New City Church is led by a team of pastors called elders. The elder team is made up of both staff and non-staff elders. This team prays for the church, seeks to protect the church, and leads the church in following Jesus and in fulfilling his mission for her.
I am often asked about New City's process for seeing someone become an elder. It is a question from our own New City folks as well as from other pastors and church planters. Following is our letter to a potential elder candidate. It outlines our process.
If you aspire to be an elder at New City Church, please email me so that we can begin the conversation. Whether you aspire to be an elder or not, would you pray for those who are?
On Becoming A New City Elder, the Process and Paperwork
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
It is a good and noble thing to aspire to eldership. It is also a task that can be quite difficult and taxing. It is the highest leadership role in the local church. Because of this, God has given some very specific qualifications that a man should meet to serve in this leadership role.
The elders of New City Church, Macon believe that you may be a man who meets these qualifications and is capable of leading with the Elder Team of New City. In addition to that, you have said that you do aspire to be an elder. With this letter, we begin the process of assessing your life and faith in light of the qualifications required to be an elder and begin a process meant to prepare you to lead well as a New City Church Elder. The following is an explanation of this process:
Attached you will find questionnaires for you and your wife concerning things such as your devotional life, your family life, and your theology. These questionnaires serve to help us get a clearer picture of each of those areas of your life and will help us to later formulate a growth plan for you, helping you to grow in any area(s) of weakness.
The questions should be answered honestly. The answers do not need to be extremely lengthy. They should fairly represent your thoughts, beliefs, understandings and life in general. While there is no expected turnaround time for the paperwork, we do find that the time to return the completed paperwork often reflects the applicants desire or lack of desire to serve as a New City Church Elder.
When your paperwork has been received it will be shared with the Elder Team. After the Team has had an opportunity to review your paperwork, an interview will be scheduled with you and your wife. The interview gives the Elder Team and their wives the opportunity to clear up any uncertainty from your paperwork and ask additional questions.
Following your interview, the Elder Team will discuss strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for growth. The Elder Team will make one of the following decisions:
The candidate is ready to become an Elder,
The candidate needs some growth to serve as an Elder,
The candidate is not qualified at this time or in the very near future to become an Elder. The reasons for not qualifying generally fall into the categories of Character, Competency, and/or Chemistry.
Most Elder candidates have areas in which they need to grow to serve well as an Elder. The existing Elder Team will formulate a plan of growth to help the candidate who is not quite ready to be an Elder grow into the role of Elder. A Mentoring Elder will meet with the candidate to talk through the plan and walk with the candidate through the growth plan. Often, this time of mentoring reveals other areas of need and the plan may grow or shift. This is a growth process, not a checklist of things to do to be a New City Elder. When the Mentoring Elder feels that the candidate is prepared for serving as a New City Church Elder, he will advise the Elder Team, and next steps will be taken.
What is Being Assessed?
The assessment process is designed to help us make certain that the candidate meets the Biblical qualifications for the role and will be a good fit for the New City Church Elder Team. We assess in three primary areas:
In addition to the biblical character descriptions of I Timothy 3 and Titus 1, a New City Church Elder must be:
o Able to take direction and criticism. We all fail and make mistakes. Direction and criticism are given for the good and growth of the Elder and for the good and growth of the church.
o Able to laugh at themselves and have a healthy sense of humor. This is critical to our Team. We love to laugh at life and laugh with (and sometimes AT) one another.
o A self-starter. A New City Church Elder must be able to manage time and resources independently and responsibly.
o A team player. An Elder must be willing to step in and do whatever needs to be done. We do not tolerate the statement, “That’s not my job”. If a light bulb needs to be changed or a toilet unclogged, a New City Church Elder should be willing and prepared to do it. There are not tasks that are beneath any of us.
It is very hard to quantify chemistry, but it is a non-negotiable. It is often most recognizable by its absence: when you dread seeing someone, cannot imagine sharing a meal together in your home, or would never want to be stuck in a car with them on a 10-hour drive. When you are afraid to disagree with them or constantly feel judged by them. When you don’t trust them to keep a confidence or deal with you fairly. When you avoid speaking to them at the staff Christmas party. You get the point. Lack of chemistry will kill a healthy team dynamic.
The big question here is, Is the candidate competent as a shepherd? Three of the areas we are particularly examining are:
o Theology. Does the candidate have a good understating of basic systematic and biblical theology? Does the candidate have the tools and knowledge on using those tools to answer questions that may come their way?
o Leadership. Is the candidate well respected by others in the church? Will others follow his leadership?
o Gospel. Does the candidate have a good understanding of the depth and breadth of the gospel? Is he able to counsel and teach others in every area of life through that gospel lens?
As you can see, the assessment is quite extensive. This is because the role of Elder in a local church is a serious and weighty matter. A New City Church Elder is a Pastor and pastoring a congregation is a great responsibility; it can be the hardest thing you have ever done, and it can be the most rewarding. You are receiving this letter because we believe that you are up to the task. The letter and invitation come with prayer – prayer for you, for your family, and for this process. It is an honor to serve with you and to have you entrust so much of your life to us through this process.
on behalf of the New City Church, Macon Elder Team.