From the very beginning of Grace Church, many “unofficial” elders and deacons have helped to provide leadership, since our founding pastor was working two, sometimes three jobs to provide for his family. We called these volunteers 'ministry leaders', or sometimes they had no official title. Through their service and their natural influence and giftedness, they provided “eldering” and “deaconing” in various areas of ministry.
In 2008 Grace Church began the process of thinking through and developing a more “official” Elder ministry. In the beginning of 2011, our pastor sent out a letter inviting people to consider participating in this process. We hoped to end up with a number of individuals who could serve the church as Elders. To read that letter, click here.
Those who responded went through a very deliberate process of learning what the Scriptures say about being an Elder or Deacon, and participated in a number of activities to begin to develop friendships as a group. As this process continued, various ones decided not to continue for one or more of a number of good reasons (e.g., time; they couldn’t complete the readings and other assignments; after studying the scriptural qualifications, decided they weren’t elder or deacon "material” (an actual quote); or their season of life was not conducive to being an elder/deacon ministry at this time, etc.). In the end, this process yielded the individuals who are served as our first Elders.
For the Biblical Vision of what elders and deacons are, click here.
We still have many servant-leaders who are not official 'elders,' but still give a great deal of time and effort to ministries in which they serve. We hope and believe this will never change. Its important to note that “Official” Elders are not “over” anybody. In fact, sometimes someone who is not an Elder is leading a ministry team on which an official Elder serves! Elders, like everybody else, are first and foremost called to serve ('deacon') the Body in consistent ministry service, as well as being called to serve by prayerfully interacting with and providing scripturally sound direction and oversight to the entire Body.
In time, as the newly established Elder ministry develops and matures, the members will be able to provide a more insightful and effective sense of direction for Grace Church. Some of the Elders may meld into the overall ministry of the Pastors and staff of the church, while others will increase their influence, wisdom, and oversight of the Body. The Pastors and staff will provide the primary leadership and direction for the Body and will lead and shepherd other Elders toward what they prayerfully consider to be their roles in the church.