex-driven thought. We need to get over it.

Second, no, this leadership model shouldn’t produce a pastor system.

In traditional Baptist thought, the pastor is virtually autonomous as to doctrinal or spiritual matters, although this is rapidly changing. Under the Carver model, the elders make these decisions. And I think this is the Biblically necessary result.

Moreover, the elders aren’t required to delegate all matters to the pastor and then go into their closets and pray. They are still in charge and they still have important roles to play.

And exactly how much they delegate and how much they keep is up entirely to them.

Consider this, in a small church, the elders handle nearly all the decisions and the deacons cut the grass and lock the building. In a larger church, the deacons become program heads and the elders set program policy for the deacons to effectuate. The preacher is a de facto deacon over preaching and perhaps all of worship. Most elderships don’t tell the preacher what to preach — at least, not much.

Why is it Biblical and sound to delegate all the church’s ministries to the deacons and unthinkably Baptist and just awful if the preacher or other staff members oversee the work of the deacons and other ministry leaders?

I mean, we elders delegate the entirety of our children’s, youth, and campus ministries to the ministers who oversee these programs. And we hold them accountable for results. Why is it unscriptural to do much the same as to adult ministries?

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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