College Park is a Jesus-ruled, elder-led, congregationally-governed church (see “How is College Park Church Governed?"). This means that the members of the church (the congregation) votes on who to appoint as elders of College Park Church.
What Is an Elder?
The New Testament clearly prescribes two offices for local churches: deacons and elders (also known as “overseers,” see 1 Tim. 3:1; “shepherds,” see 1 Pet. 5:1-4; or “pastors,” see Eph. 4:11). Elders are called to shepherd God’s people in the local church by knowing, feeding, leading, and protecting them spiritually (see 1 Pet. 5:1-4). They are expected to live exemplary lives (as outlined in Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Tim. 3:17)
How Are Elders Chosen?
Eldership is a call from the Lord. Jesus rules his Church; and as the Great Shepherd, he raises up “under-shepherds” by calling them to serve where he wants them.
At College Park, the process for elder selection is as follows:
- Already Serving: Typically, those who step into the role of elder are already shepherding people in areas of the church where they serve. They are already nurturing, teaching, serving, and helping apply God’s Word to people’s lives.
- Recommended: Candidates are recommended to the current elders. Members, various ministry leaders, and elders may all bring forward names of people whom they observe leading and serving well and they think should be considered for eldership.
- Finding out more: When names are received, the Elder Counsel begins the process for considering and dialoguing with the candidate. This includes:
- Evaluating and gathering more information about the candidate
- Asking the elders and pastors for feedback on how they’ve seen the candidate involved in ministry
- Going deeper in conversation with the candidate to discuss their calling, character, and doctrine (through an elder committee)
- Interview: If the elder candidate feels this call and is in a season of life where he is able to serve in the role of elder, he brings references to the elder committee and is interviewed by one or two elders (with spouses).
- Elder vote: The Elder Committee reviews the aforementioned information and votes to bring the nominee to the full Elder Council. The elders vote to present the candidate to the congregation for vote-in.
- Congregational vote: The candidate’s name and a short bio are distributed churchwide before the vote. Additionally, the church provides a Q&A event where members can ask questions the candidate questions. After the Q&A, the church holds a Congregational Meeting where members vote to elect the candidate as an elder of College Park Church.
What Happens Once an Elder Is Elected?
Once the congregation votes to affirm a new elder—either a staff elder or a lay elder—he begins his term on a pre-determined date. All elder terms are three years in length. If, after three years, an elder would like to continue serving, he may renew his position by being voted on again at a Congregational Meeting.
How Can I Start on the Path to Becoming an Elder?
- Pray for wisdom in where to use your gifts: the Lord has the full supply and gives it to those who ask him (James 1:5)
- Study the Word: it is the light to your path (Psalm 119:105) and will help you grow and mature
- Be humble: serve others and follow Jesus’s example of being gentle and humble in heart (Matt. 11:29)
- Guard your heart and life from sin: your life flows from your heart (Prov. 4:23)
- Care for your home: nurture and lovingly lead your wife (Eph. 5:25-33) and protect and disciple your children (Psalm 78:4)
- Ask the Lord to mature you and shape you more into the likeness of Christ (Eph. 5:1-2)
Further Resources on Elders
- College Park Church Bylaws
- "Biblical Eldership" by Alexander Strauch
- "The Shepherd Leader" by Timothy Z. Witmer
- "Why Elders?" by Benjamin L. Merkle
- "Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons" by Thabiti M. Anyabwile