Cornerstone elder process

Cornerstone Community Church of Rockwall holds the conviction that the New Testament teaches an elder-led form of church government. This conviction is expressed in our statement of faith as such:

Office of Elder:

We believe that Christ, as the Head of the Church, has ultimate authority over the Church (1 Cor 11:3; Col 1:18). The officers serving under Christ and over the assembly are elders (also called bishops, pastors, and pastor-teachers – Acts 20:28; Eph 4:11) and deacons, both of whom must meet biblical qualifications (1 Tim 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Pet 1:1-5). We believe that God has given the church the role of elders to serve as the delegated authority over His church (1 Tim 5:17-22; Heb 13:7, 17). Therefore, elders are an extension of Christ’s authority and they serve to direct the church as servants of Christ (1 Tim 5:17-22). These elders are to care for the flock by providing care, oversight, protection, and guidance (Acts 20:28-31; 1 Peter 5:1-5). The congregation is to submit to their leadership (Heb 13:7, 17). While it is the responsibility of these officers to help lead the church, it is the calling of the saints to do the work of service (Eph 4:9-16).

Elder Qualifications:

Elder qualifications are found in 1st Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:1-5. The qualifications found in these passages provide criteria by which a potential elder must be characterized. This does not mean that the potential elder never acts outside of those bounds, but it would be uncharacteristic of him to do so.

Elder Process:

The New Testament indicates that elders were first appointed at the direction of the Apostles, either done by the Apostles themselves or by men who served to represent the Apostles to the respective churches that they served (e.g., Acts 14:21-23; Titus 1:5). The principle established from this precedent is that existing leadership appoints new leadership (cf. 1 Tim 5:22). The process of identifying a potential elder involves:

(1) The desire of the potential elder to serve as such (1 Tim 3:1).

(2) The determination by the current elders that the potential elder consistently lives out the character expected for elder qualification. This process can include the input of the congregation as to whether or not the individual does indeed display the necessary characteristics (Acts 6:1-7). If someone has a concern with a potential elder, they are encouraged to share that concern with the individual and (if necessary) an existing elder. The congregational input is secondary and is solicited once the elder board is ready to put forward a potential elder to serve on the board.

(3) Potential elders are those who are already serving in the church and already leading people. They are faithful in the things they are presently entrusted with (2 Tim 2:2).

When the current elder board recognizes a need to add additional members to the board, the board will seek the Lord through prayer, asking the Lord to give wisdom as to potential elders. Someone may approach the board to express a desire to serve on the board. Or, the board may approach an individual if they perceive that God is raising up that individual to lead in the church. If the elder board and the potential elder both desire to move ahead in the process, the potential elder will be invited to sit in on elder meetings which provide the opportunity to get to know one another better.

Potential elders will be taken through an elder development process that involves reading and discussing certain books and different material, serving alongside an existing elder in various ministry situations, and a review with the board to discuss any questions or concerns the board or the individual might have. The length of the elder development process is case by case, but no longer than twelve months. At the end of the elder development process, the individual will be put forward to the church. Subsequently, a brief period will occur (not less than two weeks and not longer than four) for congregational input if there are concerns; if there are no unresolved concerns, the new elder will be affirmed in front of the congregation.

Elder Accountability:

The Elder Board at Cornerstone Community Church of Rockwall is committed to a model of leadership in which a plurality of elders serve as equals. Scripture does not specify the number of elders that comprise a board, but we desire to have enough elders to function with a true plurality. This plurality provides several benefits:

(1) Elders bring various strengths and gifts to the board.

(2) Elders bring various experiences and perspectives to the board.

(3) Plurality serves to protect the church. If there is a problem or immaturity with an existing elder(s), there are others still in place to objectively evaluate those problems, deal with them as necessary, and continue serving while working to establish new elders.

Elders are first and foremost accountable to the Lord (1 Peter 5:1-5). This accountability towards Christ is expressed through accountability to other elders (Acts 20:25-31; 1 Tim 5:19-22). By accepting an elder role, elders are placing themselves in mutual submission to one another.

If someone has a concern regarding an elder, they should first approach that elder with their concern. By addressing the concern directly, the individual avoids gossip and also allows the elder to alleviate the concern. If that concern is unresolved, the individual is encouraged to bring another elder into the conversation to work towards health (Eph 4:1-6; 1 Cor 1:10). If the concern is valid and remains unresolved, the elder board will work to bring resolution to that concern. While all believers are accountable to live according to Scripture, an elder must lead with spiritual maturity according to Titus 1:1-5 and 1st Timothy 3:1-13. They lead by example. Therefore, any elder that does not seek to work through a valid concern stands in jeopardy of losing their ministry role as an elder.

At Cornerstone, we do not place a limit on the length of time that an elder might serve. However, annual evaluations occur in which elders are reviewed by the elder board, family members, and staff. The goal in this evaluation is not punitive but is to best serve the church and provide insight into areas in which we need to grow.

Responsibilities of Elders:

All elders are responsible to shepherd the flock which includes:

(1) Protecting the church from those things that threaten or hinder the church from functioning as God desires (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-5).

(2) Providing oversight for the church (1 Tim 5:17; Heb 13:17).

(3) Feeding the church to foster growth and maturity (John 21:15-19; Acts 20:28-31). (4) Upholding sound doctrine (Titus 1:9).

(5) Equipping the members of the church for the work of ministry (Eph 4:9-16).