What you should know about elders at Landmark.

What are elders supposed to do?

The elder’s position is guided by the qualifications as set out in the Scriptures (references below). Simply put, the elders are to be humble servant leaders who oversee and shepherd the congregation. Under God’s authority and His leadership, they are responsible for the final
decisions concerning the overall direction, discipline, and doctrine of our church.

[1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1: 5-7, Ephesians 4:11-12, 1 Peter 2:25, 1 Peter 5:1-5, Acts 20:17-28,
Philippians 1:1, James 5:14, Acts 11:30, 14:23, 15:2-23, 16:4, 21:18, 1 Timothy 5: 17-19]
Other notable titles that are used interchangeably in the Scriptures and yet still encompass some differences are: Pastor/Shepherd/Bishop/Overseer/Elder. The different terms seem to indicate various features of ministry covered by the differing giftings in elders.

As demonstrated in Colin Smothers' helpful diagram shown here, each of these words overlap in various ways with each other.

If the titles are seemingly interchangeable, then what are the distinctions between pastor and elder?

These are very vital offices to the health of the church. As such, character qualities for either office are necessary to lead a church as commanded and laid out in the Scriptures (1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-7). The distinction then, has to do with availability (full-time versus volunteer), as well as responsibility (day to day vs. organizational oversight). Pastors are typically employed by the church and work within the day-to-day operations. In our governance structure, not every pastor is a ruling elder and not every elder is a pastor (more information in #5 below).

What are the responsibilities of elders at Landmark?

As already mentioned, the elders are responsible for the final decisions concerning the overall direction, discipline, and doctrine of our church. They do that by:

Being Priests in Prayer

Going before God on behalf of the people and going before the people on behalf of God.

Being Stewards of Resources

Managing well what God has entrusted to the organization by determining and directing church policy and practice.

Being Shepherds of the Sheep

Overseeing the flock by feeding, leading, and protecting the church body through duty and doctrine.

Being Prophets of the Book

Teaching and preaching from a biblical worldview; knowing the Word and showing the Word in life and lip.

Being Counselors of Care

Offering the balm of the Bible to those in need of biblical perspective.

Being Principals of Principle

Carrying out church discipline when warranted and protecting the integrity of the church body.
The Bible does not give a specific number of elders that should serve a given community nor does it specify term limits. Each church body differs and should exercise wisdom in determining how many elders would be sufficient to effectively lead the church, as well as how long. The team of elders at Landmark collectively oversee the affairs of the church and make these determinations. 

How many elders should make up a board and do they serve for life?

Do you have to be a paid staff member to be an elder and are all pastors considered elders?

The Bible does not address whether paid pastors automatically serve as governing elders in a local church. In addition, the Bible does allow financial support for those serving as elders if necessitated (1 Timothy 5:17-18; 1 Corinthians 9:11). In our governmental framework, we consider the roles and responsibilities of each elder and pastor on a case-by-case basis. Nonetheless, in the case of the non-staff elder, they must have the time to dedicate to the necessary oversight and meeting quota (determined by the plurality of elders) in order to fulfill their duties to the church. 

Who picks the elders?

Choosing elders begins with praying and seeking God for wisdom and discernment as to who should serve. The office of elder is a high calling and must not be taken lightly by any.  

1. Observe/Serve

First and foremost, elders are called and appointed by God. While this is harder to determine, it is observed by the individual’s obvious compulsion to serve the body (often as a volunteer and then deacon before nomination of eldership). Eventually they are confirmed by church leadership through observable fruit in ministry, marriage, and family life.

2. Nominate

Upon nomination, the individual responds to the call through several interview and vetting processes: including questions about their testimony, their working knowledge of the Bible (doctrine and duty), and their private/family life. This will include a formal interview with his wife and multiple elders. 

3. Candidate

Once a man has had his qualifications confirmed by the elders, he may enter a phase of preparation and evaluation for the specific work of eldership. This phase involves intentional mentorship by the current elders, study related to the roles, responsibilities and functions of elders, and participation in elder team meetings. In addition to preparing the candidate, the primary goal is to determine the candidate’s fitness and fit with the team. The time required to complete this phase may vary by individual.

4. Approval

Upon approval and announcement to the church body, the congregation will have a 2-week window where they can share any critical information or spiritual concerns they may have about the chosen elder (1 Timothy 5:19). These concerns can be submitted in writing to the elder board for investigation and must be substantiated by credible sources and witnesses. 

5. Installation

Following the satisfactory completion of all requirements, new elders will be installed publicly at a worship gathering.  
[This above-mentioned process is not an induction into a secret society, and thus, the candidate’s character, conversation, and conduct are of public importance. Again, if a congregant is aware of any disqualifying sin or character flaw in an elder candidate, they are urged to make the matter known to the existing elders within the 2-week window so they can investigate the claim]